How To Make Homemade Snack Sticks

  • Power User

    @doug7777 That really depends on the size of the smoker, the amount and diameter of the product as well as the temperature outdoors. It could be an hour…it could be several.

  • @Joe-Hell I have a Master Built 40 smoker. After we started smoking at 175F, we smoked the sticks for another 6 hours and only got the internal temperature to 142F. Tried several thermometer, all were within a couple degrees

  • Power User

    @doug7777 I also have the MB40 and have had one hell of a time trying to get to temp in a reasonable amount of time. They are well insulated and always hold the desired temp within a few degrees so I’m not sure what the issue is. I have also used multiple thermometers and even an oven thermometer and it always checks out. There is enough humidity that it drips constantly down the front glass panel. My previous MB30’s were much faster. I could generally guess the time/temp off the top of my head and hit my marks within 20 minutes. Something is amiss with the 40.

    …I will often use an additional drip tray. According to the manual you should not be adding foil to any of the racks for a similar purpose as this may reduce proper airflow. Perhaps that is my issue?

  • @weatherbow21 I agree with Jonathon of several points. I have been making snack sticks and summer sausage for years and I have scrapped my fair share of batches. There is certainly a difference between wild game and beef or pork from the store. My advice on this, buy a 10lb “log” of 80/20 from Sam’s. This takes out the grinding and having to mix in the right amount of fat. I have made several successful batches this way. BE PATIENT! The more meat you have in the smoker, the longer it is going to take, however, you will find that your temps will fluctuate less. If you get impatient and crank up the heat, you increase your chances of “fatting out”. Been there, done that.
    You don’t have to put the entire batch in the smoker at one time as long as you are not using citric acid. Put in a few pounds, follow the temp settings in the recipe, and you will likely have good results in 4-5 hours max. I never set my smokers above 170, but I may try since I am seeing 175 a lot in the Walton’s recipes.
    For a binder, I always use soy protein, but the type of binder that you use is based on your preference. I never make a batch without it.
    I also document everything from start to finish. I find this helps me to remember not to leave ingredients out of my recipe. It sucks when you get done stuffing and then find your bag of cheese still sitting on the counter. ☹ I document my temp settings, time of day, internal temp, smoke on, smoke off, etc. and I do this with every batch I make. You can then record your results, flavor, texture, presentation. I often go back through my notes just skimming results to see what worked and what didn’t, especially if I am trying a new recipe. If you are fairly new to sausage making and you are not busting casings during the stuffing process, you might not be packing them tight enough. You definitely do not want to under stuff. You will get unsightly fat deposits between the meat and the casing. Don’t give up!

  • @doug7777 142 degrees is a stalling point where the fat starts to render. I used to get very impatient and start cranking up the heat to get the INT to go up. That usually results in burning all the fat out of the snack sticks. Be patient. The temp will eventually start to rise again. Once it does, it will continue to do so at a steady pace. I have had snack sticks in the smoker for 24 hours or better due to having 25lbs hanging at one time. I have also had 4-5 lbs at a time in the smoker only take 4-5 hours total.

  • Made my 1st batch of Snack Sticks Following this excellent tutorial. I used 100% Wagyu Brisket Trimmings, Dehydrated Jalapeno, & Cheddar Cheese, & Willies Seasoning. Can’t wait to make some more, and try some other flavor combinations.
    Overall for a 1st attempt I was very happy with the final results, but I’ll make a few tweaks to the process next time.

  • Power User

    @PaulGrant Those look really, really good! Well done sir!

  • @PaulGrant
    Man, those look nice! I’d celebrate with some Tito’s.😉

  • @Joe-Hell Thank you!

  • @PapaSop Lol. That’s actually a lamp, but I agree

  • Power User

    @PapaSop I was going to mention a cocktail! Lol

  • @PaulGrant
    What cut of beef did you use? I’ve never tried all beef. Looks like you did a fine grind on those.

  • @PaulGrant
    Oops, just seen the Wagyu.

  • @PapaSop It was a coarse and then a fine grind. I then ran it through a meat mixer to get good protein extraction. added the cheese and mixed in by hand. I trim dozens of Wagyu briskets a year and usually end up with a couple hundred pounds of trimmings that need to be used for something.

