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Everything you need to know about fat & sausages?

Everything you need to know about fat & sausages?

Fat is essential to a good sausage. Fat lubricates the meat, acts as a binder and will make the sausage tender, juicy and flavorsome. Sausages that do not contain enough fat are typically dry and tasteless.



How much fat do I need?

Sausages should contain 25-30% fat. This may seem like a lot but many commercially made sausages contain 50% fat. So, you need 250-300g of fat per 1kg of sausage mix.

Like most things to do with sausages, it is not necessary for the ratio of fat to meat to be perfect. If you are buying meat scraps or don’t know what cut you have then estimating the fat ratio by the eye is generally sufficient. If it visually looks like the meat contains about 25-30% fat then roll with it and move on. Your fat can come from the cut of meat that you use, or you can add it separately.

Types of fat:

If you are having to add fat, we recommend pork fat over beef fat. It has a more neutral flavour and is less yellow. We do not recommend fat from lamb, goat or wild game due to their odor unless specified in a particular ethnic sausage.

When it comes to sausage making, back fat is better than lower body fat. Back fat is the layer of fat under the skin of the animal. It is not greasy and has a lower water concentration which makes it thicker and more resistant to heat, which is perfect for sausages.  

Why is pork fat the best?

The unique characteristics of pork fat make it perfect for sausages:
- it is solid at room temperature so will grind nicely (especially  when semi-frozen)
- it has a high melting point which means the fat (juices) will melt slowly as the sausage cooks and as long as you have a good sausage casing which keeps all the juices in, you will end up with a nice juicy sausage 
- its neutral flavour and silky, creamy texture means it will carry all the yummy the flavours in your sausage 
- it's bright white colour will mean your sausage is visually appealing, with good particle definition

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Can I use lard in my sausages?

Lard is melted or rendered fat and is not good for making sausages. Melting the fat permanently changes the texture of the fat. It becomes a thick, semi-solid paste which is not suitable for sausages.

Where do I get fat from?

Contact your local butcher. 

How to calculate how much fat I need:

Assume your total sausage recipe is 2kg and 1.6kg of meat & fat combined. You want your sausage to have 25% fat. To work out how much fat you need:

1. Divide your desired fat content by 100. In this example I want 25% total fat content. Calculation =  25 / 100 = 0.25

2. Multiply your total sausage mix in KG by 0.25. eg 2 * 0.25 = 0.5kg of fat required (or 500g)

 3. Visually estimate how much fat is in your meat. Lets assume it has 15%. Divide this by 100. 15 / 100 = 0.15. 

4. Multiply total weight of meat & fat required in recipe (1.6kg) by the 0.15 calculated in step 3. 1.6 x 0.15 = 0.24. This means your meat has 0.24kg or 240g of fat in it. 

5. Calculate how much additional fat you need. You want 500g of fat total (step 2). Your meat has 240g (step 4). Additional fat still required = 500 - 240 = 260g  

A bit of lingo: the term ‘lean’ is often used to represent the meat content eg if a cut of meat is 80-85% lean then this means it contains 80-85% meat and 15-20% fat.


% Fat


% Fat

Pork: Lamb:
Whole animal 10-15% Whole animal 20%
Butt/shoulder 20-30% Leg 15%
Sirloin 5% Neck 18%
Leg 5% Shoulder 20-22%
Belly 50% Flap / Belly 29%
Loin 2.5% Shank 12%
Tenderloin 1.5% Loin Saddle 23%
Ground lamb 12%
Whole animal 10-15% Venison:
Chuck 15-20% Whole animal <5%
Brisket - point end 9.5%
Brisket - navel end 31% Chicken:
Eye Round 5% Whole animal 14%
Flank 9% Thigh - skin on 20%
Bolar blade 8% Thigh - skin off 45%
Hind shin 7% Breast 2%
Inside 5.5%
Knuckle 9% Goat:
Ribs 17% Whole animal 15%
Other Fats
Egg whites 0.2%
Whole egg 11%
Cream 37%


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Article courtesy of NZ Casings.

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