Venison and Pork Kielbasa

Everyone should have an all-purpose sausage recipe in their pocket. This smoked kielbasa is a good one

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
prep time
cook time

Kielbasa in Polish means “sausage,” and this venison and pork version is one of the most versatile sausages we make. We smoke it and eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and as an ingredient in numerous other recipes.

For most sausages, I like about a 70-to-30 ratio of lean meat to fat. Mixing 15 pounds of lean, trimmed venison with 10 pounds of fatty pork shoulder works well. If you go with even fattier pork belly, or just pork fat from the butcher, you can go with even more venison in the mixture.

Smoke the sausage until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees and the surface is a deep mahogany red.

The most important part of getting the best texture in a stuffed sausage like this is blending enough water into the seasoned, ground meat mixture before stuffing it into casings. Known as binding, this step is the difference in a smooth, homogeneous sausage versus a dry, crumbly one. Once the meat has been ground, pour in cold water and mix well until the meat mixture is sticky and moist.

The sausage interior should be smooth and moist with tiny flecks of fat, not dry and crumbly.

The sausage gets smoked at low temperatures (I prefer 200 to 225 degrees), until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. You can smoke the sausage on a Traeger Grill, in an upright electric smoker, or, my favorite, in an old-fashioned smokehouse. I prefer hickory or a blend of hickory and apple for this sausage.

Smoke the sausage with hickory or a blend of hickory and apple wood.


15 pounds venison, trimmed

10 pounds pork shoulder, fattiest you can find, or 6 pounds of wild pork shoulder and 4 pounds of pork fat

8 ounces brown sugar

8 ounces kosher salt

2 ounces black pepper

1 ounce cure #1 (also known as pink curing salt or Prague powder)

3/4 ounce garlic powder

1/2 ounce hickory smoked salt

1/2 ounce whole mustard seed

1/4 ounce pickling spice

1/8 ounce marjoram

1/8 ounce thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

3 quarts ice water

Natural hog casings for stuffing


Cooking Instructions

Start by cutting the meat into chunks that will easily fit into your grinder. Chill the meat well in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, along with the metal components of the grinder.

Blend the trimmed venison and pork in a large tub before seasoning.

Place the cold meat in a plastic tub. Mix the brown sugar, salt, black pepper, cure #1, and other seasoning ingredents in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the cubed and chilled meat.

Mix the seasonings together before adding them to the meat.

Run the meat through the medium plate of your grinder. If the meat warms before you finish grinding, take a break and chill the remaining meat and the metal parts of your grinder in the freezer for a bit before finishing the grinding process.

Run the seasoned meat through the medium plate of your grinder.

Once all the meat has been ground, pour in 2 quarts of cold water and mix either by hand or in a meat mixer (you can do it in batches if your mixer doesn’t hold 25 pounds). The meat should be sticky enough to cling to your upside-down hand. If the meat is still too dry, continue adding cold water and mixing until the texture is wet enough to stick.

Add enough cold water to make the ground meat into a sticky paste.

Once you have the mixture where you want it, it’s time to stuff. Fill the hopper of your sausage stuffer. Rinse the hog casings well with cold water until they are free of salt, both inside and out. Slide the rinsed cases onto the tube of the stuffer.

Crank the stuffer until the meat mixture reaches the end of the tube. Tie the end of the casing with an overhand knot and crank the stuffer to fill the casings. Take care not to overfill the casings. You want them full, but you need to leave enough room for twisting into links.

Once all the sausage is in the casings, twist into links of your desired length. I usually go with about 10 to 12 inches. Use a sausage pricker or the thin tip of a fillet knife to prick the casings anywhere you see an air pocket.

Stuff the sausage into natural hog casings, then twist into links.

Refrigerate the sausage overnight or hang for a few hours to allow the surface to dry. Smoke at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 to 5 hours or until the sausage reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit inside, and the exterior reaches a deep, mahogany red. The sausage can be smoked on any style of smoker, on your Traeger Grill, or in an old-school smokehouse.

Hang the sausage and allow the surface to dry before smoking.

Once the sausage hits the desired temperature, immediately submerge it in cold water to stop the cooking process and plump the sausage. This is known as blooming.

As soon as the sausage reaches an internal temp of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the smoker and submerge it in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Rehang the sausage until the surface is dry, then vacuum seal and refrigerate or freeze any extras.  


Have a recipe you would like to suggest as a feature? Email us and let us know!