This beef summer sausage recipe is one of our favorites when it comes making sausage, especially during the spring/summer season. It has a perfect blend of savory spices and tastes amazing.
I originally got this recipe from a good friend of mine who used to make this sausage several times per year, and since then, I have been doing it for many years by myself.
I like the way it is done, with the smoke enhancing the flavor of the spices, giving this sausage a unique taste.
I decided to share the recipe with everyone and the full step-by-step process I follow to make the summer sausage, with all the tips, tricks, cooking times, temperatures, and other things to have in mind.
Note: You may want to use the quick navigation table below to jump directly to the preferred section, as I am going to tell you the complete process how to make summer sausage, how to prepare them with and without casing machine, how to make it at home and several other things to have in mind during the process. So, jumping to the section which fits your preferences may save you a few minutes.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Summer Sausage?
- 2 What Type of Meat to Use for Your Summer Sausage
- 3 Equipment Needed
- 4 Sausage Casing, Curing Salt & Mixing Spices
- 5 How to Prepare the Meat
- 6 How to Grind the Beef & Pork for a Summer Sausage
- 7 Seasoning the Meat
- 8 What is the Best Casing for Summer Sausages?
- 9 Stuffing the Sausage
- 10 Cooking the Sausage
- 11 Summer Sausage Cooking Times & Temperatures
- 12 Summer Sausage Recipe
- 13 Homemade Venison Smoked Sausage
What is Summer Sausage?
Summer sausage is an American semi-dry fermented stuffed sausage made of a mixture of beef and pork. Some people make it of beef alone, so you are free to use either a mixture of pork and beef or make it completely of beef.
But why is it called so? The ‘Summer sausage’ name actually was stuck since most people used to prepare this sausage during winter time and to be eaten during Summer, usually when working in the fields. That’s how the name ‘summer sausage’ came to be.
Since this is a semi-dried sausage, it can be stored without refrigeration for a long time and is often used on food gift baskets or prepared in large amount once, and you have it ready for several months, even years.
Type of Sausages
Sausages are defined as chopped or ground meat, blended with spices or other seasonings and then stuffed in natural or manufactured casings.
As to speak, there are several types of sausages, including fresh sausage, cooked smoked or grilled sausage, fully dry and semi-dry sausage.
What Type of Meat to Use for Your Summer Sausage
As I said, the type of meat you use is based on your preferences. Some people use a 50/50 mixture of pork and beef while some others made it of ground beef completely.
What I personally use is a mixture of 75% beef and 25% pork and sometimes, make it completely of beef.
As for the beef grade, Choice Grade Chuck Roast would be ideal for these type of sausages. Chuck roast has the perfect amount of fat to go with the spices, giving the best results for our recipe. As for pork, butt cut is a very good choice to get.
- Also Read: How to Make Smoked Chuck Roast
Using Venison Meat
If you want to try something new, you can use venison meat with the beef mixture or make it completely of venison meat. Smoked venison tastes very good, and I am a big fan of it, so you should give it a try.
As for cooking equipment needed, there are a few things you should consider before starting:
For example, if you plan to cook your summer sausage by smoking, you will need a smoker. You can either use an electric smoker, propane smoker or a grill which is capable of maintaining low temperatures.
If you need a few suggestions, for an entry-level smoker, I would suggest the Masterbuilt 30-inch Electric Digital Smoker. It is considered one of the best value model for the average family. If you want a full list of models to consider, you can read our best electric smokers under $200 guide to have a better look at each model.
If you are planning to do a lot of low and high heat smoking in the future, then you should probably consider a propane smoker. Models like Masterbuilt XL are easy to use, and with a little instruction, you will be able to maintain a low temperature for a long time. Read our best propane smoker guide to get a better look at all the models worth considering.
Sausage Casing, Curing Salt & Mixing Spices
For this recipe, the mixture of spices totally depends on your preferences. The most commonly used spices are black pepper, garlic, and mustard seeds. Less used ones are coriander, ginger, and allspice. As I said, the summer sausage tastes better if you made based on your taste, so feel free to experiment with your favorite spices.
Also, one thing to have in mind is to grind your spices before using. This will help them to give the most flavor to the ground meat.
As for curing the meat, since summer sausage is a fermented sausage, you should use a meat culture such as FL-C. Bactoferm F-LC meat culture with bioprotective is mostly used for fermented sausages and is widely known for suppressing the growth of Listeria. This meat culture drops the meat’s pH level to 5.3, preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria and giving the meat its tangy taste.
In addition to that, since summer sausage is smoked for hours, you should use Cure #1 Pink Salt. It improves the meat’s flavor, tenderizes it, prevents food poisoning, and creates the pink color widely associated with smoked meats. You can purchase Cure #1 Pink Salt online on Amazon or other similar stores.
- Also Read: Curing & Smoking Meat at Home
How to Prepare the Meat
After you have collected all the required ingredients, it is time to prepare the meat and start the cooking process.
As I said in the upper section, I am going to use a mixture of 75% beef (Choice Grade Chuck Roast) and 25% pork butt.
Before starting the grinding process, the meat should be clean, thawed, and preferably at a cool temperature.
How to Grind the Beef & Pork for a Summer Sausage
For the best results, I suggest you to buy fresh meat and grind it by yourself. If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can ask your butcher to grind it for you. In case you are using a manual meat grinder at home, a 3/16” plate would give the best results.
