How to make sausage from frozen ground meat

It’s that time of year when hunters find themselves sitting on a pile of ground meat, trying to decide how to make room in their freezer for the upcoming deer season. Burger and spaghetti dinners are a classic option, but for those who want to get more creative, those frosty packs can be used to make amazing sausage.

Necessary equipment for the preparation of sausage

Cooking scale with spices.
Use a scale for accurate measurements. Jack Hennessy

Although you will be using ground meat, you still need some specialized equipment to make cured sausage. You may already have some of the items below at home, but others—like sausage stuffing—can be found online or at kitchen supply stores.

Digital scale

Sausage is all about precision, and if you want to be precise, digital scales are the way to go. A standard digital scale can be used to weigh the meat. To accurately measure spices, a dry goods scale is best.


A grinder allows you to add pork fat to the ground meat for better quality. Without it, wild game sausage tends to be dry. The pork stuffing is essentially flavorless and allows the flavor of the meat you are using to come through.


A meat mixer is optional, but I recommend it for larger batches (think 10 pounds of sausage or more). A mixer will help distribute the spices. It also helps break down the proteins, which, in turn, allows the spices, water, meat and fat to bind together. You can also mix by hand, but it adds too much heat to the meat which can affect the texture of the finished sausage.


If you are planning on making sausage links, you will need a sausage stuffer/presser. Most grinders include a sausage stuffing plate and pipe attachment, but I don’t recommend using it. Fill/press is more efficient and, in general, easier to use.

If you intend to make sausage pie, you can get away without using any of the above equipment. Instead of rendering lard, you can add shredded store-bought pork shoulder to ground venison to make it juicier and more sausage-like. The pork will add its own flavor and texture, which will be a little different than grinding your lard, but it works in a pinch.

Instructions for making wild game sausage

The meat goes through a grinder.
Mince the meat twice. Jack Hennessy

1) Keep meat on ice at all times

You want to work with frozen meat in cold ice. If the meat is overheated, the fat can go rancid and this fat will run off during cooking – leaving you with dry, crumbly sausage and wrinkly sausages. If at any point you think the meat is getting too hot, while grinding or mixing, put it back in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes.

When I make sausage with pre-ground game, I thaw the bag or package of meat enough to cut it into four pieces that are small enough to fit in a grinder. I also freeze the grinder nozzle an hour ahead of time. If you are mixing the sausage by hand, the meat should be so cold, your elbows start to hurt while mixing.

2) Get the right ratio of fat to meat

Compared to whole muscle, game before grinding results in a drier texture after thawing and cooking. Small muscle fibers (in the form of ground meat) leak more fluid after thawing. For this reason, sausage made from a frozen package of ground game needs more fat than you would use when making fresh-cut sausage. I recommend 40 percent lard (by weight) compared to the 30 to 35 percent used with fresh game. For game with a higher fat content, such as waterfowl, I like to add 25 to 30 percent fat.

If you don’t have a grinder and are making dumplings with pre-ground pork, you’ll want to choose a 1:3 ratio. That’s 3 pounds of frozen ground beef to one pound of store-bought ground pork. Any more pork than that will result in sausage that tastes more like pork than game.

3) Do not use too much salt

The amount of salt you use will vary depending on the type of sausage you are making. A good rule of thumb is to add 6.8 grams of kosher (non-iodized) salt per pound of sausage.

3) Mince the meat and fat twice

If you are using lard, render the lard itself once, then a second time with the ground game and spices. This allows you to easily combine the two types of meat including your seasonings. It also results in a more stable sausage texture.

4) Use a binder

A binder such as C-Bind (also known as carrot fiber binder) helps bind the meat while also retaining moisture. C-Bind holds 26 times its weight in water and up to 4 times its weight in oil. If you use ground game, which tends to have a drier texture, C-Bind will ensure that the finished sausage remains moist.

How to make Italian sausage from frozen venison

Sausage and sausage stuffing on a table.
A sausage stuffer makes the job easy. Jack Hennessy

The ingredients are listed for a 5-pound package of sausage. If you want to adapt the recipe for different amounts of sausage, use a mixture of 60 percent venison with 40 percent fat and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Ingredients (for 5 kilograms of sausage)

  • 48 ounces of ground venison
  • 32 ounces of fatty pork or pre-ground pork
  • 1 cup ice-cold sherry cooking wine
  • 10 grams of C-Bind
  • Natural pig braids 32-35 mm

Spice mix

  • 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon kosher salt (34 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (18.5 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (8.4 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (8.4 grams)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (6.3 grams)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika (6.3 grams)


If you intend to make cured sausage, follow the directions on natural pork casings, which will likely include rinsing thoroughly and soaking in lukewarm water for 1 hour before stuffing. Before you begin, you may also want to freeze the grinding plates and chute of your meat grinder an hour ahead of time to keep the meat cold.

Pour very cold ground venison (perhaps partially frozen) together through the coarse plate of the grinder. Add spices to the meat and mix for a few minutes, then pass through the grinder again, this time using the fine plate.

Add ice-cold sherry and continue to stir for a few more minutes. (If the meat starts to warm at any point, refrigerate for 30 minutes.) When the sausage is mixed, you should be able to hold a golf ball-sized ball upside down in your palm without it falling over. immediately.

If you’re not making sausage connections, you’re done. work them into patties and freeze or cook some in a pan. If you want to make connections, go ahead.

Add the meat mixture to the sausage stuffer and secure the natural pork casing in the tube (either a 30mm stuffing tube or a tube slightly smaller than the pig casing). Leave a few inches of the wrappers hanging from the tube untied and begin to screw to let the air out of the filler.

Once the meat starts pumping through the casing, tie the tag end of the casing with a square knot. Continue filling and releasing the sausage. Go slow and take your time. It’s better to cut back versus overdo it, as you can always process the meat through the intestines afterwards.

Once all the meat is stuffed into the casing, it’s time to twist the ties. The links should be 6-8 inches long for Italian sausage, but the length at the end is up to you. Place the meat on the first link, then rotate it clockwise to separate it from the rest of the sausage. For the next link, on the next turn, go counter-clockwise and keep alternating each link to avoid undoing the previous one. Use a host or sausage needle to pop out any air bubbles.

Read more: The Complete Guide to Making Wild Animal Sausage

Hang the sausage links in a cool, dark place with as many gaps as possible to allow air to dry and shrink the casings. After a few hours, place the sausage (still tied) in a tub in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours to further shrink the casings and allow the meat to cool. Cut the links and vacuum seal and refreeze or set aside to cook soon.

Cook the links in a skillet or on a grill over medium heat. (High heat can cause the natural cages to break.) Sear on all sides and finish in the oven or on a covered grill at 350 degrees F until cooked through with an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

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