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Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe (Spicy)
Sausage is that protein that cooks up quickly for a last-minute dinner and is loaded with deliciously complex flavors. This homemade Italian sausage recipe packs a punch with three different sources of heat. It’s simple to make from either a whole chunk of pork shoulder or pre-ground pork, but if you haven’t tried grinding your own meat yet, I highly recommend giving it a shot.
Make a big batch, freeze it in smaller patties or portions, and be ready for a weekday dinner with little effort. My Italian roots felt at home when developing this recipe, and it wasn’t just from the wine bottle I had to open (and finish) for it.
You’ll find varied ingredients in many spicy Italian sausage recipes, but the staples are red pepper flakes and garlic. To me, the other staple is fennel seeds.
In this recipe, we go bold with a variety of spices which I think lend to the most flavorful and well-balanced sausage.
Herbs– dried oregano & parsley add a hint of herbaceousness.
Heat– hot paprika, cayenne powder, & red pepper flakes are included as three distinct flavors of heat and smokiness.
Seeds– fennel seeds & ground coriander create warmth.
Others– sugar, salt, black pepper, and garlic help elevate the pork in familiar ways.
Red wine– this helps not only boost the red color but also the Italian flavor.
You can start with pre-ground pork or take the extra step to grind your own pork (which I recommend doing if possible). You can experiment with meats such as boar, turkey, lamb, or beef, but you’ll want to either use something with a higher fat content or combine extra fat in your mixture. Traditionally, of course, Italian sausage is made with pork.
Here’s the tabletop grinder we use and love, and it’s the perfect size and power for our small homestead. If you own a Kitchenaid mixer, they have an attachment for meat grinding; but, we found having a separate grinder to be an upgrade in efficiency and quality.
*If you’re starting with ground pork, you’ll add 1 ½ tbsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp ground pepper, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp hot paprika, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp cayenne, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tbsp dried parsley, 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, ¼ cup red wine, and ½ cup ice water to 5 pounds of ground pork in a large bowl. Gently massage the spices evenly amongst the meat. Briefly chill for at least 30 minutes before cooking or preserve for longer storage.
If you’re looking to grind your own meat……
Freeze Meat– Freezing your meat for 30 minutes before cutting it into smaller pieces will ease the cutting process.
Freeze Attachments– Place your grinder attachments (auger, blade, & 2 dies: 1 coarse & 1 fine) in the freezer for 1 hour before you begin your grind.
Prepare & Freeze Meat– Remove your meat from the freezer and cut it into ½-inch – 1-inch cubes. You need it to be able to fit easily down the entrance tube of your grinder. Combine the cubed cuts on a foil-lined tray, toss with sugar & kosher salt, cover the tray with another piece of foil, and place the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes. Cold meat is easier to grind and will help prevent the smearing of fat.
First Coarse Grind– Take the tray of pork and grinding attachments out of the freezer in preparation for your first, coarser grind. Place a medium-large bowl below your grinder to catch the meat. Guide the meat through the feed tube and into the grinder. Watch the magic happen.
Add Seasoning– Add the black pepper, ground coriander, hot paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes to your bowl of pork. Toss gently with your hands until the pork is evenly coated.
Freeze– Place your coarsely ground pork back on the foil-lined tray. Cover it with foil and return it to the freezer for 20 minutes.
Second Grind– This is going to be your finer grind. Repeat the steps of the first grind but with a finer grinding plate. Run a piece of bread through at the end of this grind to help clear the equipment of lingering meat.
Final mix– Add the ice water, wine, and fennel seeds to your finely ground pork and gently mix to combine. Chill for 30 minutes before cooking!
I find it most efficient to prepare a large batch of Italian sausage for freezing. You can freeze it in patties, 1-pound portions, or a combination of both. Freezing your ground sausage in vacuum-sealed bags is the best way to preserve it and prevent freezer burn.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, there are options for freezing in plastic bags, tin foil, or airtight containers. If you would like to store them as patties form the patties, place them in the freezer on a piece of parchment paper for an hour, and then transfer them to an airtight container in the freezer.
If you plan to eat the patties soon form them into patties, place parchment paper between them, and set them in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to cook. You’ll only want to leave them like this for 1-2 days.
Once made, you’ll find endless uses for your spicy Italian sausage. Try adding it to stuffed peppers, using it in meatballs, making baked pasta dishes with it, topping your fresh pasta with some, cooking it alongside charred peppers and onions, making it a pizza topping, adding it to chili, placing it atop polenta, sprucing up soups with it, or stuffing mushrooms with it.
If you’ve got a hankering for breakfast sausage, we’ve got a killer recipe for you here!
Spicy Italian Sausage
- meat grinder or attachment
- coarse grinding plate & fine grinding plate
- baking tray
- large bowl
- 5 lbs pork shoulder
- 1½ tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp hot paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp cayenne powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- ¼ c red wine
- ½ c ice water
- Freeze your pork shoulder for 30 minutes before cutting it into smaller pieces.
- Place your grinder attachments (auger, blade, & dies) in the freezer for 1 hour before you begin your grind.
- Remove your meat from the freezer and cut it into ½-inch to 1-inch cubes. You need it to be able to fit easily down the entrance tube of your grinder. Place the cubed pork on a foil-lined tray, sprinkle with the sugar and salt, and toss gently to coat. Cover the tray with another piece of foil and place the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Take the tray of pork and grinding attachments out of the freezer in preparation for your first, coarser grind with the coarse grinding plate in place. Set a medium-large bowl below your grinder to catch the meat. Guide the meat through the feed tube and into the grinder.
- Add the remaining seasonings of black pepper, ground coriander, hot paprika, dried oregano, ground cayenne, garlic powder, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes to the bowl of pork and gently mix to coat the meat evenly. Place the ground pork back on the tray, cover it with foil, and allow it to sit in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Repeat the steps of the first grind but with a finer grinding plate. Run a piece of bread through at the end of this grind to help clear the equipment of lingering meat.
- Add your fennel seeds, red wine, and ice water to the bowl of ground pork and massage gently to mix.
- Form the meat into patties to freeze or vacuum seal 1lb bags of the ground sausage for the freezer. If using immediately, chill your meat for 30 minutes before cooking it up.