How to Make Sausage at Home

Making sausage
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  • 01 of 09

    Gather your Equipment and Ingredients

    Pork Butt
    Boneless Pork Butt. Diana Rattray

    Home sausage-making is easy, delicious, and is unlimited in its possibilities for seasonings and varieties. Most traditional sausages are made of meat, fat, flavorings and casings. You'll need a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer, both of which are available as attachments for a stand mixer. 

    For pork sausage, the best cut is the picnic shoulder, but it's often hard to find. A good substitute is pork butt. Whatever meat you use, it should have some fat in it. Fat back is a good fat to use, as it won't melt out of the sausage as it cooks like some other types of fat.

    As for casings, natural casings give them most satisfying "snap" and flavor; hog casings are good for Italian sausage or bratwurst-type sausage because they come in 2-inch diameters. Narrower sheep casing are more delicate to use but are good for small breakfast sausages.

    To make about 4 pounds of sausages (about 16 to 20 links), you'll need about 3 pounds of meat and between 1/2 to 3/4 pound of fatback. If you want to add a liquid flavoring, such as wine, use 1/2 cup. You can also add garlic, dried herbs, pepper and kosher salt.

    If you can't find a local source for natural casings, you can order them online from Mid-Western Research & Supply. Casings are packed in a salty slush and will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

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  • 02 of 09

    Prepare the Casings

    Home Sausage Making
    Rinse the inside of the casings with cool water. ©Jessica Harlan

    Cut casings to a length of 2 to 2 1/2 feet, so they're easier to handle. Soak casings overnight in warm water to soften them. Before using the casings, rinse them out by putting the end over a funnel and pouring cool water through them several times.

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  • 03 of 09

    Mix the Seasonings

    Homemade Seasoning Mixes
    WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

    Experiment with your favorite spice mixture to use in the sausage. Try this one to start: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt with 3 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 2/3 teaspoons garlic powder, 1/3 teaspoon fennel seed, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, and, optionally, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

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  • 04 of 09

    Cut and Season the Meat

    Home Sausage Making
    Mix dry seasonings into the meat before grinding. ©Jessica Harlan

    Cut the pork butt—or whatever type of meat you're using—into pieces that are small enough to fit into the grinder, around 1-inch cubes. Cut the fatback into similarly sized pieces, and combine the meat and the fatback into a bowl. Sprinkle the meat with the dry seasonings and, working with light hands (to keep the fat from warming up), toss the mixture to combine.

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  • 05 of 09

    Grind the Meat

    Home Sausage Making
    Use a wooden "stomper" to feed the meat into the grinder. ©Jessica Harlan]

    Assemble your meat grinder or stand-mixture grinder attachment according to your instruction manual. Choose whether you want to use the coarse or fine die and place a bowl under the mouth of the grinder to catch the meat. Turn the mixer on to a slow speed and begin adding the meat mixture to the grinder. Alternate adding pieces of meat and fatback, using the wooden stomper to push the meat through the grinder feed tube.

    When all the meat is ground, add any additional seasonings, such as liquids or chopped garlic, and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon, working lightly to keep fat from melting.

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  • 06 of 09

    Assemble the Sausage Stuffer

    Home Sausage Making
    Load the casing onto the sausage stuffer, leaving a knotted tail. ©Jessica Harlan

    Clean the grinder by feeding a piece of white bread through the grinder, then remove grinder attachment, wash and dry it well, and reassemble it, adding the sausage stuffer accessory.

    Place a sheet pan below the sausage stuffer to catch the sausage. Feed a piece of casing onto the sausage stuffer, leaving only an inch or two of the casing hanging off the end of the stuffer. Tie a knot in the end of the casing.

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  • 07 of 09

    Stuff the Sausage

    Home Sausage Making
    Guide the sausage as it fills the casing. ©Jessica Harlan

    With the mixer on the slowest speed, take small balls of the ground meat mixture and feed them into the hopper of the sausage grinder. Air will come through first, filling up the casing like a balloon, so hold the casing in place until the meat fills the casing, then slowly guide the filled casing off the stuffer as it's filled. This might require two people: One person to add meat into the hopper, and one to hold the sausage as it comes off the stuffer. Make sure that if you see air bubbles, that you force the air out of the casing. Leave about 4 inches of empty casing on the end.

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  • 08 of 09

    Form the Links

    Home Sausage Making
    Measure links and twist to secure. ©Jessica Harlan

    Starting with the knotted end of the sausage, measure off the desired length of sausage, and squeeze to mark the end of the first sausage. Measure a second sausage, squeeze again, then twist between the first and second sausages about three times. Continue measuring, squeezing and twisting, alternating the directions in which you twist.

    At the end of the chain of sausages, tie a knot after the last sausage. If the tail isn't long enough to tie a knot, squeeze out the last sausage from the casing and add it back to the ground meat mixture to use in the second batch of sausages. Coil the sausages on a sheet pan and puncture any visible air bubbles so they won't split during cooking. For best results, refrigerate the sausages, uncovered, overnight before cooking.

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  • 09 of 09

    Cook the Sausages

    Home Sausage Making
    Sausage can be sauteed until browned. ©Jessica Harlan

    Cook sausages on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes. You can also grill the sausages or smoke them in a stovetop smoker. Sausages will be firm and will be 170 degrees F when tested with an instant-read thermometer, but don't take the sausage's temperature until they are nearly finished cooking. Puncturing the sausage will cause the juices to leak out.