Making Sausage at Home

Servings: Makes 12-14 links, about 4 pounds


  • 1 4-lb. skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 1–2" pieces
  • 30 grams kosher salt*
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1 freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 2 29–32-mm-diameter natural hog casings, preferably pretubed or preloaded
  • *To bind, sausage needs an exact salt-to-meat ratio by weight. No scale? Use 3 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Morton coarse kosher salt.


Special Equipment

KitchenAid with food grinder attachment and sausage stuffer kit (or grinding and stuffing equipment of choice); sausage pricker or T-pin


  1. Chill all grinder parts, including die with ¼" holes, in freezer until very cold, about 1 hour. Chill a large stainless-steel bowl in refrigerator until cold. Place pork in a single layer on 2 plastic wrap–lined baking sheets; cover and freeze until meat is very firm but not frozen, about 1 hour.
  2. Combine salt, fennel seeds, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Grind pork on high speed, 3–4 pieces at a time, into chilled bowl (keep second baking sheet in freezer until ready to use). If grinder clogs (meat will look pink, not red and white), clean die and cutter before continuing.
  4. Add garlic and mix gently with your hands just to begin to distribute, about 20 seconds. Sprinkle reserved spice mixture evenly over pork and knead, rotating bowl, until spice mixture is evenly distributed and a light film has formed on the side of the bowl, about 1 minute.
  5. Add wine; knead until mixture holds together and is very stiff (it will spring back when pressed), about 1 minute. (Don’t overmix or sausage will be crumbly.) 
  6. Form ¼ cup sausage mixture into a 3"-diameter patty; press into palm. Extend hand with meat, palm facing down. If meat sticks for at least 5 seconds, it is sufficiently mixed. If not, continue to knead in 15-second intervals until it passes the palm test.
  7. Wrap patty in a small sheet of foil to form a flat packet. Cover and chill remaining mixture.
  8. Cook foil-wrapped patty in a small skillet (not nonstick) over medium-low heat until meat is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Let rest 2 minutes.
  9. Unwrap patty and cut in half; it should hold together. If not, save for another use—like pasta sauce!—and try again.
  10. Place casings in a large bowl under cold running water and let sit, allowing water to overflow and flushing water through casings (take care not to tangle!) until softened, about 2 minutes. Slide 1 casing onto stuffer nozzle, leaving a 6" overhang (do not tie). If casing is too long or tangles, cut in half and work with 1 piece at a time.
  11. Pack a handful of sausage mixture very lightly into stuffer. Working with a partner and with stuffer on high speed, use plunger to push meat through, gradually filling casing; gently slide filled casing off nozzle onto a baking sheet as you go.
  12. Fill casing firmly but don’t overstuff (mixture will tighten when links are twisted, and overfilled casings will burst when cooked). As casing fills, lightly prick air bubbles with sausage pricker. Leave at least 6" of empty casing at the end. Repeat with remaining casing and sausage mixture.
  13. Tie off 1 end of casing, making knot flush with meat. Starting 6" from knot, pinch off a 6" length, squeezing on both sides. Twist link toward you 2 rotations. Starting 6" from link, pinch off another 6" length, squeezing on both sides, and twist link away from you 2 rotations. Repeat, alternating direction of twists, until you can’t make another 6" sausage. Squeeze out extra meat; tie off casing.
  14. Note: If casing bursts, pinch off on both sides of tear, squeeze out meat in the middle, and tie off casing. Begin again as from the start. Prick each sausage link in 3 places with sausage pricker (this helps prevent bursting). Arrange links on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill, uncovered, to dry out casings, at least 12 hours.
  15. Using kitchen shears, cut casing between links to separate.
  16. Do Ahead: Sausage mixture can be made 4 hours ahead (longer and meat will begin to cure); chill. Sausages can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Alternatively, freeze on baking sheet until frozen, then store in resealable plastic freezer bags up to 3 months. Defrost 12 hours in refrigerator before cooking.

The Tools to Use:

Have a KitchenAid stand mixer? Add the food grinder attachment ($65) and sausage stuffer kit ($14)—a super-reliable setup for batches this size.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, a manual grinder with a ⅜” grinding plate and stuffing attachment (like the LEM #10 Clamp On Hand Grinder; $40) is a decent budget option. Cut the meat into ½” pieces and freeze completely, then grind one piece at a time. It’s time-consuming and laborious, but, hey, this is a project.

To embrace your inner charcutier, buy one unit for grinding and another for stuffing. An electric grinder like the LEM Countertop 575 Watt #8 Grinder ($120) breezes through meat, and a piston stuffer like the Omcan Stainless Steel Stuffer ($129) ensures the best texture.

Don’t want to buy anything? Have a butcher grind the meat. Season and shape the sausage into patties or meatballs, or just use it loose (think about how often you take it out of the casing for pasta sauces and more). It tastes just as good!

A word on casings: Buy 29-to-32-millimeter all-natural hog casings at a butcher shop Preloaded or pretubed ones are easiest to work with.