Homemade Beef Summer Sausage

My personal Funky Fresh Kitchen “Make it Yourself” Challenge was to make Homemade Beef Pepperoni, using a recipe I found at Tammy’s Recipes. I read through all of her reviews before trying the recipe and many of them suggested that this tastes more like Summer Sausage than Pepperoni. I completely agree – it does taste much more like Summer Sausage. But no matter what you call it, we all really loved the flavor.

I kept having to remind myself while we were eating (one entire log of sausage in one sitting) that we didn’t need to feel guilt or hold back on eating this. We have, on occasion, purchased beef summer sausage from the store to eat on the run. The boys love it, but I’ve always been hesitant because the store-bought sausage is so full of MSG and who knows what. To now have this recipe in my hip pocket to make as a healthy, convenience food for my family is super exciting!

And did I mention that it is crazy easy to make? Yes, practically effortless. I used our healthy Grass Fed Beef and made five pounds of this wonderful meat, which tastes good with cheese and crackers or on sandwiches. I put our leftover meat in the freezer to use later. This is going to be a perfect grab and go snack to take to soccer games this fall!

Making this summer sausage was a three day process (although not time consuming or difficult). On the third day, after we got to smell it cooking on low heat all day, we were thrilled to eat it with cheese and fruits and veggies for dinner. Awesome!

Next, I’d like to try Tammy’s Spicy Pepperoni, which sounds like it has more of a pepperoni flavor. Score! Now we can have healthy summer sausage and healthy pepperoni too!

Does your family like summer sausage and pepperoni? You’ve got to try Tammy’s recipes!

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Comments

  1. says

    Looks delicious! I was wondering if you used the Morton’s Tender Quick salt as called for in the recipes because it has nitrates in it…?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Grr, I didn’t realize that it had nitrates in it. :( I was very hesitant about using it because I just don’t trust stuff like that from the store. I’m going to research a better salt to use in the future so that I can feel 100% good about serving this to my family!

    [Reply]

    Camille Reply:

    I’ve done a lot of research on curing your own meats and unfortunately, the process of curing needs nitrites at the very least. Of course, celery seed will get you just
    nitrites. The book “Charcuterie” is a good read for meat making. They use
    a “pink salt” to cure. I can’t remember if it has nitrates or not.

    [Reply]

    Kirstyn Reply:

    Some of the reviews on Tammy’s site mentioned that they used normal sea salt– I did the same thing because the Morton’s stuff didn’t impress me. :-) Mine’s still in the process, but apparently the only difference is that it turns more of a brown color than a pink color. I decided I could live with that. :-)

    Blair Reply:

    is this Morton’s stuff just in the seasoning section at the store?

    Camille Reply:

    I wanted to add that the reason for the nitrites is to kill off
    botulism that may form during curing. Use regular sea salt with some wariness.

    [Reply]

    Randi @ www.ExpressionsOfPerceptions.com Reply:

    How does botulism form in the meat? If it’s refrigerated while marinating and then cooked at 200 degrees for 8 hours, at what point would botulism form? Would it be after the meat was baked, perhaps if people left it unrefrigerated? I have this in the oven now, but I only used regular sea salt. Now I’m a bit concerned.

    [Reply]

    Camille Reply:

    I don’t know the “how” of it. Basically the nitrites/nitrates kill
    off any “bad” bacteria that may form while the meat is sitting and curing
    in the fridge. The temp the meat is cooked at is probably not hot enough
    to kill off anything that may have grown. I just know that I’ve read
    this numerous times from several sources while investigating curing
    meat at home. You will probably be fine, but I just wanted to add
    a note of caution that the nitrates/nitrites are not JUST for the color
    or for shelf life.

    I recommend Michael Ruhlman’s book “Charcuterie” for meat making.

  2. says

    I have that in my oven right now…. except I didn’t use Morton’s salt because it contains nitrates, nitrites, and genetically modified dextrose (a gmo corn product).

