whole food ~ well made

Simple homemade Italian sausage for a quick pasta sauce and spaghetti at

How to Make Simple Italian Sausage at Home

One of my greatest feats–the one that makes me feel as victorious as an Olympic marathoner–is running the full length of the moraine around Wallowa Lake.

It only looks like a big deal. Once you hike to the top of the curved mound of earth and soil bulldozed into shape by a glacier 10,000 years ago, it’s a gentle sloping run of maybe 4 miles back to my door.

Homemade sausage is the same way. You will feel a great sense of achievement, but it only sounds challenging if you’ve never done it before.

If you’d like the full-on sausage making experience, you can start by grinding your own meat. {This trusted and simple cookbook Bruce Aidell’s Complete Sausage Book is a good place to start.}

But did you know that you can also make bulk sausage from any ground meat? And you don’t need to mess with any casings.

How to Make Bulk Sausage

Starting with ground meat demystifies the whole sausage making process, so you can focus on the seasonings. Start with the best-quality ground beef, pork or lamb, ideally from a farmer you’ve met.

I love to make my own Italian sausage from the fresh ground pork I order when I get a half pig for the freezer every year. Here’s the simple process for turning it into sausage:

Dissolve kosher salt {you don’t need curing salt for this}, garlic, fennel and oregano in some red wine, adding red pepper flakes to suit your heat preferences. Add the meat and mix and mash it it’s mushy. You want this so the sausage binds. Add some water if it doesn’t squish through your fingers.

If you don’t want to touch the sausage, wear plastic gloves or use your stand mixer.

Simple homemade Italian sausage for a quick pasta sauce and spaghetti at

Let the flavors mingle for an hour or so in the fridge. Then, heat a frying pan and make a quarter-sized patty. Cook it on both sides, let it cool and taste. If it needs more salt or garlic or black pepper, add it. Once you’re satisfied, form it into logs, patties, or meatballs or cook it in a pan into crumbles.

It makes dinners like this simple mushroom, red pepper and sausage pasta sauce an easy sprint. Or toss is into a soup or put it on a homemade pizza.

When it comes to making bulk sausage, you are in charge. Come up with your favorite spice combinations and secret sausage formulas. Use them again and again, making tweaks here and there, until the recipes become your own.

Now, you are a champion, too.


and become a forager

Simple Italian Sausage (Mild or Hot)

This recipe produces a bulk sausage (that means no casings) from fresh ground pork. Make this simple sausage with your hands in a mixing bowl or use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. You can form this into patties or small meatballs for a minestrone soup. Or cook and crumble for a pasta sauce or for pizza topping.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lynne Curry


  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar + 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch ground allspice
  • 1 pound fresh ground pork

For mild Italian sausage:

  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For hot Italian sausage:

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Combine the wine, garlic, fennel, salt,, oregano and allspice in a mixing bowl until the salt dissolves.
  • Add the ground pork and the quantity of red pepper flakes for mild or hot Italian sausage. Mix with your hands or in a stand mixer until it is very well mixed and sticky. Chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavors develop up to overnight.
  • To check the seasonings, pull off a tablespoon-sized portion and form it into a miniature patty. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook the patty, about 2 minutes per side. Let it cool slightly and taste. Add more salt, herbs or red pepper flakes to suit your taste.
  • To use, form into miniature meatballs, patties or cook in bulk as desired.

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