Barbecue: Smoked Cheddar and Jalapeño Sausage Recipe

Each week Joshua Bousel of The Meatwave drops by with a recipe for you to grill over the weekend. Fire it up, Joshua!

My favorite sausages in the world are the incredibly juicy and spicy beef links smoked in Elgin, Texas. A few years ago I attempted to reproduce them, only to fail miserably. Traveling about two hours southwest to Houston, there's another sausage I love and thought would be a little easier to tackle: smoked pork with cheddar and jalapeño.

The flavors of this sausage run only as deep as its name, so I started by grinding pork, fat back, and chunks of sharp cheddar together. Then I threw in a bunch of chopped jalapeños, salt, pepper, and more grated cheese, and gave the mixture a whirl in the Kitchen Aid to emulsify the meat and fat a bit before stuffing it into hog casings. Smoked over applewood chips for about two hours, the pale sausage emerged from the smoker, transformed into beautiful orange links.

The flavors were pretty spot-on and cheddar oozed out, which balanced the spiciness of the peppers in a plump and juicy link. The only issue I had was after cooling down, the skins shriveled. This didn't stop anyone from enjoying the sausage, but one eater suggested giving the sausages a bath in ice water as soon as they come out of the smoker to prevent this in the future. I'll give it a try next time, but for now, these sausages were definitely good eats.

Recipe Facts

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 15 mins
Cool: 15 mins
Total: 3 hrs 10 mins
Serves: 32 to 36 servings

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  • 5 pounds pork shoulder, cubed and trimmed of tough gristle

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork fat back, cubed

  • 1 pound sharp cheddar, half cubed, half grated

  • 10 medium jalapeños, seeded and chopped fine

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Medium hog casings, soaked in lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes prior to use

  • Chunks of applewood or other smoking wood of your choice


  1. Using the fine die on your meat grinder, grind the pork shoulder, fat, and cheese cubes into a bowl set in ice water. Add in the grated cheese, jalapeños, and salt and pepper to taste. Using a stand mixer, mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Make a small patty from the mixture and cook in a skillet, placing the rest of the meat in refrigerator during this time. Taste the patty and adjust seasonings as needed. When the seasoning is right, stuff the meat into medium hog casings and twist into 6" links. Store sausages in the refrigerator until ready to smoke.

  3. Fire up your smoker to 225°F. When at temperature, add wood chunks and the sausages. Smoke until an instant read thermometer reads 155°F when inserted into the sausages, about 1 to 2 hours. Remove from the smoker, let cool for 15 minutes, and serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
274 Calories
24g Fat
1g Carbs
13g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 32 to 36
Amount per serving
Calories 274
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 327mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 108mg 8%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 170mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)