Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Apr

Homemade Sausage Links and Patties

Making fresh sausage at home can be a bit intimidating at first glance. How does one go about grinding the meat? What makes it taste like sausage and not just ground meat? And how in the heck do you shape it into links? After all those questions about homemade sausage run through your mind, inevitably you’re going to ask yourself, “Why bother?”

The reason is simple – if you make your own sausage you know exactly what’s going into it. Instead of buying sausage made of mystery meat, sugar, and preservative and coloring additives you can choose the meat, add any spices or fresh herbs that you wish and skip all that other junk. Suddenly, sausage is no longer a questionable choice of protein, it’s a healthy, flavorful part of your Primal eating plan.

Besides that, you might even find that you enjoy the process of making sausage. There is something really satisfying about rolling your sleeves up and putting some time and effort into preparing your food from start to finish –  not to mention the pride and peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what you’re eating. And when you break down the process of making fresh sausage and take it step-by-step, it’s really not as hard as you think.


Grinding your own meat is at the heart of sausage making, so you’re going to need a meat grinder. If you’re really serious and plan to grind meat regularly for large batches of sausage, investing in a commercial meat grinder is worth considering. For smaller batches of sausage, you can buy a meat-grinding attachment that fits on a stand mixer, like a KitchenAid. This type of grinder is ideal for most people. Last but not least, there is always the option of a manual meat grinder, adding an upper-body workout to every recipe


No matter which type of meat grinder you use, you’ll also need to have a stuffer that attaches to it. A sausage stuffer is a tube that feeds the ground meat into the sausage casings to create those beautiful links.

Of course, you don’t have to link your sausage. You can simply grind and season the meat then leave it in bulk form. We’re not going to lie: shaping ground meat into sausage patties is a cinch and less time consuming than stuffing the meat into links. However, if you want to go all the way and link your sausage, you’re going to need a stuffer attachment to pipe the meat into the casings.


Casing is the edible tubing that the ground meat is stuffed into so that the sausage keeps its shape. Traditional, natural casings are animal intestinal membranes, usually from hogs. They are typically packed in salt and need to be soaked and flushed with water before using. Commercially made sausages are often stuffed into casings that have been manmade from collagen obtained from cattle hide. Collagen casings are more durable and evenly shaped and don’t have to be cleaned, which is why manufacturers prefer them. However, natural casings are less expensive and work really well for home sausage-making. Ask you butcher shop to order casings for you, or order them from an online specialty butcher.

Choosing your meat is the next step. We like pork and lamb for the rich flavor and higher fat content (which is important for sausage) but you can also make sausage out of chicken, turkey, deer or whatever other type of meat you like. Some people buy extra fat to add to the sausage, or in the case of chicken or turkey grind up the skin too, but you can avoid this if you buy cuts that naturally have a good ratio of lean and fatty meat. For lamb, pork or beef stick to shoulder cuts (roasts) and for duck, chicken, and turkey use legs and thighs.

Sausage is just as much about the seasonings as it is about the meat. The way you flavor the meat is what makes it scream “sausage!” with each bite, instead of just tasting like ground meat. You can experiment with any combination of herbs and spices you like, but we’ve included a few classic sausage spice mixes to get you started.

If you have a great freezer, you can make large batches of fresh sausage. Otherwise, stick to small batches that you’ll eat right away. Small batches are also a good way to go until you perfect the seasoning to your liking. Start with 2-3 pounds of meat, which will make several servings of sausage, and work your way up from there.

Sweet Fennel Pork Sausage


  • 2 pounds of pork butt, cut into 1-inch chunks (include all fat)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (toasted or not, your choice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar


Sprinkle seasonings and parsley on the chunks of meat. Mix well.

The manual for your meat grinder should have specific instructions for assembling your specific model or for attaching a grinder to your mixer. It’s a pretty simple process. Once the grinder is attached, grind the meat mixture through the small plate (the small plate will give you a finer grind) of the meat grinder into a cold bowl.

A cold bowl will keep the meat cold and make it easier to form the meat into patties or links.

Stir the vinegar into the ground meat.

