How Much Water Do You Add to Sausage Mix? (Plus Water Alternatives and Tips)

To make your own sausage at home, you need three primary ingredients: meat, fat, and liquid.

Here I’ll focus on liquid and discuss how much water should be added to sausage mix. I’ll also touch on why you need water in the first place and some really cool alternatives to water that will really change up your sausage.

measuring cup pouring water into steel bowl on kitchen counter

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

Home sausage makers generally agree that you want to add about 1 cup (8 ounces) of water per 5 pounds of sausage meat. See how this equates to various amounts of sausage meat in the table below.

Amount of Sausage Meat (lbs)Amount of Water (Cups)Amount of Water (Ounces)
20.43.2
30.64.8
40.86.4
518
61.29.6
71.411.2
81.612.8
91.814.4
10216

If you add too much water, it can cause the sausage casing to split or can even make the sausage explode during cooking (because the water inside heats up and turns into steam, which builds up and eventually breaks through the casing).

If you accidentally add too much water and you haven’t stuffed the meat into the casings yet, you can let the sausage meat sit in the fridge overnight. If you’ve already stuffed the sausages into the casing, you can also let the stuffed sausages sit in the fridge overnight. Smoking over longer periods of time and ramping up the heat more slowly throughout can also help.

Why Do You Need to Add Water When Making Sausage?

Water has quite a few useful purposes when added to sausage meat. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using water when making sausages:

  • It helps with mixing the sausage meat with the seasoning. It’s harder to make sure the seasoning is properly blended with the meat without the addition of water.
  • Adding water helps the mixture to move more easily through your sausage stuffer, so it moves through the tube easier. It also makes it easier for you to crank the sausage meat through the stuffer.
  • It helps with the stuffing process, and makes it easier to fill casings. If you’re using a manual sausage stuffer, sausage meat will run through the tube more easily.
  • It adds moisture and helps prevent you from ending up with dry, crumbly sausages.
  • The water you add should be ice cold to keep the sausage meat cold, which is the ideal temperature of meat for sausage making (more on this in the next section).
  • Water acts as a carrier for salt and seasoning to both help in mixing and penetrate the meat better.
  • It helps keep fat suspended in the sausage meat, or in other words, helps the meat hold and retain the fat. As you might know, fat is important for moisture, texture, and flavor.
  • It helps to bind the meat as you mix it so it keeps its structure.
person holding white manual sausage stuffer and pressing sausage meat through stuffer

Why Add Ice Water to Sausage?

As mentioned above, the water should be cold or even ice cold.

When making sausage, you want to be using cold sausage meat, and adding room temperature water will raise the temperature of the sausage meat. Therefore, using ice water is best because it helps keep the meat cold throughout the whole sausage making process.

This is key because the cold temperature helps the sausage meat move better through the meat grinder and also the tube of the stuffer. It also prevents the meat from smearing during these steps.

Can You Use Liquids Other Than Water When Making Sausage?

Yes, you can use different liquids other than water in your sausage mix!

You can really get creative here and use liquids such as beer (this would go great with bratwurst), apple juice (this could pair well with smoked sausage), stock (like chicken, beef, or vegetable stock; I’d recommend trying chicken stock with chicken sausage, etc.), wine, and even liquor.

person holding bottle of beer with hotdog in foreground

Tips for When You’re Adding Water to the Mixture in Sausage Making

  • Try dissolving the pre-measured amount of salt you need in the pre-measure amount of water you’ll need. Then, if you’re using additional seasoning, add the seasoning in to make a slurry and pour the whole water mixture into sausage meat and mix. This helps make the mixing process much easier.
  • Add your pre-measured amount of water a little bit at a time while mixing. This helps you keep tabs on the consistency, so you know when it’s just right.
  • Your sausage mix is the right consistency when it’s sticky. It’ll pull at your latex gloves while mixing. Or, if you scoop a small ball of the meat and put it in the palm of your hand, turn your hand upside down, and the meat should stick and not fall off.

In Summary

As you can see, water plays a pretty important role when making sausages, and it’s important to make sure you use it.

The recommended amount of water to use is about 1 cup (8 ounces) of water per 5 pounds of sausage meat. You can always experiment with more or less of this, adding just a little bit at a time.

You should definitely also experiment with liquids other than water, like beer or any of the other options I listed above. This can add excellent flavor and elevate your sausage to a whole new level!