While buying different kinds of readily available sausages from your local store or butcher shop is easy, you may want to take your culinary skills to a whole new level and prepare your own homemade sausage.
While making sausage at home may require some special equipment and may take some learning and experience, the end result will be a product that is made only with the ingredients you have handpicked to fit your taste and your dietary preferences.
Read on to find out how to make sausage at home, what you will need when it comes to tools and ingredients, and a step-by-step guide for making it.
Necessary supplies for making sausages
You will need some essential pieces of kitchen tools and products for making any kind of sausage at home, including:
The first main appliance for properly preparing sausage in your own home is a good quality meat grinder. While it may look complicated and even dangerous to use, meat grinders are rather simple tools that are easy to set up and use.
There are two basic types of grinders for meat on the market – electric and manual.
Here are the pros and cons of each type.
Electric meat grinder
Electric meat grinders are easier to use and are faster than manual ones. They are available in different sizes, capacities, and power levels, so you can choose a grinder that meets your requirements, available space, and budget.
Some of them are available as standalone grinders, while others are more versatile and come with various useful accessories and attachments.
Manual meat grinder
Manual meat grinders have hand cranks which you need to turn manually in order to process the meat. This makes them slower and requires more effort than using electric grinders. But at the same time, you will have more control over the meat mincing, including the texture, volume, and speed of the ground meat coming out.
Manual grinders are, in most cases, much simpler than electric ones, which makes them more durable and less prone to breaking over time.
You will also need casings which you will be using for stuffing the homemade sausage. They are available in different sizes and shapes and can be natural or synthetic.
Here are the main types of casings for homemade sausage and what their main features, pros, and cons are.
Natural casings are the oldest and most traditional types of sausage casings. They are made of the submucosa layer of the animal’s intestines, which contains a lot of natural collagen. While they vary in size and shape, these types of casings are flexible, easy to stuff, tender to eat, and have a specific “snap” feel when you bite them off.
They are usually made of hogs, sheep, and beef and are the most suitable type of casings for smoking the sausage.
You can find thinner natural casings such as sheep casings ranging from 20-22mm up to 26-28mm, suitable for small link breakfast sausage and small or large hot dog wieners. Sheep casings are the most tender of all-natural casings
The hog casings vary in sizes from 29-32mm up to 38-42mm, and are used for making small brats, Italian sausage, kielbasa, or bologna. Hog casings are the most traditional choice.
Natural beef casings range in sizes starting from 38mm up to 5 inches in diameter and are suitable for preparing mortadella, bologna, or salami. Beef rounds, middles, and caps are available for preparing fresh, smoked, or cooked sausage, or for semi-dry and dry sausage as well as the largest ones.
The natural casings are sold in vacuum-sealed containers, and any leftovers can be packed in salt and stored for up to two years in the refrigerator.
They shouldn’t be frozen because this will make them brittle and cause them to break and crack during the stuffing process.
Artificial casings are newer and cheaper than natural casings. They are easy to use and less prone to tipping and breaking during the stuffing. Most of them come pre-tubed, which makes them even easier to slip onto the stuffer’s funnel mouth.
Here are the main types of artificial casings you can find on the market, including their features, advantages, and disadvantages.
Collagen sausage casings are made of natural collagen derived from pig hides and beef skins. They are produced using special extrusion machines which can make the casings in different forms and diameters.
Although they are made of natural collagen, these casings are quick and cheap to make and thus are less expensive to buy. Many of them are edible and can be used for making different types of sausages, such as snack sticks and breakfast link sausages.
Thanks to the fact that machines make them, these casings are very uniform in size and thickness and are easy to stuff without the risk of ripping and breaking during the process. Plus, the collagen absorbs the smoky flavor quickly and easily, making collagen casing perfect for smoking.
Make sure that you check whether the collagen casings you are buying are edible or not. Some of the larger-sized ones commonly used for summer sausages, bologna, and other larger sausages are not edible.
These casings are made of cellulose and are very flexible and elastic, making them among the easiest to stuff at home without worrying about them breaking. They are also uniform in diameter and will need to be peeled when the sausages are cooked.
They are very permeable to smoke and to water vapor and are an excellent choice for smoking hotdogs, franks, summer sausage, and other homemade sausages.
Just make sure that you peel the casings off before eating your delicious sausages.
