Venison sausage is one of the most forgiving ways to prepare the meat from your deer. You typically mix the meat with strong seasonings, which can help mask gamey flavors. You also mix it with another type of meat – typically pork – which overcomes the dryness you might experience with some lean, well done ground venison when cooked on its own.
Now, there are probably a million different types of sausage you can make, and I have personally tried dozens of recipes. What I’ve learned is, it’s hard to beat a commercially produced seasoning mix. They are cheap, convenient, and they are pretty much guaranteed to give you the flavor you are after.
I’m not suggesting you give up on purely homemade recipes, but if you want easy and CONSISTENT, go with a pre-made mix. You DON’T have to get the special “venison” mixes available at the sporting goods stores. I find the mixes at the grocery store work perfectly – A.C. Legg is a common one you might see. I also suggest checking out a local spice shop. I found a particularly tasty “venison sausage” seasoning that way, plus it’s a great way to stock up on odd or rare spices you might not be able to find at the grocery store – not to mention still shopping locally.
If you buy a commercial mix, I strongly recommend starting out using LESS than they suggest in the directions. Typically 1/2 to 2/3 is what I use. If you use the full amount, I personally find they are too salty. I compare it to ramen noodles. You HAVE to use the flavor pack. But NO ONE uses the whole thing!
Another great, EASY way to get your favorite sausage flavor is to mix your ground venison with store bought already made sausage of your choice. I especially use this method for breakfast sausage. I will buy the tube of what ever looks good (or is on sale!), which typically is 1 pound of seasoned pork sausage. I’ll then mix that with 2 pounds of ground venison for a mildly seasoned venison breakfast sausage. This is a great option if your grocer sells bulk Italian or Polish sausage as well.
To stuff, or not to stuff – that is the question.
Stuffing sausage is a great way to go, but as time goes by, I find myself pulling out the stuffer less and less often. If you decide to stuff, I recommend:
- Always add ground pork to ground venison (click here for grinding recommendations) for a fresh sausage (not cured). I like a 2 to 1 ratio – 2 lbs venison to 1 lb of pork.
- Use natural casings over collagen. The collagen is ok, but feels too much like plastic when cooked.
- Buy your natural casings at the butcher or grocery store. They don’t always have them on display, but ask the butcher, and they will get what you need at a VERY reasonable price. Tell them how many pounds you plan to make, they will know how much you need. If you buy the natural casings online or at the sporting good store, you’ll pay more for a dried salty product. They are still perfectly acceptable, just not my favorite option.
- Use a vertical sausage stuffer. They work better than any grinder attachment stuffer that I’ve ever used.
- Make SMALL batches. With small batches, a 5 lb stuffer is perfect for my typical 3 lb mix of sausage. PLUS, if your result is not the best, you only have a small amount of sausage to suffer through.
Instead of stuffing, I more often make sausage patties. One of my go-to venison snacks is a breakfast sandwich. A buttered, toasted bagel with a breakfast sausage patty with cheese can’t be beat! For making sausage patties, I recommend:
- The same 2 to 1 venison to pork ratio.
- Take your sausage mixture and make it into 4 oz meatballs. If you made my suggested 3 lbs of sausage, that’s 12 nicely sized sausage patties. Use a kitchen scale to maintain consistency. These patties will be normal burger size. Go with 2 oz if you want breakfast sized patties.
- Use a burger press. They are cheap, and trust me, it is just WAY easier. Spray the inside with a non-stick cooking spray every few patties and they slide out super easy.
- I like to pre-cook my patties for convenience. Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and grease lightly with a non-stick spray. I usually do two cookie sheets with 6 patties each. Cook till the pink juices turn clear. Remove from oven, cool, and freeze. Reheat in microwave or fry for a tasty snack any time!
Breakfast sandwiches are perfect for ANY flavor of venison sausage. You typically add butter to your “toast”, and also adding cheese guarantees that your sandwich will be tasty and juicy, even if you decide to go leaner on the pork (or try to omit it altogether).
- Burger Press $7.19
- Kitchen Scale $14.33
- Meat Grinder $149.80
- 5 Pound Vertical Sausage Stuffer $147.49
- Natural Casings $9.25
- Collagen Casings $7.99
- Spice Mixes $7.00