Beef Summer Sausage Recipe

Summer Sausage has always been a favorite finger food of mine during the holiday season. I’ve tinkered with recipes before, but haven’t felt like I’ve nailed them – until now.

Folks, we can now eat Summer Sausage – worry free. High fives all around!  No MSG, no nitrites, no preservatives. Actually, salt is a natural preservative, so I guess I can’t say “no preservatives.”  But the least of my worries is sea salt, especially when I use Redmond. That means that “summer sausage” and “good for you” can be used in the same sentence. Yay!!!

I think you’ll be as excited about this recipe as I am. It’s homemade beef summer sausage!!  You will not believe how crazy easy this is to make.

Homemade Beef Summer Sausage - Easy and Healthy!

Homemade Beef Summer SausageYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Beef Summer Sausage Recipe
Serves: 2 sausages
  • 2½ pounds hamburger meat
  • 2½ Tablespoons liquid smoke (I prefer Wright's Brand)
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt (I prefer Redmond brand)
  • 1 teaspoon sucanat
  • 1 Tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, squishing with your hands until everything is well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Knead meat mixture, then shape into 2 logs, about 13x2 inches each. (I found that rolling them in parchment paper helped form a nice, round shape.)
  3. Place logs in baking dishes such as Pyrex 9x13 inch pans (so fat drippings will not spill over into the oven).
  4. Bake in a 300° oven for 2½ - 3 hours.

To freeze Summer Sausage:  Allow baked summer sausage to cool completely. Wrap in parchment paper, then with plastic wrap. Place in a freezer bag, storing in freezer for up to 2 months.

As if it wasn’t already wonderful news that we can enjoy healthy summer sausage – it’s even better news that this will be perfect for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box. I’ll be packing this for road trips, for sure.

Share with us! What’s your favorite holiday finger food?


  1. Amanda says

    Curious if you think this recipe would work without using the liquid smoke? I have questions about the safety level of liquid smoke. Do you have conclusive research about it, particularly the brand you recommended?


    Laura Reply:

    I don’t believe this would have much flavor without the liquid smoke. The reason I choose Wright brand is because it doesn’t have added ingredients like corn syrup or MSG. While I don’t mind using liquid smoke in the occasional recipe (like bbq sauce!), it isn’t *the* healthiest ingredient in my kitchen. I don’t worry about it, but like sugar, I use it only rarely. :)


    Amanda Reply:

    Good perspective! I had only recently learned of the carcinogenic properties of liquid smoke, but in this fallen world, perfection is impossible. We will enjoy this summer sausage recipe! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Kilah says

    Thanks so much for this!! We just butchered a beef and I wanted to have some bologna made but didn’t want all the extra ingredients. I am excited to give this a try. I too have 4 boys and this is one snack/ simple lunch that is a staple in our household!!


  3. says

    This is great! My boys love summer sausage with cheese and crackers, but I always cringe on the occasions we have it because of the processed additives it contains. I’ll give this version a try! So glad you found a way to make it homemade – thank you!


  4. Jen says

    This brings back such memories! My grandma made something similar to this every year at Christmas, only she used curing salt, of course, and refrigerated/mixed the meat for 2 days before baking. She called it salami, and I have her recipe, but have hesitated because of the salt. I think I’ll give this version a try this year. Thanks, Laura!


  5. Karen Dee says

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I love sausage, but, never eat it because of nitrates/chemicals. Now I can make it healthy!


  6. Melissa says

    Do you think this would work with deer meat? We don’t eat much beef because my husband hunts/processes deer and that is our ground, roast and steak meat throughout the year. It is less fatty than beef, so not sure if that would effect the end product? We have had some summer sausage made from deer meat in the past, but would be interested in making my own. Thanks!


    Melinda Reply:

    We also use deer meat but we have it processed. The ground venison is very gamie (sp)? Taste so I was wondering if you have this problem as well and if not what do you do to avoid it? All of the rest of our venison is very good c


    Laura Reply:

    I do think this would work with deer meat, but you’d likely need to add some beef to it since deer meat is so lean. I feel that it would likely be dry without more fat added. :)


  7. Becky D. says

    I have a similar recipe passed on by a friend years ago. It uses a different salt. Anyways I know she mentioned mixing 1/2 cheap ground beef and deer meat since her husband hunted. I have never tried it so experiment. She also said not to use super lean ground beef when doing it straight beef.


  8. Melissa says

    This looks great! Do you think it would work with ground turkey? We don’t eat any red meat due to a severe allergy in our youngest son. I know he would love to have some summer sausage.


    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I believe it will work great! We substitute ground turkey for everything!


  9. Karen says

    I gave this recipe a try this week and it is WONDERFUL! Everyone in this family loves it. I may need to make another batch soon! Thank you, Laura!


  10. Rebekah Walden says

    Do you know how much sodium would be in a serving. We have to be careful about sodium. Heart problems.


  11. Jennifer says

    You mentioned that you learn from readers who have enjoyed your recipes, so I thought I’d share my happy experience and tweaks.

    It had never occurred to me to make summer sausage myself, but some of the measurements in the recipe seemed not quite to my liking. I looked at other well-loved homemade versions to learn what I could play with and adjusted accordingly, with EXCELLENT results:

    2 1/2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
    1 cup water (to avoid dried-out meat)
    1 Tbs. minced garlic
    1 Tbs. sea salt
    1 Tbs. (generous) ground mustard (we don’t like crunchy spices)
    1-1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (we don’t like a strong artificial smoky flavor)
    1-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (we’re more about flavor than spiciness)
    1 tsp. cane sugar
    1 tsp. onion powder

    Gently mix water and spices in a glass (or non-metal) bowl. Add meat and squish just until all combined (not too much, to avoid tough meat). Cover and refrigerate 72 hours, stirring after each 24 hours (creates a better flavor and smoother texture–less like hamburger).

    Shape into logs. Set logs onto long piece of aluminum foil, shiny side towards meat. Pierce holes along one side of log (to allow for seepage of fats from log while baking) and place over cooling rack in a rimmed baking pan or on a broiler pan.

    Bake at 200 degrees F for 6-7 hours, until internal temp. of 160 degrees F.

    Meat came out delicious, smooth, and even a bit pink (because it was not overcooked). It sliced like a dream, and the WHOLE family –all seven of us–loved it! That was a relief, since I had doubled the recipe to make 5 logs!

    THANKS again, Laura! Love your wonderful helps. God bless you!


    Jennifer Reply:

    Oh! I forgot to include an important tip: once the meat is placed on the aluminum foil, roll it up like a log and then grasp the ends and twist HARD (like a candy wrapper), which will compress the meat and plump it up into a nice, rounded loaf.


  12. Leanne says

    Just wondering how long you have to eat it after cooling (before it would spoil?? Also, how long after thawing from freezer would you have to eat this?


    Laura Reply:

    We leave ours in the fridge for up to two weeks (not that it usually lasts that long!).


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