Summer is when BBQs are at their prime, and there’s no better way to enjoy a summer day than with some tasty grilled sausage. This article will show you how to cook summer sausage on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill, as well as answer some of the most common questions.
Here’s what I’ve learned after cooking it the first time.
Can You Make Summer Sausage On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
Yes, you can make summer sausage on a pellet grill! You will need to mix the meat, wrap it in a plastic casing, cook it low, and slow over indirect heat for about 3-4 hours or until it has reached an internal temperature of 165°Farenheit.
To cook the perfect summer sausage, you’ll need the following:
- A pellet grill (Pit Boss preferred)
- The proper cooking techniques
- Two pound or more of your chosen meat (venison, pork, or beef)
- Sausage casings
- The right wood pellets
- Cooking grates or racks
- Meat grinder
- Curing mix (homemade or store-bought)
- A handheld thermometer
Cooking summer sausage requires more work than bratwurst or other types of sausages. However, learning how to make your own, will help you elevate your parties and save money from having to buy your own store-bought summer sausage.
We’ll walk you through the entire process of making your own summer sausage on the Pit Boss pellet grill.
Let’s get started.
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What Are The Best Sausages to Smoke?
Fortunately, there are several different types of sausages to choose from for smoking. That said, you’ll want to work with the freshest quality meat on hand, with an 80/20 percent lean to fat ratio.
Summer sausage is usually made with pork or beef, but some people prefer using other game meats such as venison.
The most important part of choosing the right type of meat is getting the meat to fat content ratio correct. If the meat is too lean and not enough fat, the summer sausage will be too dry.
On the other hand, if it’s too fatty, it will be gritty and hard to eat. Beef chuck is commonly turned to ground beef to make sausages (and burgers) because it is very affordable.
You can even use that old meat you haven’t gotten around to using that’s sitting in your freezer.
Prepping the Sausage
To get the best results, you’ll want to buy have your local butcher grind your meat through a 3/16″ (4.5mm) plate. It’s best to do it yourself, especially, if you have a meat grinder. We’ve noticed that it’s hard to get a butcher to do it for us, especially, when they are shorthanded with workers.
We’ve found after grinding the meat the first time, it’s best to put it back in the freezer until it gets semi-frozen. Then you can run it through the grinder after you’ve added the seasonings.
It’s important to keep the meat super cold the whole time you’re working with it.
Pro Tip: Running it twice through the grinder will provide a better end result and will help mix up the spices easier than you trying to do it by hand. Remember, the meat is going to be cold, so it’ll be hard for you to mix by hand.
Mixing The Meat
How fine you grind the meat is a personal choice. It all depends on the type of grinder you use. Here’s the exact one we use that works well for making sausage and so much more!
- Designed, engineered, and tested by KitchenAid
- Attaches to power hub of your stand mixer and uses the power of the motor to run the attachment. Fits all household KitchenAid stand mixers.
- Convenient front pocket
- Food grinder with fine plate for meats & coarse plate for firm vegetables & cheeses.
- Sausage stuffer parts for the food grinder attachment to make sausages from scratch (requires KSMGSSA fga, included).
For the best summer sausage, you want to continue mixing the meat until it gets tacky. This is a sign that protein has been extracted from the meat, giving you a great-tasting sausage.
This video walks you through how to properly grind the meat for the best results.
The curing process takes the longest and can take anywhere from a day up to three days. Because of this, you may be tempted to skip the process.
However, the curring process is the most important part of cooking summer sausage, especially, if you don’t plan on eating it right away. The curing process will prolong the shelf life and will help prevent botulism.
You’ll want to use something like the Morton Tender Quick, which is primarily salt and sugar but also have low levels of nitrites and nitrates. I’ve written an entire article that discusses how to cure summer sausage.
When it comes to seasoning your summer sausage, it all comes down to personal preference. Using high-quality meat requires a few spices the most commonly used ones are mustard seed, garlic, coriander, and black pepper.
If you prefer not to make your own sausage seasoning, you can purchase some store-bought mixes such as Hi Mountain, Backwoods, etc.
The right casing to stuff the sausage in will help ensure the end product is flavorful, cooked evenly, and has a great texture. There are a variety of summer sausage casings used for different meats such as; bratwurst, snack sticks and etc.
2 1/2″ x 20″ mahogany fibrous casings work great for making cooked sausage, semi-dry sausage, (summer sausage), as well as other types of sausages.
One casing will hold about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of meat.
You’ll want to soak the casings in warm water for 30-45 in hot water prior to stuffing them. This will make it soft and pliable and easier to work with.
Most people will use a sausage stuffer to fill the casings with meat. This 2-speed stainless steel stuffer is perfect for making homemade sausage.
