Recipe for sausages...Store bought or Homemade?

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Oceantoad

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I've been getting into sausage making again since the weather is favoring it. I find it cumbersome to make sausage in the summer trying to always keep everything cold. Anyway my question is, do you prefer a store bought mix or a homemade recipe? In my research for different summer sausage and snack stick recipes, I have noticed that a lot of people use the store bought premade mix over a recipe from scratch. Is it because of the taste? The cost? The convenience? I myself try to use a recipe that does NOT include the use of a store bought mix. Just curious what everyone else thinks.
 

SmokinEdge

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I prefer made from scratch and I like to grind my spices fresh for each recipe, but I do occasionally use premix for convenience. Some of the best sausage I’ve made has only 4 or 5 ingredients the premixes get a bit busy for me.
 
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Steve H

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Depends on my mood, weather, whether they are going to be fresh or smoked, and available time. I've used store bought mixes. And adjusted after the first use for my preferences. What flavor profile are you looking for?
There is a ton of recipes here. Just do a search.
 

thirdeye

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I have a handfull of recipes for fresh sausages that I make from scratch. I just like dialing in the exact flavor profile and salt percentage I prefer. I do buy a chorizo seasoning from Walton's that I really like.
 
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Dave in AZ

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Mix my own. To me, that is the funnest part of the process, replicating a taste or working out the perfect recipe.

I've used a few premade blends for snack sticks when I was just starting, to get an idea of ratios and flavors.
 
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SmokyMose

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Personally, I've never used a commercial mix since I started making sausage, although I've used a couple of mixes that members have sent me to try.. There are hundreds of sausage recipes out there. It's not hard to put together some spices, etc. and that's part of the fun for me. Add to that, my wife had to go on a low sodium diet a couple of years ago and I can dial down the salt in my own mixes.
 

DougE

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Mix my own. To me, that is the funnest part of the process, replicating a taste or working out the perfect recipe.
Yeah, I enjoy that part of it, but I haven't come across a recipe I won't still diddle with. Ain't any of them perfect, and there's always that improvement waiting to happen lol.
 

tallbm

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I've been getting into sausage making again since the weather is favoring it. I find it cumbersome to make sausage in the summer trying to always keep everything cold. Anyway my question is, do you prefer a store bought mix or a homemade recipe? In my research for different summer sausage and snack stick recipes, I have noticed that a lot of people use the store bought premade mix over a recipe from scratch. Is it because of the taste? The cost? The convenience? I myself try to use a recipe that does NOT include the use of a store bought mix. Just curious what everyone else thinks.
It depends, I do both. Here comes a long post about why more options is a good thing.

Most online blog post recipes (of any kind) are a let down so you have to work them into shape yourself... if they can even be tweaked. Many are clearly people who don't know what they are doing and throw everything in but the kitchen sink.
This forum is a far far far better source of info than random blog posts that have pretty pictures and are mainly in it for the clicks and ad revenue their post generates.

Most store bought seasonings are too salty or too bland and often their measurement by volume (teaspoons/tablespoons) doesn't scale up once you get over 5 pounds. As you scale up it gets too salty or too bland due to the slop that occurs when measuring by volume.
When store bought seasoning flavor is good it is actually easier to work it into shape so that it's never too salty or too bland.
You just mix a 3 pound batch and do a small fry test patty before you stuff.

If the test patty doesn't taste horrible and is not salty enough you mix more seasoning into the meat and repeat the test till its at the point of "could use a little more salt" and thats when you DONT add any more and you stop lol. The flavor profile will change after you cook the sausage so if it tastes good with the test patty, it will taste good once cooked but likely have more flavor and character.

If the test patty is too salty you mix in some more meat and test, repeat till good.
Then using 5th grade math you calculate how many grams of seasoning you use per pound of sausage meat and write it. Done!

With made at home recipes you do the same testing but you have a handful of other ingredients besides the salt that may be too bland or too strong. Luckily it's harder to get too strong with many common sausage ingredients. Salt is the main one that you can easily get too much with but then you may have to alter your other seasoning amounts.
Lesser used super strong seasonings like Anise, Fennel, Clove, etc. can get really strong with very very very very very small amounts so its always best to add tinny tinny bits when increasing hahhaha.

