How To Make Homemade Italian Sausages Step By Step
Making your own Italian sausages is a great way to create a quality product where you know exactly what went into your sausages unlike the ones you buy at the grocery store. It also allows you to personalize your sausages so you can season them to meet your own personal preferences which ensures you get the best tasting sausage.
This recipe is for hot sausages, but you could certainly decrease or even cut out the red pepper flakes if you wanted to. The best way to determine if you are going to have perfectly seasoned sausages, is to mix some of your meat and seasonings together, and then before you go any further, cook up some of the seasoned meat and determine if you need to add more of any of the spices. The ingredient amounts below are approximate as hot red pepper flakes can vary greatly in the amount of heat they contain, so mixing a small batch up first is the best way to judge.
In most Italian families, older men generally stay out of the kitchen as a rule, deferring to their wives expertise. But when it comes to sausage or wine making, everyone gets involved! I found it easiest to divide our meat after it was ground into 5 pound batches that I would season with the amounts listed below. We made a total of about 30 pounds of sausages, but by dividing into 5 pound batches, we were able to create some mild sausages by simply leaving out the hot pepper flakes in those particular batches. Prepare the hog casings the day before by soaking in water with a little orange juice and salt. Before using, rinse well and cut into pieces 18″- 2′ long. Keep the casings in warm water to keep them soft and flexible while you work.
Makes 5 Pounds Of Sausage
by Deborah Mele
5 Pounds Ground Pork Shoulder
5 Teaspoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Fennel
3 Tablespoons Paprika
2 Tablespoons Hot Red Pepper Flakes
To start, cut the meat off the bone, keeping most of the fat, but discarding any sinew or ligaments. I found it best to work with the meat very cold, and cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces that easily fit into the hopper of my grinder. You want a fairly coarse, not too fine grind for these sausages, so use the large holed plate on your grinder.
I use a Kitchen Aid Table Mixer with meat grinding attachments with good results. Place the prepared meat in large bowls in the refrigerator until you have it all ground and ready to put into the casings.
Basic spices used are paprika, salt, pepper, fennel & red pepper flakes.
Next put all the meat out on a large clean surface such as a baking board or counter. Spread out across the surface, and begin to pour the spices across the top. Mix well using your hands until all the spices are incorporated into the meat. Take about 1 cup of the seasoned pork and place in a frying pan with about 1/4 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until the meat is nicely browned and then taste to determine if the seasonings are adequate. If necessary, add more seasonings of choice.
It is best to work with at least two people as one will load the hopper while the second one controls the meat moving into the casings. Take your casing, tie the end and begin to stuff it fairly firmly using your machine of choice. Hold the intestine firmly and try to add as little air as possible. Continue until the entire casing is stuffed up until the last three or four inches.
Tie off firmly with string. Set aside and continue in this manner with the remaining casings and pork mixture until you are finished. We now go back and tie off each sausage section in 6-8″ segments, and pick the sausages with a sharp needle to remove air. Next place meal sized portions into zip lock plastic bags and freeze, or use as desired.
Deborah Mele 2011
Hello Deborah, we are getting ready to try your recipe for sausage making, and I just have a couple questions. Why do you add the water to the pan when testing the sausage? Do you let it evaporate and then wait for the browning? Do you cover it at first and allow it to steam before browning? We’ve had a couple failed attempts at sausage making so we’d love to get it right this time. Thanks in advance!
Paola, you really do not need the water, but that is how we do it. You are just checking to make sure the seasonings are right so as long as you brown up some sausage meat and taste it, that is the important part.
Great ideas here, thank everyone for sharing.
Any thoughts on mixing beef and pork? For some reason, I seem to remember that’s what my parents use to do.
However, memory fades and we haven’t made decent sauceages in many many years! Hoping to change that this weekend.
The only Italian sausages I have had were made from pork products.
I’m buying an attachment to my kitchen aid and going to make some sausage. Also going to make the lentil soup, lots-of-good=stuff in there. Thanks for the recipes. Frank
Hello Deborah,looking to take the adventure into sausage -making and would like to incorporate items like ‘rappe and or long , hot fresh peppers, instead of hot pepper flakes . Being of Puglese descent, our butchers incorporate lamb with cheese and parsley, and we know those who incorporate peppers and onions, etc. . My questions are : coarsely chop and add to the ground meat and NOT place through grinder OR put through grinder ?Next, do you suggest we saute peppers and or broccoli d’rappe till aldente or NOT precook , in any fashion ? I understand and will experiment but your opinion on these steps, might save time and energy , on proven methodology . Thanks for your assistance and for such a wonderful touchstone .Can’ wait !
