What Are Venison Sausages?

C. Mitchell

Venison sausages are, quite simply, sausages made with venison, or deer meat. They are often homemade, but can be purchased from specialty retailers, as well. Pieces of meat that are either too tough or too oddly-shaped to use in other cuts or dishes are what typically go in venison sausages. All of these excess meat parts are ground together, often with spices, herbs, and other ingredients, then either stuffed into casings or pressed into patties. Venison sausages can be smoked, baked, cooked, or frozen.

Venison sausage is a common way of processing lower quality cuts from the deer.
Venison sausage is a common way of processing lower quality cuts from the deer.

Sausage-making has long been a way for hunters and butchers to make the most out of a kill. After the prime cuts of meat have been removed, there are often still-salvageable pieces in varying sizes and textures. Grinding these pieces together into a sausage creates a new product that can be used in a variety of dishes, while leaving little to waste.

Venison sausages can be homemade or bought from specialty stores.
Venison sausages can be homemade or bought from specialty stores.

Many cooks mix herbs, spices, and even dried fruits and nuts into their sausages. Others create venison sausage blends by combining venison meat with other meats, such as pork or beef. Sausages can be cooked right away, either in an oven, over the stove, or on the grill. They are also frequently stored in the freezer, then cooked fresh when needed.

Traditional sausage-making practices instruct butchers to stuff ground sausage meat back into the animal’s intestinal casing in order to create sausage links. Though venison sausages are frequently made as links, it is very uncommon for deer intestine to be used. Modern butchers more frequently choose either pretreated hog casings, or else entirely synthetic casings for venison sausages. These alternatives tend to be more durable and aesthetic, as well as more sanitary.

Sausage can also be left loose. Loose sausage is popular in pastas and on pizzas, as well as in breakfast patties. Venison sausages in a loose style are made the same way as cased versions, but instead of squeezing the sausages into links, the meat is cooked directly. Cooking venison sausages right away is usually recommended when the sausage is left loose. Freezing often works, but unless tightly sealed, a lot of the flavor risks being lost in the freezer.

Raw deer sausages, either in link or patty form, are typically only available to purchase seasonally from local grocery or butcher shops. The majority of commercially-prepared venison sausages come pre-cooked. Some of these are hard sausages that are meant to be sliced and eaten atop crackers or as an appetizer, while others are softer and meant more for cooking.

Much of a venison sausage’s consistency depends on its ingredients and how it was cooked. Smoked sausages, for instance, are usually much tougher and harder than skillet-fried or baked sausages. Home cooks can imitate the smoky flavor without the texture or trouble of smoking at home by adding smoke chips or artificial smoke flavoring to their sausage meat blends.

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