    I used sea salt instead. I’m sure it won’t last as long as it would with the quick-cure yucky stuff, but I’ll just freeze it if there’s any left.

    I hope tha flavor still turns out good though…

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I was wondering why I couldn’t just use my sea salt. I froze mine anyway so why not. I’ll definitely do that next time!

    [Reply]

    Camille Reply:

    Let us know how it turns out! I’d LOVE to make this and be able to do it with sea salt!

    [Reply]

    Randi @ www.ExpressionsOfPerceptions.com Reply:

    It turned out just fine, and I haven’t died of botulism! LOL! It’s darker than the weird pink that things like that usually are, but it’s fine. It’s a little pinkish inside, but overall it’s like the color of a medium-well steak. I’m also amazed that the texture turned out so uniform.

    [Reply]

    Camille Reply:

    Awesome! I may just try it. I also am guessing that the higher quality of meat
    the safer it is. I buy my beef from a rancher I know so hopefully
    that will keep me safer! LOL

    Laura Reply:

    My husband and I have long-debated the fascination with that weird pink color! Why does Outback Steakhouse have pink lighting? I don’t get it. But I am going to try this recipe!

    Andy Reply:

    I’d like to know if it works as well with sea salt if you could post an update?

    There’s no way I’m going to use the Morton’s stuff, but if it works well with salt I’d be fine with keeping it frozen until eating.

    [Reply]

    Kim Reply:

    I just looked this up some more online and this is what I found: “Nitrites and nitrates must be present in dry-cured sausages to prevent botulism poisoning” according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

    And here’s a link for curing without nitrates, but it is a long process and says it’s not for sausage. Also, I read that if you use regular sea salt, the meat would be brown and you wouldn’t get the flavor. Not saying to not use it, just saying what I read.

    http://www.ehow.com/how_6524567_cure-meat-sodium-nitrite.html

    [Reply]

    Andy Reply:

    That appears to be meat cured traditionally at room temperature. This recipe is refrigerated and than sort of dried out in the oven. I think that difference might allow sea salt to work. Thanks for the info though!

    Randi @ www.ExpressionsOfPerceptions.com Reply:

    It worked fine! It’s not like pepperoni, but rather a summer sausage or bologna type of meat. But sea salt worked just fine.

    [Reply]

  3. Tituslady says

    Oh that looks yummy! Defiantly will have to find a different curing method though. Was the pink salt called Himalayan salt?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    It appears that you can just use sea salt and it will work – you’ll just have to freeze it to preserve it. :)

    [Reply]

  4. says

    I would think sea salt would not be safe, even if storing in fridge/freezer, since the meat is cooked at only 150 degrees. Isn’t beef supposed to cook to 180 degrees to be “safe”? I’m very curious what others find out, because I don’t want to use curing salt, but I’d love to make this!

    [Reply]

    Randi @ www.ExpressionsOfPerceptions.com Reply:

    It’s 200 degrees in this recipe, 150 in the spicy one, but I read that grassfed beef only needs to be cooked to 140 degrees to be safe. Anyway, mine’s in the oven at 200 degrees for 8 hours. I hope it turns out well.

    [Reply]

    Andy Reply:

    The better the quality of the meat, the less I worry about the temperature. I made beef jerky from a cow heart and just dehydrated it at about 110 degrees until it was done. No problems.

    [Reply]

    Pam Reply:

    I’d love to have the recipe for the beef jerky made from beef heart.
    I got 2 from my 1/2 beef (seems someone else didn’t want theirs) and
    have been trying to figure out the best thing to do with it. Everyone
    but me in my family loves beef jerky but the store bought stuff is
    so expensive and probably full of yucky stuff.

    [Reply]

    Andy Reply:

    Hi,

    I didn’t follow an exact recipe, but basically what you do is:

    -Thaw heart (Like mentioned below starting when its partially frozen makes cutting easier)
    -Cut off the excess fat from the outside of the heart
    -Cut into thin strips (Because of the shape of the heart, this works very well. Partially freeze to make the cutting even easier)
    -Soak in your favorite marinade recipe overnight (Optional)
    -Dehydrate until ready (You can tell when its done when its dried out but not so much that it breaks when bending it. The jerky should be very tough. If you have a dehydrator use that. The oven works also at a low temp with the door open.)