  • Walton's Employee

    @PaulGrant You should be happy with those results, they look amazing! Good choice on the Willie’s, I have a batch in the smoker right now of Willie’s with Encapsulated Citric Acid, Cheddar cheese and Sure Gel. It is 70% pheasant and 30% pork fat, I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  • @Jonathon Thank you! I’m curious to hear the results of the Pheasant sticks

  • Walton's Employee

    @PaulGrant They were actually excellent! I am surprised and extremely pleased with how tasty they were. I used 4 lb of pheasant breast, 1 lb of pork fat that I just trimmed off of a pork butt that I bought this morning. They have a great consistency, texture, snap and taste. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who hunts pheasant and likes making snack sticks!

  • @Austin
    Hey, I’m new here so not even sure if this is the right way to post a question… but I’m looking to make pepperoni snack sticks and the article said it could be done without a casing…I have a jerky shooter with a snack stick attachment but do not have a smoker so would need to do this in the oven. Do you have a step by step recipe on how to accomplish this using venison meat? Thanks!!

  • Admin

    If you want to use an oven, check out this post here for some helpful tips:

    For making a skinless snack stick, you can follow the same beginning process. Same ingredients, grind, mix, etc. When you stuff, you are just using the jerky shooter instead of a stuffer, and no casing. So, you want to stuff the sticks directly onto a cooking rack, or pan, etc. that you can place in the oven. To get the oven to stick to the temperatures you will want to try to hit in the cook cycle, read the article above, but you will also have to experiment a bit with your oven to see how you can make it work best in your case. They key is a low starting temp with a gradual increase. Starting the cooking process with a higher heat will end up with a less than desirable product, but at least still edible as long as you cook to a 160 internal temp.

    We don’t have any other full write-ups using a jerky shooter. Just try to follow the info in the recipe here as closely as you can, or also read through the Meatgistics University article here: and when it comes to cooking, trying to follow the same cook cycle as you would on a smoker, but read the article about cooking in an oven above.

  • Hey guys, I’m the new kid in the neighborhood and have only made a couple of posts on this forum. I have read extensively all of the post concerning prepping homemade snack sticks and I’'m ready to try my hand. I know I’ll make mistakes but I learn by doing. I’m as familiar as I can be with your on line processes and procedures, and you have done well in your presentations.
    OK, Back to me and my problems. Hardware ??? 1. I have in-house a medium size household food grinder that I plan on trying?? to use. 2. I have a Hobart commercial stand mixer, 3 speed, 1/3 hp pulling 8.2 amps. I plan to buy the 16 lb. Walton stuffier. I can’t justify the Walton smoker at this time. Help needed on a reasonably priced and quality SS smoker. Thank You Tommy

  • Power User

    @Ode-Tom The Masterbuilt 40 models are good bang for the buck and Pit Boss 5 series vertical seems like a good option. If their smoker is anything like the grill I bought recently it should perform well. Both companies also have good customer support should you need it.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Ode-Tom Another option would be a smoker/pellet grill combo like the GMG, Yoder (might be a little pricey) or something like that? More bang for your buck and while not necessarily ideal for smoking snack sticks it 100% can be done and it gives you more use. I personally use only my pellet grill/smokerat home now. Though, admittedly when I do snack sticks or something I have either the PK 100 or the big commercial smoker here that I can use.

  • Hi Guys, I’m still in the hunt for a affordable smoker that will fit into wallet. You folks are the best at follow up. Thanks to all of you. I do have an idea and a direction for my temporary smoker. Will investigate further tomorrow. My best regards Tommy

  • problems with hydration in making snack sticks using excalibur maple-bacon mix. I’m working with aged Akaushi beef. age can be up to 60 to 70 days. I’m using 16mm smoked casings. in the directions for the mix no water is added. the first ingredient in the mix is brown sugar. Sugar is hygroscopic I added water to loosen (1# H2O/25# protein) it a bit and to make up for the dehydration during the aging. After cooking the next day the water leached out and the flavors were very weak. The next batch i made without water it set up like cement. I had to add some water to loosen it (to stuff). My electric stuffers won’t handle the load. I used my cured sausage stuffer (it has gears on it like a 59 ford 9 inch rear end, it is a beast) it did the job but it was a workout. The standard summer sausage mix i use calls for 3#of water per 25# of meat. It’s not excalibur brand and it works great. I know i have an issue with the age, and casing size. But i work as the butcher for a shop that raises the Beef. So it’s the product i use. I have 30 years experience in charcuterie and have always used my own seasonings I mixed myself. The water i added will effect the PH level and shy of doing an emulsification and with the marbling of the meat I think that will be a lost cause. I’m lost here. Any suggestions? Thanks

