Cheater’s Chorizo

Cheater’s chorizo is a fresh homemade chorizo made with ground pork, spices such as paprika, garlic, and cayenne pepper as well as wine. As irresistible as it is easy.

A cast-iron skillet with eight cheater's chorizo meatballs being cooked in it.

This homemade cheater’s chorizo, an easy riff on real chorizo, is a lovely fresh sausage with a mild heat and a smoky smack that can be quickly mixed up in less than 10 minutes from pork butt, paprika, garlic, cayenne, and the rest of the wine that’s languishing on your countertop. Its keen ability to keep in the fridge for up to a week means you can use it at will, sprinkling it like pixie dust hither and yon, thinking of it more in terms of an Italian sausage than a proper aged chorizo. Whatever you call it, however you use it, we think you’ll be grateful to have a tub of it in the fridge so you can sizzle it up at a moment’s notice.–Renee Schettler

How To Incorporate Homemade Chorizo Into Your Cooking

Wondering how to use this easy homemade chorizo? Let your imagination be your only limitation. We suggest you turn to the good folks at River Cottage for their advice, which includes “You can shape some into mini meatballs or little patties and fry until browned, then chuck into tomato sauces, bean casseroles, vegetables soups, and the like. Or you can fry a couple of handfuls of the mixture, breaking it up with the edge of a wooden spatula as you go until you have a pan of coarse, crisp chorizo crumbs to scatter over salads, soups, and egg dishes—especially scrambled eggs—or toss with pasta or vegetables, such as broccoli.” Let us know your favorite destination for this cheater’s chorizo recipe by leaving a comment below!

Cheater's Chorizo

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 1 1/2 pounds
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and squish the mixture between your fingers to evenly distribute everything.

Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Shape a teensy amount of the sausage mixture into a flattened ball and fry it until cooked through. Taste to check the seasoning, remembering that the flavors will continue to get more noticeable the longer the uncooked mixture stays in the fridge (If you’re a heat fiend, you’ll probably want to add more cayenne and black pepper.)

That’s it. Just cover the chorizo mixture and stash it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using to allow the flavors time to develop. (The chorizo will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.)

When ready to use, follow a recipe that calls for fresh chorizo or shape it into small balls and fry over medium to medium-high heat until cooked through. Originally published May 15, 2011.

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    How This Homemade Cheater's Chorizo Differs From Portuguese Chouriço

    • We want to be clear about one thing. This is not Portuguese chouriço, a smoked sausage traditionally fashioned from pork butt, paprika, garlic, crushed dried red pepper, and a splash of homemade wine in a three-day celebration that takes place twice a year (although if we had our way, it would happen each week!).

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    You’ll not be disappointed with this homemade chorizo recipe. It’s very good, easy to mix up, and perfect for when you have that little bit of red wine leftover. I did a chile grind over the pork and it worked great.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the combination of red spices and the fat from the pork made it look just like store-bought chorizo. Next time, I’ll make it into link sausage. The garlic cloves I used measured out to 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic. It makes a very nice breakfast burrito when mixed with eggs and potatoes.

    This is an absolutely simple way to have homemade fresh chorizo right at home—and it tastes much better than the readymade stuff I find in the local supermarket.

    I’ll be making this more often to freeze for later use. I’d actually like to make meatballs out of them, too. Also for our taste, I’ll add a tad more cayenne pepper next time. After making it, I decided to stuff squid with it, and it came out spectacular.


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    1. Thank you for sharing the recipe! I usually have chorizo when I have wine dates with my friends as it is one of the perfect combinations. We usually just buy it so this is helpful as we can now make it at home and spend less.

      1. Thanks, Arty. Classic chorizo doesn’t have fennel, you’re absolutely right. But I think the author is taking liberties, both in ingredients and preparation, for a fast, tasty meal.

    2. It’s wonderful on pizza. It doesn’t even have to be in slices, just crumbled over the top. Great timing, David! I used to order sausages from Gaspar’s in bulk a couple times a year, but last few times I went to order, shipping costs were insane. I’m not paying $70 shipping on $100 of product, but I will spend a day making my own sausage. Thanks!

      1. Terrific, Renee! Love to hear that. And this way over time you can tweak the seasonings to be exactly how you like it. So glad you enjoy the recipe. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know.

    3. Small cooked pieces as a pizza topping instead of pepperoni come to mind. Now without a grinder (should have kept my mother’s clamp on one but perhaps not great for stone counters). I will have to ask the Whole Foods guy to do it. I have a feeling though that they reserve their meat grinder for beef. Anyone tried grinding the pork in a food processor? It would probably clump a bit.

    4. Can I substitute cranberry juice or red wine vinegar for the wine in this recipe, as we can’t afford wine nor can we drink it anyway.

      1. Monica, we haven’t tested it with anything other than wine so I can’t say for certain but it seems as though red wine vinegar should work just fine. Maybe start with just a little and then add incrementally as needed? We’re thinking maybe 3 tablespoons or so? To test for flavor, simply pinch off a tiny amount of the chorizo mixture and fry it in a skillet until cooked through so you can sample it—sorta like making the world’s tiniest meatball!

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