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Sweet Italian sausage recipe
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4.84 from 12 votes

Sweet Italian Sausage

This sausage is really best with some sort of pig, whether it's domesticated pork or wild hogs. I've tried it with other meats and it's not as good. Black bear comes close, but it's a little too red to look right. Keep in mind my recipe is what I like, and it's representative of the typical sweet Italian sausages you will get all over the country. You can vary the seasonings to your taste. If you can get fennel pollen, it really adds a lot to the flavor. All butcher shops carry hog casings, and some supermarkets will sell them to you, too. Or you can buy sausage casings online from places like The Sausage Maker.
Prep Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Appetizer, Cured Meat, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pork, sausage
Servings: 20 links
Calories: 98kcal
Author: Hank Shaw


  • 4 pounds of lean (ish) pork or wild boar
  • 1 pound of pork fatback
  • 36 grams of kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
  • 30 grams of sugar, about 3 tablespoons
  • 18 grams of fennel seeds, about 2 heaping tablespoons
  • 10 grams freshly cracked black pepper, about a heaping teaspoon
  • 1 gram of nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 heaping teaspoon fennel pollen (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup white wine, chilled
  • Hog casings (if you are linking your sausage)


  • Get out about 15 to 20 feet of hog casings and soak them in warm water.
  • Cut the meat and fat into chunks you can fit into your meat grinder. Mix together the salt, sugar, half the fennel seeds, black pepper, nutmeg, oregano and fennel pollen, then mix this with the meat and fat until every piece has a little on it. Put in the freezer until the meat and fat are between 30°F and 40°F. Put your grinder parts (auger, dies, blades, etc) in the freezer, too, and put a bowl in the fridge.
  • Grind half of the mixture through the coarse die on your grinder, and half through the fine die. This creates a more interesting texture. If your meat mixture is still at 35°F or colder, you can go right to binding. If it has heated up, you need to chill everything back down. Use this time to clean up the grinder.
  • Once the meat is cold, put it in a large bin or bowl and add the remaining fennel seeds, white wine and parsley. Mix well with your (very clean) hands for 2 to 3 minutes -- a good indicator of temperature is that your hands should ache with cold when you do this. You want to to mix until the meat binds to itself. You can also do this in a stand mixer set on its lowest setting, but I find you don't get as good a bind as you do when you do this by hand.
  • You now have Italian sausage. You can leave it loose, form it into patties, or link it. I link mine most of the time. Put the loose sausage into a stuffer and thread a casing onto it. Stuffing sausage is easier with two people, one to fill the links, the other to coil, but I do it solo all the time. Stuff the links well but not super-tight, as you will not be able to tie them off later if they are too full. Don't worry about air pockets yet. Stuff the whole casing, leaving lots of room on either end to tie them off; I leave at least three inches of unstuffed casing on either end of the coil.
  • To form the individual links, tie off one end of the coil. Now pinch off two links of about six inches long. Rotate the link between your hands forward a few times. Look for air pockets. To remove them, set a large needle or a sausage pricker into a stovetop burner until it glows (this sterilizes it), then pierce the casing at the air pockets. Twist the links a little and gently compress them until they are nice and tight. Repeat this process with the rest of the sausage.
  • Hang your links on a wooden clothes drying rack for at least an hour, or up to overnight if you can hang them in a place that doesn't get any warmer than 40°F or so. This lets the links cure a little, filling their casings and developing flavor. Once you've taken the links off the hanger, they can be refrigerated for up to 3 or 4 days, or frozen for up to a year.


Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 742mg | Potassium: 223mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 2.6mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg