Homemade Beef Sausage (Loukaniko Style)

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Homemade beef sausages flavored with orange zest, leeks, and red wine are easier to make at home than you might imagine! This recipe delivers big, bold flavor that’s perfect all year round.

This recipe was sponsored by the New York Beef Council.

Closeup view of a plate of beef loukaniko sausages.

Earlier this summer I was invited to participate in a “Beef Bash” with the NY Beef Council. Over the course of two zoom-filled days, I got a crash course in all things beef: from smoking my own brisket to grinding my own chuck for homemade beef sausages to putting together a tailgate-inspired charcuterie board with burgers and hot dogs. I even got to try an amazing dessert of peanut butter bananas foster with beef bacon!

The entire experience was so much fun (you can check out my Instagram account for some photos and videos) but hands-down my favorite part was making my own beef sausage.

I’ve made homemade sausage before, but it had been a while and I had completely forgotten how easy it is! Start to finish, this beef sausage recipe is done in just about an hour. It’s a great way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon, and you’ll be rewarded with a huge batch of sausage that will keep well in the freezer all winter. 

A platter of beef loukaniko sausage and eggplant stew.

Why make homemade sausage?

There’s nothing quite like the smell of homemade sausage cooking. It fills your house with such an amazing aroma that’s so cozy.

But why make sausage from scratch instead of buying it? There are a few reasons!

The first is that it’s a really fun and rewarding way to spend an afternoon. If you want to impress dinner guests, telling them you made the sausage by hand is definitely a great way to do it!

Making your own sausage also means you control exactly what goes into it (no fillers or preservatives), so you can control the quality of the ingredients and ensure everything is super fresh. Check out how gorgeous the piece of beef I used to make this Greek-style sausage is!

You can also adjust the seasonings so that they’re just right. In addition to making sure it tastes perfect, knowing exactly what’s going into your sausage is also helpful if you’re cooking for people with food allergies or sensitivities.

Finally, homemade sausage means you can experiment with flavors that might not be easy to find at the store. For example, this recipe is inspired by loukaniko, a citrusy Greek sausage that I adore getting at the annual Greek festival but have never been able to find locally.

What is Loukaniko?

Loukaniko is a type of Greek sausage that’s often flavored with orange zest, leek or spring onion and aromatic spices like fennel and coriander. It’s typically considered a summer sausage and can be smoked or grilled over charcoal until the casing gets nice and crisp. It can be used in recipes or served as an appetizer as part of a mezze plate or charcuterie board.

Loukaniko is traditionally made with pork or lamb, and this recipe made with beef definitely isn’t authentic. But I love the way the rich beef pairs with the bright citrus and red wine flavors. It reminds me of a richer, more sultry loukaniko that’s perfect for the winter holidays.

Purists may object, but if you ask me there’s definitely room for traditional and more creative sausages in my kitchen!

An overhead view of ingredients needed to make homemade beef sausage with orange zest and leeks.

Ingredients needed to make beef sausage with orange zest

To Make this homemade beef sausage, you’ll need:

  • Beef Chuck. I like to grind my own chuck roast for this recipe–it’s part of the sausage making experience! If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can use 80% ground chuck.
  • Garlic and Leeks. Sautéed garlic and leeks give this Mediterranean-inspired sausage a bold, punchy flavor that you’ll love!
  • Orange Zest. Orange zest is what makes this recipe really special. It adds a bright, citrusy pop of flavor that airs so nicely with the savory beef.
  • Red Wine. Red wine adds moisture to the recipe and enhances the beef’s meaty flavor.
  • Dried Spices. This homemade beef sausage recipe gets rounded out with oregano, fennel seeds, and roasted ground coriander.
Cubes chuck roast ready to be ground.
Adding the seasonings to mae beef loukaniko, a Green sausage with fennel and orange zest.
Coarsly ground beef chuck roast.
Homemade beef sausage mixture ready to be cooked.

Tips for making homemade sausage

Making sausages at home can seem intimidating, but it’s really not that difficult! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Start with quality ingredients

I recommend using a quality piece of prime or choice beef. That means the beef will be tender, with lots of nice marbling throughout. Using beef that’s very lean will result in a dryer sausage, so you definitely want something that’s well marbled! If you can only find very lean beef, you can also add beef fat (often labeled as suet) for an extra juicy sausage.

Don’t forget about seasoning!

I’m picky about my sausage! And I know that if it doesn’t taste amazing to me, then no one else is going to like it either. We’re going for big, bold flavor here so don’t skimp on the seasonings.

One great tip is to cook off a small amount of the sausage mixture before stuffing it into the casings. This way you can taste it and adjust things until it’s perfect.

