How to Make Sausage




About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to lear...

This is how Christy and I made over 34 lbs of wild boar sausage using the food grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. There are tips specific to the equipment we used, and tips for making flavored sausage in general. Making your own sausage can be laborious, but is rewarding in that you finally know for sure what's in your sausage. Plus, all of your friends will be begging to try some.

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Step 1: Basic Sausage Recipe

Here's my basic sausage recipe:

1 lbs meat
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp sweetener (pure maple syrup, for example)


1 lbs meat
1 tsp sea salt
1 handful of flavoring -- dried or fresh fruit, pesto, roasted and chopped peppers, cheese, fresh herbs

if you choose to used dried spices or something especially strong, like hot peppers, go a bit lighter than a handful. While you obviously can't mix to taste, you can fry up small batches of ground meat and flavorings without casings to check your ratios.

Step 2: Sausage Making Overview

Since making sausage means working with meat that can potentially spoil, it's nice to have all the steps organized in advance. So, I put everything in one step here.

1. Collect equipment and non-spoilable materials (meat grinder, sausage stuffer, fruit, herbs, spices, salt, natural hog casings, etc...)
2. Get meat. If the meat is freshly killed, you'll only have a few days to get all the processing done before you should have the meat frozen
3. Carve the meat into 1-2 inch chucks suitable for grinding
4. Prepare flavorings
5. Partially freeze meat and flavorings
6. Grind meat and flavorings into sausage
7. Re-partially freeze sausage
8. Stuff sausage into casings
9. Fully freeze sausages

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Clean up and bleach all tools after use, and during any major pause between steps where you aren't actively processing cold meat.

If you're using a piston-type sausage-stuffer rather then the screw or auger-type Kitchen Aid attachment I used, some of your steps can be modified. For example, you may not need to mix your flavorings with the pre-ground meat. I found that my sausage stuffer was prone to clogging, so wanted to make sure everything would pass through smoothly.

Step 3: Collect Sausage Making Equipment and Materials

Our equipment consisted of:
- Kitchen Aid Mixer
- Food Grinder Attachment
- Sausage Stuffer Kit
- Cuisinart Food processor

Natural hog casings -- ours were purchased at Taylor's Sausage at the Old Oakland Housewives' Market
Butcher paper or heavy-duty waxed paper
Freezer bags

Step 4: Get Meat

Our meat came from two wild hogs totaling over 200 lbs; read more about that here. If hunting isn't your thing, you could also get a whole or part of a pig or cow from a farm, your local farmer's market, or through arrangement with your butcher. (We highly recommend using meat that is either wild or pastured on a farm; factory-farmed meat just isn't good for you, and the taste bears this out.)

We gutted and skinned the hogs, and cut them into pieces that could fit into large coolers to bring home packed in ice. We stored everything in our second fridge while processing the meat into chops, loins, skirt steak, and sausage that all got frozen. If you plan on processing an entire animal yourself, you will definitely need a second refrigerator (or an empty first one!) or lots of ice to restock your coolers.

The wild sow shown in the image is probably around 180 lbs, and after processing everything, we have 17 different types of sausage, with each batch made using 2 lbs of meat, for a total of over 34 lbs of sausage. The remainder of the meat is in other cuts. Our hunting guide thought we had about four days to process the meat; more if we were careful about refrigeration. It actually took us six days (1.5 full days over the weekend, and nights during the week) to get the meat fully processed. So be aware that this can be a big job.

Step 5: Carve the Meat

Carve the meat into the cuts you want, wrap in butcher paper, and freeze. We saved ribs, backstrap/loin, chops, and the pig equivalent of skirt steak. (In a farmed pig this would be bacon - our wild pigs were far too lean.) Hams can be salted and smoked, but we weren't prepared for those procedures this time; we've acquired some great books on charcuterie, and our next pig will be turned into all sorts of great forms of exciting preserved meat.

But on to the sausage:
Cut the rest into 1-2 inch on-a-side chunks to be ground. Pictures of where various cuts are from will help. Shown in the images is the section on hogs from Country Wisdom and Know How. We used a full complement of kitchen knives, plus a single-sided hacksaw.
Get the chunks of meat into the freezer as soon as possible. You want them to be partially frozen for grinding.

Storing meat before butchering:
- Meat is best stored chilled, with adequate air circulation. That's why you see pictures of meat hanging in big walk-in refrigerators. Bonus points if you have one, otherwise use a fridge.
- Don't leave the meat sitting in icy water - it will become waterlogged, and spoil faster. If you must use coolers, drain the water frequently and refresh the ice.
- Don't store the meat in trash bags. These are usually treated with substances to retard bacterial growth, stuff you don't want on your meat. They also block exposure to air.
- Don't store the meat wrapped in newspaper - the paper will get wet and stick. Thick brown paper grocery bags are a better choice if you need to contain the meat.
- Put a tray under the meat, or under the bags of meat, to prevent drips.
- You can enclose the paper shopping bags in plastic/trash bags - if you do this, leave the plastic bag open so the meat can breathe.