    Tastes great though and the heart is perfect for it because it is such a lean muscle!

  5. Jen says

    I actually have the Tender Quick curing salt on hand for a similar recipe from my grandma that I made several years ago. I looked at the ingredients, and yeah… it’s in the garbage now. More concerning than the nitrates and nitrates listed in the ingredients is propylene glycol!!! My bag is several to many years old, so I don’t know if they still add it now, but YUCK!!!

    I make homemade corned beef every year from the grassfed brisket that comes with our 1/2 cow purchase. The brine ingredients are all natural, and it’s cured in the fridge for 5 – 7 days, then cooked. It is AMAZING! The best corned beef ever. As someone mentioned above, the big difference from what you purchase in the store is the color. It’s not a bright, fake pink color. It’s a regular greyish, brown meat color, but the flavor is out of this world.

    Thanks you, Laura, for reminding me about my grandma’s yummy sausage recipe! I’m going to make it again… with sea salt!

    [Reply]

    Randi @ www.ExpressionsOfPerceptions.com Reply:

    Yep, propylene glycol is still in there, as is gmo dextrose. I’m glad I didn’t buy that stuff. I just looked up the ingredients on their website.

    [Reply]

    Erin S Reply:

    Ooh, I’d love a good corned beef recipe. Care to share?

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Sure, Erin. The brine I use is Recipe#115220 from recipezaar by EdsGirlAngie:

    2 quarts water
    1 cup kosher salt (I use sea salt)
    1/2 cup white vinegar
    4 T sugar (I used sucanat)
    3 bay leaves
    1 tsp. peppercorns
    1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
    1 pinch cloves

    1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, then cool.
    2. Place brisket in a large container (I used glass baking dish), add cooled brine, and 4 garlic cloves, cut into thirds.
    3. Make sure all of the meat is covered by the brine (cut meat if necessary), and refrigerate for 6 to 7 days, turning occasionally.

    I cook it using the recipe “Corned Beef and Cabbage II by Cindy on Allrecipes.com. This is key! Awesome recipe! I won’t copy it here, since this is getting long, but be sure to look it up on Allrecipes. Good luck! It’s so delicious… my husband’s favorite meal for his birthday (March 16th)/St. Patrick’s Day.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    I forgot to say that I cover the glass baking dish with saran wrap, while it brines in the fridge. The recipe says to use a large roasting bag, but I wasn’t really comfortable with brining that long in plastic.

    Erin S Reply:

    Wow, a thousand thanks! I really, really love corned beef and didn’t know it so easy. I really appreciate it.

    Priscilla F. Reply:

    Hey thanks for sharing this – I was hoping you would. :)

  6. Kellie says

    This is the same recipe I use for what we call summer sausage. It is so good! I usually make it with deer meat but we like it made with beef also. I trued it with ground turkey once and ended up throwing it to the dog. Think ill start a batch today :)

    [Reply]

  7. Susan Allums says

    I tried this last year using sea salt and it turned out great and, no one got sick. It does not taste quite the same as the curing salt but it is still very tasty. I only made 1 log and it was devoured QUICKLY. Will be making this again, I had forgotten about it. Thanks for the post!

    [Reply]

  8. Sahirah says

    Awwww Kellie so sad to hear about the turkey not turning out well.My family doesn’t eat beef,we don’t like it.I would have loved to try it with turkey.

    [Reply]

    Julia Reply:

    According to Mary Bell author of the Complete Dehydrator Cookbook, if you do try it with turkey (or any poultry), it must be pre-ccoked first. Otherwise the meat could make you sick (salmonella).

    [Reply]

  9. Rebekah Jeffreys says

    We love this stuff(the spicy recipe) and yes I use sea salt in mine and it works great! We like the bologna also!