These are the cheapest of all types of casings and are the easiest to prepare and stuff, especially by beginners.
Due to their plastic material, these casings are not permeable to water or smoke, making them suitable for high-yield, non-smoked sausages, and products such as emulsified meat or bologna.
There are some plastic casings that come with a smoky flavor as well.
While grinding the meat is an essential part of the sausage-making process, you will need to mix in the suitable blend of spices for preparing the delicious homemade sausages of your choice.
It is the different spice blends that make each sausage unique.
Chorizo, for example, is a pork sausage that requires the use of ancho chili powder among the other spices used for its specific red color.
The spice blends used for the different sausages are what distinguishes them from one another.
Even small changes in the spice mix used for the sausage can make a real difference in the end results.
You can follow sausage-making recipes to get the exact spices and proportions you need to use, or you can experiment with your own spice blends which match your taste too.
In order to get ready for making sausages at home, you can buy a useful set of basic spices, such as the Sausage Seasoning Sampler Gift Set, or assemble your own spice rack with different common and not so common spices.
A cure is necessary when making smoked sausage that is not cooked or which is fresh.
The cure will help keep the meat safe and free of harmful bacteria during the preparation and smoking process. This will help prevent bacterial infections, such as botulism which can not only be unpleasant but can be fatal too.
Using a cure for the meat will also ensure that it becomes darker pink and has the characteristic meaty flavor.
You can buy cures under different names and types, including Cure #1, Pink Cure, Prague Powder #1, and more.
You will typically need to add about a teaspoon of cure per every 5 lbs. of meat when making sausage, but make sure you follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the cure and the specific recipe you are making.
Now that you have a meat grinder, casings, meat, spices, and cure, you will need a stuffer to use for actually stuffing the sausages. Some meat grinders come with stuffer attachments, which are a huge convenience, but you can buy a stuffer attachment for just about any grinder.
The stuffer is a sausage funnel that is mounted in the place of the grinder plate. All you need to do is slide the end of the casing over the top of the funnel’s mouth and then place your meat and spice mixture in the grinder to proceed to stuff the casings.
But if you want to have more control over the stuffing process and prevent the breaking of the casing or the overstuffing of the casing, you may want to buy a dedicated stuffer, which you can use separately from the meat grinder.
Dedicated stuffers are a better choice for making larger volumes of sausage and can hold large volumes of ground meat, starting from 5 lbs.
They are faster and more efficient than the stuffer attachments for meat grinders.
If you are hot or cold smoking your sausages, then you will need a smoker. Smoking the sausages is done by starting at low temperatures and gradually increasing them during the process. This helps prevent the fat in the meat from rendering completely and separating and dripping out of the casing.
Smoking your homemade sausage at higher temperatures can make them crumbly and dry.
The best kind of smoker for making sausages at home is an electric smoker. It allows for more accurate and easy temperature control, thanks to the thermostat and easy controls. Electric smokers still use pellets or chips, so the smoky effect at the end will be similar to using traditional charcoal and wood-burning smoker.
Another way to prepare homemade sausages is to cold smoke them. This will help the meat and casing to absorb more smoke and give the homemade sausages a heartier flavor.
Since the temperature used for cold smoking is not enough for killing off any potentially harmful bacteria, you should take the necessary precautions when using this method at home.
Cold smoking is achieved by hanging the sausages in the cooking chamber and letting them fill with smoke. When using a BBQ cooker, you should leave the dampers open to allow for the air to enter and circulate inside the chamber and keep the smoke clean. This will help prevent ending up with acrid and nasty-tasting sausages.
Is getting a sausage-making kit a better option?
If you want to make your prep easier and start making homemade sausages right away, you can opt for a sausage-making kit, such as the LEM Backwoods Cured Summer Sausage Kit.
A kit like this includes most of the products and ingredients you will need to start making sausage at home right away, including spices, cure, casings, and strings, as well as for instructions.
