Want to know how to make sausage? We’ve got you covered, plus ideas on how to serve it.
And, too, Oktoberfest festivities often don’t seem to go beyond the beer. Opening up a Spaten does not constitute a cultural celebration. If you’re going to truly celebrate, do it with homemade sausages, sauerkraut fresh from the crock, and some crisp, balanced German beer.
Making fresh sausage is a venture worth trying for any true meat-lover, any time, anywhere.
How to Make Sausage
1. Make sure you have all the necessary items assembled before you begin. This step-by-step shows our bratwurst recipe, so the specific ingredients will vary, but the equipment and basic technique will be the same no matter what kind of sausage you make: a KitchenAid stand mixer, a grinder attachment, a fine grinding plate, a sharp knife and cutting board, a baking sheet, a large mixing bowl, a large stuffing tube, and 10 feet of hog casings. Make some room in your freezer for chilling (almost) all of the above as well.
2. Place the baking sheet, large mixing bowl, and the grinder attachment and grinding plate in the freezer. Keeping the equipment and the meat cold—particularly the fat—is the key to success.
3. Prep your meat and casing. Measure 10 feet of the hog casing and cut. If packed in salt, rinse thoroughly. Soak the casing in tepid water for 30 minutes. Discard soaking water, rinse the insides of the casing with running water, and soak in fresh tepid water at least another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, start making the filling. If your meat was not trimmed by your butcher, trim and discard all of the gristle, tendons, glands, silver skin, blood vessels, and excess fat from the veal and pork shoulder (or whatever meat you’re using), then cut everything into 1-inch pieces.
4. Arrange the meat in a single layer on the frozen baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm.
5. Mix whatever spices your recipe calls for together and evenly sprinkle the mixture over the chilled meat. Grind the meat by the handful into the frozen mixing bowl. Clean the grinder, then place it and the ground meat back in the freezer until chilled.
6. Check the meat for proper seasoning by cooking a small patty. Taste it, keeping in mind that the flavor will develop as the sausage sits, or ages; add additional seasoning as desired.
7. Attach the stuffer tube to the mixer. Turn the mixer on to low speed, and add enough sausage filling until you can just see it start to come out of the stuffer tube.
8. Moisten the stuffer tube with water, then remove the casings from the soaking liquid, maintaining a small bubble’s worth of water inside the casing.
9. Hold the water bubble close to the end of the casing and begin feeding the casing onto the stuffer tube while keeping the water bubble close to the tube. It may seem unlikely, but rest assured, you will be able to get all of the casing onto the tube.
10. Leave a few inches of casing hanging off the end of the stuffer tube, let the water bubble drain out, and tie a knot to secure the casing.
11. With the mixer on medium speed, hold on to the tied end of the casing and start stuffing sausage filling into the stuffer attachment by the handful. You want the casing to be fully stuffed and just taut but not stretched to capacity.
12. When you’ve used up all the sausage filling, push any remaining casing off the stuffer tube, leaving one to two inches of casing, and tie the end off in a knot. Cut off and discard any remaining casing. You should now have one long, coiled sausage.
13. Gently run your hand down the length of the sausage to ensure that the meat is evenly distributed.
14. Demarcate the links by pinching the sausage every 5 inches. Twist the first and third links in the same direction about three times. Continue until all the links are sectioned off.
15. Cut the sausage links at their twisted joints and prick any air bubbles with a clean knife tip or sharp pin.
16. Arrange the links in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate at least two to three hours before cooking.
See more on that below, plus recipes for a trio of specific German sausages. Take a bite, sip your beer, and repeat until you achieve Gemütlichkeit (a feeling of genial warmth and good cheer).
Homemade Sausage Recipes
Bratwurst (Difficulty: Easy)
There are nearly as many varieties of brats as there are regions of Germany. This classic version uses two parts pork to one part veal, and is flavored with marjoram, caraway, allspice, and white pepper. Get our Bratwurst recipe.
Weisswurst (Difficulty: Medium)
A delicate, often overlooked sausage that is typically eaten for breakfast but is good any time of day. In addition to pork and veal, this one contains milk, mace, ginger, lemon zest, and parsley. The traditional way to eat weisswurst involves a technique known as zuzeln, which amounts to sucking the sausage out of the casing. When in Germany… Get our Weisswurst recipe.
Bockwurst (Difficulty: Hard)
Historically a spring sausage, bockwurst is loaded with herbs and clove and turns creamy white from the addition of dairy and eggs and the long emulsification time. It’s also flecked with chives and traditionally served with bock beer. Get our Bockwurst recipe.
