Summer Sausage – easy version

We have been getting lots of requests for an easy recipe for summer sausage. This is that version. This recipe will deliver those classic summer sausage flavors in only 1 day

Traditionally summer sausage was made in the winter using European preservations techniques. Salting, fermenting, smoking, then drying. The end result was a shelf stable product that did not require refrigeration. This made it possible to have preserved meat during the summer when storing meat wasn’t possible. Hence the name Summer Sausage.

This sausage was smoky, tangy, and loaded with very subtle aged meat flavors. Today we are going to achieve those sourly notes and those umami notes in our summer sausage by using a couple really cool products. The first one is called encapsulated citric acid. This is a great way to get that traditional old fashion tangy flavor with out having to ferment our sausage.

Here’s how it works. The citric acid is coated with hydrogenated cotton seed oil. That cotton seed oil melts between 135F – 150F. So as soon as you start cooking your ECA filled sausage and it reaches an internal temperature of 150F the oil coating will have melted and the citric acid will be released into the meat, lowering the ph. TANGY!!

Encapsulated citric acid is very easy to use and works great if you follow the package directions. ECA (encapsulated citric acid) must be the very last ingredient you add to your meat as you are mixing. If you add it too soon the encapsulation could break, releasing the citric acid into your meat messing up the bind and texture. The other thing to remember about ECA is that it must be cooked the day it’s prepared.

I know that some of you may saying, ” wait a minute. Don’t we have to let the sausage rest in the fridge overnight to allow the cure to work?”. Under normal circumstances you are correct, but encapsulated citric acid also works as a cure accelerator so when you use ECA you can cook immediately after stuffing! Matter of fact, it is recommended that you cook your sausage the same day that you add this to your meat mixture. If you don’t you risk the encapsulation breaking and the citric acid will get released too early (this will ruin your sausage texture)

The other ingredient we will be using is Nutritional Yeast. This is such a neat product to add into sausage because it serves a dual function. Firstly, it will give us these really great umami rich (slightly cheesy) flavors and it will act as a binder for our sausage. Win Win!

Together we will be able to mimic the authentic flavors of that classic summer sausage in only 1 day (rather than 10 days). The only draw back here is that our Summer sausage will require refrigeration.

When it comes to cooking your summer sausage there are lots of different options. Traditionally it was smoked, not for the flavor but for the preservation and anti fungal properties that smoke had on food. It also tasted delicious.

If you don’t have a smoker be sure to check out the recipe where I list several cooking options that might work out for you

Follow basic sausage preparation practices when making this summer sausage.
  1. Clean and Sanitize all of your equipment.
  2. Keep your meat and grinder parts super cold (below 34F)
  3. Any liquid that is added to the mince needs to be ice cold
  4. Mix your very chilled meat till the mince becomes very tacky
  5. Stuff the mince into sausage casings and prick out any air pockets
  6. After stuffing, smoke and cook your sausage low and slow:
    Start at 100F for 1 hour, 135F for 2 hour, 155F for 2 hour, 180F till the internal temp reaches 150F (smoke is being applied lightly through the entire cooking process)
  7. After they finish smoking submerge the summer sausage in ice cold water to cool them off completely
  8. Finally let them bloom/age at room temperature for 6 – 12 hours.
  9. Refrigerate and enjoy!!

Here are a few things you might find useful when making sausage

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

If you want to see the different things that we use in operation our be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.

2 Guys & A Cooler Amazon Storefront

Print Recipe
4.88 from 8 votes

Easy Summer Sausage

Classic flavors with a few great hacks!!
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time1 d 6 hrs
How much do you want to make? 1000 grams


Optional Ingredients

  • 11 ml liquid smoke more or less depending on preference. (basically 1 tsp per pound of meat)


  • Start by entering the amount that you want to make in the "Box that reads "How much do you want to make" Be sure to enter the amount in grams
    1,000 grams = 2.2 pounds
    2270 grams = 5 pounds
    4540 grams = 10 pounds
    9080 grams = 20 pounds
  • Clean your meat of any silver skin, sinew, arteries and cut into small strips or cubes. Cut into small strips or cubes and place the meat and fat in the freezer for an hour or until the temp reaches 30f – 34f (-1c – 1c)
  • Prepare all of your seasonings (except the encapsulated citric acid, this ingredient is added at the very end of the mixing process and by itself)
  • Grind your very chilled meat and fat on a medium plate (6mm). Rechill if necessary. You want the temperature of the meat to be below 34f (1c) when mixing)
  • Rehydrate your casings in luke warm water for 15 minutes prior to using
  • Mix the meat, ice cold water, and your seasonings (except the encapsulated citric acid) until the meat mixture gets very tacky and sticky. It will stick to your hand when you grab a small hand full of it and turn your hand upside down.
  • Once your meat is very sticky add the encapsulated citric acid. Mix for another 30 seconds to simply incorporate this ingredient.
  • Stuff your mince meat into the casings and tie them off. Prick out any air pockets with a sausage pricker.