  • @raypete I also tie and hang in link bunches and the ones i added 1# of H2O after 12 hrs of hanging had excess moisture that sweated though the casings, not a lot but I’ve never had that happen with any sausage i have made, raw or cured.

  • @Jonathon Hey Jonathon, Ihave a Traeger smoker, have you used one? The lowest setting is “smoke” and pretty sure it’s at least 150 degrees. What would you recommend for me to successfully do snack sticks with it for the cycle? thanks.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Tomg Get a good probe thermometer that will let you measure ambient temps accurately. The Grill Eye Pro Plus is what we have been using, (the recent firmware update allows you to connect through wifi more consistently and from “anywhere”) and then experiment with propping the lid.

    We’ve done this recently with our oven and were able to stabilize the top rack at almost exactly 120°. We didnt have to prop the door open too much either, just a little bit to let the heat escape was all that was required.

    So, prop the lid with your ambient temp thermometer and move it around a few places to find hot/cold spots. After the 125° phase you can either try to get to 140° by increasing the temp or closing the lid more OR go right to 150°, the 10° difference isn’t going to make or break the snack stick though if it were me I would try for the 140°.

  • @Jonathon
    Speaking of hot and cold spots. Never realized how much outside air temp comes into play until this last snack stick smoke. Being that I use LP and drawing air through there was a wide variance in temps. My smoker is thermostatically controlled. Early morning outside temp was 60 deg. No problem getting down to 122 for drying. Three hours later when the sun came out and the temps rose, had to keep adjusting it down because of temp spikes.

    The older MB 30 I had to prop lower door open even on lowest setting. The wind also comes into play.

    Wow…This is fun stuff!

  • Walton's Employee

    @PapaSop Outside temp and air flow sometimes absolutely comes into play! With a well-insulated smoker (@Parksider is going to appreciate his PK100 in the cold cold upstate NY winters) it’s not as big of a deal but it certainly still comes into play!

    These are the things we have to deal with when home processing, and when you take all of that into account and realize we are making a product at least 90% as good as a commercial processor it’s pretty amazing!

  • @Jonathon PERFECT! thanks I’ll give that a try

  • Hi Guys, tried my 1st SS. Made a 1/4 batch (6.25 lbs.) Willies and followed all the directions and the correct ratios. 4 my taste buds a little too spicy for me. Salt and heat is OK. Where or what do I change in the recipe to cut the spices a bit? Stay with me, I’ma learning. Tommy

  • Walton's Employee

    @Ode-Tom First thing I would try is using more meat per amount of seasoning. So, if you were going to use an entire bag that makes 25 lb, try using 30 lb of meat top distribute the seasoning amongst more meat. It is going to take some testing to get exactly what you want but that’s generally the best way to tone down a seasoning.

  • Thanks J, I’ll work in 10% increments increases to get what I like. Tks. Tommy

  • I’m looking to make some snack sticks but I want them to be sweet sticks. Do I just add surgar to the recipe or is there a completely different list of ingredients I should use?

  • Walton's Employee

    @Fblemler I’d recommend taking an already sweet blend like BBQ Snack stick or Honey BBQ and then adding sugar as opposed to trying t create your own. It’s difficult to get the correct ratio, especially for salt content when making a seasoning mix at home.

    You will have to play around with how much sugar to add per lb and it might change if you were to switch between seasonings.

  • @Jonathon Instead of the sugar you have at home couldn’t you use Dextrose to add some sweetness? That’s what I do when making Sweet Italian, I use the Mild Italian seasoning and add Dextrose to it and it works out great, in my opinion anyway. Just wondering if it makes a difference on the source of sweetener you use. I know Dextrose is just a simple sugar that is similar to the sugar most people have at home.

