Cheater’s Chorizo

Cheater’s chorizo is homemade chorizo made with pork, paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, and wine. As irresistible as it is easy.

Cheater's Chorizo

An easy riff on real chorizo, this homemade chorizo (aka cheater’s chorizo) is simply a loose sausage with a mild heat and a smoky smack that can be quickly mixed up and stashed in the fridge for you to use as the situation or your craving demands. Although let’s 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). The recipe that follows 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 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. Originally published May 15, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Incorporate This Easy 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 crums 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!

Homemade Chorizo

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 1 1/2 pounds
5/5 - 3 reviews
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  • 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


  • 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 teensy amount of the sausage mixture into a tiny flattened ball and fry it until cooked through. Taste to check the seasoning, remembering that the flavors will continue to develop 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 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 about 1 week.)
  • 4. When ready to use, follow your recipe or shape it into small balls and fry over medium to medium-high heat until cooked through.

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. The garlic cloves I used measured out to 2 teaspoons 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.

This is an absolutely simple way to have homemade fresh 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.


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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!

  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!

  5. Do you just add the fennel seeds whole? If not, how do I crush or chop them? I’ve used them with a roast before, where they’d cook for hours, but not in a quick-cook like this. Thank you.

    1. 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.

  6. 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

    1. 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….

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

    1. 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. 

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