Matthew, Sorry, I’ve only used dried pepper flakes as my InLaws do.
Bon giorno I miei amici,
Regarding the Broccoli d’rappe, you may want to par boil them in salted water for four or five minutes to remve some of the bitterness. Then, cool the rappe and cut them into desired pieces. Mix the rappe with the sausage meat and they should cook completely with the fat in the casing. As always, with cooking there is trial and error involved for the outcome you desire. I have found that this works farly well.
Careful not to bypass the par boil step or you will have a bitterness from the rappe that will not please your palate. Salted water is essential to remove the bitterness.
Additionally, if you have time on your hands, I find that if you chop the meat and add spices, then let the mixture sit overnight (meat only) the results can be much more flavorful.
Mangia I buona fortuna mi amici!!!!!!!!
I am surprised that no garlic is used in the sausage revipe. Do you recommend garlic? Please advise.
I have a great family recipe for polish sausage. Would you like it?
Jerry, it is common to include garlic in Italian sausage. Thanks, but I’m lucky to find time to make Italian sausage once a year.
Are you willing to share your Polish Sausage recipe?? I surely would love to try it.
Sorry, I do not make Polish sausage.
The problem we have in the USA is the lack of fat in our pork. It is certainly not 25-30% fat content.
You use pork sholder is their much difference using pork butt?
You can use either. We used pork shoulder from Costco last time and it made great sausages.
Pork shoulder and what the stores call Boston buts are the same cut of meat.
Pork shoulder and pork butte are the same cut of pork. They come from the front shoulders. Raised pigs for years. Butte doesn’t come from the rear, it’s just a term they use (don’t know why).
Before refrigeration, many portions of pork were shipped heavily salted in wooden casks known commonly as “butts” — Now, guess where the major point of shipping was ? — Boston
I want to make some Italian sausage. I haven’t made it in years. I don’t know what size casings to buy. I can’t find them in any store so I’ll have to order them. What size do you recommend? I want to try your recipe. I also want to make some out of chicken. Thanks.
Debbie, I never heard of the casings coming in different sizes. We simply buy natural casings.
You can get casings in all sizes. Some Natural, Pork, beef, sheep intestines are used as well as edible man made ones.
Where can I buy sausage casings? Where online?
Cindi, I am sorry but I do not know personally. If you have a good butcher store close by, they will usually sell them to you.
You can buy casing from Syracuse casing company inc. online. You want 30-32 mm casings for Italian sausage. The casing you get from Syracuse casing company are processed and made in the USA. Most casing you buy in stores are products of USA. Products of USA is a product shipped to China and processed and shipped back to the USA. Here is the web site for Syracuse casing co. http://www.makincasing.com/shop.asp
Hi Deborah i have made dried sausages about 6 months ago and still have some casings left which i have kept in my refridegerator since
Can i still use them again
And whats the difference between Italian sausages and Chorizo sausages that gets dried
I wouldn’t think the casings would be good anymore unless they were frozen.
If they were packed in salt, and kept in the fridge, they should be OK
Hog casing, if kept in the fridge and salted can last up to a year. If you have access to fresh casings then by all means buy more. I can get about 50 feet from my butcher for about $5.00. To inexpensive to risk using spoiled casings.
Also, you go to LEM.com and they sell all types of casings as well as equipment. Casing comes in different sizes depending on the type of animal they come from. Sheep casing are smaller and we use them for breakfast sausage. Hog casing for Italian. Just type in sausage casings and you will find numerous companies that offer them with the sizes listed on the container. Lastly, your good neighborhood butcher shop, especially those that sell whole hogs, will be your best bet. All you need do to find that type of butcher is go to your local BBQ cookout competition and ask where they buy their meat. GOOD LUCK!
Good Morning Deborah:
I enjoy your website and came across the recipe for Italian Sausage, it’s identical to the one my mother used to use and I remember, she tested the flavor and seasonings just as you do, fry a small piece. Aroma in the kitchen was wonderful. My sister buys her meat in 25 lb batches from the supermarket and they supply a packet of seasoning for that amount of meat and casings are not a problem to buy, most meat departments have a container packed in salt and they last a long time refrigerated.
When I make sausage (haven’t ever made Italian) I mix the seasoning with the cut up pork strips then run it through the grinder. It seems to be easier to get the seasoning mixed in with the meat this way. I usually make at least 40 lbs at a time though and smaller quantities such as this recipe may not make that much difference.