Expect to do 2-8 iterations on a made at home recipe IF you aren't handed one that is dead on from a super reliable source.
I have yet to get sausage recipe from anyone that is dead on BUT I also don't have very many other sausages I'm interested in making. I'm kind of set.
If a trusted source here ever posts an amazing Mexican Chorizo (not the same as Spanish Chorizo) or a Czech Klobase recipe on here, THEN I'll be jumping all over that recipe for sure. The real Czech Klobase recipe is my white whale lol.


My Store Bought:

LEM's Cured Franks
(hot dog/frank seasoning)
I tried at least 4 different hot dog/frankfurter seasoning recipes and nothing can hold a candle to the LEM's Cured Frank seasoning... once I figured out the by weight measurements of the LEM's.
None of the recipes came close and I gave up trying because I had a clear winner.

LEM's Fresh Brats
For Brats it's the same thing, nothing has beat the LEM's Fresh Brat seasoning... again once I figured out the by weight measurements.
I have eaten brats from many many many places all over the US (Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc, etc.) and in German restaurants overseas (but not in Germany) trying to see what the fuss was about and never found one that impressed me.
Then I made the venison brats with LEM's Fresh Brat seasoning because it came in the LEM 5lb stuffer kit I bought to get started with sausage. WOW!!!! This is stuff beat all other brats I ever tasted by 100 miles!!!!

Owen's German Bologna
I have a buddy who always talked about getting this as a kid but could never find it after leaving our home town.
A member on here on the forum vouched for this seasoning. They are always dead on with their information, food, and suggestions so I was confident they were right... they were!
All I had to do was some standard tinkering to figure out by weight how much seasoning was needed per pound of meat so it wasn't too salty or too bland. This is something you have to do with every store bought seasoning or recipe you find anyhow


My Made at Home Seasonings:

Texas Hotlink/Hot Gut Sausage

I had to take a recipe that was in the ball park work a few iterations to get the flavor I was looking for. This sausage is harder and harder to come by in Texas these days but I used to love them as a kid.
Took about 4 iterations to get it down and that's only because I started with an acceptable base recipe someone posted online somewhere that was not here.

Ground Pastrami Sausage
I do a Ground Pastrami sausage I form into blocks and smoke to slice for sandwich meat instead of doing in sausage casings, but could make cased sausage out of it.
I took a recipe from online that was very close and and tweaked it to get the right flavor. This took about 2 iterations to nail the flavor.

Breakfast Sausage (for patties and ground browned sausage needs)
This is about as basic of a sausage as you can get so its easy to start simple like Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and Sage and then tweak from there.
You basically never make a bad batch and only improve to your tastes as you tinker with it.
You can also mix this up on the fly right before you make it with store bought 80/20 beef or ground pork so the effort and prep are nothing to figure out the perfect breakfast sausage recpie for you.
I do Salt, Pepper, a good amount of Garlic, a lot of Sage, and a nice helping of Red Pepper flakes. I just eyeball it and its great everytime.


Ground Jerky, Italian Caccetorie flavor
This is a combo of LEM's Original Snack Stick seasoning then doctored up with other very specific seasonings and a red wine to give me the amazing tang and flavor I want with this ground meat jerky.
The snack stick seasoning is an amazingly solid base flavor and I had a bunch on hand as a gift given to me so it works to give me the exact flavor I'm looking for. I don't fix what isn't broken haha :D


Anyhow I hope this long post of info helps :)
 
Last edited:

Dave in AZ

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Oct 2, 2022
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tallbm tallbm this is a great post! For recipes, Nothing is as valuable as honest, well thought out flavor comments from someone who has tried many variations, and pays close attention to flavors. Your hotdog and brat ratings are great info for me! Both have so many bland meh iterations, it's hard to find the diamonds in the rocks!
 
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tallbm

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tallbm tallbm this is a great post! For recipes, Nothing is as valuable as honest, well thought out flavor comments from someone who has tried many variations, and pays close attention to flavors. Your hotdog and brat ratings are great info for me! Both have so many bland meh iterations, it's hard to find the diamonds in the rocks!
Glad the info is helping :D

Any specific sausages you are looking to make?
 

Oceantoad

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Feb 26, 2022
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37
tallbm tallbm this is a great post! For recipes, Nothing is as valuable as honest, well thought out flavor comments from someone who has tried many variations, and pays close attention to flavors. Your hotdog and brat ratings are great info for me! Both have so many bland meh iterations, it's hard to find the diamonds in the rocks!
It depends, I do both. Here comes a long post about why more options is a good thing.

