Sausage is always popular in the vending machines. But did you know they’re not that difficult to DIY? If you want to know how to make sausage, it’s basically a matter of not being too meek with your spices, some equipment (you’re going to need a meat grinder), great meat, and proper sanitation.

Learning how to make sausage puts you in control of the ingredients. This means no additives, no fillers, no preservatives or other ingredients that you wouldn’t want to eat. If you’re not up for the work of stuffing your sausage grind into natural casings, you can always form patties instead. Uncased grind is also great for stews, soups, sauces, and things like tacos or tamales.

To make sausages, you’re going to need a grinder. As we wrote in The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat, we recommend using a meat grinder — either a KitchenAid with a grinder attachment that allows for coarse, medium, or fine grinds, or a hand version. We like coarse for our sausages but some sausages demand a fine grind. Keep in mind that hand grinders are not the easiest things to use, especially if you’re making a lot of sausage.

Next, you’re going to need meat. We favor pork shoulder for our sausage; it’s fatty, tasty, and inexpensive. You can use whatever part of the pig, lamb, beef, or poultry that you like, but you want fattier cuts. If you choose a lean meat, add additional pork or lamb fat. Most butchers can hook you up with additional fat.

One of the most important aspects of sausage making is proper sanitation and handling. Grinds are much more perishable than whole muscle. Keep your meat chilled until just before you grind it, place your grinder parts in the freezer so that they remain chilled as the meat passes over them, and never make sausage in hot weather.

Here’s how to make sweet Italian sausage — it’s just pure spices, fresh herbs, and great pork.


Makes 3 pounds

3 pounds pork stew meat or boneless shoulder, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch pieces or strips

3 tablespoons whole white peppercorns

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons dried sage

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/4 cup garlic powder

1/2 bunch fresh parsley

1/4 hank of natural hog casings (optional; you need only about 2 feet of hog casings for each pound of sausage mixture)

As you cut up your meat make sure to remove any gristle or hard bits of fat; you don’t want any nasty surprises in your sausage. Make sure that the meat pieces fit easily into the mouth of the grinder.

In a spice or coffee grinder, grind the white and black peppercorns, fennel seeds, sage, and salt into a medium-fine grind, working in batches if necessary. Transfer the spices to a large bowl, add the garlic powder and onion powder, and mix well. Add the meat and mix until thoroughly blended with the spices. Transfer the pork to the refrigerator and chill for 24 hours.

Remove the pork mixture from the fridge. Add the parsley and mix until well blended. To test the flavor, grind a small amount of the meat, cook a little patty, and taste. Adjust the spices accordingly. When you have the flavor you want, grind the whole mixture into a chilled metal bowl. The grind should look like nice fat worms. If the worms look mushy or are not separating properly, it means the grinder blade is not making good contact with the plate or the grinder blade is dull. Try reattaching the plate after thoroughly cleaning the grinder mechanisms. If this doesn’t work, you may have to buy a new blade.

Stuff the pork into the casings if using and link, or leave the meat uncased and form it into patties. Sausages will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days and int he freezer for 6 months. If freezing patties, place sheets of plastic in between them so they don’t stick to each other.

Congrats on learning how to make sausage!