  • Walton's Employee

    @AdamCA Actually a lot of people use dextrose instead of sugar in making sausage and it has about 75% the sweetness of sugar so if you switch back and forth be sure to remember that. It is often used as a fermentation aid though.

  • Hi Guys, my latest question how do I make Snack Sticks.
    Any and all members that can help or have experienced this problem, please chime in…
    My first 5 lb batches have been adjusted to a level of heat and salt that I like. That’s good for me.
    Now my next concern. I’m using 19mm Smoke Collagen Casing. I have a problem with the cooked casing being very tough to bite thru and/or the casing comes off inside my mouth as I chew the SS. To me It appears the casing is not binding or adhering well to the meat of the SS. I can actually pull the cooked casing from the meat with ease.
    OK guys, your thoughts and suggestions needed. We’re headed in the right direction.
    Best Regards

  • Walton's Employee

    @Ode-Tom Does this happen right out of the smoker or is it after they have been ice bathed and packaged? Im going to guess that it’s after everything has cooled down? Most likely you have too much moisture in the package. Once you’ve ran them through the ice bath let them sit out at room temperature (un stacked, so single layer) for an hour then move them uncovered to a fridge overnight. Then vac pack them. If your problem is right out of the smoker then you might need either a longer dry schedule or add less water to your sticks.

  • Thanks J. I notice this during the cool down period after the ice bath. I’m thinking along the same lines. Maybe I’m adding to much cold H2O during my mixing. Next batch we’ll cut back on the added water.
    Thanks again

  • Hello Austin, is that a 12mm stuffing tube you are using on the 26# electric stuffer?

  • Walton's Employee

    @bpschuebel Yes it is, this was the first version of this stuffer that we got and it was before we determined that the motor was just not sturdy enough to do snack sticks. This is before I was in this department but I am willing to bet that that stuffer had to either be reconditioned or had the motor replaced after.

    We might shortly have a change in the electric stuffers that would allow future ones to handle stuffing snack sticks but for now, we still absolutely do not recommend it.


  • @Jonathon so I like the dryer wrinkled snack sticks as well. If I understand you correctly a few things I can do is up the fat like maybe 25/75; no binder, higher temp toward the end and no immediate ice bath?

  • Walton's Employee

    @BrianB Yeah all those things will work but probably what will you the best-finished product with a very wrinkly stick is to still use a binder but understyuff your casings a little bit to a lot depending on how wrinkly you want it. This is probably the easiest variable to manipulate without effecting the taste of the finished product too much!

    I’m going to do a video here shortly on the difference in appearance of an overstuffed, properly stuffed and understuffed snack stick.

  • @Jonathon video will help. Thank you

  • @Jonathon In the video when you say “you don’t have to twist the links like with other sausages” do you mean you can leave the ends of the links open? On some of the pictures it looks that way, on others it appears folks are tying the ends off. My only concern is that while smoking the meat will ooze out of the casings.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Hydrostan When using smoke collagen you can leave the ends untied. Or at least I always do and I almost never have any issue! It might be because I use a binder and get good protein extraction though. But as long as you do that then there is no need to tie off the ends, you might get a small bulb but it’s nothing more than a 1/2 inch or so and not tying them saves a lot of time!

  • @nbian1 Curious as to if you tried the lard. We butchered a pig, but have now used up all the excess fat. Don’t bake, so have jars of lard that I haven’t given away yet! Any helpful hits?

  • Walton's Employee

    @llyn, As far as I know, all the fat I have used has been back fat, but that doesn’t mean none of it has been belly fat. Belly fat (lard) should work perfectly fine though!

  • @Jonathon Another question: We had a heck of a time getting the meat into the 19mm casings. We made 10 lb. and used about 1 + quart of water. It took all our strength to fill those casings! Now our stuffing tube is 1/2" outside diameter, and 3/8" inside diameter. Do you feel our problem is not enough water or do we need a bigger stuffing tube?

