How to Make Summer Sausage: Unlocking the Secrets of Easy Homemade Sausages

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Weather warming up? The first days of summer are a great time for making jams, compotes, and preserves! 

But did you know that sweet and fruity goods aren’t the only things you can make and store at home? Have you considered the possibilities of using preserving meat by making sausages at home?

If you have a surplus of meat that you can’t get through, turning them into summer sausage is a scrumptious and money-saving solution. Your meat will last for much longer, and you will have a supply of sausage without needing to run to the store for a new supply every week.

If the prospect of making sausages at home is intimidating, have no fear. We’ve come up with the ultimate smoked summer sausage recipe. Whether you want to smoke homemade sausage or you are considering smoking store-bought sausage, we got you covered.

We will show you how to cook summer sausage in the easiest way possible and provide pointers for making the best-smoked sausage ever. Keep reading and you will learn how to make summer sausage like a pro in no time at all!

You may also like: How to store homemade bread

Summer Sausage 101

summer sausage recipe

Summer sausage is an American invention, semi-fermented dry sausage, seasoned with spices and smoked or baked in dry conditions. Depending on the kind and cut of meat used, summer sausage made traditionally can be very flavorful and is great because it isn’t very fatty.

The addition of smoke improves the flavor and also preserves the meat for longer by keeping bacterial activity at bay. Also, the name ‘summer sausage’ refers to the fact the sausages were made in winter and were meant to be eaten during the summer months.

You can smoke summer sausage using pretty much any kind of meat. You can make it from a mix of ground beef and pork, or just ground beef alone. You can try smoking deer sausage and even give an elk summer sausage recipe if you go hunting often.

Equipment Needed for Smoking Summer Sausage

Before you start gathering your ingredients, make sure you have all the equipment you will need:

  • An electric smoker, or any kind of smoker or grill
  • Thermometer
  • Sausage Casings
  • Wood pellets or charcoal
  • Cooking grates or racks
  • Meat grinder
  • Curing mix (Store-bought or made from scratch)

What are the Best Kinds of Sausages to Smoke?

Most cooking experts agree that summer sausages are pretty easy and forgiving to smoke. This means that you can get away with making any kind of summer sausage with most kinds of ground meat and get pretty satisfying results.

That being said, these are the best summer sausages to smoke:

  • Beef sausages (especially those made with chuck)
  • Pork sausages (made from the backside and hindquarters)
  • A mix of beef and pork
  • Venison (the low fat and gaminess translate to a great and flavorful sausage)

If you are particularly adventurous, you can even get deer summer sausage kits and give them a try!

How to Make Smoked Sausages

With these recipes, you will be able to try smoking summer sausage in electric smokers. If you are used to smoking meat on your grill, you can try that as well. 

You can use this recipe to make sausages with almost any kind of meat, so if you want to learn how to make smoked venison summer sausage, give this a read!

Summer Sausage Ingredients:

Here are the things you need for the tastiest summer sausage:

  • 2 pounds of ground meat (You can use plain pork or beef, or a combination of meat for venison and pork summer sausage recipe.

    This also works for smoked beef summer sausage recipe or pork summer sausage recipe. You can get creative, so use any kind of lean meat!)
  • Summer sausage seasoning (Store-bought mixes are fine but you can make your own with a tablespoon of mustard seeds, a teaspoon of garlic and black pepper, and even a touch of coriander powder).
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of curing mix, like Morton Tender Quick
  • 1-2 tablespoons of liquid smoke

Making Summer Sausage in an Oven

This is a quick and simple way to prepare summer sausage in an oven, without any smoking or grilling equipment.

  1. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef and water until well blended.
  2. Season with mustard seeds, pepper, garlic powder, curing salt, liquid smoke, and other spices and mix thoroughly. It is best to use your hands for this – like meatloaf.
  3. Shape the mixture into two rolls, and wrap them with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. Remove foil from the beef, and poke a couple of holes in the bottom of the meat rolls.
  6. Place them on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan to catch the drippings.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160F.
  8. Cool to room temperature, then wrap in plastic or foil, and refrigerate until cold before slicing and storing.