- Equipped with Two fill rates system , easy to use and quick.
- 2-Speed used more quick and smoothly.
- All parts that contact food directly are reach up SGS food hygiene standard.
- 4 different diameter S/S nozzle 2/3" inch(16 mm), 5/8" inch(22 mm), 1-1/4" inch(32 mm) and 1-1/2"inch(38 mm).
- All Stainless Stell Sausage Stuffer (All Stainless Steel Base Plate, Cylinder, Stuffing Tubes & Canister. Piston includes an air release).
However, if you don’t have a stuffer at home, these tips will help you fill the casings by hand. It’s a lot harder than using a stuffer, but it can be done.
Once the casings are full, (leaving a couple of inches of free space) tie the end off with a piece of string.
Do You Cook The Sausage In The Casing?
Yes, you’ll cook the sausage in the fibrous casings. The casings are designed for this purpose. Once you are ready to eat the sausage, you’ll want to peel the casing, as it is not edible.
How to Cook Summer Sausage On The Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
Smoking The Sausage
Once the meat has been prepared and stuffed into the casings, set the Pit Boss grill to smoke. Once the grill has reached the proper temperature, you’ll want to place the summer sausage directly on the racks.
Leave the P-Setting on the default P-4 settings. If you’re cooking in the winter or cooler months, you may need to adjust the P settings to help keep the temperature stable.
A pellet grill works great for smoking summer sausage as they have the ability to cook at a low and slow temperature and give you more control than a traditional gas and charcoal grill.
If your Pit Boss grill has Wi-Fi capabilities, you can monitor the temperature on your phone. Insert the Pit Boss probe in the center of the thickest sausage, without touching any part of the grate.
You’ll want to start smoking them at 160 degrees, for about 2 hours. Then 2 hours at 180℉ and if they are still not done, you can raise the temp to 200 degrees until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leave the flame broiler closed, as you’ll want to cook them on indirect heat throughout the entire duration.
Should I Flip The Sausage?
No, once the sausage is positioned on the grates, close the lid and let the grill do all the work. You don’t have to worry about flipping or turning the sausages.
Once the summer sausages have reached the proper internal temperature, it’s time to place them in an ice bath. Placing them in ice water will prevent them from further cooking, sets the casings, prevent shriveling, and will drop the internal temperature to about 80 degrees.
It will take about 10-15 minutes for the temperature to drop. Once the temperature has dropped, you can put them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Best Pellets to Use for Summer Sausage?
When it comes to making a perfect summer sausage you want a type of flavor profile that will complement this delicious meat.
You can find different types of pellets at your local home and garden store (Pit Boss preferred!). The most popular flavor you’ll find is apple, but you can also try cherry, hickory, maple, pecan, and more.
Applewood is the best choice for Summer Sausage because it has a fruit-forward tone that provides an earthy sweetness without adding too much bitterness. I have found that a mix of either Cherry & Hickory or Apple & Hickory works great.
The fruitwood pellets give off a great fruity smoke that helps enhance the flavor of the meat. This is why you’ll often see applewood featured in BBQ sauces and other recipes.
While the hickory pellets pair provide a stronger, richer flavor, but not as strong as mesquite.
Use any flavor pellets you like, just know that some flavors work best for smoking sausage.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Summer Sausage On A Pit Boss?
On average, it can take anywhere from 2-3 hours to smoke sausage on the pellet grill. That said, grilling time will vary depending on the types of sausage you prepare, the ambient weather, and the grilling temperature.
Regardless of how long it takes, it’s important not to rush the process.
The summer sausage is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
You can use a handheld thermometer, fork. To use a fork, simply insert it into the sausage (without slicing) and hold it there for about 10 seconds. Remove the knife from the sausage and hold it to your tongue or lip.
Imagine how you would expect a well-cooked sausage should feel, and whether the fork is hot enough or not. If the fork is cold to the touch, it’s likely undercooked and not ready.
If this is your first time cooking summer sausages, you’ll want to stick with using a handheld thermometer. Once you’ve smoked a few, you’ll have more experience and will be able to check the firmness by touch, and know when they are ready.
Can You Eat Summer Sausage Right Away?
After the ice bath or spraying the sausage with cold water, you’ll want to let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. The resting period will allow the Moron Tender Quick to cure the beef and give it that red rosy color you’re using to seeing on summer sausage.
It is possible to cook summer sausage on a Pit Boss pellet grill, you just have to use the right meat and pellets. If you want your sausages to taste good with little effort, you’ll need hickory or fruitwood flavors for best results.
Cook them over indirect heat at a low and slow temperature. Set the grill to smoke and you can gradually raise the temperature, ensuring the grill doesn’t climb to more than 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
The key is making sure you don’t overcook them!