How to Make Fresh Pork Sausage
Sausage is like the chicken soup of the meat world. From juicy Italian pork sausages to spicy Mexican chorizo, to the firm and dry sausages in Asia, almost every culture has its version. Most likely this widespread culinary theme comes from frugality. How better to use all the odds and ends of the animal?
Making bacon from scratch last summer was a revelation. Not only was it great tasting, but it was easy and soon we were on the hunt for what to make next. My mom wanted to make prosciutto, but I thought trying to cure an entire pig’s leg was a bit ambitious for our next porktastic project. I bought her Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie for her birthday and since then we’ve been talking about making sausage from scratch at home, including stuffing it into casings. Fortunately, I already had the grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer but I did have to buy the sausage stuffer attachment.
Because I’ve been trying to eat healthier, which includes eating less meat, when I do eat it I not only want it to taste good but be good for me (well, as much as 25% fat sausage can be). Making sausage at home is a great way to have control over what goes into your food. I’ll admit, this time we did not go so far as to source out naturally raised pork, but at least I know the quality of the meat and every other ingredient in the sausage. I can also be sure there’s no filler, no by-products, no preservatives, and no unidentifiable or unpronounceable ingredients.
We started by reading the chapter on fresh sausage making in Charcuterie for inspiration and information on the basics. I highly recommend this. Then we gathered our tools, supplies, and ingredients.
Tools and supplies:
KitchenAid Standing Mixer, bowl, and a paddle attachment for mixer
sausage stuffer attachment
Bowl large enough for ice, to set under the bowl with ground meat.
Casings for the sausage
Meat and seasonings
Sharp knife & cutting board
Notes about this recipe:
- The recipe below is for making one batch of sausage, specifically with garlic and fennel seeds. However, we started with 8.5 lbs of pork shoulder, which when cleaned of any sinuous pieces and large fat pieces, yielded approximately 6.5 lbs of meat.
- To the pieces of cut and trimmed pork we added extra fat, taken off the shoulder pieces, and purchased pork belly fat so that we could have the proper ratio of fat to meat. In the end, we had slightly more than 8 lbs total of pork and fat cut into 1″ pieces.
- From the total amount of ground meat and fat (8 lbs) we made three flavors of sausage; Garlic and Fennel Seed Sausage, Spicy Sausage with Smoked Paprika and Italian seasonings, and a Thai-inspired sausage with Ginger, Lime Zest, and Cilantro.
- This cutting, grinding, and seasoning process took us about 3 hours on a Saturday. Obviously, it would have been less if we’d started with a smaller amount of meat, but we figured if you are going to do it, go big or go home!
- Sausage casings: We ordered 100 feet of natural hog casing from Butcher & Packer, a sausage-making supply company online. The casings come vacuum packed and salted. They have been cleaned, but need to be soaked for 30 min to 24 hours and then rinsed in cool water before using.
Garlic and Fennel Seed Sausage Recipe
- 3 lbs pork meat and fat combined, about 36 oz meat, 12 oz fat for a 25% ratio
- 2 Tbsp garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp fennel seed toasted and ground in a spice grinder
- 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup red wine some sort of liquid is important
Get your workstation set up, clean and ready to go before you start grinding:
- Set the bowl into which the meat gets ground on ice.
- Assemble the grinder attachment onto the Kitchen Aid
- Take a portion of the meat out of the fridge/freezer. We divided our meat into 3 batches so we could have 3 different sausage flavors; each batch was 2.5-3 lbs. The specific recipe above is for one of these batches.
- Make sure everything is very, very cold. This will make the grinding process easier and is better for health and sanitation reasons (bacteria multiplies in warmth). I cut the pork into slices, laid it on a sheet pan and put it in the freezer for about half an hour. This made it very firm and much easier for us to cut into the 1" cubes. We then laid the cubes of meat back on the sheet pan for another 1/2 an hour to get them firm again. I also put the metal grinding blades in the freezer.
Grinding the meat
- Follow the instructions with the kitchen aid and be careful. The wooden pusher comes in really handy. If you are short, like we are, you may have to stand on something to get enough leverage to push down on the meat.
- Make sure you have a good mix of meat and fat as you push it through the grinder. Watch your fingers!
- Once the ground meat and fat are in the bowl, combine with seasonings and liquid using using the paddle attachment and bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer. Mix on medium for about 2 minutes and chill the ground meat again until very cold.