Most online blog post recipes (of any kind) are a let down so you have to work them into shape yourself... if they can even be tweaked. Many are clearly people who don't know what they are doing and throw everything in but the kitchen sink.
This forum is a far far far better source of info than random blog posts that have pretty pictures and are mainly in it for the clicks and ad revenue their post generates.

Most store bought seasonings are too salty or too bland and often their measurement by volume (teaspoons/tablespoons) doesn't scale up once you get over 5 pounds. As you scale up it gets too salty or too bland due to the slop that occurs when measuring by volume.
When store bought seasoning flavor is good it is actually easier to work it into shape so that it's never too salty or too bland.
You just mix a 3 pound batch and do a small fry test patty before you stuff.

If the test patty doesn't taste horrible and is not salty enough you mix more seasoning into the meat and repeat the test till its at the point of "could use a little more salt" and thats when you DONT add any more and you stop lol. The flavor profile will change after you cook the sausage so if it tastes good with the test patty, it will taste good once cooked but likely have more flavor and character.

If the test patty is too salty you mix in some more meat and test, repeat till good.
Then using 5th grade math you calculate how many grams of seasoning you use per pound of sausage meat and write it. Done!

With made at home recipes you do the same testing but you have a handful of other ingredients besides the salt that may be too bland or too strong. Luckily it's harder to get too strong with many common sausage ingredients. Salt is the main one that you can easily get too much with but then you may have to alter your other seasoning amounts.
Lesser used super strong seasonings like Anise, Fennel, Clove, etc. can get really strong with very very very very very small amounts so its always best to add tinny tinny bits when increasing hahhaha.

Expect to do 2-8 iterations on a made at home recipe IF you aren't handed one that is dead on from a super reliable source.
I have yet to get sausage recipe from anyone that is dead on BUT I also don't have very many other sausages I'm interested in making. I'm kind of set.
If a trusted source here ever posts an amazing Mexican Chorizo (not the same as Spanish Chorizo) or a Czech Klobase recipe on here, THEN I'll be jumping all over that recipe for sure. The real Czech Klobase recipe is my white whale lol.


My Store Bought:

LEM's Cured Franks
(hot dog/frank seasoning)
I tried at least 4 different hot dog/frankfurter seasoning recipes and nothing can hold a candle to the LEM's Cured Frank seasoning... once I figured out the by weight measurements of the LEM's.
None of the recipes came close and I gave up trying because I had a clear winner.

LEM's Fresh Brats
For Brats it's the same thing, nothing has beat the LEM's Fresh Brat seasoning... again once I figured out the by weight measurements.
I have eaten brats from many many many places all over the US (Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc, etc.) and in German restaurants overseas (but not in Germany) trying to see what the fuss was about and never found one that impressed me.
Then I made the venison brats with LEM's Fresh Brat seasoning because it came in the LEM 5lb stuffer kit I bought to get started with sausage. WOW!!!! This is stuff beat all other brats I ever tasted by 100 miles!!!!

Owen's German Bologna
I have a buddy who always talked about getting this as a kid but could never find it after leaving our home town.
A member on here on the forum vouched for this seasoning. They are always dead on with their information, food, and suggestions so I was confident they were right... they were!
All I had to do was some standard tinkering to figure out by weight how much seasoning was needed per pound of meat so it wasn't too salty or too bland. This is something you have to do with every store bought seasoning or recipe you find anyhow


My Made at Home Seasonings:

Texas Hotlink/Hot Gut Sausage

I had to take a recipe that was in the ball park work a few iterations to get the flavor I was looking for. This sausage is harder and harder to come by in Texas these days but I used to love them as a kid.
Took about 4 iterations to get it down and that's only because I started with an acceptable base recipe someone posted online somewhere that was not here.

Ground Pastrami Sausage
I do a Ground Pastrami sausage I form into blocks and smoke to slice for sandwich meat instead of doing in sausage casings, but could make cased sausage out of it.
I took a recipe from online that was very close and and tweaked it to get the right flavor. This took about 2 iterations to nail the flavor.

