The Ukrainian Kovbasa Sausage That Needs No Casing

Fresh Sausage and Hot Dogs Grilling Outdoors on a Gas Barbecue Grill

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Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 6 sausages
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
598 Calories
43g Fat
11g Carbs
39g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 598
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 15g 73%
Cholesterol 188mg 63%
Sodium 902mg 39%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 759mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Ukrainian, kovbasa is the generic word for any type of "sausage," much like kiełbasa is the generic word for "sausage" in Polish. The beauty of this particular Ukrainian fresh sausage (not smoked) recipe is that casings are optional. The links can be formed by hand if desired. Other Eastern European sausages formed by hand include Serbian/Croatian cevapcici and Romanian mititei.

This simple sausage is made with a combination of pork and beef and peperivka, a spicy vodka. The meat mixture can be prepared days in advance in order for the flavors to meld and develop before rolling into cylinders and cooking. Grilling, frying, baking, or poaching all produce a good result. If you have trouble finding peperivka, there's a recipe for it below. It must be aged for 48 hours before using, so plan accordingly.


For the Peperivka:

  • 3 whole cayenne peppers

  • 2/3 cup vodka

For the Sausages:

  • 1 pound ground pork shoulder

  • 1/2 pound ground beef chuck

  • 4 ounces fatback

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 2 teaspoons peperivka

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 double-layer muslin

  • 6 inches butcher's twine

  • 7 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Steps to Make It

Make the Peperivka

  1. Prick cayenne peppers all over with a fine skewer.

  2. Place peppers in a sterilized glass jar and add vodka. Screw on the top and shake.

  3. Let the pepper vodka sit for at least 48 hours before using and then refrigerate. This makes about 2/3 cup.

Make the Sausages

  1. Combine the ground pork shoulder, ground beef chuck, fatback, beaten eggs, 2 teaspoons peperivka, allspice, and salt. Check seasonings by frying a small amount and tasting. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

  2. Form meat mixture into 6 sausages. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, carefully add sausages, cooking in batches if necessary, 7 to 10 minutes per side. Sausages also can be grilled or baked.

  3. To Poach the Sausages: Form the meat mixture into 2 (8-inch) long sausages, wrap them in a double muslin layer and tie securely with butcher's twine. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a gentle simmer. Add the sausages and poach gently, frequently turning, for 35 to 40 minutes or until the juices run clear when the sausages are pierced with a fine skewer. Leave the sausages in the stock for 20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Remove the twine and muslin and sauté the sausages in oil to brown them.

  4. Garnish with parsley and serve with buttered mashed potatoes, if desired.

Recipe Variation

  • Bourbon or another style of whiskey can be used instead of vodka to make the peperivka.


  • Adapted from "Polish and Russian: 70 Traditional Step-by-Step Dishes from Eastern Europe (Cooking Around the World)" by Lesley Chamberlain & Catherine Atkinson (Lorenz Books, 2005).