- NOTE: We ground the meat into the bowl, added our seasonings, then mixed it with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes as per the instructions in Charcuterie. What we did not do was season the meat before grinding it, as the book suggests. I don't think skipping this step changed anything as we let the seasoned ground meat rest overnight.
- Once the meat was seasoned, we cooked up a little patty so we could taste it and check. This is an important step. With each batch, we added seasonings to correct to our palate.
Stuffing the sausage
- Put the casings on the extruder tube. This was a bit arduous as the natural casings have variations which make it difficult at times to slide them onto the tube. Many jokes of questionable taste were made during this process.
- The stuffing process definitely had a learning curve to it. This is where it pays to have two people; one to push the meat into the extruder and the other to pull the sausage off at the same rate it's being extruded. It is possible to twist the sausage into links as it comes off, but this is not a skill we mastered the first time around. Instead, we let it coil into one long length and then formed the links later.
- To link the sausages, tie off the end and twist a length (4' to 6") of filled sausage one direction. To make the next sausage, twist the next length in the opposite direction. Repeat.
- Have two people for this process, it's much easier. We spent a few hours each on a Saturday and Sunday for this, but it can be done in one day.
- Use a ratio of at least 25% fat to 75% lean/regular meat or the sausage will be too dry.
- Wear plastic gloves. I didn't, and even though I washed my hands about 1000 times that day, I had a few little cuts which were not happy the next day after being exposed to all that meat bacteria.
- Don't overstuff the casings; they may burst and it makes it very difficult to form the links.
- Buy the book Charcuterie. There is way more detail and information than I can possibly provide in this post.
The bulk of these sausages were frozen and then grilled at a dinner party we had a week later. They thawed beautifully and grilled up perfectly. My mom made homemade marinara and pasta to accompany the sausages and everyone loved them.
I love sausage but always wonder what is in them. If I had the right equipment, I would make these — yum!
Your sausages turned out beautifully! I love that you and your mom did this together. This is the very first thing that I made out of Charcuterie and I absolutely love the book. It has been a while since I have made sausages and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and make them again.
Oohh ! That’s what happened to the racoon, after all !
Hmmm…maybe. 😉 I remember driving through southern Louisiana about 15 years ago and going past one of those old fashioned “general stores.” It had a big hand lettered sign out front which read “Fresh Coon for Sale!” I regret to this day I did not stop and at least take a photo of the sign.
I am impressed. I really want to make my own sausage, but first I need my kitchen aid attachment. I’ll refer back here for all the good tips. Your sausage looks delicious.
Wow!!! Your sausages turned out beautiful. I’ve always wanted to make them, but I’ll just live through your porktastic project for now. 🙂
Perfect sausages. What a great pictorial. Thank you.
Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen
This is a great mother-daughter project for sure! 🙂
Marvelous! Those sausages surely taste divine! I really have to buy the KA meat grinder and sausage attachment…
Isn’t this fun? I’ve been on a sausage and cured meat binge lately, and I’m having a good time. I’ve been really impressed with how well the recipes in Charcuterie (by Ruhlman & Polcyn) have come out.
Great stuff. Pun intended!
Yes, we’re loving it! Once you do it, it’s so easy to start thinking of all the possible combinations and keep wanting to make more.
No doubt about it, homemade sausage is easy to make and the quality is far greater than any store bought variety, unless you have a great butcher shop in the area.
What I love about making my own is that I can make an ethnic sausage that’s not found anywhere locally and I can customize the recipe to taste, plus I know what’s in it.
Hi i made my first sausages yesterday ,there are 6 in my family pluse my future son-in-law they had good old sausage egg and chips,i also recomend actie fryer for healthy chips,all went down really well and orders have bean placed for the same again very soon.
manythanks for tips >Ruth
Thanks for the recipe! I make sausage of all kinds (Bear Brats, Venison summer sausage) and wanted a recipe for fresh pork sausage. Great job with all the pics too.
I made my first batch of sausages yesterday and have stumbled across your blog today while looking through the web for any additional wisdom to help improve my next batch. I had lots of problems with the plastic pusher that came with my grinder. I see that you have the now discontinued wooden pusher which seems to work much better. The plastic one does not seal very well with the feeding tube which causes the introduction of a lot of air. I have to find a wooden one. Nice blog. Thanks.