Step 6: Prepare Sausage Flavorings

Dreaming up interesting sausage flavors was the most participated-in step because it required the least raw-pork touching. Everyone will have an opinion. Try to consider only the good ones.

We mixed our flavorings together in a food processor. Confirm that the flavoring tastes good on its own before adding the salt. (The salt will overpower the small amount of flavoring.) Raw garlic can be hit or miss, because you can't be sure it will get properly roasted within the sausage. Lightly sauteed garlic works much better.

In our week-long meat processing, we made 17 types of wild boar sausage with the following flavors:
dried blueberry, mint, lemon zest
frozen blueberry, apple, lemon zest, oxalis
apricot, ginger, lemon thyme
sweet gorgonzola, olive, apple, red pepper flakes
frozen + dried cherry, chevre
peach, ginger, red + green fresh hot peppers
green chili, sage, feta, cajeta, maple syrup
maple syrup
chipotle pepper in adobo, dried mango (should have used fresh!)
roasted red + yellow pepper, chevre, olives, rosemary
sun-dried tomato, feta, rosemary
apricot, chevre, sage, garam masala
raw garlic, dried cherry, chevre
curry, apple, feta
apple, sage, chile/garlic sauce, maple syrup
sauteed garlic, artichoke

Step 7: Mix the Meat and Flavoring; Freeze

Mix the chunks of meat and flavorings together, and partially freeze them. The freezing serves two purposes. First, while you are grinding the meat, you don't want it to warm up and spoil. Home Sausage Making (PDF) from the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut claims that meat should always remain below 40 F. This is cold enough that your hands will start to hurt while handling the meat. Second, the more solid the meat and flavoring mixture, the easier it will be to grind. When partially frozen, the tendons cut cleanly rather than wrap and clog, the fat doesn't start to soften/render, and the auger pushes the meat through properly. At least in the Kitchen Aid meat grinder, if the meat warms up -- and especially if the flavoring is more liquid than solid -- the screw just spins and mixes because there aren't particles big enough for it to grab and force through the grind plate.

We mixed up 2 lbs batches of meat. These took at least overnight to partially freeze through; 4 hours wasn't long enough. Use a big knife and cut this frozen mass into chunks.

Step 8: Grind Meat and Flavoring

Once partially frozen, we cut the meat and flavoring into chunks that could easily fit in the hopper of the meat grinder, and ground it. You'll know you're at the right temperature if this step is fast, and the blade of the grinder doesn't clog. If it starts clogging, the meat might still be cold enough to be safe, but the whole operation will become much more frustrating.

Step 9: Refreeze the Ground Meat

We put the ground meat back in the freezer while we ground other batches of meat. This step probably isn't necessary, but when you're working with many 2 lbs batches, you have the opportunity to grind one batch, and put it back in the freezer while you grind another batch, just to make sure everything remains cold.

Step 10: Stuff the Sausage Into Casings

Natural hog casings are the small intestine of pigs, and the irony of sausage being a pig's muscles on the wrong side of its own intestinal wall should not be lost on you.

Fish out a single casing, and slide it onto the sausage stuffer horn. My casings were too long to entirely fit on the horn, so I cut them roughly in half. Run some sausage through until it starts to come out of the end of the horn. Pull the casing over the end, tie a knot, and slide the knot back to the end of the horn. You are trying to avoid air bubbles. I've read suggestions to use a pin to poke holes and squeeze out bubbles, but in my best batches with partially frozen ingredients, I didn't need to do this.

Fill the casing mostly full by holding it on the horn as the sausage fills it up. Once you're out of meat (or out of casing) tie another knot.

You might think you can grind and stuff in one operation. I tried this multiple times, and kept failing. The meat just kept clogging around the grinding blade and plate when the horn was attached.

Be careful of the plastic bearing in the Kitchen Aid stuffer attachment! When you're done and cleaning up, it's easy to miss this piece when cleaning meat out of the auger. Once I threw it in the compost within a bunch of meat, and another time I threw it in a frying pan in a test-batch of sausage!

Step 11: Make Links

Form links in the sausage by twisting. Twist each link in opposite directions to avoid un-twisting your prior link. I.e. right-hand-rule for the odd links; left-hand-rule for the even links.

