Cheater’s Chorizo

Making and maturing your own “real” chorizo is fun but undeniably a commitment, so here’s the easy version. It’s a highly seasoned mix of coarsely ground pork, which you keep in a tub or plastic container in the fridge and use in a variety of ways. I find the mild heat and smoky flavor of chorizo goes with so many things. 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 crums to scatter over salads, soups, and egg dishes—especially scrambled eggs—or toss with pasta or vegetables, such as broccoli.–Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

LC Let's Be Clear About One Thing Note

This homemade chorizo 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 (if we had our way, it would happen each week). This is cheater’s chorizo, a fresh sausage that comes together 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 it, 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 in tandem with sautéed broccoli rabe and potatoes or whatever else you fancy.

Homemade Chorizo Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 1 1/2 pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder or butt, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 to 11/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A little canola or olive oil, for frying

Directions

  • 1. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and squish the mixture between your fingers to distribute the seasonings evenly.
  • 2. Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Shape a small amount of the sausage into a tiny patty. Fry it a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. Taste to check the seasoning, remembering that the flavors will develop further as the mixture matures. If you’re a heat fiend, you will probably want to add more cayenne and black pepper.
  • 3. That’s it. Just cover the chorizo mixture and store it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using to allow the flavors time to develop. (The chorizo will keep, refrigerated, for about 1 week.)
  • 4. When ready to use, follow your recipe or shape into small balls and fry over medium to medium-high heat until cooked through.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

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Kim Venglar

May 15, 2011

You’ll not be disappointed with this 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 on the pork, and it worked great. The garlic cloves I used measured out to 2 teaspoons of finely minced garlic. 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. It makes a very nice breakfast burrito when mixed with eggs and potatoes.

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Sofia Reino

May 15, 2011

This is an absolutely simple way to have homemade Mexican chorizo right at home—and it tastes much better than the ready-made stuff I find in the local supermarket. After making it, I decided to stuff squid with it, and it came out spectacular. 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.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

May 15, 2011

I needed some chorizo for a Spanish biscuit sandwich I was making from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook. This looked quick and easy, and I had most of the ingredients already on hand—so I knew I had to try this. It was easy to mix up, toss in a bowl, and let sit in the fridge until the morning I wanted to make my biscuits. You can make it spicy or mild to taste. The best part is that it does taste like chorizo, so now I know I can have some fresh and ready anytime. A keeper!

Testers Choice
Joel Jenkins

May 15, 2011

This is a good recipe for a quick chorizo. Simple and easy to do—the most difficult task was waiting for two hours to try it. Time is definitely this recipe’s friend, as it was even better the next day. I thought the fennel seeds would mature the taste into a psuedo-Italian flavor, but the paprika and peppers offset the fennel. I followed the recipe and then added additional cayenne and black pepper the following day. For my taste, the milder version was closer to Mexican chorizo.

Testers Choice
Jackie G.

May 15, 2011

This is a wonderful recipe. The flavors are more like Spanish chorizo—which is usually a cured sausage—with flavors that are similar to the imported chorizo that we buy. This however, was far superior. There were no chunks of fat that were difficult to chew, and everything blended into a wonderful burst of flavor. When we make sausage, we usually grind the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle instead of leaving them whole. I ended up dividing the pork, which we had ground ourselves, into two bowls. I divided everything else between the two bowls, and put whole fennel seeds in one batch, and the crushed fennel seeds in the other. I cooked up a bit of each in a cast iron pan, and was surprised to find that we liked the whole fennel batch better. We bought sweet smoked paprika and, on the advice of our supplier, added cayenne to make the spicy smoked paprika. I’m really looking forward to using this sausage—there are so many things that I want to do with it. Tomorrow it’s going into a batch of white beans that I made in a Provencal style. I want to use it in soup. I want to use it with pasta. I want to have it with eggs. The possibilities are endless. This will be a recipe that we’ll make again, and again, and again. I’m so very glad that it crossed my path.

Testers Choice
Cindy Zaiffdeen

May 15, 2011

This recipe was so easy to put together—and well worth it! I bruised the fennel seeds a bit to release more of their flavour. I made the mixture and let it sit overnight. The next day it was fantastic, and the day after, ever better! I’ll definitely make this again. I may never buy chorizo again.

