Mary Ann's Blog

Home Made Italian Sausage

One of the fun things about being a chef is teaching something new to your fellow chefs. So, on a snowy Saturday afternoon, I invited chef Paul Delios and his wife Jean to join me in my kitchen so I could teach them how to make Italian sausage, all without a machine! All you really need is a funnel and a thumb!

Making Italian sausage means first getting the right cut of pork, a pork shoulder butt which has a good ratio of fat to meat, otherwise the sausage will be dry. Once you have picked one out, tell the butcher how many pounds you need and have the meat ground once on coarse grind and once on fine grind for the proper consistency.

Then buy a package of natural hog casings usually found in the meat section of your grocery store or your butcher may sell them. They are packed in salt so you will need to soak them and chance the water several times before using them. Unused casings can be frozen for future use.  Cut the casings with a scissors to the desired length. Slip one open end of the casing onto the neck of a sausage funnel and push the entire casing onto the neck, but leave about an inch at the other end and tie it into a knot.

I season pork sausage with fennel seeds, hot red pepper flakes, butcher's coarse black pepper and fine sea salt. These are the classic seasonings, but there are many variations. Once the mixture is seasoned, test it first by frying a small amount in a frying pan and tasting it for flavor. If it needs more salt or other seasoning add it to the meat mixture. Take a small amount of the meat and start pushing it into the funnel with your thumb; be sure to fill the casing so there are no empty cavities. When there is about 2 inches of casing left to fill, slip the casing off the funnel and tie the end with a knot. Use a toothpick to poke the sausage in several spots to allow any excess air to escape. Italian sausage is best cooked on the grill and served with roasted red sweet peppers and onions. To freeze, wrap sausage in plastic wrap and then place in plastic bags to freeze.

Homemade Italian Sausage

Makes 7 pounds

7 pounds ground pork shoulder
3 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
2 1/4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 scan tablespoon coarse black pepper
Rinsed natural hog casings.

Making Italian Sausage at Home

Sausage making class

How to make Italian Sausage at Home

Paul and Jean Delios

Learn to make Italian Sausage

Paul and Jean learn how to make sausage from Mary Ann

Recipe for Italian SausageAlmost done!


  1. Jeffrey's avatar


    I have been making homemade sausage according to Maryann's recipe, with the addition of red wine and garlic to the sausage mixture, since the first book, "Ciao Italia" came out. One thing that I have done to insure a moist sausage is to buy pork fatback from the grocery store. I remove the fat from the rind, soak the fat in cold water to remove excess salt, and then add some to the meat when grinding. It is always a hit, and I find the process fun!
  2. Paul Lally, Executive producer's avatar

    Paul Lally, Executive producer

    Smart idea to use fatback! I never would have thought to do that. But I will the next time I make sausage.
  3. charlotte zeuner's avatar

    charlotte zeuner

    I am going to do this tomorrow can't wait til morning to get started.Will let you know how this turns out. I also want to thank you for all the knowledge i have via your tv programs,cookbooks and e-mails. Thank you again you are a real treasure. sincerly charlotte


    I've looked at many recipes, and made a lot of Italian sausage, and am amazed that no one warns that you need to make certain the pork you buy has not had water added to it. In most cases domestic food chains all sell pork that has had 12-15% water added to it. The reason this is a critical consideration is that pork with water in it will "boil" within the casing before it fries ..and the Italian sausage you make will not taste like the sausage you buy from your Italian butcher. So ...beware of pork (especially butts) that have had water added to them. This is usually stated in fine print on the labels.
  5. Simon Viola's avatar

    Simon Viola

    Love your recipes simple and tasty one question if possible in cured sausage how much salt per kilo or lbs.thank you

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