How To Make Homemade Snack Sticks

  • Power User

    @Lost-River-Jones I think the 20 lb mixer would be a bit large for that amount. Earlier today I used my kitchenaid bowl mixer with the paddle attachment and did roughly 5 lbs… It worked very well. Jonathon and Austin have posted several good videos that explain the texture you should be looking for. The video below has a description at about the 2:00 minute mark

  • Admin

    @fourgonefishn I personally would not do snack sticks on a dehydrator. That doesn’t mean it cannot be done, but I think you will end up with a much better product by using a smoker. If you don’t have a smoker, then I’d use an oven, and dehydrator would be my last choice. A dehydrator just doesn’t have a high enough temperature to completely cook meat snacks. You could start some of the lower temps of the cook cycle with a dehydrator, but finishing in a smoker or oven would be ideal.

  • Admin

    @Lost-River-Jones I would do as @Joe-Hell is saying, and use a kitchenaid or planetary mixer for a batch of 5 lb or less. I don’t know of an actual meat mixer than will adequately mix only 5 lb at a time. I have used planetary mixers before though, and they work well.
    The look of a properly mixed batch is hard to describe. The feel is easier. It should be extremely sticky, and at the point where it will stretch if you grab a handful and pull it apart. It will also stick so much to your hands/gloves that it is hard to get completely off after picking it up.

  • I’m Mr. Smallbatch. I mostly make things for me.
    So in reality, 5 pounds is a big batch for me.
    I am a pig, so I do gobble it up. But 5 lbs. is a big amount for an old guy who mostly eats it myself.
    So… I use the wife’s KitchenAid, make 1-5 pound batches, stuff with a 5 pound stuffer.
    So I only use the stand mixer as my grinder/mixer.
    I like Willie’s Snack Sticks Mix, but also like home mixed ingredients, and Hot Italian Sausage Mix for snack sticks.
    But the underlying theme for me is I do smaller batches. So I cannot justify to myself having the mass quantity type of equipment for my piddly needs.
    Being retired, I tend to have more time than money or volume needs. 😜

  • Walton's Employee

    @mcmillenbr The acid will denature the proteins as you are extracting them from the meat, it is actually pretty interesting to watch happen. I’m sorry it happened to you but it is a good lesson to learn early on! Remember to add the Encapsulated Citric Acid during the last 60 seconds of mixing and to keep it above 130° for at least 1 hour. That second part isnt usually a problem as it almost always takes over an hour to get from 130-160.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Lost-River-Jones Yes, that is exactly what happens, the meat isnt enough to let the paddles be effective. Like @Joe-Hell says we do have a few videos that should show you what protein extraction looks like. It can be done with hand in small batches, I do it fairly often when I am making test batches but it takes a while and I HATE how cold it makes my hands. A good tip I got from someone, and I wish I remembered who it was, was to put the String Knit Gloves under oversized nitrile gloves and that has made a huge difference for me. Just a tip!

  • Walton's Employee

    @pauliedmondsjr Im not sure if you saw our Live Stream on February 28th or not but we did have someone recommend using the kitchen aid mixer. Austin and I quickly discussed it and there is no reason it should not work. However, be careful as someone else sent in a chat saying they broke their wife’s kitchen aid doing this! Not sure how they did that but just something to be aware of!

  • @Jonathon
    Hi Jonathon!
    Yes, it is entirely possible to blow up a mixers gearbox. A friend of mine did that when he added ice to meat he was grinding.
    Destroyed the gearbox of his wife’s mixer. 😱
    I tend to err towards the other side, and I’m very careful to not over tax the KitchenToy mixer. I run it at the lowest to lower speeds.
    Still learning, (always learning) I’m not in a hurry, but so far the mixer has worked great for my micro brew batches. 😁
    And the wife has been cool about it. She actually suggested I look into a grinder attachment for it. I found a stainless steel aftermarket I liked and got that.
    I’m always mindful to avoid forcing it.
    A Friend of mine once told me, “A Poor Man has Poor ways. But they can work.”
    I did catch some of your live stream, but unfortunately, it was moving to slow for me to stick around. Hint, hint…

  • Power User

    @Jonathon My mixer fears no meat! I actually have the Kenmore stand mixer which is a higher wattage cousin of the kitchenaid (but less expensive!) that uses all of the same attachments. I just refer to it as a kitchenaid so people know what I’m talking about. The meat was no where near as stiff as a batch of bagel dough…which sometimes causes my bowl to dismount from the mixer as it kneads. lol.


