Homemade Italian Sausage: A Surefire Grilling Hit

The best Italian sausage you've ever eaten awaits with this recipe for making them yourself.

In Italy there are many many salsiccia and salame, and each region has its special log of meat. The most famous are Genoa salami, mortadella, cotechino, and soppressata. Interestingly, there is no bologna sausage in Italy, the local sausage in the town of Bologna is called mortadella. There is most definitely nothing called "Italian Sausage".

But the term "Italian Sausage" has emerged in the US, and it has a specific flavor profile. It is a tube of coarsely ground pork sausage in natural pork casing, usually about 25% fat, with a distinctive flavor from fennel seed. It comes in three grades, sweet, mild, and hot. The main difference is the amount of hot pepper added, although a few of the sweet blends include basil, and the heat and other seasonings vary significantly from butcher to butcher. It is sold raw, not cured or smoked, and it can be bought in standard 6" links, in coiled ropes, or loose like burger meat.

The origin of the recipe is uncertain, but Judy Witts Francini, a cookbook author, teacher, and culinary tour guide based in Italy, tells me that there is something similar in Sicily, which makes sense since Southern Italy is where most Italian-American immigrants originated.

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Italian sausage has never tasted better than when it is freshly made by hand. Well almost fresh. They need to age a day in the fridge for the spices and herbs to soak up the water and fat and extract their flavors into the meat. This homemade Italian sausage recipe features coarsely ground pork sausage in natural pork casing, with a distinctive flavor from fennel seed and other herbs and spices. Try it on pizza, in sandwiches, in pasta sauce, and so much more.

Italian Sausage is a versatile ingredient and it commonly shows up on pizza, in red sauce with mostaccioli, in bean soups, and in bread stuffings. But it is in its greatest glory in Italian Sausage Sandwiches, grilled to perfection along with peppers and onions gently fried in olive oil and served on a soft spongy roll dripping oil.

You can also use it for making a meatloaf from Italian Sausage. Fry some slices in a pan and throw them on a pasta either with marinara sauce or olive oil and garlic. Stuff it into mushrooms. Make it into meatballs and grill them. Let your imagination run wild.

Course. Lunch. Dinner. Entree. Side Dish.

Cuisine. Italian.

Makes. About 3 pounds or 10 standard 6" links

Takes. 2 hours


2 1/2 pounds ground pork

1/2 pound pork fat

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed

2 tablespoons mild American paprika

2 1/2 teaspoons Morton’s kosher salt (read more about the science of salt here)

1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sweet red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup ice water

about 4' of pork casings

Optional. If you want it hot, add some hot pepper flakes. How many? That depends on how hot you like things and the type of hot pepper flakes you have. For good old McCormick's, start with 1 tablespoon per pound.

About the sweet red pepper flakes. If you can't find them, use an extra teaspoon of paprika.


1) Prep. Before making sausage, please familiarize yourself with best practices as described in our article on The Science Of Sausage Making. Follow steps (1) through (16)

17) Serve. You can then grill or smoke it, or store it in the fridge for about 5 days or in the freezer for about a month. Here are some tips on making Italian Sausage Sandwiches. Here is an awesome recipe for a stuffed Italian Sausage Meatloaf.

"In Italy you do not need a map to know where you are. Just order the sausage."Anonymous

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.



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