When it comes to meat treats, summer sausage is a surefire winner. It’s a semi-dry sausage, somewhere between salami and fresh sausage. The best part is that you can make it at home.
But what if you don’t have a smoker or a grill? No worries – all you need is a standard kitchen oven.
If you’re wondering how to make summer sausage in the oven, you want to start with the oven at 170°F then ramp it up to 190°F. Ultimately, you want your summer sausage to reach an internal temperature of 160-165°F.
This article will cover everything you need to know on this topic. I’ll also elaborate on other cooking methods and offer a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.
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Can You Make Summer Sausage in the Oven?
As I mentioned, you can make summer sausage in the oven. In fact, it’s often a preferred method of cooking summer sausage.
You might have a smoker or a grill at home, which are the usual cooking equipment choices.
However, unless you’ve cooked summer sausages before, that might turn out to be a more significant challenge than anticipated.
Here’s why: Often, smokers can’t reach the optimal cooking temperature for summer sausage.
More specifically, you might have a difficult time getting the smoker over 100-120°F.
For your summer sausage to be safe for consumption, it needs to reach an internal temperature of 160-165°F. That can only be done if the cooking temperature reaches over 190°F.
This is the main reason using your oven for making summer sausage is a more convenient solution.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about temperature fluctuations or other factors interfering with the oven cooking process.
How Long Do You Cook Summer Sausage in the Oven?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. As there are many different recipes for homemade summer sausage, there are various cooking instructions as well.
At the very least, you’ll need between two and three hours to cook your summer sausage in the oven.
However, in most cases, it’s often longer than that. The size of the links will impact the cooking time, so will the ingredients.
If you’ve added water to the meat mixture, then you’ll need to cook it longer in the oven as well.
For novice summer sausage makers, this can understandably get a bit frustrating. You don’t want your summer sausage undercooked, but you also don’t want it to come out dry and overdone.
So, what’s the solution? Read on to find out.
You Need a Meat Thermometer
Before you dismiss the idea of making homemade summer sausage because it involves potential health risks, consider the meat thermometer.
You might have one at home already. If not, it can turn out to be an excellent investment.
If you have a meat thermometer, you can always be sure that your sausages are fully cooked. If the sausages have been cooking in the oven for a while, you might be tempted to take them out.
With a meat thermometer, that’s not something you need to guess. When the thermometer shows that the sausage’s internal temperature is between 160-165°F, you know they’re ready.
An alternative solution is to cut the sausage with a knife, although cutting through the casing can potentially ruin the sausage’s shape.
Plus, you still won’t be 100% sure about the internal temperature.
How to Make Summer Sausage in the Oven
You know that making summer sausage in the oven is not only possible but often preferable.
Let’s talk about the process and all the things you have to do before you actually place the sausages in the oven.
First, you have to choose the meat for your summer sausage. Will it be pork, beef, lamb, chicken, venison?
Keep in mind that, even though sausages are highly customizable, they should contain between 25-30% of fat on average. If you’re using leaner meat, add some beef tallow or other type of animal-based fat to increase the fat content.
Next, you have to decide on the seasonings. Salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, and similar are the traditional options.
You can add cheese, as well. High-temperature cheese tends to be the best choice for summer sausages.
Finally, you need to consider two more factors. The meat binder will ensure that the fat doesn’t clump.
Curing salts are necessary because they prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria in the sausage.
You’ll need Curing Salt #1 (also called Insta Cure #1, Prague Powder #1, or pink curing salt) for the summer sausage, which contains the right proportion of ingredients.
Once you mix all these ingredients together, your summer sausage needs to ferment and let the curing salt do its work. You should leave the meat mixture in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
After that, comes stuffing the meat into sausage casings. Then let them sit at room temperature for a while.
Preheat your oven to 170°F and place the sausages on the broiler. Increase the heat up to 190°F slowly and continue to check the internal temperature of the sausages.
Finishing Summer Sausage in the Oven
In case you’re keen on making your summer sausage in a smoker, you might need the help of your oven to finish the sausage off.
You might not be able to get the smoker’s temperature as high as needed to properly cook the sausage. Or you may want to expedite the process but still enjoy that smokiness as well.
Finishing the summer sausage in the oven is common among people who are used to making this meat treat at home.
For the best outcome, you should leave the sausages to rest overnight in the fridge once you get them out of the smoker.
Then, the next day, preheat your oven to 185-190°F and place the sausages on the broiler, and put them in the oven.
Once the internal temperature is between 160-165°F, you can remove the sausages and let them cool.
Hopefully, you now have a clear picture of how to make summer sausage in the oven.
Electric and propane smokers are also excellent options, but the process might be lengthier and not as straightforward.
The critical point of cooking summer sausage, in general, is always to check the internal temperature.
If you have a lot of experience making summer sausage at home, you might not need a meat thermometer. Otherwise, it will be your best ally when preparing your sausages.