Cooking Schedule

  • In a smoker start cooking at 100F (37.7c) for 1 hour, 135F (57c) for 2 hours, 155F (68.3) for 2 hours, 185F for 1 hours then 185f (85c) till the internal temp reaches 150F (65.5c)
    Begin to apply smoke when you raise the temperature to 135f (57c) and smoke through out the cooking process. I used Hickory wood.
  • Once finished cooking submerge in ice cold water and hang to bloom/age for 6-12 hours
  • Slice and enjoy.

ALTERNATIVE COOKING DIRECTIONS (If you don't have a digital programable smoker here are some other methods of cooking summer sausage.)

  • OFF SET SMOKER: Cook sausages with a gentle heat, preferable under 225f applying smoke through out the cook. Flip sausages over every 45 minutes for even cooking. Target internal temp 150f (65.5c)
    After you reach the target temperature, cool down in an ice bath and hang at room temperature to bloom/age for 6-12 hours.
  • BBQ Pit: Cook sausages on indirect heat targeting temperatures between 180f and 220f. The idea here is gentle cooking. Not hot and fast. Apply smoke through the cooking process and target an internal temp of 150f (65.5c)
    After you reach the target temperature, cool down in an ice bath and hang at room temperature to bloom/age for 6-12 hours.
  • Kitchen oven: Set the oven to the lowest setting, preferably below 250f (121c). Place your sausages in your oven and cook till the internal reaches 155f (68.3c). Rotate the sausages every 15 minutes till finished to ensure even cooking. For a smoky flavor add liquid smoke to your recipe.
    After you reach the target temperature, cool down in an ice bath. Since these were not smoked blooming is not necessary but you can still hang your sausage to age/dry for 6-12 hours.
  • Sous Vide: Set your immersion circulator to 150f (65.5c). Place the summer sausage in a vacuum sealed bag and start cooking them in the water bath. Cook your sausages for 1 hour for every inch that your sausage is thick. I used 3 inch casings so for me I would cook these for 3 hours. For a smoky flavor, consider adding liquid smoke to the recipe.
    After you have finished cooking, cool down in an ice bath. Since these were not smoked blooming is not necessary but you can still hang your sausage to age/dry for 6-12 hours.

Storage Instructions

  • Because these are technically not "semi dried" summer sausages you will need to store these in either the refrigerator or the freezer.
  • The best way to store these would be in whole pieces in a vacuum sealed bag.
  • In the refrigerator these summer sausages (in a vacuum sealed bag) will last 2-3 months and in the freezer the will last 1year+

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16 thoughts on “Summer Sausage – easy version

  1. Bob from North Texas
    Bob from North Texas


    Can I use LHP instead of the Encapsulated Citric Acid?

  2. Bob from North TX
    Bob from North TX

    What Ratio Do You Recommend?

    1/4 tsp to 1/4 cup of water ?

    Any additional Sugar or Dextrose?

    Thank You!

    1. Eric

      Depends on the quantity that you make.

  3. Bob from North Texas
    Bob from North Texas


    On second thought I will use the encapsulated citric acid


  4. Luke

    What are your thoughts on using Formento instead of ECA?

    1. Eric

      I haven’t used it yet but I hear it produces similar results..

  5. andrew james barnes
    andrew james barnes

    So awhile back and for the 1st time I used ECA in snack sticks following the instructions as per the spice manufacturers recommendation for their Honey BBQ spice mix. They recommended an overnight cure in the fridge. No one else did though. Cannot say I was a fan of the overly sweet taste of the stick (Honey/BBQ) but what I did notice was a build up of this gelatinous goo at the bottom of the loop in the sausage. There was no mealy texture of the meat(breaking) that could come as a consequence to an overnight stint in the fridge as some folks warned but something was off. Not sure I will ever use the ECA again but maybe it would be different with a more savory spice blend.

    1. Eric

      Interesting. ECA wouldn’t cause the gelatinous goo that you are referring to. My guess would be softer collagen that broke down during the cooking, then solidified afterwards. A different product that does similar things is called Fermento..

  6. Ken Hinderliter
    Ken Hinderliter

    Getting ready to make 40 pounds of this summer sausage with venison substituted for the beef. The recipe calls for 27 grams of all spice, that seems like a lot. Just want to make sure before I add that much.

  7. John M
    John M

    Can I skip the nutritional yeast and the instacure if I don’t plan on having it out of the fridge for long?

    Also going to cook in the oven at probably the lowest temp 170?

    Also going to add dehydrated Jalapaneo and high temp cheese if that matters at all.


  8. daylon

    Hey Eric, If i wanted to make this shelf stable how long should I keep it in my curing chamber? Looking for 40% weight loss or less? Thanks

    1. Eric

      if you want to make it shelf stable I would lose 35-40% moisture.

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