I had exactly the same problem. I made a new thicker pusher from a wooden dowel I cut down, purchased from a woodworking shop. After I cut the dowel, I treated it with several soakings of mineral oil before use, and it’s holding up great so far. MUCH better than the KA plastic thingy…
Great idea! Thanks!
This is absolutely awesome. I am new at this cooking thing, but, I am also fortunate to have access to all the BIG TOYS to work with. I did very well with these directions and it turned out GREAT. I was complimented by my Father, and that’s saying something. ……………Janiaco Koschashi
Beautiful sausages. Very nicely done. You started out with 8.5 pounds and ended up with 6. What happened to the other 1.5 pounds? Was that from cleaning out sinew and such? I’ve been trying my hand at sausage making, but haven’t done any triming. Just cut it up, add spices and grind. Should it be cleaned up?
Brian- Yes, I did trim off the more unappetizing pieces of sinew and such. I find that they can get clogged in the grinder. Also, there’s always a small amount lost inside the grinder and stuff that doesn’t make it into the casings. I usually end up putting a few excess ounces on a pizza or something.
May you please help me.I want to find out the best way to prepare precook ed sausages.Boiling versus steaming which is better and how do I go about it
HEAT AN IRON SKILLETT, WITH A FORK PUNCH A COUPLE HOLES IN THE CASING OF EACH LINK. FRY UNTIL BROWN, MAKE GRAVEY FROM THE DROPPINGS, MIX WITH A DASH OF MILK, SALT, PEPPER AND A COUPLE TABLESPOONS OF FLOUR. STIR OVER HEAT UNTIL GRAVEY IS BROWN, SERVE WITH FRIED OR SCRAMBLED EGGS, GRITS, PREPARED ACCORDING TO INSTRUCTIONS, HOT BISCUITS AND WAIT FOR THE SUPER ACCOLADES. FANTASTIC!!!! TOPOFF WITH HOT BISCUITS AND SUGAR CANE SYRUP, SUCH AS “CANE PATCH.
I like my sausages to be juicy so I NEVER poke them. I simmer them in water for 8-10 minutes then turn them over and simmer for 8 more minutes. I finish them off on medium heat on the BBQ grill till the internal temperature is 160F. They are juicy and delicious cooked that way.
OK! Here I go! I finally have the courage to test out my grinder. I am going to follow your tips all the way through. Will post my results. Thanks for all the tips. I’m off to the market.
I have made sausages for years on my Kitchen aid mixer attachment. I am not satisfied with the plastic and the lack of a sharp cut from the blade. I jams unless I watch it carefully. Does anyone know a sausage attachment that will fit kitchen aid mixer that is a higher quality: more metal and sharper blades?
You might try buying a new blade or having the one you have sharpened if you’ve had it for years. Also, make sure your meat is very, very cold. Warm meat is softer, and more likely to jam in the blades.
Thanks, Formerchef. I will pay more attention to temp. I was just hoping there was an easy up-grade in equipment that would still fit the kitchen aid.
Im having some serious sausage envy! Im getting a lot of tips from this post and all the comments. Thanks!
How do you view a printer friendly version of this page?
Sorry, for this recipe, I don’t have one set up to print.
Great pictorial, thanks! For those who really enjoy making sausage, I speak from experience when I say ‘lose the KA sausage stuffer.’ The grinder attachment works great, but I hated trying to stuff the sausage using the KA; filled erratically, slow, and difficult to manage, even for two people. I broke down and got a 5lb capacity crank-driven stuffer off ebay, new in the box, for a reasonable price. Having the stuffer turned the whole process into fun, instead of most of it fun with the actual stuffing part being not-fun. I also made a bigger diameter wooden pusher for the grinder, as I found that the plastic one supplied by KA was just small enough compared to the grinder opening to allow meat to bypass the pusher and become a pain… Hope this is helpful.
Thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed the pictorial. I tend to agree with you about the KA by the way.
I know of an old recipe how to make sausage. The ingredients are pork butt, salt, pepper and sage. You would grind the pork butt twice, then add the correct amount of the above-listed ingredients. The recipe that I have is older than 100 years old.
If you know something better than this, please advise.