    [Reply]

  10. Kellie says

    You could always try it. You may like it that way. I tryed it with turkey after several batches of deer and beef. It didn’t have the taste or texture we were use to but your family might really like it if you don’t like beef or haven’t tryed it another way :)

    [Reply]

  11. says

    That looks so good! My parents make something very similar (maybe even the same, I don’t have their recipe) every year in Dec and give it out as Christmas gifts. We always look forward to getting ours and it is gone way too quickly!

    [Reply]

  12. Lisa says

    I love Tammy’s recipes! I’ve never disliked anything that I’ve made from her site! I love that two of my FAVORITE places for recipes are united in this post! Thanks Laura!

    [Reply]

  13. Kelly says

    Anxious to try this myself. Good to know about the curing junk. I hadn’t bought any, nor know where to get it, but in the old days, they just used salt and the open air, right?

    [Reply]

  14. Priscilla F. says

    We’ve made a version of homemade summer sausage using salt and natural ingreds only (our base recipe called for the Mortons Stuff too) and it turned out alright. Yes, color was more brown than pink (big deal!) and we did store it in the fridge or freezer, but honestly, they cured meat for years upon years without nitrate laden cures, and it worked… the Food Standards seemingly have to be based on those who are not accustomed to following sensible food handling procedures, which mean meat products must be able to sit out for long amounts of time without making us dreadfully sick (ie: crazy long shelf life). My theory any way. :)

    [Reply]

    Marsha_M Reply:

    I agree but I do want to point out that our ancestors ate food that
    they had often personally grown and butchered…the meat in the grocery
    store is often “contaminated” to begin with so extra caution should
    be used. So if you have a trusted food source I wouldn’t worry as much.

    Sometimes information is not a good thing :-) It drove me nuts that my
    granny would leave food out after lunch and she couldn’t understand
    me since she had done that all her life and no one got sick.

    [Reply]

    Priscilla F. Reply:

    Good point! :) I do have a great meat source – but didn’t think about that when I wrote my comment.

    [Reply]

  15. Priscilla F. says

    P.S. If it’s any consolation Laura, it’s kinda nice to know that occasionally even the Heavenly Homemaker slips up on an ingred (albeit unknowingly!) and is human like the rest of us. :) Seriously, though you NEVER try to portray having achieved healthy cooking perfection, sometimes it seems you have! Take that as a complement please! It’s late and I probably shouldn’t even be attempting to formulate a coherent sentence!

    [Reply]

  16. Teresa Yb says

    WOW! I never would have thought to try making such a thing, and it looks so easy. I will be trying this. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  17. Maggielou says

    Great post, thanks! Hubby has tried his hand at several sausages but not traditional summer sausage yet as it needs things we don’t yet have. This recipe is achievable in a home kitchen & will be great to try soon. Thanks for the links to Tammy’s site too, I hadn’t seen it yet.

    [Reply]

  18. Rhoda says

    My DH loves summer suasage and I’m always a bit leary to let him have it. (Usually only at Christmas.) Looking forward to trying this–probably with sea salt to stay away from the nitrates. And considering we all love SS, it won’t last long enough for anything to happen!

    [Reply]

  19. DawnJoy says

    We’re gonna make some of this with this year’s venison, Lord willing. I’ll try it with sea salt though. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  20. Seanna says

    Does anyone have a good homemade dinner roll recipe? I thought this would be great for a quick lunch/snack on our way to soccer, swimming, and all the other activities my kiddos do during dinnertime. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Hi Seanna. I’ve made this recipe many times, and it is yummy! It takes a while, but it makes a lot. I use freshly ground hard white wheat and sucanat in place of the flour and sugar called for in the recipe.

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/angies-perfect-dinner-rolls/detail.aspx

    [Reply]

  21. says

    I’m a little conflicted after reading all the comments. My family LOVES summer sausage, but I really don’t like all the ingredients, so we don’t eat it often. Plus it’s rather expensive. I was really excited when I saw this recipe. However, I don’t want to use the Morton’s Salt either with all that junk in it. Is it the opinion of the majority that using sea salt is safe as long as the meat is cooked properly according to the instructions and then is stored in the frig or freezer?