Making Summer Sausage in a Smoker

This recipe is meant for smoking summer sausage in a Masterbuilt electric smoker or something similar.

  1. Mix the water, seasoning, liquid smoke, and curing mix with the ground meat.
  2. Stuff into sausage casings that are around 60mm in diameter.
  3. Leave them at 86F (30C) and 85-90% humidity for 24 hours.
  4. Put the sausages in the smoker and smoke at 110F and 70% humidity for 6 hours. Slowly increase the temperature until the internal temperature of the sausages registers at 140F.
  5. For a drier sausage, dry for 3 days at 60-70F and 65-75%. These steps will make summer sausage more traditionally, and for this reason, the meat needs to be fermented at high humidity for a whole day.

Smoking Store-Bought Sausages:

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making summer sausage from scratch, you can just buy ground meat and take it from there. You can even buy sausages and smoke them at home, adding flavor and depth to an otherwise plain sausage.

1. Put the fresh sausages next to each other on smoker racks, making sure they are not touching each other.

2. Start up the smoker, using wood briquettes of choice (hickory and maple work very well together). Heat the smoker to a temperature of 250F.

3. Place the sausages in the smoker and smoke them until their internal temperature reaches 150 F. The overall time can differ based on the thickness and size of the sausages. This generally takes from 2.5 to 4 hours.

Recipes Using Summer Sausage:

Summer sausages work well with a cheese platter and eaten with bread and condiments. You can use them in recipes that call for regular sausage. These include sandwiches, meat sauces, pasta, casseroles.

Summer sausages work well with summer-style pasta salads, bruschetta, sliders, and even as toppings for salads and pizzas.

Cook Time and Temperature for Summer Sausage:

Maintaining summer sausage’s internal temp is important as this determines the texture and dryness of the resulting sausage.

Depending on the kind of meat you will need to smoke the meat for 2-3 hours, gradually increasing the temperature.

You need to smoke the sausages until a meat probe or thermometer reads 140-150F for the sausage’s internal temp. The overall smoking sausage time also depends on the kind and cut of meat used.

Frequently Asked Questions

01. Is Summer Sausage Cooked or Raw?

Although summer sausages aren’t cooked in the traditional sense, they aren’t raw either. The combination of heat, smoke, seasoning, and curing mix alters the meat, preserving it, and this ‘cooks’ the meat. As a result, you can eat the sausage as it is, without needing to cook it down.

02. At What Temperature is Sausage Done?

Sausages are generally ready to be taken off the smoker once they reach an internal temperature of 150-165F. To stay on the safe side, smoke until the sausages register 160F on a thermometer so you don’t have to worry about any microbial activity.

03. How Long Do I Have to Smoke Summer Sausage?

This generally depends on the size of your sausages and the cut of meat used. But you need to smoke most summer sausages for 2.5 to 4 hours for them to be properly dried out and infused with the smoke.

04. Do I Have to Cook Summer Sausage?

Summer sausages don’t have to be cooked and you can easily throw some into a sandwich or add it to your cheeseboard to nibble on. At the same time, you can cook them into meat sauces or casseroles, or just fry some up to go with your breakfast eggs.

05. Can I Freeze Summer Sausages?

When summer sausage is stored properly, it can last for 10 months with the best quality. However, even past this time, you can still eat them safely. When smoked properly and stored in airtight packaging, dry summer sausage that is kept frozen at 0°F will be safe to consume indefinitely.

06. What is the Best Pork Sausage Cooking Temperature?

Smoking or grilling temperature should aim for an internal temperature of 160F. You can smoke them at 110F for 6 hours, or at 250F for 2-4 hours.

To Round Off

Traditional summer sausage is a fun project that yields a lot of meat that you can store in the freezer for more than a year. The sausage is a great choice as it is mild, yet flavorful and has just the right amount of fat without being heavy or greasy.

Now that you know how to make summer sausage, the possibilities are endless. Your charcuterie board will have a vibrant and wholesome touch, you have enough breakfast sausages to last forever, and you may never need to resort to store-bought sausages. 

Best of all, you can pack these sausages into cheese, jam, and homemade bread baskets for the most thoughtful gift ever!