Breakfast Sausage (for patties and ground browned sausage needs)
This is about as basic of a sausage as you can get so its easy to start simple like Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and Sage and then tweak from there.
You basically never make a bad batch and only improve to your tastes as you tinker with it.
You can also mix this up on the fly right before you make it with store bought 80/20 beef or ground pork so the effort and prep are nothing to figure out the perfect breakfast sausage recpie for you.
I do Salt, Pepper, a good amount of Garlic, a lot of Sage, and a nice helping of Red Pepper flakes. I just eyeball it and its great everytime.


Ground Jerky, Italian Caccetorie flavor
This is a combo of LEM's Original Snack Stick seasoning then doctored up with other very specific seasonings and a red wine to give me the amazing tang and flavor I want with this ground meat jerky.
The snack stick seasoning is an amazingly solid base flavor and I had a bunch on hand as a gift given to me so it works to give me the exact flavor I'm looking for. I don't fix what isn't broken haha :D


Anyhow I hope this long post of info helps :)
tallbm, thanks for such an informative post. When it comes to making sausage, I believe people like you with your experience will forget more things then I could ever remember. I was getting ready to make some venison snack sticks/venison summer sausage and was amazed at all the people putting out how to videos that were just dumping in the store bought seasonings. I'm not stating there is anything wrong with this, I was just surprised how long it took to find a video that was using a home made recipe. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom .
 

pushok2018

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Never used store bought premix.... Always use my own recipes or use other sources (including this great forum) for that purpose... Not because commercial premixes are bad - just because I enjoy the whole process and what's even more important - I like to experiment with recipes. Sometimes my sausages coming out with great taste and texture, sometimes just OK... Last time I bought commercial made sausage from a store was beginning of 2018 - exactly when I started this hobby...
 
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sawhorseray

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I mostly stick to a pre-mixed Italian I get from PS Seasonings for the last ten years or so. I used to mix my own but found the flavor profile would vary slightly from batch to batch. I make two 25-30 pound batches of Italian sausage every year, pork and chicken. Ingredients like anise, fennel, and red pepper seemed to lose some flavor sitting in the pantry over a period of time and that's where I believe the flavor variation came into play. The first time I used the 260-B mix from PS Seasonings I added a knob of chopped garlic and used a bottle of cabernet for the liquid. It was a huge hit with friends and family and what I really liked was that the flavor was repeatable each and every time. For my chicken Italian I add chardonnay, dried maters, and black olives to the mix, repeatable every time. If you are pulling a baggie of ingredients off a pantry shelf that's been sitting there for a year or more it's just not going to taste the same as when it was fresh. RAY
 
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mosparky

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I have stated before I prefer to mix my own. I have used some good mixs at work and could most likely find them online somewhere.
I have had too many times a product was longer available for whatever reason (quit carrying it, out of business, Pandemoic ect.) or the recipe changed. Just seems a bit more reliable to mix my own. If they quit making salt, pepper ect. we got bigger problems.
 
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zwiller

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Most online blog post recipes (of any kind) are a let down so you have to work them into shape yourself... if they can even be tweaked. Many are clearly people who don't know what they are doing and throw everything in but the kitchen sink.
THIS!!! I basically ignore fancier sites. Think those folks just grab a recipe online, tweak a little, take a bunch of fancy pics, and upload it.

I suggest premade mixes for when you're starting so you are happy and get in the ballpark right away. I have tried a few brands and AC Leggs/Amazon has always does it for me. It is not so easy to develop your own. With Marianski in hand you gotta good chance but even he is not always on his game but gets you close usually.

It was said already a few times, good mixes do not have many ingredients. It is ESSENTIAL to get the base. IE Bfast sausage: salt, BP, sage... With the right amounts, that gets you in the ballpark and you can certainly tweak but you HAVE to get the base dialed in. For SS I am of the opinion the base is mustard seed, BP, and a little allspice/nutmeg/etc for top notes.
 

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DougE

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I suggest premade mixes for when you're starting so you are happy and get in the ballpark right away.
See, now I had the opposite experience with premade mixes. I found most to not be in balance ... too much of one spice or another. I mostly (but not always) like spices in balance where they play off each other, rather than one jumping out and smacking you in the face. They didn't suit me, so I started rolling my own.

Between recipes that have been shared here on SMF, and ones from experienced sausage makers like Cajuneric Cajuneric , it's pretty easy to find solid recipes that are good as is, but I still end up tweaking them a little.
 
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