Fry a little bit of the meat so you can taste it, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

If you’re making sausage patties, shape the meat into patties and fry immediately, or refrigerate the raw meat up to 24 hours before using (or you can freeze the meat).

If you’re making sausage links, soak the casings for a 1/2-hour in warm water. Next, run cool water from the kitchen faucet through the casings to flush them out. This is kind of like filling a water balloon with water, but you’re letting the water run all the way through the tubing.

Attach the sausage stuffer onto the meat grinder, following the instructions provided with your equipment. The manual will probably also have instructions for filling the casings, but here’s a basic guide: Slide one end of the casing over the top of the stuffer, bunching up as much casing as possible around the outside of the stuffer. Turn the meat grinder on, and meat will slowly work its way through the stuffer and into the casing. Use your hands to guide the meat into the casing and shape the sausage. When the link has reached the length you want, tie a knot in the casing on either end of the meat to make a link. Continue to make links until all the meat is used.

This basic method of sausage-making can be used with any type of meat and any seasoning combination. A few more combinations to try:

Fresh Herb Sausage

  • 2 pounds of raw meat, cut into 1-inch chunks (include all fat)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (try basil, cilantro or dill)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or red wine

Merguez Sausage

  • 2 pounds of boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes (include all fat)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or red wine

No matter which recipe you try, you’ll find the flavor of homemade sausage to be so much fresher and livelier than store bought, not to mention that it can be made with high-quality meat and the spices adjusted exactly to your liking. Serve homemade sausage for breakfast with eggs or grill it up for dinner…or why not do both? Now that you know exactly what’s going into your sausage, there’s no need to hold back.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I made sausage patties with rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, allspice and garlic & onion – it was heavenly I don’t think I’ve eaten so much pork in one go before! 😀

    Milla wrote on October 18th, 2011
  2. This is a great article and useful comments. I need/want to start making my own due to a lot of food allergies.

    Now to buy a KitchenAid and a freezer…

    Isabel wrote on January 26th, 2012
  3. I saw a recipe for homemade sausage in a magazine, and the chef ground it up in a food processor (I think the pork cut was Boston Butt). Then, she shaped it into logs, and wrapped the logs in parchment. Makes sense, and it looked fantastic. Most of us have a food processor, so this way requires one less appliance!

    Maryanne wrote on March 14th, 2012
  4. hell yeah! gonna try making some chorizo and throw together some spanish peppers n sausage:

    sean wrote on March 21st, 2012
  5. I just finished my first batch of sausages. I ground 8lbs of pork loin and divided in in half. I seasoned one half with spices for Italian tip toast and grind your fennel for an amazing flavor. The second half I blended cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and chopped fresh cherries I formed patties for the grill. Amazing! I can’t believe how great they tasted.

    Mel buonato wrote on July 14th, 2012
  6. I tried apple cider vinegar, as that’s all I had. My attempt didn’t even begin to hold together in the frying pan; just ended up with a few boiled eggs in a pan full of mince beef…

    Wondering what would happen if I added ghee or coconut oil to the mix?

    Alan wrote on August 24th, 2012
  7. I bought a nice hand crank grinder, with the stuffing attachments at Acaddemy Sports for 18.36 including tax.

    James Berman wrote on April 24th, 2013
  8. My friends and I process about 350 lbs. of pork butts into ten varieties of fresh sausage every winter. (Stuffed and bulk) Several of the recipes contain no rusk at all, but I thought I’d still have to give it up because of the high fat content. I’m happy to know that I was wrong! I’m kind of a newb to the concept of primal eating. I can easily measure the total weight of a serving, but how do I calculate the fat/protein grams of a serving?

    Eric wrote on July 23rd, 2013
  9. I made the first recipe today with ground pork. It was fantastic!

    I formed 1/4 cup patties (sausage is my toddlers’ favorite snack) and baked them in the oven for 8 min per side at 400.

    Thank you!!

    Penny wrote on September 23rd, 2013

    LIONEL DUMOND wrote on March 14th, 2014
  11. I have a KitchenAid meat grinder – electric meat grinder that I bought at amazon. I like to make sausage and eat it at breakfast with bread, butter and milk.
    Why do not you give a little green onions. It’s pretty tasty

    Mark Viduk wrote on April 12th, 2014

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