I found it easier to twist once the sausage was completely stuffed, and off of the stuffer. That way you can move the meat around and even out the diameter, should you choose.

I learned so much about my own intestines during this step!

Step 12: Freeze the Sausages

Label and freeze the sausages. Some pig parasites are killed by a week or two of freezing at 0F. So while you really shouldn't eat a sausage unless you know it's cooked all the way through, a week of freezing probably won't hurt your chances of avoiding illness.

Since you're probably using a home freezer, and will be adding a considerable amount to its thermal mass, check to see whether you can force it to run for a period of time. Our chest freezer had a "fast freeze" option to do exactly that. This will avoid warm spots at the center of a big pile of meat!

Step 13: Clean and Sterilize

We cleaned everything we used, and then bleached it. When cleaning surfaces and appliances, start at the top with a spray of bleach, and work your way down to the surfaces, and finally the floor.

Be careful while you're working - segregate your space into "clean" and "contaminated", and keep track of everything you touch with dirty hands. The less you get dirty, the less you have to clean.

Arrange your soap and sink such that you can access both without smearing pig all over the handles. I like to make use of my (clean) elbows to pump soap and activate the faucet, but have dreams of installing a lab-style footpedal for the sink! If you have problems doing this cleanly, ask someone for help.

We packed our extra hog casings in salt, and put them in the refrigerator.

Step 14: Cook and Share

We cooked the sausages in stainless steel and cast-iron pans over medium-low heat. We started them off frying to brown each side, and then added some liquid (in our case stock, made from the bones of the hog) and covered the pans. According to the Piggery, their sausages are cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 145 F, so that's what we did. A few were overcooked, because we used an analog and not an instant-read meat thermometer; we've since purchased an instant-read for better sausage-making.

Eric's favorites:
dried blueberry, mint, lemon zest
frozen blueberry, apple, lemon zest, oxalis
maple syrup
curry, apple, feta

Christy's favorites:
dried blueberry, mint, lemon zest
apricot, ginger, lemon thyme
raw garlic, dried cherry
sun-dried tomato, feta, rosemary

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      36 Discussions


      4 years ago on Introduction

      For smoked, dried, or cooked sausage, you should use Curing Salt. I use Prague Pink, but you can get Mortons curing salt at the grocery store. This helps keep the food safe.


      5 years ago on Introduction

      I'm always looking for new sausage recipes to try when we butcher. Last year I tried some OldBay seasoning and a little pearsauce. They turned out great.


      10 years ago on Introduction

      I'm honestly surprised we'd never attempted anything like this at my house seeing as my mom's first job was in a butcher shop. She must've known how much work this was. : P I am curious how good it would be to make some sausage gravy, and biscuits with some of this though. I have some hunter friends that might be persuaded into giving me a small portion of pig instead of the entire animal! : ) Would it be possible to forgo the annoying looking 'casing step', and just shape the ground sausage into small breakfast links? Oh, and what's the yellow stuff in the bowl? It's the last picture in step one.

      3 replies

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      I ate some of the uncased sausage this morning. If you can manage not to pierce the casing, it will help retain moisture. Since the meat is so lean, this turns out to be pretty important. When cooked like regular ground meat, the uncased sausage tends to be very dry and easy to overcook. At least in the batch this morning, which had uncooked garlic, the meat cooked before the garlic had a chance to mellow. The same sausage in a casing turns out better (but I would still recommend against uncooked garlic in future sausages. I think the stuff in the bowl is the roasted red and yellow peppers after blending. Or, the green chili sage. After so many sausages, it's hard to remember!


      Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

      Little tip if you cook without casing, roll your sausage/patty in a little cornflour or just plain flour,it seals it, stays moist inside,crispy outside,fry gently.


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Yum, I've always parboiled my sausages 10-15 minutes first and then brown them in the pan. It helps them cook faster/more thorough and I prefer the crispyness of the pan frying. You can then also add peppers/onions to the batch.

      3 replies

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      I did that with a few, and found that the initial boiling reduced the flavor. When I add liquid to the pan, it's just enough to keep stuff from sticking -- more of a double amount deglaze than a final boil.


      Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

      This is kind of strange to me that american people boil their sausages before frying them, I am french and live in england,and the only sausages we boil here are Frankfurters and the hot dog type sausages, all the rest we just straight pan fry gently for about 10/15 mins total depending on the size/thickness of the product. It is still very juicy and thoroughly cooked with all its flavours, trick is not to overheat your pan or sausages can split and loose their water content,do not pierce the skin unles there is an air bubble in, and use a pin, not a knife or the skin will crack open whilst cooking.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Come to think of it, the parboiling probably comes more from the uncooked pork/trichinosis fear and not knowing what cuts of meat went into it. I have seen some butcher areas where they grind the "trimmings" and have seen enough sausage at pepper sandwiches prepared from outdoor vendor carts at street faires to really consider making my own sausage. I guess making some with good flavor would be a bonus. It's funny that buying sausage casing in bulk form doesn't look that appealing.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Not using the same equipment and ingredients as you.... It just worried me in terms of the "quality / food safety" of the finished product. Obviously the more times raw goods are frozen/thawed the more likely you are to introduce contaminants, etc, as well as the overall quality of the product! Obviously, cleanliness and promptness are going to reduce the risk, but I thought it was worth a mention! (Please pardon my "Food Safety" accent here, I work in the food industry and often wear my Food Microbiologist hat out side of work).


      Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

      Hello there, i think these days too much emphasis is put on food safety and it turns to paranoia. Pardon my directness, but i have never heard my grandparents etc.. complain about food poisoning and the likes...i THINK MOST OF IT COMES FROM FACTORY FARMING,THE ABATTOIRS AND RESTAURANTS,most of which deal which so much work that they tend to cut corners and act carelessly to speed boost income.My grandfather was a farmer and made all his own products,everything was always clean but not 'over sanitized' and he took great care and pride in what he did and got to live to 94. Also cutting your meat on wood is good as it has a natural antibacterial agent.
      As long as you buy or farm healthy meat and are a reasonably hygenic person there is no need to worry about contamination.
      Also bare in mind that a little bacteria never hurt anyone,it helps strenghten your immune system,and by killing all bacteria,good&bad,you endanger your health more.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Ah, I see the problem. The goal is to prevent thawing during the processing steps - mostly freeze the chunks in sauce, quickly grind and send the still-frozen ground meat directly back to the freezer. Pull out immediately before stuffing, stuff, and bag/return to the freezer ASAP. We basically apply sterile technique to all steps of processing, so I was quite comfortable with the low level of risk. My degree is cell/molecular bio, so it's kind of fun to get to use it at home. ;)


      10 years ago on Introduction

      I understand that this is for "fresh sausage." If one were to introduce smoke flavoring or smoke curing into this process, where would that step fall? I want to learn to make all different kinds, but I'm mostly interested in semi-dry sausage like pepperoni sticks or summer sausage. What is the difference between those varieties? When they are cooked?

      2 replies

      Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

      A little late, but I just joined Instructables recently...  My wife and I have been making pork (and other types of) sausage for over ten years now and have this down to a "repeatable offense" at this point.  We processed 1100 pounds of pork last spring from our "mini-farm".  We take this very seriously ;o)

      Just a few pointers:
      1) Meat cuts better in the grinder when it is cold (nearly frozen).  A gallon sized freezer bag will take approximately 1 1/2 hours to chill in the freezer with just the corners frozen.  We have a much larger grinder (#32) but the meat cuts the same in either case - cut the meat into workable [grinder sized] chunks before you chill it.

      2) When cutting meat, be sure to leave a quantity of fat in, else your sausage will be dry.  Add beef fat (from your grocer) to Venison or typical game animals - while you grind the meat, the idea is to intermix the fat with the meat in the grind.

      3) perform the first grind (rough grind) with a larger plate (bigger holes), add seasonings (the web is full of recipies) and then reduce the plate size (remember to chill again prior to grinding.  Nothing is more annoying than having the meat turn into paste in the grinder when the knife (the four bladed thing) gets coated with sinew and goo. (this includes liquid smoke - smoking the sausage to cure it is carcinogenic, liquid smoke is not while it adds the same flavor).

      4) After grinding, you MUST make small patties and taste the product to ensure that you have added enough of everything.  I generally add the salt gradually as I go forward because you can over salt very easily and make the entire batch less than great as a result.  The addition of compensatory spices will need to be mixed in well and completely through the batch before tasting (beer helps to clean the pallet between offerings). 

      I will be adding an Instructable on this (hopefully in the near future) - GREAT PIECE!!  My compliments on the instructable!!


      Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

      Hey there, i have also staeted to make my own sausages and found out that they are even tastier if you cube and marinate your cuts overnight with your spices covered in the fridge, it also allows to better mix it all when you grind the meat coarse and then medium of fine. There is an awsome book of sausage recipes which i found on Amazon by Jery Predika called simply 'The sausage-making book' (ISBN 978-0-8117-1693-2), it has more than 230 recipes from all around the world,and the guy is an enthousiast trying to collect all these recipes of home made and known sausages before they get lost as a lot of people sadly 'die before passing on their knowledge'.
      I have tried about 10 different recipes so far and they are all yummy.
      Good luck everyone,i hope this has helped.