Testers Choice
Vicki Lionberger

May 15, 2011

I make my own sausage, both breakfast and Italian, so when this recipe for chorizo came along, I jumped at the chance to try it. I used supermarket ground pork, since I thought most people could find it and some might not have a grinder to make their own. I was a bit confused about the paprika, though. In my pantry I had smoked paprika, sweet paprika, and hot paprika. So since it called for a total of 5 teaspoons total, I used 3 teaspoons of the smoked, and 1 each of the sweet and hot. The result was delicious. The sausage had just the right amount of heat and smokiness. Interestingly, the day we received the recipes for testing, my husband emailed me a recipe he had found that he thought looked good. It was Chorizo Carbonara from the same cookbook! You only need cream, eggs and pasta to complete the dish—and was it ever good.

Testers Choice
Fran Brennan

May 15, 2011

This was an incredibly easy recipe to make—just mix the ingredients with your hands, let the whole thing sit for a few hours, and voilà, incredible sausage. And it really is incredible. When I opened the container after a few hours, the aroma just about knocked me out—so, so good. And the cooked sausage didn’t disappoint. My entire family loved it, even my erstwhile-vegetarian 11-year-old daughter. So far, we’ve crumbled it on pizza, cooked it in small breakfast-size patties and eaten it with pasta, and eaten it on its own. Because our biggest eater is out of town, we haven’t quite finished it off; so I’m going to freeze the last of it and see how that works. We’re all hoping to come home from vacation next week to ready-to-go chorizo. By the way, I made the recipe with the spices as written, and it was delicious—not too spicy for kids (although my kids tend to like spicy), but with enough of a kick for adults. I’d absolutely tinker in the future though—just because.

Testers Choice
Amy M.

May 15, 2011

This recipe was simple, flavorful, and provided several wonderful meals. The spices were a tad one-dimensional, with a heavy, smoky flavor from all of the smoked paprika. I used rather small garlic cloves, but probably should’ve used larger ones. Also, I’d add a bit of cinnamon and vinegar if I made it again, as these are the flavors that I’m accustomed to in a Mexican-style chorizo. I used the chorizo on a homemade pizza with mozzarella, aged provolone, and Robusto cheese. It was delicious! I also found a recipe for spaghetti carbonara that used this same chorizo. It was also delicious. Finally, I used the rest of the chorizo for a potato hash topped with runny eggs, which I highly recommend. Though the recipe says the chorizo will keep for a week, mine was gone in four days!


Comments
Comments
  1. LunaCafe says:

    Perfect, I’ve been wanting to make my own “chorizo” for some time. The stuff from the meat counter has such an odd texture. You don’t specify any added fat here. So this mixture is essentially lean then? Thanks!
    …Susan

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Susan. Yes, no added fat. My Aunt Irena makes Portuguese chouriço, and she uses pork butt, too. There’s enough fat in there to make the sausage juicy and succulent. Just make sure to instruct your butcher or meat guy not to strip away any fat. They’re so hep on doing that these days. Such a shame. 

  2. Prwolf says:

    I truly enjoy this recipe. It was wonderful in spaghetti sauce! We have had the best meatball subs with it as well. I have a few meatballs left and they are to be layered with polenta and turnip greens as a casserole dish. You just can’t go wrong.

  3. Kimberley W says:

    Made the homemade chorizo yesterday. I had enough pork for two batches, so I made one batch extra spicy, which a couple of my friends like. The recipe is scandalously easy to make (even for this beginner cook!), and the end result was quite tasty! I overbrowned the patties a bit, but that didn’t interfere with the wonderful flavors present throughout the chorizo. This recipe’s a definite keeper!!

  4. This looks fantastic! I just got the meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid and I think this might have to be recipe to break it in. Thanks for the idea!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We like the way you’re thinking, C Kitchenette. Like it a lot. Let us know how it goes…

  5. Sans says:

    I am about to make this recipe and thinking if I roll it into a thin log, then smoke it in the BBQ, how would it turn out?? Just thought it might keep longer. If you have any ideas, please let me know? Cheers

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Oooooh, Sans, we’re thinking that sounds inspired. Just make certain that you cook it long enough for it to be sufficiently cooked through. Really curious to hear what you think after you taste it….

  6. Mark Walters says:

    This recipe is short, short on ingredients, real Mexican chorizo contains vinegar people!

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Mark, thanks for writing. Not all chorizo uses vinegars. Some use wine as the acid, some use vinegar, and some use a combination of both. In Latin America, vinegar is used more often. In Europe, it’s wine.

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