They may be less traditional but the end result is indistinguishable so I use collagen casings when making sausages – they are dry, easier to use, don’t smell anywhere near as bad and are easy to store.
As Jim stated above, I also mix my seasonings through with the chopped meat before putting through the mincer. You do get a much more even spread of flavour that way. Also, as I work with the meat chilled to the point of virtually frozen at all stages, it is easier as mashing up ice cold meat is no fun at all.
I will be using a kitchen aid stand mixer. What speed do you use with your kitchen aid mixer? Also how do you control the air getting into the casings. I have had air go up the stuffing tube on the outside and fill the casings. Would you reply in email please?
Larry, we keep the speed pretty low and usually one holds the casings tight while one puts in the meat. Air pockets haven’t been a big problem for us though we do use a toothpick to remove any air.
Larry, when putting your casings on the stuffer tube, it is best to not tie the casing until your meat is either at the end of the tube or there is some meat in the casing. This will eliminate 99% of the air. Also using the appropriate tube size for the casings helps a lot.
removing the start up is easy, for the air left over, a pin inserted into the stuffed sausage works good also.
When making Italian sausages, in addition to the red pepper, fennel and paprika ( I’ve never heard of putting garlic in sausages and I’ve been Italian for almost 50 years and have lived there as well) one can add a good amount of minced Italian parsley and moisten the ground pork butt ( which comes from the SHOULDER) with a dry white wine ( like englenook Chablis) and the final result is moist and flavorful whether hot or sweet.
Buona mangiata and enjoy!
We are trying this for the first time. It should be interesting. Have read all tips etc ,so hope it all works out
Best of luck!
Sausages turned out A-ok. Really pleased with this recipe. I used collagen casings,as we were experimenting. Next time will get hogget casings , now we know what we are doing. Thankyou everyone for all the tips
EXCELLENT recipe! We just finished making a batch of this for our very first time at making sausage. VERY FUN! My only little change would be salt…I would use 4 tablespoons instead of 5. Other wise…PERFECT. Can’t wait to do it again!
Denise, glad it worked out for you!
In my years of sausage making here are a few tips that might help ya for sucessful sausage.
First off, your location in the world does make a difference.
An average pork shoulder or butt in the average US grocery store will be around 70/30 -75/25 meat to fat ratio. I was aways able to buy a shoulder or butt piece and the fat ratio was good. Not true in other countries. Philippines the hogs have MUCH LESS fat. So when buying ground pork you will probably want to tell the meat dept people your makjng sausage and require 25-30% fat in your grind.
2nd thing. Is to mix completely. The meat/fat will become very sticky. You do not want to see any patches of seasoning in the meat. For 5lbs, 2 to 3 minutes will usually have it mixed well. Squeeze with hands through fingers, punch down like bread dough, keep sides and bottom of mixing bowl scraped into meat pile. Get rouh wih it, it is only meat and the more you move it, the more completely the spices mix. The fat WILL begin to break down and things will get sticky. This is a good sign.
Dont give up. Fresh home made sausages are SOOOOOOO much superior to any store bought sausage, unless you live in a country where you have local butchers who make fresh sausage as this.
Expert hands working on a good machine. Love to eat those sausages. 🙂
Why would my dry sausage have a hole in the center when finished drying.
Because there was an air pocket in the sausage when you made them.
Just tried your sausage recipe it,was so easy and taste great also my wife and I will definitely use it again
Glad to hear you liked it Michael!
This,was the easiest recipe to follow thank you and the,sausage turned out awesome
I am a pure bred Italian and am picky as all get out about my ltalian sausage age.I bought what they say is Italian and its not because it has no fennel in it.
Now I get to my point I have put fennel in store sausage and it dosent have that Italian taste.
Do you know them taste I a m talking about? A taste that only Italian sausage has.
Your recipe has two teaspoons of fennel to five pounds of meat,will that amount give that great
It is our family recipe, you can add more if you prefer!
I have not made sausage yet, but I have bought fennel. The last jar of fennel I bought at walmart is of low quality. I can not remember what brand the high quality stuff was. If you can smell the difference between a jar of fresh whole peppercorns and packet of ground pepper from burger king you will know what I mean.
This may be a silly question, but why do you cook an entire cup of the sausage for tasting? Also, I live in a Middle Eastern country and I can’t get pork casings. Do you think it would work to form the sausage into link shapes without casings, freeze, then thaw and cook later?