    [Reply]

  22. Maura says

    I think even though it has nitrates in the sodium, making the stuff at home with organic hamburger is more nutritious than purchasing the store-bought salami, sausage, etc.

    [Reply]

  23. Lorinda says

    I often read Tammy’s site as well. About 5 months ago I wanted to try her recipe too. I went to the Morton’s website and when I looked up the curing salt (local stores don’t carry it) I was disappointed to look at the ingredient list. So, I haven’t made it. But, someone told me that celery and spinach have ‘natural’ nitrates…I’m not sure what a ‘natural’ nitrate is? Does anyone else know?

    [Reply]

  24. Debbi says

    I guess I’m a little confused about the concern over not using the curing salt. Many people make beef jerkey every day without curing salt – it’s not cooked and it’s usually not stored in the fridge. The meat in this recipe is stored in the fridge until it is cooked in the oven at a low heat. And it says to refrigerate or freeze left overs. It’s cooked at a higher heat than most jerkey is dried at. Some dehydrators don’t have a heat setting at all, instead the drying is done just by fans alone. Perhaps I’m missing something? In my mind, refrigerated, then cooked for a good long time *should* take care of any issues – if not used in a timely manner, it should be stored in the freezer.

    Often commercially cured pepperoni or summer sausage is able to be left at room temperature for long peroids of time – for those things I can see the need for a curing agent, but is it really necessary for something like this? Raw burger is often in the refrigerated case in the grocer’s meat section for longer than what this will be in the frige in it’s raw state for. And then the long, low heat cooking. I just don’t see it as an issue. And I’m ok with the brown color and possibly needing a little extra seasonging since the spices won’t be as enhanced without the chemical use. Just my thoughts. I welcome any feedback if I’m seeing this incorrectly – I have a large family and certainly wouldn’t want to risk their safety.

    [Reply]

  25. says

    I’ve been wondering about the what was in the curing salt for this recipe as well! I read through all the comments and it seems that some have used sea salt with good results, but others aren’t to sure about the safety. I found this quote in my files along with a recipe for home-cured bacon that I thought might help everyone feel OK about making this with sea salt, so I’m sharing it with you:

    From The Oregonian, April 8, 2008 (OregonLive.com):

    “Curing salt, aka sodium nitrite, is a preservative added to processed meats to discourage the growth of botulism and give meats a rosy hue and slightly piquant flavor. HOWEVER, with proper refrigeration, you can omit it.” (Emphasis added)

    Hope that helps- as for me, I’m going to make it with sea salt!

    [Reply]

    Janette Reply:

    Thank you for your info. I am going to make this using sea salt and see how it turns out.

    [Reply]

  26. Angela says

    Has anyone tried celery salt? Just curious, most items in stores that are nitrate/nitrite free use celery salt instead. I was thinking of trying this recipe with it.

    [Reply]

  27. Danielle B says

    My motto: EVERYTHING in moderation. I say as long as you don’t eat it everyday there’s no harm. And homemade pepperoni/Summer sausage still has to be TONSSSSSSSS better than the store bought.

    [Reply]

  28. says

    I did the spicy pepperoni with venison meat and kosher salt and it was really good! I’d hold back on the liquid smoke a bit next time because it also had kind of a jerky flavor to it, but really yummy. :)

    [Reply]

  29. Carey L says

    That looks so tasty! We usually only have summer sausage if we are partaking in a Hickory Farms sampler pack or something, so this would be a nice treat!

    [Reply]

  30. Vicki Ronsick says

    I can’t wait to try this. I hope I or someone else can figure out the nitrate/celery juice thing so that we can avoid the Morton’s Curing Salt.

    [Reply]

  31. jenn foy says

    hm. lots of discussion about nitrites and botulism. makes me a little nervous. when i have a little more time this fall, i might try and make this!?

