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Hot links prepared at home using a proven recipe

Hot Links Sausage

Course: Breakfast, dinner, Main Course, Sausage
Cuisine: American
Keyword: hot links, hot links recipe, hot links sausage, smoked hot links
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 4 hours
curing time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 6 hours
Servings: 16 links
Calories: 311kcal
Author: Victor
What hot links sausage is and how to make it.
Print Recipe


  • 4 1/2 lbs pork butt about 2,050g
  • 1/2 lb pork backfat or fatty pork belly; about 230g
  • 5 1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt; heaping tsp; about 33g total
  • 1 tsp Cure #1 level tsp; 5g
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic about 4.5g
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated onion about 7g
  • 1 tsp black pepper coarsely ground; about 4g
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar about 16g
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sweet paprika about 14g
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes about 4.5g
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper about 4.5g
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper about 4.5g
  • 1/2 cup dry milk about 56g
  • 1/2 cup ice water plus more if needed, up to a cup
  • 28-32 mm hog casings


  • Cut the meat and the fat into 2" pieces, rub with a mix of salt and cure #1, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24-48 hours.
  • Grind the pork and the pork belly/back fat (partially frozen for 20 min in a freezer) through a medium size plate - 1/4" (6mm).
  • Add the ice water, all of the spices and mix well, until the meat is sticky.
  • Stuff into 28-32mm hog casings, twist into about 6" links and hang to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
  • Preheat your smoker to 130F - 140F.
  • Hang sausages in the smoker and dry for 30-60 minutes, until the skin is dry to touch without smoke. Then apply smoke for 3-4 hours until the desired color is achieved.
  • Slowly raise the temperature in the smoker to 170F-175F until the internal temperature has reached 154F - 158F. You may have to increase the smoker temperature to 185F-195F to achieve that.
  • Alternatively, poach the sausages in 167F water for 25 - 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 154F. Poaching is a much quicker and more effective method. You can also bake the sausage in the oven at 175F for about 40-60 minutes to get the internal temperature to 154F.
  • Cool the sausage down and store it in a refrigerator or a freezer. Cooling can be achieved by placing sausage in an ice bath to cool it down quickly. It with result in a fuller, more plump product. Similarly, you can place the sausage flat on a cool surface, like a granite countertop.


Cure #1, also called pink salt #1 or Prague Powder is available from local sausage supply stores or online, for example here: Hoosier Hill Farm Prague Powder Curing Salt. Make sure it is Cure #1, not #2. Cure #2 is used for making dry-cured meats and sausages, like salami, soppressata and similar.
Chipotle chiles, whole or ground, are readily available at local Mexican grocery stores.
This sausage can be made with venison. Keep the ratio to 70-75% venison / 25-30% pork back fat/fatty pork belly or beef fat. I'd say pork fat is a better option.
When using Cure #1, this sausage stores really well in a fridge. Just wrap it in plain butcher's paper and refrigerate. It will dry in the fridge and become more shelf-stable. I've had some of mine last months and taste fresh, though it would be drier. You can also vacuum seal and freeze for months even years. For best results, dry in the fridge for a few weeks then freeze.


Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 979mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 561IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg