In this recipe, I’ll show you how to make fresh Irish Bangers from scratch using the best local ingredients you can find. We’ll round it out with cast iron smashed potatoes for a new take on the Irish favorite.
Perfect for your Saint Patrick’s day menu, or any time you want a delicious meal.
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What are Irish Bangers
Bangers are a traditional Irish sausage heavy on fresh herbs and spices resulting in a fragrant and juicy end product. Whereas English bangers are bland and easily masked with sauces and side dishes, the Irish variants are great on their own or as the star protein of a dish.
The term banger became popularized in parts of the UK as far back as World War I. Due to meat shortages and rationing, people had to find unique ways to make their food go further by adding breads and cereals.
Due to the added moisture content within the meat grind, the sausages would hiss, pop and bang around the pot when cooked – aptly they started being referred to as bangers.
Our recipe goes light on the fillers and heavy on the fresh herbs for an aromatic result.
Making Irish sausages at home
A lot of people get intimidated about making their own sausage at home, and rightly so initially, but once you get a knack for it with the right equipment, you’ll be making your own sausages in no time.
We’ll put these sausages on the smoker for a short period of time to give them a subtle smokey flavor, then finish them in a pan like traditional Irish bangers. We’ll serve them alongside smashed red potatoes for a modern version of the conventional dish.
What you’ll need
- A meat grinder
- A sausage stuffer
- A smoker capable of both indirect and direct heat
- An instant-read thermometer (I’m using the ThermoPro TP15H)
- Smoking wood chunks, hickory or apple are good for this dish
- Lump charcoal
- A cast-iron or heavy bottom skillet
- A sharp knife and cutting board
- A kitchen scale for accurate measuring of herbs and spices
- Quality pork butt around five (5) pounds, preferably heritage pork
- Various herbs and spices, see full ingredients below
- Natural hog casings, such as Oversea Casings or LEM
For the potatoes
What kind of meat works best?
Irish sausage was traditionally made using meat trimmings so they would not go to waste, but like anything in the food world, your result will only taste as good as your ingredients.
I recommend using a heritage breed pork butt for these Irish bangers. Heritage pork is pasture-raised and often has more far more – and higher quality – fat, making the meat more flavorful and juicy.
Factory-farmed pigs are bred in less than desirable conditions and result in very lean meat in comparison.
Some heritage breeds I like best are Berkshire, Kurobuta, Red Wattle, and Duroc.
With the increase in quality comes an increase in price. If you don’t want to spend that much on heritage pork, I always recommend trying to find pasture-raised animals. This means the animal wasn’t confined to a small pen, but allowed to roam around as naturally as possible.
Prepare your ingredients and grinder
When grinding meat, it’s important to keep everything as cold as you can throughout the grinding process. If the meat heats up, the fat will start to tear and render off, possibly catching in the grinder parts.
With that in mind, put the meat grinder parts into the freezer.
Trim any noticeable sinew from the pork butt and cut it into 1” by 4” strips, or a length that will best flow into your grinder.
Place the meat on sheet trays and put them in the freezer for 40 – 60 minutes or until they’re partially frozen.
With the grinder and meat in the freezer, get your herbs and spices ready. It’s best to use a kitchen scale for weight accuracy here. I’ve found with sausages, accurate weight beats measurements of “teaspoon” or “tablespoon” due to the variances in the volume of spices.
Weigh out your herbs and spices and have them ready to go mise en place.
Grind the meat
With the meat parfrozen, pull it out of the freezer. Mix the meat and all other ingredients except the stock together into a large bowl. Mix it together with your hands until everything is equally distributed.
1. Complete your first grind
Assemble your grinder. Pull the parts of the grinder out of the freezer and assemble on a sturdy countertop. You will be grinding the meat through twice, but you’ll use the same grinder plate for both. No need to use a finer plate for the second grind.
Grind the mixture once through a medium die – a ⅜” die plate is my go to for this step. After the first grind, use your hands to emulsify the mixture and completely combine the ingredients.
2. Second grind
Run the emulsified mixture through the grinder a second time, making sure to work quickly so everything stays cold.
After the second grind is complete, add the stock to the mixture and once again use your hands to mix everything together thoroughly until the meat mix becomes sticky and fully combined.
You’ll know the mix is ready to be made into sausages when the meat sticks to your hand when it’s turned upside down.
Note: If the meat starts to get greasy and has difficulty grinding, it’s getting too warm and the fat is breaking down, so place the meat mixture back into the freezer. Let everything chill for 30-60 minutes and then resume grinding. This will prevent your end product from being crumbly.
Stuff the casings
With the sausage mix fully emulsified, it’s time to get your casings ready.
Assemble your stuffer or stuffing attachment and load your casings onto the end. It helps to get the horn of the sausage stuffer wet to remove friction for the casings so they can slide off easily as they fill.
Add the loose sausage mixture to the stuffer and pack it down to remove all air pockets. Poke a small hole in the end of the casing with a knife or a sausage pricker to let air escape and then slowly feed the mixture through the stuffer and into the casing, taking care not to overstuff or break the casing. If you see any pockets of air, just prick a small hole to let it out.
Once all the meat is stuffed into casings, cut and tie the end. You can keep the sausage in one big loop like this, or you can twist it into links at your desired length. I recommend three sausages to one pound – or five to six inches per link.
Dry the sausages
With your casings stuffed, you have sausages! Though you could cook them at this point, it’s best to let the casings dry out in the refrigerator. Drying the sausages will make them firmer to the touch and add ease for cooking. Less moisture builds up creating a crispier “pop” to the casing when you bite into it.
Dry the sausages on a sheet tray for at least two hours in the refrigerator and up to overnight.
Smoke your sausages
With your sausages dry, prep your smoker to 250°F using lump charcoal or any heat source of choice. Once you’re up to temperature, add one chunk of hickory and one chunk of apple to the coals.
Once your smoke is rolling and clean, place the sausages on the racks. Let smoke for 45 – 60 minutes.
You don’t want to fully cook your sausages one the smoker. This step is to impart subtle smoke flavor into the sausages. We’ll be finishing them in a heavy bottom frying pan.
Prep the potatoes
While the sausages are smoking, it’s time to prep the potatoes. You don’t need to be as accurate with your seasonings here as you would with the sausages, so we’re using tablespoons.
Preheat a separate grill or oven to 425°F. Combine the baby red potatoes with the rendered beef fat or oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Add the dry rub and use your hands to make sure the rub is evenly distributed throughout the potatoes.
Transfer the potatoes to a 12” cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed frying pan. Cover with a lid and cook until tender, about 45 – 60 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the grill or oven and transfer the cooked potatoes to a bowl or pan. Add the butter and cover until butter has started to melt. Use a potato masher to smash the potatoes and butter until they’re broken up, but not fully mashed. Cover until ready to serve.
Pan fry the sausages
By now your sausages have enough smoke flavor on them. Preheat a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of rendered fat or oil. Place the bangers into the pan and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Once browned, add ½ cup of water and steam the sausages until their internal temperature registers 165°F. Continue to add water as needed. Flip sausages every few minutes. You can cover the bangers to speed this step up.
In true Irish banger fashion, the sausages will hiss and pop, banging open some of the casings as they brown in the frying pan. This is completely fine and expected, and adds to the banger experience!
Eat and enjoy!
With then bangers fully cooked, plate the potatoes and a couple links on top. You can serve with gravy and added fresh herbs to taste as well as presentation.
The fluffy potatoes are a good foil to the fragrant, juicy bangers. Your friends will be singing your Oh Danny Boy to your praise with this St. Patrick’s Day menu staple!
Smoked Irish Bangers with Smashed Red Potatoes
For the sausages:
- Quality pork butt around 5 pounds, preferably heritage pork
- ⅓ oz fresh thyme
- ⅓ oz fresh rosemary
- ⅓ oz fresh basil
- ⅓ oz fresh oregano
- 8 cloves garlic
- ⅛ oz salt
- ¼ oz ground pepper
- natural hog casings
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup pork or chicken stock
- 6 oz breadcrumbs
For the potatoes:
- 3 lbs baby red potatoes
- ¼ cup high quality fat or oil
- 1 ½ tbsp dry rub
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Smoked Irish Bangers:
- Trim any obvious sinew from the pork butt. Cut pork butt into 1” x 4” strips.
- Parfreeze pork butt for 40 – 60 minutes.
- Mix the meat and all other ingredients except the stock together into a large bowl. Use your hands to mix together until everything is equally distributed.
- Grind the mixture once through a medium die then use your hands to emulsify the mixture and completely combine the ingredients.
- Run the mixture through the grinder a second time, making sure to work quickly so everything stays cold.
- Add the stock to the mixture and once again use your hands to mix everything together thoroughly until the meat mix becomes sticky and fully combined.
- Add the loose sausage mixture to the stuffer and pack it down to remove all air pockets.
- Stuff the casings: poke a small hole in the end of the casing with a knife or a sausage pricker to let air escape and then slowly feed the mixture through the stuffer and into the casing. Do not overstuff or casings will break.
- Poke small holes throughout the sausage to release any trapped air.
- Tie into links at 3 links per pound, or 5” – 6” link length.
- Place in refrigerator to dry for 2 hours up to overnight.
- When ready to cook, preheat smoker to 250°F, and place hickory and apple wood chunks on the coals.
- Smoke sausages for 45 – 60 minutes.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of rendered fat or oil.
- Place the bangers into the pan and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Once browned, add ½ cup of water and steam the sausages until their internal temperature registers 165°F. Continue to add water as needed. Flip sausages every few minutes.
- Serve bangers over smashed potatoes – Sláinte!
Smashed Red Potatoes:
- Preheat a separate grill or oven to 425°F.
- Combine potatoes with the rendered beef fat or oil in a bowl and toss to coat.
- Add dry rub and use your hands to make sure the rub is evenly distributed throughout the potatoes.
- Transfer potatoes to a 12” cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed frying pan. Cover with a lid and cook until tender, about 45 – 60 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the grill or oven and transfer the cooked potatoes to a bowl or pan.
- Add the butter and cover until butter has started to melt.
- Use a potato masher to smash the potatoes and butter until they’re broken up, but not fully mashed. Cover until ready to serve.