Making sausages step by step
Now that you are ready with all the ingredients and tools you will need, you can start making your own sausages.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide for preparing homemade sausages:
Prepare the equipment and ingredients
You will need these products and tools for making homemade sausages:
- A meat grinder (place all of the removable parts of the grinder in the freezer prior to making the sausage)
- A dedicated sausage stuffer or a stuffer attachment for the grinder
- Large stainless steel mixing bowls
- Hog casings soaked in warm water for removing some of the salt
- 2 lbs. pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes and frozen for 30 minutes
- Ground sage – 2 teaspoons
- Kosher salt – 1 ½ teaspoon
- Fresh ground peppercorn – 1 ½ teaspoon
- Garlic cloves – 4
- Cayenne pepper (or paprika) – ½ teaspoon
- Brown sugar – ½ teaspoon
Prepare your grinder and the meat
Place some ice in a mixing bowl, and then place another bowl inside it.
Add the pre-frozen butt pork cubes and mix in the spices and garlic. Use your hands to mix them well.
Keeping the ingredients and grinder parts cold will help prevent the rendering of the fat from the meat when preparing sausages.
Take the grinder parts out of the freezer and assemble the appliance on a sturdy countertop.
For this recipe, you will need to use a larger ¼ to 3/8 inch plate for the first grind and a finer plate for your second grind.
Grind the meat
Once again, put some ice in a stainless steel bowl, and place another bowl inside it. Place the two bowls on the output end of the meat grinder.
Then start adding the meat and spice mixture through the hopper and start grinding it using the larger grinder plate.
When the first grind is over, place the meat in the freezer once again for about 15 minutes.
Change the grinder plate to a finer one from 1/8 to 3/16 inches.
Then run the ground meat once more.
The texture should be more paste-like than the first time.
If it is greasy, this means that the fat has started rendering, and you can place the mixture back into the freezer along with the removable parts of the grinder for 30 to 60 minutes.
After that, you can continue grinding the meat.
Mix the ground meat
Mixing the meat after it has been ground is essential to ensure that the proteins and the fats bind together well and emulsify. This will help prevent ending up with crumbly and dry sausages.
You can mix the minced meat using your hands, or you can use a stand mixer paddle attachment as well.
You should keep mixing it until it emulsifies and become pate-like. This can be tested by rolling a small ball of the mixture in your palm and testing whether it sticks to the palm of your hand when you turn it upside down.
Stuff the meat into the casings
Once your mixture is ready, you can pull out the stuffer or attach the stuffer attachment to your meat grinder. Then take the casing out of the warm water, and slip it onto the funnel head. Keep the funnel and the casing moist when stuffing the sausages to make the process easier and prevent bursting and ripping the casings.
Tie a knot or string at the end of the casings and make a small hole at the end to allow for the air to escape when stuffing the sausage.
Start feeding in the mixture and stuffing the casings. Remove any air pockets you see by pricking small holes on the casing.
You can leave the sausage in a single big loop or cut and tie each end of your separate sausage links.
Dry the sausage
Now that the sausage is stuffed, you can either cook it or, even better, let it dry out and rest in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or overnight.
By resting the meat, its flavors will combine together better, and the casing will dry out and be ready for cooking without creating steam.
Drying the casings is essential if you will be curing or smoking your sausages, as this will allow for a better infusion of the casings and the meat inside them with smoky flavors.
Drying the casings is not needed if you are planning on cooking the fresh sausages immediately after making them.
Cook at appropriate temperatures
Fresh pork sausages need to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to ensure that they are safe to eat.
You can cook your homemade sausages in one of the following ways too:
- Poach them first and then grill them over indirect or medium heat
- Hot smoke the sausages at 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit until their internal temperature is 150 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pan-fry the sausages and braise them with beer or another liquid
It’s time to enjoy your sausages
Now that you have done all of the hard work, you can enjoy eating your homemade sausages.
While this is only one of the many sausage recipes available, it will help get you started in the homemade sausage preparing process.
Once you gain some experience and confidence, you can start experimenting with the meat, casings, spices, and cures.
Finest sausage making recipes
There are multiple online and offline resources for DIY sausage making.
Our top recommended ones are the following books:
They will help get you started in the world of sausage making, and you will be amazed to find out how many different types of sausages you can prepare in your own home.
Sausages have been part of the cuisine around the world since ancient times. Some evidence shows that sausages were made as a way to preserve meat back in the 9th century B.C. in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.
There are different sausages and similar products made in the countries around the world which you can try, and which you can make at home.
Hopefully, we have helped you understand more about the sausage-making process, and soon you will be able to enjoy your own homemade sausage.