Texas hot links are a staple item in any Texas BBQ joint worth its salt. They are a bit spicy, full of flavor and slow smoked to perfection. The best part is that Texas hot links are really easy to make.
Texas hot links are a thing in Texas. They can be found just about anywhere BBQ is sold. The interesting thing about Texas hot links is the variation that can be found. Of course, every pit master has his or her own secret spice mix but there is also a lot of variation in the cuts of meat that go into the hot links. There are hot links made out of pure beef and there are hot links made with a combination of beef and pork. This recipe is based on a 50/50 mixture of pork shoulder and prime chuck roast.
The Right Tools for the Job
It is very helpful to have two specific tools in your kitchen before you try to make sausage. The first is a good meat grinder with at least two different grinding plates, one coarse and one medium. I have tried making sausage using a meat grinder attachment on my stand mixer and it was a disaster. It only had one grinding plate and a low quality bearing where the shaft went through the grinding plate. That resulted in metallic colored meat all around the hub, not good.
The second tool that is very helpful is a sausage stuffer. There are all kinds of sausage stuffers on the market and a fairly inexpensive model would work just fine. Again, I tried an attachment for my meat grinder to stuff sausages and it was an epic fail. It couldn’t push the meat fast enough and ended up grinding and grinding and basically making hot links that had the consistency of a hot dog. compare the two hot links below.
Get it Cold and Grind it Twice
Cold meat grinds much better than even cool meat. After cutting the pork shoulder and chuck roast into 1.5″ chunks and adding the spices, place them in a bowl and freeze them for 30 minutes. Also, place the components of the meat grinder that will come in contact with the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will make grinding a breeze.
Grind the meat once with a coarse (3/8″) grind plate and a second time with a medium (1/4″) grind plate.
Stuff the Casing
Load the ground meat into the sausage stuffer and thread a rehydrated casing onto the fill tube. Tie a knot in the end of the casing and begin to fill. Gently squeeze the casing around the fill tube to put a little bit of resistance on the casing. This will allow each casing to be properly filled to capacity. Twist the casing between link or tie them off with butcher’s twine. Prick each hot link a few times with a clean sewing pin to make a few small holes. Refrigerate the stuffed hot links for about an hour while you warm up the smoker.
Smoke it Low and Slow
Setup your smoker for indirect heat at 160˚F. I used a Kamado Joe with a little bit of wood chips that had been soaked and it worked well.
Smoke the hot links for two hours then raise the temperature to 175˚F. Continue to smoke the hot links until they reach an internal temperature of 155˚F
Chill Them Then Let Them Bloom
Remove the hot links from the smoker and immediately plunge them into an ice cold water bath until they reach room temperature. This will help prevent shriveling. Then hang the hot links or allow them to rest on a rack at room temperature for two hours. This allows the hot links to bloom (e.g flavors to develop). Hot links will keep refrigerated for 3 -4 days. They also freeze well.
Some Other Great BBQ Recipes
- Smoked Brisket and Burnt Ends
- Homemade Applewood Smoked Bacon
- Smoked Beef Dino Bones with Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Smoked Pulled Pork
Texas Hot Links – Easy to Make Texas Hot Links with a Little Bit of Smoke and an Whole Lot of Flavor
- 1 Meat Grinder
- 1 Sausage Stuffer
- 1 Smoker
- 2.5 lbs prime chuck roast
- 2.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- 2 tbs kosher salt
- 2 tbs black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tbs onion powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbs paprika not smoked
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp Prague powder (Insta cure #1)
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 3/4 cup water ice cold
- 28-32 mm hog casings
- Trim and discard any excess fat or silver from the chuck roast and pork shoulder. Cut the meat into 1.5 inch cubes and mix the pork and chuck roast pieces together with all ingredients except the powdered milk and water. Freeze for 30 minutes. Also freeze the grinder components that will come in contact with the meat.
- Rinse and rehydrate the natural casings. Then, grind the chilled meat using a course, 3/8" plate.
- Regrind it using a 1/4" plate. Then mix the dry mix with the water and add to the ground meat. Mix it all together with gloved hands until the mixture gets tacky.
- Load a piece of clean casing onto the sausage stuffer tube and fill the sausage stuffer with the ground meat. Tie a knot in the end of the casing and slow fill it with ground meat. Tie off individual hot links with butcher's twine or twist it between link. If a casing ruptures, just tie off the casing on both sides of the rupture and continue. Tie off the end of the last hot link with twine. Refrigerate the filled hot links for at least an hour.
- Setup the smoker for indirect heat at 160˚F. An offset smoker works with a wood like kiln dried oak. Alternatively, use a Kamado Joe, a Big Green Egg or another smoker and add a small amount of wood chips to the hot coals.
- Smoke the hot links for two hours then raise the temperature of the smoker to 175˚F. Continue to smoke the hot links until the internal temperature reaches 155˚F.
- Remove the hot links from the smoker and immediately plunge them into an ice cold water bath until they reach room temperature. Then hang the hot links or allow them to rest on a rack at room temperature for two hours. This allows the flavors to develop. Hot links will keep refrigerated for 3 -4 days. They also freeze well.
- To serve, cut the hot links on the diagonal into 1/4" slices and pan fry until lightly browned on both sides.