Chef John's Summer Sausage


Traditionally, summer sausage is made and cured in the winter so that it's ready to enjoy during the summer, but unless you have some sort of time machine, we're going to have to settle on this easy, and much faster, shortcut method. Despite only taking a few days, this comes really close to everybody's favorite gift-basket sausage and makes a great centerpiece to any charcuterie board.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Additional Time:
2 days 8 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
2 days 10 hrs 15 mins
1 2-pound sausage


  • ¼ cup diced celery

  • 2 pounds freshly ground beef (85% lean)

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal®)

  • 3 pinches cayenne pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon pink curing salt (such as Instacure™ #1) (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

For the 'Smoking' Wash:

  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

  • 1 tablespoon cold water

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Smash celery into juicy bits using a mortar and pestle. Combine with ground beef in a large bowl. Add garlic powder, paprika, mustard seeds, kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, curing salt, and sugar. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined.

  2. Transfer meat onto a large piece of parchment paper. Use damp hands to shape into a 3- to 4-inch-thick log. Roll up in the parchment paper, compressing it as much as possible. Twist ends tightly to seal. Place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 24 hours.

  3. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).

  4. Cut ends off the parchment paper and unwrap meat. Mix liquid smoke with water and generously brush over the meat. Roll meat back up in the paper, then again in aluminum foil, sealing it tightly and twisting the ends in opposite directions.

  5. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and place the sealed meat on top. Poke 5 or 6 holes across the bottom for excess moisture to drip out.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F (66 degrees C) and no higher, about 1 1/2 hours.

  7. Let sausage cool in the pan until room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Give ends a tighter twist, then refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight.

  8. Unwrap sausage and slice in half. Coat outsides with freshly ground black pepper, place on a plate lined with crinkled foil, and let dry in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Chef's Notes:

You can get freshly ground beef from your butcher.

The salt is best measured by weight, if you have a scale. Use 20 grams.

Use a probe thermometer if possible; it will ring an alarm as soon as the temperature is reached.

Feel free to spice this any way you want, but it will help if you include a pinch of pink curing salt (such as InstaCure™) #1).

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

267 Calories
19g Fat
4g Carbs
19g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 267
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 1564mg 68%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 242mg 5%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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