Mary Ann's Blog

How To Make Italian Sausage Without A Machine. Really!

My outdoor grill has been begging me to light her fire after a long hibernation in the garage, and I can think of no better way to kick off the grilling season than with some homemade Italian sausage!

I know what you're thinking.  That's great for anyone with a sausage making machine.  But no!  You don’t need a meat grinder and loads of other equipment to do this.  All you need is a good pair of hands, a good recipe, a good pork butt, and a funnel.

So if you want to try your hand at making it, here is what you need to do.

HomemadeSausage1Get a good pork butt, one that has a good ratio of fat to meat, otherwise the sausage will be dry. Go  to your favorite market and ask the butcher to show you a bunch of pork butts; they usually weigh in the five pound range. Then ask him to coarse grind the one you choose.

Next, buy a box of natural hog casings.  They are usually in the meat case and come packed in salt, but if you don’t see them, ask your butcher. You will have to rinse them well several times in cold water to get rid of the salt and you may need to cut them into manageable lengths with scissors because they can be very long.  (You can store unused casings in the freezer.) 

Once you've gotten these two items, you're ready to make sausage.

First, make sure you have ready some fine sea salt, coarse black pepper, fennel seeds, and hot red pepper flakes.

Put the meat in a big bowl and season it with:

1 1/2  tablespoons salt,
1 teaspoon black pepper,
4 tablespoons fennel seeds,
As much hot red pepper flakes as you like/can handle.

Make sure to mix everything well with clean hands.  Then make sure you take an extra moment to fry up a spoonful in a pan to be sure you like the flavor.  Add more seasonings if you need to.

Next, slip one open end of a casing over your kitchen faucet and turn on the cold water.  Allow the water to run through the casing.  This will make it easy to slip over the end of the funnel.  Place the open end of the casing over the nozzle part of the funnel and push most of the casing up onto the nozzle, but leave about a two inch tail and knot it.

HomemadeSausage2Start taking small amounts of the sausage and push it with your thumb into the mouth of the funnel  and into the casing.  Do not overfill it or it may break.  Fill the casing evenly but leave about 2 inches of the casing remaining at the top unfilled.  Slip the casing off the funnel and knot the end.  Use a toothpick to poke little holes here and there along the sausage.  This will prevent the sausage from exploding when cooking.  Continue making sausages until you has as much as you'd like.

HomemadeSausage3 I like to leave it in long lengths but if you want to make links, just twist the casing every 3 or 4 inches as you fill it. Coil the sausage and place it in freezer bags, or better yet, cryovac them  and freeze for up to 6 months.

But you could just head right to the grill and when it is hot, throw on your homemade sausage. One taste and you'll know that homemade Italian sausage rules!  Happy Grilling!



  1. ljsousa's avatar


    I can't believe it's that simple. I am definitely going to try this and make up some of my own recipes.
  2. Rob Poulos's avatar

    Rob Poulos

    That's very creative! Not to mention it looks extremely tasty! Thank you for sharing the recipe! =)
  3. Marie Riccardo's avatar

    Marie Riccardo

    I can not get good Italian Sausage in Lady Lake Florida. I want to make sausage with Cheese and Parsley without Fennel seed.
    I hope this works
  4. Sandra's avatar


    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!
  5. Elizabeth's avatar


    Where can I find the Italian sausage funnels to make homemade Italian sausage like Mary Ann has?
  6. cesar's avatar


    so useful tanks a lot I was looking for this so much!
  7. April R's avatar

    April R

    What is the fat to meat ratio that you recommend? Thank you.
  8. Tim's avatar


    Never, ever poke holes in your sausage casing. If they explode while cooking it's because you either a)Stuffed them incorrectly or b)Cooked them incorrectly.

    Poking the sausage with holes just allows the juices that make the sausage delicious and moist to run out of the sausage while cooking. To avoid bursting them you treat them gently. You braise them in beer or whatever cooking liquid you desire (braise means never boil, only simmer) This cooks the sausage enough to keep the juices in even if the casing bursts in the next step. The next step is to grill them a medium high heat until browned sufficiently on the outside.

    This will produce the juiciest, most flavourful sausages you've ever had.
  9. Susan Collins's avatar

    Susan Collins

    Where did you find the funnel? The ones I've seen are either too small or are for a sausage stuffing machine and are too long.
  10. Colleen Thompson's avatar

    Colleen Thompson

    Where did get your funnels?
  11. Timothy Kimball's avatar

    Timothy Kimball

    funnels. use what you've got, try the dollar-type stores, or cut the neck of a plastic bottle that seems about the rite size. you can extend the funnel [in sausage terms, the 'horn,' which is what was first used] with a near-matched size piece of plastic pipe/pvc or stiff tubing.

    if you like making sausage, you can buy an old fashioned grinder/stuffer for <$25 on line or in a discount store.
  12. Joburi Anglia 's avatar

    Joburi Anglia

    Great but how would you do the same without access to casings?A recipe that helps yu keep the perfect shape with casinngs would be great. Maybe clingfilm or foil?

Leave a Comment

Looking for even more photos and recipes?
Order my latest book.

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.

Order using this link and receive a signed book plate.

Available now!