Do I know of something “better”? I don’t think I can answer that because it’s a matter of taste, but I do happen to like the recipe I posted here very much. 🙂
This was an amazing tutorial on making sausage. I live in the sausage capital of the world: Germany, but alas, they don’t do Italian sausage here. I was very impressed with the way you explained how to do everything. It was not only extremely helpful, it was also very amusing. Although I don’t have a KitchenAid (left that in Atlanta when we moved here) I will be able to get casings on every street corner. So I’ll have to make due with my Braun Food Processor. Thanks for the post.
Where I live in the Philippines, they do not have the sausage that I loved living in Texas. We do have a KA grinder, but I have no idea what ‘casings’ are. I guess I’ll look that up and see. This is something that I should get involved with as there is a lot of pork here and I like just about any kind of seasoning. The kosher salt will probably be a problem if that is necessary for all types of sausages though. And I don’t even know what ‘fennel seeds’ are. I’ll have to look that up too.
Casing are what you put the sausage into (they used to use intestines for this). Look for a coarse grind salt, not regular iodized table salt or your sausages will end up too salty. Fennel seeds are just that, the dried seeds of the fennel plant typically used in Italian cooking.
I have searched and searched for the recipe that my dad used to make sausage patties in Texas when I was a kid.
It had Pork, sage, crushed red pepper and was out of this world in flavor. The red pepper flakes woke
you up in the morning. I have eaten this recipe or a similar recipe in traveling across New Mexico. I am
now 80 is there anyone that knows how to make the breakfast sausage.
I’m looking for a sausage that will be used exclusively as a pizza topping. I read that stuffing the prepared meat into the casing was what really let the flavors marry together perfectly, or in other words, that you could not simply put the prepared meat (no casing) onto a pizza, cook it and expect to get the same flavors. This doesn’t make too much sense to me but I was wondering if you had any information or thoughts on the matter? Also, these step by step recipes are some of the easiest to understand/follow I’ve seen in a while, and I read a LOT of food blogs. Great photography too!
Paulo- Honestly, that doesn’t make sense to me either. You could let the sausage, once ground and mixed, sit for a day in the refrigerator to let the flavors “blend” but I seriously doubt putting it in a casing makes a difference in that way. I’ve used this sausage on pizza without putting it in a casing first, and it’s excellent.
Great, I’ll let it sit for one day then, no casing. Thanks!
Wow i try it by mixing mutton,chicken,venison n pork meat n pork blood its awesome
wow….i like ur article…its well detailed.am a food processing student and we make sausages too.am glad to see whatever we learn can be implimented at home…
am going to try this.
putting the ground meat through the next day for the actual stuffing-can you take the cutting blade out of your grinder this time?
seems to me, grinding it all the 2nd time might pulverize the batch too much.
If your grinder and stuffer are the same, then yes, you need to remove the cutting blade before putting the meat through for stuffing.
thanx very much for the prompt reply & I am glad I asked-I might have wrecked a whole batch of meat! my ‘deni’ grinder has 3 extruder plates-I will use the one with the medium size holes, unless I read otherwise…thanx again
Thank you for such a nice recipe. I have a question. Can the pork fat be with the skin, or should i remove it before grinding it? Thanks.
Also, would you happen to know how to dry these sausages?
Rima- You would want to remove the skin from the pork fat because it can be very tough. I’m sorry, I don’t know about drying sausages, but I do think the recipe would be a little different (with more preservative in it).
Thank you, it makes sense.
Thanks for your information on sausages. They are quite educative. But can you throw light on salami spices. you can send this to my mail directly.
Hi, I would like to make my sausage look a bit more appetizing by adding some red to the mix.Do you have a ratio of prague powder #1 to 7lbs of meat Thanks Nick R.
I’m sorry, I don’t have a ratio for that.
I cannot find any tips to easily push the last “link worth” of meat through our manual grinder. Do you have any suggestions? It’s the wurst to leave a lump of bratwurst stuck in the chamber!!! …and it’s not the same to use it as a patty.
I wish I did! But I typically just use the last of what’s in the grinder for something else (pizza, pasta, fritatta, etc).
I have a 11-lb Walton stuffer and reclaim the last bit of ground pork that is left in the stuffer after it grounds out by raising the plunger,tilting the tank so I can reach inside and use a clean McCormack spice jar”chives” to push the balance of pork thru, it results to about 2-3 links. Nick R.