For an easier and faster grinding, you can cut the meat into small pieces and then put them on the grinder. After grinding the meat once, check its texture. If you feel like it is not fine enough, you can run a second grinding process to give it a fine texture.
A simple tip to have in mind when grinding the meat, you should keep it cold and clean. If the meat gets hot, you will have a harder time grinding it.
Seasoning the Meat
Now it is time to mix all the spices and ingredients together with the ground beef.
You want to make sure that the salt and other spices are well mixed together with the meat. You don’t want to have several parts of the meat where there are small spots with spices and other parts where there is no seasoning at all.
One small trick to distribute them more evenly is to mix the seasonings with pieces of meat before grounding it. Distribute the half of spice mixture to the meat cuts before grounding it. After grounding, mix the other half.
Mix the meat and the spices in a large bowl until the whole mixture becomes sticky. This is the point where it is ready for stuffing.
After you finish mixing it, all the pressure applied has made it warmer than it should, so you need to put the mixture in the freezer for 45-60 minutes to get cold again.
What is the Best Casing for Summer Sausages?
To stuff the sausage, first, you need the casings. For summer sausages, the most common size used is 60mm in diameter, but you free to use 40mm or 120mm as well.
The three recommended casings are the beef middles, fibrous, or collagen casings. I suggest you use collagen or fibrous casings which can be purchased on your local sausage making supply store or on Amazon. Beef middles can be easily purchased on your local butcher shop. Even though they may not be on display, you can ask, and they will be happy to sell them to you.
Stuffing the Sausage
To stuff the meat into casings, you can either use a sausage stuffer or do it manually by hand.
One of the most efficient and value for the money sausage stuffer is the LEM Products 5 Pound. It is not very expensive and does the job very well.
If you don’t want to spend money on a sausage stuffer, you can buy a cheap sausage stuffer attachment for your meat grinder or pick a manual stuffer such as LEM Manual Sausage Stuffer. These models are efficient but will require some physical strength to work properly.
When you are stuffing the meat, don’t worry about the tiny air pockets that remain. It is impossible to remove all the air, and tiny air spots are inevitable. And for semi-dry sausages, the air is not a problem, so don’t worry at all if there is air present.
How to Stuff Summer Sausage with Hands & without Stuffing Machine
If you don’t want to buy a stuffing machine, then you can stuff the meat using your hands.
For the process to be easier, you should first soak your collagen casing in warm water. Warm water will make it pliable and easier to work with.
After the meat is cold again, it is time to get stuffing. The easiest way to stuff in large casings is by using clean hands. Shape the mixture into small meatballs and put them into the casing. Every once in a while, squeeze and try to compress the casing to pack everything together.
When the casing is full, tie it off with twine. Before starting the cooking process, I leave the sausage to rest in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours. This will allow the curing to give the meat the rosy color.
Cooking the Sausage
Now it is time to cook your summer sausage. As I said, you are free to use an electric smoker, propane smoker, oven or a grill which is capable of keeping a very low cooking temperature.
How to Make Summer Sausage in the Oven
Target Internal Temperature
Oven Cooking Temperature
For a lot of people, cooking the summer sausage in the oven is probably the best choice, especially if you have a smoker or grill which don’t have total control over heat to keep it as low and evenly as needed.
The recommended internal cooking temperature for summer sausage is at 155°-160°F. Anything higher or lower than that will ruin the fat dispersion. Also, you don’t want the heat to rise fast and get too hot. This will also ruin the sausage.
To cook it on the oven, first, place it on a rack over a cookie sheet. Put the cooking temperature at 200°F and use a thermometer for cooking the sausage until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F. Usually, it will take around 2:30-3 Hours to reach that temperature.
After it is finished cooking, transfer the sausage to cool into the refrigerator. After it is completely cooled, you can continue slicing it.
How to Smoke a Summer Sausage using an Electric Smoker
Target Internal Temperature
110-130°F & Gradually Increase to 175-190°F
When making summer sausage in electric smoker, you should first start smoking at 110-130°F until the meat reaches the desired color. Then, gradually increase the temperature to 150-175°F and then up to 190°F.
The recommended internal temperature for smoked summer sausage is at 155-160°F. Anything higher than that will make the beef fat to burn and not taste good.
Summer Sausage Cooking Times & Temperatures
Down below you can find a table with all the cooking times and temperatures needed to learn how long to smoke summer sausage or what is the recommended cooking temperature when using a smoker or your oven.
Smoker Cooking Times & Temperatures
Around 2 Hours
Until the Desired Color is Achieved
Another 2 Hours
Until the target internal temp is reached
If it hasn't reached 155°F internal temperature, increase cooking temp to 190°F
Oven Cooking Times & Temperatures
Around 1 Hour
Start with the lowest setting (170°F)
Around 1-2 Hours, until the target internal temp is reached
Gradually Increase until the Sausage reaches 155°F internal temp
Summer Sausage Recipe
Homemade Venison Smoked Sausage
If you want a completely homemade recipe to make venison summer sausage, then you can read the recipe down below from our friends at LittleDairyonthePrairie. It doesn’t require to use any meat grinder, sausage stuffer or smoker. Anyone can do it at their home, with no additional tools.
(For 4 Servings)