  • @pauliedmondsjr So, I’m an old guy too and the kitchen aid seems like a perfect tool for mixing and grinding and stuffing, you could still combine two 5lb batches if you needed to?..I have a couple paddles, one with and one without a silicone wiper blade…how long do you find you need to mix it for good protein extraction and at what speed? Assuming that you have run it through a two plate grind first…

  • Walton's Employee

    @Hydrostan a 12mm tube is smalle enough to allow a 19mm casing on it pretty easily and it should stuff fairly easily. What was your meat block and how cold was the meat? What else was added to the meat and what were you using to stuff?

    I recently made some resturctured jerky and had a hard time because my meat had frozen bits in it. It kept clogging the all around jerky maker with tiny little bits of frozen meat. Same thing could be happening to you?

  • @Austin I have a question regarding shelf life. I made some snack sticks Tuesday, using Willie’s Snack Stick (Non-MSG), Sure Cure, Water and Carrot Fiber. I have them now vacuumed sealed in smaller packages after processing, blooming, and cooling, and sitting in the refrigerator. My intention is to put these into holiday gift bags for friends and family for Christmas. Will I have to freeze these between now (12/12) and Christmas or will they be ok as they are in the refrigerator? I already made 30# of H Summer Sausage and froze those. Any input would be appreciated.

  • Walton's Employee

    @rjsenk On anything like this we like to defer to the USDA. @Austin might possibly disagree with this but I find that unlikely.

    Now, I strongly disagree with their recommendations on the freezer life as I have eaten more than a few snack sticks/summer sausages that have been in the freezer for a lot longer than that!

  • @Jonathon Thank you Jonathon. Those guidelines helped out a lot. I agree with you on the freezer life of smoked meats though; I have had tasty treats that were in the freezer much longer than that.

  • Admin

    @rjsenk @Jonathon
    The timing listed on the freezer life is really more geared towards quality. FSIS also has another quote in that same bit of info that says “Once frozen it doesn’t matter if the date expires because foods kept frozen continuously are safe indefinitely.”
    Once you freeze meat, it is going to stay safe to consume and eat, but the quality may still degrade over time.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Austin Thank you for actually reading all of that…it was too many words, I just wanted to see the picture!

  • Hi, Austin. I have been making Willie’s snack sticks for a few batches and every time I get grease pockets between the casing and the meat. I followed the recipe to the best of my ability, including the smoke/cook schedule, except that I hand mix the meat thoroughly. Would you have any idea why I am getting grease pockets?

  • Walton's Employee

    @kanevak This is what is known as “fatting out” the grease is the fat that has rendered out of the meat. You can use a binder like Sure Gel to help and/or mix a lot more. You need to achieve high levels of protein extraction when mixing, this will keep everything bound all together and will prevent the fat from rendering out of the meat. This is an older video but it covers the topic well

  • @Jonathon Thanks for the quick reply! Is carrot fiber as good as sure gel? We hand mix for about 15 minutes adding the encapsulated citric acid in the last couple of minutes. I like to do a turn-and-squeeze technique to really mash and mix the meat. Is this a bad technique?

Recent Posts

  • T

    Looking for a little help. Just made my firs batch of snack sticks and the texture was chalky. I made a 10 lb batch using 6 lbs of untrimmed tri tip beef and 4 pounds of pork shoulder. I ran it through the 3/8 grinder first and then added all my seasoning and cheese. I then mixed all ingredients including 45 grams of carrot fiber and then ran through the 1/8 grinding plate. I then hand mixed for 8 minutes and added my water and 45 grams of citric acid and mixed for an additional 12 minutes. I noticed that as soon as i mixed the citric acid in, the texture changed from sticky to chalky. I then stuffed into a 19mm collagen casings and hun in the smoker for 1 hr at 125, 1hr at 140, 2 hours at 155, then turned it up to 175, added smoke and cooked until internal temperature of 160. I then removed and placed in an ice bath for 10 minutes. Let them come to room temperature for 1 hour. The flavor was good but the texture was chalky. I know that I messed up and should have only mixed the citric acid in the ladd minute but was that my only mistake. Did i use tooo much citric acid or carrot fiber?

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  • Thanks @Joe-Hell ! Good to be back. I hope to be making alot more stuff this year and keep connected with y’all!

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  • @deplorablenc1 Welcome back man! It looks like you’ve been busy. Glad to hear from you!

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