  • Regular Contributors

    @Joe-Hell that works!! ! This pic has 10lbs in a 20lb mixer. I never tried going down to 5 but I think if I did I would use your method with my wife’s mixer!


  • Power User

    @deplorablenc1 The 20 lb mixer does great with a load of 10-12 lbs! My only regret with my 5 lb batch of snack sticks is that I only made 5 lbs. The product turned out so well that I can barely stop eating them.

  • Regular Contributors

    @Joe-Hell I am going to make a 25# batch next weekend as I got the notification my Waltons order shipped!!!
    I was going to post the fun from this weekend and recipe making pickled venison heart but for some reason the site doesnt give me the option to post anymore.

  • Power User

    @deplorablenc1 I noticed that I can’t start a new topic either. I’m sure Austin and Jonathon are working on it.

  • Admin

    @Joe-Hell @deplorablenc1
    Sorry guys… Something went wrong and I never noticed until now. Looks like the create topic permission was dropped somehow. Things are back, and you can create new topics in the Community section again!

  • Power User

    @Austin Thank you sir!

  • Regular Contributors

    @Austin thank you! I like this board! I wasn’t sure if I was getting kicked out like on Twitter…haha

  • Hey Austin,
    Sorry if this question has come up already and I missed it! I am very new to snack stick/sausage making so this may be a simple question. My question is can you use bacon grease/ pork fat drippings in venison recipes, specifically using it in sausages/snack sticks. My only concern would be the soft fat would liquify fast and make the texture of the sausage weird. Side note: if I can’t use it for sausages can I at least use the lard to bind burgers better? Or should I discard the tub of pork fat I’ve been collecting?

  • Walton's Employee

    @nbian1 At the end you say tub of pork fat, is that fat that has rendered and then solidified? I’ve never done that but there isn’t any huge reason why it wouldnt work, it is not as good as normal pork fat but it is better than nothing for sure! I dont see any issue with using it for either sausage or burgers. I’d probably use a binder in the sausage just to be safe though, but I use a binder any time I am making a cured product though.

  • @Jonathon Thanks for the response. To answer your question, yes. I have saved up a small Tupperware container full of rendered pork fat and bacon drippings, assuming i could use in recipes just as i would the normal pork fat that i would grind up. I will try doing 2 batches: 1 with ground fat and 1 with the rendered fat and see if any difference at all occurs. And i do use a binder, the sure gel binder i believe it is. Thanks again!

  • I can’t offer anything definitive about using rendered pork fat or Bacon drippings VS trimmed pork fat.
    But thinking about your tub, it contains cooked fat. Where the mixtures called for usually mean for raw pork fat for a mixture with meat, which gets cooked as a mixture.
    So if I was to want to substitute rendered grease for actual raw pork fat, I think you might get something less desirable in the end.

    But you could try some small batches, keep good notes on your trial runs about volumes of meat, fat, and rendered grease added, then process exactly the same. (ie: Smoke/cook as a batch to see what happens.)

    You are talking about venturing into new territory, so you would need to do the research and catalog your results.
    (Which like anything in cooking, is a general recipe. Then the success or failure has to do with a lot of other factors.)

    Me? I’m sticking with whole fats and shotgun estimates of fat content. People posting definitive volumes or weights tend to get a sharp stick from me. I’ve never bought a Pork Boston Butt that had exactly the same fat content as the others bought at the same time. Think about it… each one comes from a different animal. (Unless you actually raised the Porker.)
    So saying a piece of meat has 25% fat is subjective. It might actually be 22-28%

    Chewing on all that, I do love my eggs fried in bacon drippings. So I tend to keep a small mason jar of bacon grease on hand.

  • Power User

    @nbian1 In a somewhat related topic, if the rendered fat isn’t the ideal choice for your snack sticks it is an absolute game changer in regards to making tamales. The bacon fat makes for a smoother and creamier texture. Tamales would be excellent stuffed with any number of fresh sausage options. It can be a time consuming process but the reward is well worth it. They are excellent to freeze and reheat quickly in the microwave. We had tamale parties at work every year and then the employees had free meals and snacks for months. It was great! We used all sorts of wild game and everyone loved them.

  • @Joe-Hell
    Hey Joe, Does anybody know where I can get Tamale casings for my stuffer.
    And what the heck sized tube would I need???

    Got your leg… pullin it. 🙄

  • Power User

    @pauliedmondsjr lol…heck, just use a summer sausage casing and make the mother of all tamales! That actually might be a fantastic way to make polenta

  • 😎 👍

  • After you start smoking at 175F, how long does it take to get to 160F internal temp.?

  • 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.

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