This is also a great tip when making meatloaf or meatballs!

Frying off a small portion of sausage to test the seasoning.

Keep everything nice and cold as you work

Sausage is an emulsion of meat and fat, and it can break down/separate if it gets too warm. For the best results, make sure all of your ingredients are chilled.

I even like to stick my grinding plate and bowl in the freezer for a little while before I start.

If your kitchen is especially warm, it can be helpful to fill a large bowl with ice and set a second smaller bowl on top to grind the meat into. This will keep everything chilled as you work.

Achieving the right texture

Don’t just wing it when mixing the sausage mixture. Instead, follow a trusted recipe (like this one) and adjust from there. If you make your sausages with too much lean meat, they’ll be dry and crumbly; if you use too much fat, then they won’t hold together properly in the casing.

Once you’ve got a good ratio, mix everything together until it’s well combined. You can use your hands or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer for this job.

Pro Tip: To test for readiness, press a tiny meatball into a spoon and turn the spoon upside down. If the sausage stays on the spoon for 5 seconds, you’re ready to cook! If not, add some ice water bit by bit until you get the desired balance.

When it comes to stuffing the sausage into casings, you want to find a nice balance or stuff them full enough without packing the meat in too tightly (which can result in dense sausages). Load your meat into the stuffer and slowly start cranking it through, guiding the sausage into a coil as you go.

When you reach the end, secure it with a knot. You can either leave the sausage in a big spiral like this or twist it apart to create links. Finally, use a sharp knife, make a small puncture in each link to allow any trapped air escape.

Homemade Beef Sausage (Loukaniko Style) 1

Vegetarian Rice Pilaf with Apples and Cranberries

The vegetarian rice pilaf, studded with cranberries, apples, and pecans is a fun and festive side dish that's perfect for winter and fall. Make it in a rice cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stovetop!
5
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry rice pilaf, rice pilaf, vegetarian rice pilaf
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 337kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wild and brown rice blend
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 shallots diced
  • 2 apples (preferably Granny Smith) diced
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • cup pecans chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon chopped

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice well under cold water. Add to a rice cooker along with the broth. Stir and turn on to cook. (If you do not have a rice cooker, bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the rice and turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, then let stand for 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing with a fork.)
  • Meanwhile, add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat
  • Add the diced shallots and for cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until soft and lightly golden brown.
  • Stir in the apples, cranberries and pecans and remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the cooked rice and sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition Facts
Vegetarian Rice Pilaf with Apples and Cranberries
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 337 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 15mg5%
Sodium 90mg4%
Potassium 350mg10%
Carbohydrates 56g19%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 249IU5%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 40mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More delicious beef recipes:

Two beef sausages on top of eggplant and chickpea stew.
Closeup view of a plate of beef loukaniko sausages.

Homemade Beef Sausage

Homemade beef sausages flavored with orange zest, leeks, and red wine are easier to make at home than you might imagine! This recipe delivers big, bold flavor that's perfect all year round.
5
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: beef loukaniko, beef sausage, greek sausage, loukaniko, sausage with orange zest
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 20 sausage links
Calories: 142kcal

Equipment

  • Meat Grinder

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 leeks white and light green parts finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 pounds beef chuck cubed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 orange zested
  • 2 teaspoons roasted ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • Sausage casings soaked for 30 minutes (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and leek. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until the leek is softened. Remove from the heat and let cool (I like to pop it into the refrigerator).
  • Grind the beef through the coarse die of your meat grinder. Stir in the cooled leeks, spices, orange zest, and red wine until everything is incorporated.
  • Form a small amount of the sausage mixture into a patty and fry over medium heat until cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  • To make sausage patties: Divide the sausage into about 20 meatball-sized portions, then flatten each potion into a patty.
  • To make sausage links: Attach a large tube to your sausage stuffer and load on a casing. Tie off the loose end, then stuff the sausage into one long coil. To twist into links, measure about 5 inches and then pinch the casing to form a link; twist the sausage away from you a few times to hold it in place. Repeat, twisting the next sausage toward you. Continue down the line, alternating the way the sausage is twisted. Use a clean skewer to the tip of a sharp knife to poke a small hole into each link to let any trapped air out.
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days. This sausage can be smoked, grilled, or cooked over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. Note that due to the red wine in this recipe, the beef may appear pink even though it’s fully cooked; temperature is the best way to gauge doneness.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Beef Sausage
Amount Per Serving (1 sausage link)
Calories 142 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 47mg16%
Sodium 581mg25%
Potassium 265mg8%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 13g26%
Vitamin A 173IU3%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 23mg2%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
By on November 9th, 2021

About Lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie.

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