Ground beef and pork are the most common meats used in sausage making. If you wanted to make homemade sausage and try using only beef or pork. Its good to know which cut of meat you should use for each.
Sausage is made with ground meat, so the type of cut is less significant than say for a steak. Since you can buy both beef and pork already ground (or minced) then its not hard to make a decision.
From there you just want to decide what fat to meat ratio you want your sausages to be. If you are going to grind the meat yourself after buying a cut straight from the butcher or deli. Then you might want to know what cut goes tastes and works the best.
Suggested read: KitchenAid Meat Grinder vs Regular Grinder: Pro’s & Con’s of Both
Best Cut of Beef for Sausage
A common cut used for sausages comes from the chuck. This primal cut of beef is from the cows shoulder, neck and part of the ribs. Beef chuck that is 80 – 85% lean provides enough fat and beef flavor for sausage.
Sausages that have around 20% or more fat are better because they will not dry out. That is why using beef chuck is a really good cut. You shouldn’t have to add any fat to the sausage.
Out of all the cuts you can use for beef, chuck is going to be the cheapest. The better cuts (tenderloin, sirloin, rib, flank) are used for premium steaks and chuck is usually turned to ground beef.
Because the chuck is less expensive you can buy more quantity to make sausages. A sausage can weigh anywhere from half a pound to 1/4 a pound.
Best Pork Cut To Make Sausage
Boneless pork butt is most commonly used for making sausages. Compared to the other 7 primal cuts pork butt usually contains 20 – 30 % fat, which provides an ideal fat to meat ratio for sausage making.
Pork butt also referred as Boston butt is actually from the pigs shoulder. The cut comes from right above the front leg into the shoulder.
The shoulder blade is sometimes still in the cut, but this would have to be removed. Since you are going to be grinding the meat with a grinder or mincer.
So when buying pork butt for making sausage. Get boneless pork butt, otherwise you are stuck taking the bone out yourself.
Another option is picnic shoulder cut for making sausages. This cut is made just below the butt and above the pigs foot. While you can make sausages with picnic shoulder, you usually have to add extra fat.
Pork picnic usually still has skin or hide on the cut. I would remove this before grinding to avoid clogging. Unless you have a really powerful grinder.
Picnic shoulder is usually a stronger muscle making the meat leaner and tougher. Which requires a very powerful grinder to fully mince.
If you happen to have an extra picnic shoulder you can use the meat for sausages. I wouldn’t use only picnic shoulder for sausages if its your first time. The cut is usually cheaper although butts are easier to work with.
In case you have a whole shoulder cut and want to use all the meat for sausages. Then you will find using both parts will work fine.
Can You Use Pork Loin To Make Sausage?
The downside to using pork loin for making sausage is the meat is leaner. Typically leaner pork meats are more costly and are better suited for making other cuts like pork chops or roasts rather than sausages.
Pork loins can be used for sausages but expect a slightly leaner and drier sausage. When preparing a pork loin to use for sausages do not discard any fat. Instead you can trim the fat off and set aside, later decide how much you are going to use.
A pork loin cut might not have enough fat to make really good sausage meat.
Sausages are best when you have a good ratio of fat to meat. So after trimming and dicing up your pork loin, before you grind the meat. See how much fat you have compared to lean meat.
You really want to have at least 20% fat to lean meat, 35% – 40% is even better. It not only adds more flavor but it makes the sausage texture much more appealing.
You may get lucky with your pork loin and have enough fat to equal around 20%. You might have even more than that, if so great!
If you don’t have at least 20% of fat you have a few options. One, you can either decide to see how the sausages will turn out with less fat.
Two, you can use a substitute like potato starch which can help with texture and moisture retention, potato starch also acts as a great binder.
Read more: Best Binders for Making Homemade Sausage
The third option is acquiring fat trimmings to add into your pork loin sausage meat.
Where To Buy Pork or Beef Fat Trimmings
Buying fat trimmings is not that uncommon as there are many uses for fat. Butchers will either toss the trimmings away or render them. Rendering is when they use these fats to produce lard or tallow.
You do not want to use lard for making sausages, as the texture is not suitable. Instead ask for trimmings or fatback, fatback comes from under the pigs back skin. Fatback is a solid fat and is great for use in making sausages.
So your best bet is to get in touch with a butcher, try your local grocery store first.
Although they might not deal with processing animals in as much detail as other butchers. Meaning the meat they work with is probably slightly processed, frozen and trimmed beforehand.
You wan’t a butcher who processes entire animals, they are most likely going to know what you want and even give you some recommendations and tips.
But it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have any extra beef or fat trimmings you can purchase. They may give you them for free.
Also the butcher might not have any at that particular time, so see if they know ahead or arrange for them to contact when they do.
You can freeze and keep fat trimmings for use later.
Read more: How To Store Natural & Artificial Sausage Casings: Full Guide
What You Need To Make Sausages At Home
Making homemade sausages is easier than it sounds. There are so many different types of sausages to make, but the process does have a slight learning curve.
You only need one piece of equipment to make homemade sausages.
A meat grinder will not only ground up the meat for your sausages. They usually come with stuffing attachments.
While you can use a meat grinder to do both the grinding at stuffing. They often times don’t stuff the sausages as well as they grind the meat.
Buying a separate sausage stuffer is something that many home sausage makers recommend.
The grinder is where you feed the meat into and it comes out finely chopped and even. There is usually two levels of grinding that can be done, fine and coarse.
Check out the best meat grinders on Amazon here.
When buying the grinder you are going to need the two types of inserts (called dies). Coarse and fine dies are used to determine how minced you want the meat to be.
A sausage stuffer is needed if you want to use casings. The stuffer is where the meat comes out and then is fed into a casing. Otherwise it is near impossible to evenly stuff a casing with the meat.
Most sausages use out casings (called sausage skin) to hold the meat in shape. There are many different types of sausage casing you can use.
Read more: Sausage Casings Guide
Another good item to have when making sausages is a scale. A lot of recipes for sausages will be using pounds of meat. So a scale is useful for determining how much meat you have and are going to use.