You certainly do not need to use a whole cup if you prefer not to. I am not sure how well the sausages would hold together if you do not use casings. They do sell artificial casings, could you find those?
I have 3 grinding plates with small medium and large openings. It is from a Viking stand mixer with the grinding/sausage attachment. The mixer is fabulous but is no longer made. Which plate would you recommend using for this recipe? We use the medium when making our meat ravioli filling to give you and idea of size.
Thank you-love your website and Umbria!
I believe we use the medium grind.
You can get cassings at cabela’s / bass pro shop / academy most sporting good chains
I got my casings from amazon. Looking forward to trying this recipe as my first attempt at making sausage.
I have enjoyed reading your recipe and your answers. My only question is how much orange powder/ Zest do you add per pound of pork?
We do not add any orange powder or zest to the sausages.
The best casings you can buy is from Syracuse casing co. Their casings are processed and made in Syracuse NY. USA. Here is the web site. http://www.makincasing.com/shop.asp
Finally a real italian recipe.knew the basic ingredients from family but no one to ask about amounts didn’t want to mess up and have to redo it again. Other recipes add all kinds of different seasonings and ingredients. not true Italian sausage
Is there a gland in the pork shoulder that has to be removed I’ve heard that many times ?
Sal, I never heard that. We do trim off excess fat and grizzle though.
Yes there is a gland it looks purple… trim it off before you grind if the butcher has not removed it first. You don’t have to trim it but you can get a sulfurous “boar taint” smell in the meat if you don’t. Also if you buy the butts in a cryo wrap, I suggest rising them before grinding to cut the smell.
I just made this recipe..It was great. This is my first time making any kind of sausage and I am totally impressed. I only had pork loin and it was fantastic. I halved the recipe as I only had a 3 pound pork loin. I went with the suggested advise of using less salt. I would also up the amount of fennel, but that’s just my taste. I also made into patties as I didn’t have any casings and they were perfect, no egg or bread crumbs needed. Thank you so very much for this recipe as it will be my go to for now on.
Help! Is it Ground Fennel or Fennel Seeds? Also, your picture shows Sea Salt – is that what we should use or regular table salt?
You could use either, but we use seeds.
I am thrilled to have found your website. I have made sausage before but every new bit of advice only adds to perfection. Thank you for simplifying what most people consider difficult!
making homemade sausage is as much fun as they are great to eat. But on another note, I have been making homemade Italian sausage with my family for longer than I can remember, and one of the number one rules was to use either kosher salt or curing salt, but “NEVER USE IODIZED SALT” It is also a helpful idea to rinse the casings in fresh cold water, then place them in a bowl of clean cold water with a couple of slice of lemons added to help keep the casings clean and fresh.
hi we have been making our own sausages ever since I can remember, very similar to yours, but here in Australia we have to wait till the middle of winter because we hang them for 3-4 days before we take them down and put them in the freezer. do you not do this?
No, we freeze them immediately.
One thing that I’d like to add to all the information provided is: Good sausage cannot be made from pork that has had water added to it. The reason I mention this is that most supermarkets (Safeway, Albertsons, …) sell only pork that has water added. When used to make sausage the water comes to a boil inside of the casings and we end up with boiled sausage instead of fried or grilled sausage. So before you part with your $$$, and to avoid ending up with a mediocre result, make sure your butcher is NOT selling you pork that has water added to it. In many cases the fact that water has been added will be stated on the meat package.
One point that is not mentioned here regads fennel seeds, When I used to stay with her in Tuscany, she used to roast the seeds she used to make sausages, but your recipe does not mention that. do you roast them?
Not sure who you are speaking about, but we do not roast our fennel seeds.
I think roasting them would be a great idea, it brings out the flavor. I for one will try this, thank you! 🙂
Grind the seed fresh with a coffee grinder.. no need to roast them.
This is the same recipe for Sopressata.. If you press and cure it. Don’t cut the salt if you are dry curing.
Great idea! had the butcher cut & grind 20 lbs of pork butt. Bought 5 lbs of pork fat & had him grind it also. I’m glad to have thought of it after spending hundreds of hours over many years chopping & grinding. Made things so fast & easy. Mix meat, fat & seasonings & you’re ready to stuff in 30 minutes! ! ! !
We come from Lazio region and we do not add fennell in any form. We add dry roasted crushed corriander seeds. It gives different taste all together, is there anyone else who does this?