    [Reply]

  32. says

    You probably wouldn’t believe I was JUST wondering last night what to do about pepperoni and thought how in the world would I ever make THAT??? My husband says to me as I am looking at the label on the pepperoni bag, “Come on, don’t look, just get it!”. We have been avoiding it for a while, so now I can try our own! Do you think it will work with pork? We are raising our own hogs to slaughter this winter. Thanks, Laura. And, no offense to those who avoid pork!

    [Reply]

  33. Erica says

    These sound GREAT! We love pepperoni around here, but it is not healthy or economical. Thinking about pepperoni makes me think of pepperoni dip…yum!

    [Reply]

  34. says

    Wow! This looks great! And my kids will just devour this! Our fall musical season is underway and we are in need of filling snacks for our Friday 5pm-9pm rehearsal times while I work on costumes and the kids work up an appetite singing and dancing. Can’t wait to get some beef from Costco and try it!

    [Reply]

  35. Sue O says

    I just have to give this a try. I know I would like it and perhaps my fussy son may just find he likes this also. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

  36. Rebekah says

    I’ve never been to Tammy’s recipe site. Now I have another one to explore! This sounds delicious and not too difficult.

    [Reply]

  37. Jean says

    This sounds great. I’ll have to try it some time. We’re in the middle of a remodel and I’m happy to get a healthy dinner on the table most days. No time for extras. :o(

    [Reply]

  38. Lisa says

    Can’t wait to try this. Hopefully my husband will get an elk this year and we can make our own instead of having it made for us!

    [Reply]

  39. Hayley says

    Are you at all concerned about the nitrites and nitrates in curing salt? Can kosher salt be used instead?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, very concerned. I believe next time I will simply use my Redmonds Real Sea Salt since I’ll be storing in the fridge or freezer anyway. All of the previous commenters who have been “visiting” about this seem to think it should be okay and I agree! Then I’ll feel 100% good about serving this to my family!

    [Reply]

    Michelle Breffle Reply:

    Would you use the same amount of salt to curing salt? I’m thinking of trying an apple wood smoked salt I found at our health market.

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I think so!

    alison Reply:

    i made this years ago with plain salt(no nitrates) and the color can be a slight put off. it will be the color of a cooked hamburger inside, and the texture might not be as fine as with nitrates. but it tastes great!

  40. says

    This is “getting ready” right now. I used elk (organic) and Kosher salt instead of curing salt. Can’t wait to cook it tomorrow and see how it turns out! Actually…I am doing the pepperoni instead :)

    [Reply]

  41. Jenny says

    Showing my ignorance now. The salt keeps the beef from going bad in the frig for the 2 days??? It is in the oven now and I can’t wait, but I just am wondering how this works.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Good question – I question that too! I don’t worry about the meat going bad in two days, which is why I’m not too concerned about using sea salt instead of tender quick. One difference though with using sea salt instead is that it turns out brown instead of pink and is overall just not as nice “quality” as if we were to use Morton’s tender quick. I’m okay with that though!

    [Reply]

  42. Alecia says

    I made this the other day, and you are right it is ugly! I used sea salt instead of the tender quick as well. But it tasted great!!

    [Reply]

  43. Jenny C. says

    I wonder if this could be cooked in the crockpot instead of the oven? I don’t think my oven goes that low! I might try it and see how it comes out.

    [Reply]

  44. Erin says

    I was looking into what ingredients are needed, and of course the better options. While researching the Tender Quick I noticed some info that would turn me away from using it too. I see you already commented on using regular salt. Please let us know how that works out. Both this and the pepperoni look amazing and seem super easy. My husband LOVES both summer sausage and pepperoni (we make homemade pizza with pepperoni and i feel better about making my own now). I will be trying these very soon. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  45. Cathy says

    Fresh Celery juice can be substituted for the nitrates to keep that pink color, but I am not sure on the amounts. Morton’s quick cure salt is nasty stuff (think antifreeze, yuck!) and it is definitely worth trying to find a decent alternative. Plain salt is not a perfect sub.

    [Reply]

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