If you want to start making sausage then you are going to want to get some equipment and supplies. As far as hardware is concerned you are going to need a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer. A vacuum sealer would also be a good idea but is not mandatory. From a “software” perspective you are going to need casings and potentially seasoning blends. From a “knowledge” standpoint here are a few books that I highly recommend.
You do not have to spend a lot of money on this stuff unless you want to. There are a few combination electric meat grinders with sausage stuffing attachments available on Amazon for less than $100. I haven’t tried any of the electric combos but they have plenty of nice reviews. My meat grinder is the grinder attachment that is compatible with a Kitchenaid stand mixer and my stuffer is a three pound horn that I picked up at a yard sale for five bucks.
You have a LOT of choices when it comes to meat grinders and you can get something that works great for not much money. Since most of the people who read my articles are beginners then I am going to be talking about grinders for making small batches of sausage.
If you get on Amazon or walk through a Sporting Goods store you are going to see big grinders from LEM that cost $300-$450. Those grinders are great for processing a whole deer and, while they are excellent grinders, you are not going to need anything that big to make great sausage at home.
The meat grinder attachment on my stand mixer costs less than $100, works great and can grind a five pound pork butt in just under 10 minutes.
You can pick up an old fashioned hand crank grinder for $25-$50 on Amazon or you can usually pick up a used one for less than $20 at yard sales and on Facebook marketplace. Personally I am not a fan of this style of grinder as they are tedious to use and end up scratching my counter tops.
Another low cost option to consider, especially if you are just starting out and trying to decide if this hobby is right for you, is to use a food processor. Most folks already have a food processor stashed away in their cabinets somewhere and, while it isn’t an amazing grinder, it does a good enough job to get you started.
Here are some tips from Alton Brown on grinding meat in a food processor.
Here are a few of the inexpensive Grinder/Stuffer combos that I found on Amazon. These are not heavy duty machines and would not be appropriate for making 30 pound batches of sausage or processing a couple of deer. These Grinder/Stuffers are the right size for making five pound batches of sausage and are a great way to get started making sausage. I have not used any of these machines and those are absolutely affiliate links.
You are going to need a way to stuff your ground and seasoned meat into a casing. You can simply use a funnel and a wooden spoon like I did in my Old School Sausage recipe but that is REALLY tedious.
For years I used an old fashioned horn stuffer. Most folks, me included, don’t really like this style of stuffer because the meat spits back out of the top press. There are ways of working around the problem but I am not too excited about this style of stuffer. It is cheap and it does get the job done.
What I have used for my last several batches of sausage is a Jerky Cannon from LEM. The Jerky Cannon only holds about 1.5 pounds of meat so you have to work in batches. The cannon is what I used to make these beautiful chicken sausages.
The most popular stuffers among the folks that get serious about this hoppy are the vertical stuffers. Vertical stuffers hold a lot of meat, are easy to operate and are easy to clean. Here is a look at some of the more popular ones on Amazon. Again, I have not used these and these are affiliate links.
Casings and Seasonings
Sausage casings and sausage specific seasoning blends might be hard to find in your town. Before you buy casings you ought to read my article on What Are Sausage Casings Made From as that will clear up some of the confusion about the different products.
The four types of casings that are of interest to most people are:
- Hog Casings: (Most Commonly Used)
- 32 mm Collagen Casings: (Easiest to Use)
- Summer Sausage Casings: (Non Edible)
- Sheep Casings (For Breakfast Sausage Links)
I strongly encourage you to get comfortable working with hog casings. The collagen casings are much easier to work with but the final sausage will never be as pretty as one made with hog casings.
As far as seasoning blends are concerned you have several options. I have provided a few recipes on this site to get you started:
- Homemade All Beef Summer Sausage
- How to Make Bratwurst
- How to Make Bockwurst
- How to Make Mortadella
- How to Make Sausage at Home
There are also several excellent commercial sausage seasoning blends to choose from.
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing This book is what encouraged me to start making sausage. If are even half way serious about meat then this book is an essential addition to your library.
Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing Rytek’s book is not essential but it is truly a classic. This is the book that people have learned from for decades. The book is worth the read for the techniques and recipes but also for the section on operating a Sausage Kitchen. Once you get hooked on making sausage you will eventually end up owning a copy of this book.
Bruce Aidells’s Complete Sausage Book : Recipes from America’s Premium Sausage Maker Bruce offers a wide variety of regional sausage recipes that really opened my eyes to the versatility of the sausage making process. For example, two of the Chinese style sausages Bruce gives you are Pork and Shrimp as well as Black Bean and Shitake Mushroom sausages.