Making Homemade Italian Sausage

Making Homemade Italian Sausage

Italian sausage is a beloved staple in many kitchens, celebrated for its rich flavors and versatility. Whether used in pasta dishes, pizzas, or simply grilled on its own, making your own Italian sausage at home ensures a fresh, customized taste that store-bought versions can't match. This guide will walk you through the process of crafting delicious Italian sausage using natural hog casings.

  • Freshness: Homemade sausage is free from preservatives and additives.
  • Customization: Adjust the seasonings to suit your taste, whether you prefer a mild or spicy sausage.
  • Quality Control: Choose high-quality meats and ingredients, ensuring a healthier product.

To make approximately 2 pounds of Italian sausage, you'll need:
  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder (pork butt), ground
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (adjust to taste for spiciness)
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • Natural hog casings (about 10 feet)

  • Meat grinder or food processor
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Sausage stuffer (or attachment for your grinder)
  • Kitchen scale (optional, for precise measurements)


1. Prepare the Meat
Start with pork shoulder, as its fat content is ideal for sausage making. Cut the meat into small chunks that will fit into your meat grinder or food processor. If you don’t have a grinder, you can ask your butcher to grind it for you.

2. Prepare the Casings
Rinse the natural hog casings thoroughly under cold water to remove any salt. Soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then, run water through the insides to ensure they are fully cleaned. For the full step-by-step soaking procedure please refer to the blog post: Soaking Procedure for Natural Sausage Casings (link to blog post).

3. Mix the Seasonings
In a large bowl, combine the salt, fennel seeds, paprika, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, and sugar. Mix these dry ingredients thoroughly.

4. Combine the Ingredients
Add the ground pork to the bowl of seasonings. Pour in the cold water and red wine vinegar. Using your hands, mix everything together until well incorporated. This is crucial for distributing the flavors evenly throughout the sausage.

5. Chill the Mixture
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the sausage mixture for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. This allows the flavors to meld together.

6. Stuff the Sausage
Attach the sausage stuffer to your grinder or use a standalone sausage stuffer. Slide one end of the hog casing onto the nozzle, leaving a few inches hanging off the end. Tie a knot in the end of the casing. Carefully feed the sausage mixture into the stuffer, and fill the casing slowly, making sure not to overstuff. Twist the sausages into links of your desired length as you go.

7. Cook and Enjoy
To cook the sausage, you can grill, pan-fry, or bake it. Ensure that the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C) for safe consumption. Serve your homemade Italian sausage in your favorite dishes or enjoy it on its own.

  • Keep Everything Cold: Keeping the meat and equipment cold helps to prevent the fat from melting during the grinding and mixing process.
  • Don't Overmix: Mix the sausage until just combined to avoid a tough texture.
  • Experiment with Flavors: Feel free to adjust the spices or add your favorite herbs and seasonings to create a unique blend.


Making your own Italian sausage with natural hog casings is a rewarding culinary project that results in a fresh and flavorful product tailored to your tastes. With a little time and the right ingredients, you can enjoy delicious homemade sausage that's sure to impress. Happy cooking!

Buon appetito!

Recipe inspired by traditional Italian sausage recipes and culinary techniques.