A Beginners Guide to Sausage Making

My grandfather was a large influence on my passion for homesteading. He was an avid gardener, hunter, made his own wine and sausage; and was always generous about sharing.

He made use of the plethora of meat he would get from hunting or deals he found at the grocery store. Once he was loaded up on meat, he would get his meat grinder out and carefully cut his meat for grinding and make some of the best sausage you could ever have. I grew up on his homemade sausage and could never get enough. I am a big believer in sharing family recipes and did so in my book, The Prepper’s Cookbook, so I had to share some of my favorite sausage recipes too.

Sausage making is a great way to use up an abundance of meats in the home freezer. I use an assortment of cheap meats. My grandfather’s secret was using equal amounts of brisket and pork butt.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • large mixing bowl
  • sharp knife
  • meat grinder (look for one that has multiple speeds and has a reverse capability. It helps with unclogging the grinder)
  • sausage casings (natural or non-edible casings is a personal choice)
  • assorted spices or buy a prepared spice pack
  • cure salt (I like this one) – Use 1 teaspoon of curing salt per 5 lbs. of meat.
  • meat: stew meat, roasts, briskets, pork butts, pork shoulder, etc.
  • baker’s twine

Prepping the Meat

Any meat can be used in sausage making, but typically, pork and beef are used. Pork shoulder is a great meat to use as it has 20% fat and creates a nice balance to the sausage. As well, it is sold at a low-cost. Place it on a plate or pan in the freezer, along with the grinder parts that will contact the meat. Leave it there for about 20 minutes until it is firm but do not let it freeze. This makes grinding easier.

Here’s a great video on getting the meat prepped for grinding and stuffing.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes:


  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Form mixture into patties and place on a large dish.
  3. Over medium heat, saute the patties in a large skillet for 5 minutes per side, or until internal pork temperature reaches 160 degrees F (73 degrees C).
  4. Or, add sausage patties to a freezer bag and freeze for later. Tip: We like to freeze them on a large cookie sheet with wax paper. Once frozen, we add them to a freezer bag.


  • 5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Morton Tender Quick curing salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, for spicy (optional)
  • summer sausage casings (if you plan on smoking your summer sausage)


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef and spices until well blended.
  2. Cover mixture with foil and allow to cure in refrigerator for 48 hours. Season with garlic powder, curing mixture, liquid smoke and mustard seed, and mix thoroughly. It is best to use your hands for this – like meatloaf. Form the mixture into two rolls, and wrap with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. If you are smoking your meat: Add meat to casing either by stuffing by hand, using a sausage stuffer or sausage stuffing attachment for an electric meat-grinder.
  4. If you plan on baking your summer sausage: Shape the mixture into five logs and wrap in foil. Set on a wire rack over a large drip pan.
  5. See cooking directions below.

Smoking Instructions:

  1. To smoke summer sausage, smoke at 140 degrees F for 1 hour, then at 180 degrees F until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F (insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the sausage). Tip: Soak your wood chips in beer to give your sausage an authentic flavor. I used Sierra Nevada IPA and it turned out delicious.
  2. Remove from smokehouse and place in ice water to cool down rapidly.

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove foil from the beef, and poke holes in the bottom of the rolls. Place them on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan to catch the drippings.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven.
  4. Cool, then wrap in plastic or foil, and refrigerate until cold before slicing.


  • 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt
  • 1 pound beef or pork fat or a blend
  • 4 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 teaspoons salt


  1. Grind the meat using a fine grinding plate.
  2. After grinding, add the sausage seasonings to the meat and blend by hand or use a meat mixer. Be sure to mix thoroughly to ensure the ingredients are spread evenly throughout the meat.
  3. Pinch off a small piece of the sausage and cook it in a frying pan let it cool and taste to see if the seasoning is to your taste.
  4. Stuff by hand or by using a sausage stuffer or sausage stuffing attachment for an electric meat-grinder. (Note: do NOT use the blade in meat-grinder when stuffing and it is best to use a stuffing (bean) plate). If you wish, You can also form patties without casings.
  5. See cooking instructions below.

Baking or Grilling Instructions:

  1. Prick bratwurst with fork to prevent them from exploding as they cook. Place in a large stock pot with the onions, butter, and beer. Place pot over medium heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
  3. Lightly oil grate. Cook bratwurst on preheated grill for 10 to 14 minutes, turning occasionally to brown evenly. 

Smoking Instructions:

  1. Preheat your smoker or grill to about 225 degrees F.
  2. Place the sausages on an indirect side away from the heat. Add wood to the heat right after the meat goes on, and smoke for only 30 to 60 minutes at the start while the meat is cold. There should be no need to turn the meat.
  3. Heat for at least 1 hour, but check the internal temp with a digital meat thermometer and make sure the internal meat temperature is at least 160°F.

It’s nice to be able to carry on a family tradition that I loved as a child. I can honestly say that my kids are big fans of homemade sausage and it is my hope these recipes will live on.

by Tess Penington

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