How long do you smoke your sausage?

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Original poster
Oct 1, 2012
Parker, CO
The numbers I see are all over the place for link sausage.  I have books that say to smoke for 2-3 hours, but I'm reading threads on here where people are smoking sausage up to 20 hours!  I'm doing a bunch of sausage this weekend, some link and some 3" summer sausage in the mahogany casings.  At what point is too much smoke too much?  Or should I just follow the 40 to 140 within 4 hours rule, and keep an eye on them after that?  Once they reach the color I want go ahead and pull them?

The more I read and research, the more I lose faith in what I thought I knew!  Thanks!!
I smoke mine 2 to 3 hrs . Gives it just the right amount of smoke. I pull them when internal temp hits 155
I smoke longer because I like the smoke and it eventually soaks into the sausage. I smoke at low temperatures and keep slowly bumping up the temps 10-20 degrees at a time until the smoker reaches 175. Then I just wait until the sausage IT gets to 152-155. It can take 8-14 hours for a smoker full of summer sausage. The reason for going slow at low temps is it prevents the fat from rendering. The slow process is the way to go and if you find you like less smoke cut the smoke early and let the sausage continue to cook until you get to your final IT. I smoke the whole time and never get any complaints. I normally use oak cherry and apple which has a milder smoke flavor.
Vids, keep in mind that with these low temp smokes there will be cure #1 in the sausage mix.
Thanks for the input!

So please give me a little more info on the use of cure.  I have some cure #1 at home I can use.

My understanding is that if I don't use cure, I can smoke as long as I want but I need to follow the 40 to 140 within 4 hours rule but could theoretically keep smoking the sausage as long as the IT is above 140 for the rest of the time.  Is this correct?

However, if I'm using cure #1 I can smoke as long as I want and it doesn't matter how long it takes the IT to get above 140 as long as I eventually get IT to 155 before pulling the sausage.  Is that correct?

What I've done in the past is smoke at 130-140 for about two hours, then bump up the temp to make sure IT exceeds 140 before I hit the 4 hour mark.  I'd be happy to keep smoking longer until it looks the way I want, but I've been nervous about going for a long time.
You have it right. The problem is if you raise your smoker over 180 the fat will render out. The outside of the meat just under the casing will harden and fat will form in pools under the casing. If you don't raise your temp over 180 summer sausage will not be over 140 in 4 hours.  The 4 hours in the unsafe zone starts and accumulates. So when you take your meat out to start grinding and mixing and stuffing, start the clock. A lot of the recipes like summer sausage or kielbasa require cure 1 for flavor. I prefer to smoke sausage with cure and grill fresh sausage with out cure.
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Thanks woodcutter!  I will use cure 1 in all my batches this weekend and then not worry about hitting 140 IT by the 4 hour mark.
Thanks woodcutter!  I will use cure 1 in all my batches this weekend and then not worry about hitting 140 IT by the 4 hour mark.
That's what I would do also Vids, good luck and remember the q-view.

A full smoker is a happy smoker
Another question for you guys - I am mixing up my meat tonight, how long do I need to allow the mix to cure?  I'm adding Cure 1 per instructions, is it good to smoke right away or does it need time to soak in?
is it OK to make the sausage up in the casings, and then let it sit in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours and then smoke it, cure is in of course. i just like to get the mweesy work done and the coast !!!!!

thanks for any input
yup.. longer cure time is better (overnight).... but 4 hrs is minimum... refrigerated... 1 tsp per 5 lbs of ground meat.... use a 1/4 cup or so of water to put cure in and dissolve before putting on meat... mix thoroughly.... weigh all the ground meat .. what I like to do is mix 5 lbs at a time.... when I don't have enough left for a 5 lb batch I'll make that into fresh breakfast sausage....
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Thanks for the replies, I was planning to let it sit overnight at any rate so it sounds like I am good. 

RACKRAT - As far as I know, curing in the casings should be just fine. 
Please help me with something I've been thinking about - I'm always trying to find ways to "speed up" the process since I make so much elk sausage every year.  My first couple of batches took about 6-7 hours, but only the first three hours were smoke.  The rest of the time was getting them up to temp.  Is there any reason I couldn't use my oven in the house for the last few hours?  I could put water in there for moisture and monitor the actual temp just like I do with the smoker.  I figure that would allow me to start another smoke and have two batches going instead of one. 

Theoretically, once you stop smoking - having them in the oven in the house is the same thing as having them in the smoker without smoke, right?  Sausages hanging in a 170-180 degree oven?  If there is any reason this is a bad idea?

BTW - The first few batches have been delicious!  I'll post some pics when I get a chance.  I really love the new Bradley, it is incredibly easy to cold smoke and get great results!
I smoke for 3 hours then poach in a 170 degree water bath until temperature is reached.  I used to use an electric roaster to keep up the temperature, but now I use a cooler.  If I need to raise the temp of the water, I drain some off into a pan, boil on the stove then add back in.  The temperature stays more constitant and I have not had any problems with the water accidently getting too hot.
I grew up with heavily smoked sausages and meats (from the heart of Acadiana) and I prefer a longer smoke.  The tasso I did yesterday was smoked for 6 hours.  My mother (90yo) told me stories of her dad cold smoking sausages and tasso for up to 2 days.  Most of the butchering of farm and game animals was done in the winter.  This was back when they still used 'ice boxes' and the smoking was to preserve meats.  Those products are totally different from much of what is available today. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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