KitchenAid Classic Series Tilt-Head 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer, $379.95 from Sur La Table
Not just for baking projects once you add attachments.
Kenome Metal Food Grinder Attachment with Stuffing Tubes, $59.99 from Amazon
This set with grinder and sausage stuffing attachments fits KitchenAid stand mixers.
Natural Hog Casings, $9.75 from Amazon
Enough for stuffing up to 25 pounds of sausage meat.
Ground meat hanging out at room temperature is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure all your equipment and your hands are clean before you start and to keep everything clean while you’re working. Also, be sure to cook the sausages to the recommended temperatures and to eat them within the recommended time period.
Thermapen Mk4, $99 from ThermoWorks
How to tell when your meat is ready to eat.
DIY Sausage Tips
Know Your Source
As with all food, the better the quality of the raw ingredients, the better your sausages will turn out, so ask your local butcher for help. Pork shoulder is always easy to find, but you may need to special-order the hog casings, pork fat, and veal shoulder. When it comes to the veal shoulder, be sure to use a reputable source and get milk-fed veal from calves that are 12 weeks or younger; the age and quality of the veal make the difference between your sausage having a clean, pure flavor or a barnyardy, almost offensive flavor. Paying attention to sourcing also ensures you’re buying humanely raised veal (a point of contention among many, but unquestionably better than commodity veal).
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Meat Delivery Services to Try in 2020
If you draw the line at eating any veal, you can substitute chicken in these recipes, knowing that the taste and texture won’t be quite the same—or simply make all-pork sausages, with the same caveats in mind.
Become Friendly with Your Butcher
Most butchers we called had hog casings on hand or could easily get some. As for the pork fat, we were able to just let our butcher know we needed it, and he set aside his trimmings for us. If you ask, a good butcher will trim the meat for you, which saves a lot of time.
Have Everything Ready Before Starting
If there’s ever a time to make sure you’ve read the recipe and have everything ready to go before you start, it’s with these longer projects. Our step-by-step photo tutorial details the grinding and stuffing process.
Sausage Recipes (What to Do with Your Homemade Links)
It’s hard to beat a roasted (at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes) or pan-fried (over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes) sausage tucked into a roll and topped with kraut and mustard, but when you’re ready to take it to the next level, here are a few ideas:
Sauerkraut is a must for Oktoberfest, and it pairs perfectly with pork spareribs and kielbasa (but swap in your favorite German sausage, whether store-bought or homemade), plus potatoes, bay leaves, caraway seeds, and juniper. The fact that it comes together in the Crock-Pot makes it even better. Get our Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut recipe.
Italian sausage and broccoli rabe are a classic combo, but the bitter green goes well with bratwurst too. Sweet sauteed onions complement the other savory flavors, and lemon juice perks them all up. Get our Sauteed Bratwurst with Broccoli Rabe recipe.
Equally at home at a tailgating bash or an Oktoberfest dinner, these beer-braised brats with meltingly tender onions are just begging for a squirt of mustard and a lightly toasted bakery bun that’ll hold up through the last bite. Get our Beer-Braised Bratwurst with Onions recipe.
Bratwurst Links, 1/3 pound for $10 at Porter Road
If you don't want to make the sausage from scratch, these brats are delicious and made from pasture-raised pork.
The classic Reuben is pretty perfect, but try swapping out the pastrami or corned beef with browned sausage instead (kielbasa, bratwurst, bockwurst, or weisswurst) and you may just discover a new favorite sandwich. Get our Sausage Reuben recipe.
While this recipe calls for kielbasa, again, you can use any fresh German sausage instead; the warm cabbage slaw with smoky bacon, sweet apples, and tangy cider vinegar goes beautifully with any of them—and with an Oktoberfest beer, of course. Get our Kielbasa with Warm Apple-Bacon Slaw recipe.
A creamy quiche welcomes the addition of tender spinach and hearty sausage; brats work here too if you can’t find (and don’t want to make) weisswurst. Get our Spinach and Weisswurst Quiche recipe.
Egg noodles, celery root, onions, mushrooms, and fresh sausage (any kind works if you can’t find bockwurst) combine with riesling, chicken broth, Dijon, and heavy cream in this comforting baked casserole. Get our Bockwurst and Mushroom Noodle Bake recipe.
Related Video: How to Avoid Exploding Sausage Syndrome