Homemade Bologna Recipe

Homemade bologna recipe from HousewifeHowTos.com

This Homemade Bologna Recipe really shows how radically food manufacturers have changed our taste expectations. That unctuous, mushy pink stuff we’ve all eaten between slices of flavorless white bread is nothing like bologna used to be.

Article continues below

How To Make Homemade Bologna

Homemade Bologna recipe ingredients from HousewifeHowTos.com
Sorry about the poor photo quality – my camera was stolen and I had to use my phone.

It starts off simply enough, using ingredients you can easily pick up at any grocery store: meat, garlic powder, onion powder, liquid smoke, salt and a bit of brown sugar if you want. As for equipment, you can get away with using a food processor.

While some of the recipes I found called for a frightening amount of Morton’s Tender Quick, a brand of curing salt that contains salt, sugar, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite and other curing agents. The first batch I made called for 3 tablespoons of the stuff, and the result was such a salty product that it was nearly inedible. Other recipes called for Accent seasoning which is essentially MSG.

I’d never consider using MSG in a homemade product, and I couldn’t understand why the recipe called for a curing salt at all when the meat, once shaped, is cooked in the oven and then refrigerated or frozen. So after tinkering with the recipe a bit more, I decided to skip the curing powders altogether. (If you want to keep your bologna in the fridge for weeks, go ahead and use 1 1/2 tablespoons of Tender Quick instead of sea salt.)

Homemade Bologna recipe step 1 from HousewifeHowTos.com

Now, here in the Midwest, knowing how to make a good homemade bologna is a matter of pride. Unlike the floppy pink slices from the store, a homemade bologna is more like salami or summer sausage. That’s not to say it’s spicy, although you can certainly make it that way if you like. More than anything, homemade bologna is meaty no matter how thinly you slice it.

That meatiness turned me off the first time I made homemade bologna. It was more like a burger in texture than the smooth stuff of my childhood. A little research revealed the problem: I didn’t know to emulsify the meat by adding ice water before shaping and cooking it. That step has made a world of difference in the final product’s texture.

Homemade Bologna recipe step 3 from HousewifeHowTos.com

Once you’ve combined the meat and ice water you must transfer the bowl to the freezer. This accomplishes two things: first, it allows the meat to firm back up before shaping; and, second, it’s important for food safety. Ten to twenty minutes should do it.

Homemade Bologna recipe step 4 from HousewifeHowTos.com

Take half of the meat out and shape it into a log, then wrap this tightly with plastic wrap. Use a twist-tie to keep the ends shut tightly so the log maintains its shape.

Homemade Bologna recipe step five from HousewifeHowTos.com

Proceed with the rest of the meat, then transfer the logs to the refrigerator for 24 hours. This step improves the flavor and lets the moisture in the meat move through the entire product. After that, cook it in the oven on a baking rack propped over a rimmed baking sheet so excess fat can drip out without making the outside of the bologna greasy.

The initial cooking time of 30 minutes at 300°F dries the exterior which helps the bologna maintain its shape once it’s finished. The rest of the cooking at 250°F for 2 1/2 hours cooks the bologna all the way through without browning the outside, giving you a nice uniformly-colored roll. Once cooked, let it cool completely before refrigerating or freezing for future use.

The result? A smooth yet meaty meat product with a hint of smoky garlic flavor that’s perfect on homemade hamburger buns, or with cheese and homemade crackers.

Homemade Bologna Recipe

Recipe: Homemade Beef Bologna
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A truly old-fashioned bologna, with a hint of smoky garlic flavor. Excellent on sandwiches, or served with cheese and crackers.
Recipe type: Misc.
Cuisine: American
Serves about: 16
  • 3 pounds chuck roast (or ground beef if you don't have a meat grinder)
  • 1 cup ice cold water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt OR 1½ tsp. Tender Quick
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon all-natural liquid smoke flavor
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  1. Grind meat in food processor with spices.
  2. Add ice water and process for 30 seconds.
  3. Chill meat in freezer 10-20 minutes before proceeding.
  4. Divide meat mixture in half.
  5. With damp hands, form each mixture into a log, compressing with hands as you work.
  6. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  9. Remove plastic wrap from meat.
  10. Cook meat on a baking rack propped over a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes at 300 F, turning halfway through.
  11. Reduce heat to 250 F and cook an additional 2½ hours.
  12. Refrigerate up to 3 days. May be frozen for longer storage.
  13. Note: for easiest slicing, chill the cooked bologna for 20 minutes and use a sharp, non-serrated knife.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you skip the Tender Quick and use sea salt, you need to eat or freeze this within three days just as you’d need to eat anything made of ground meat in that time frame.

Frankly, it never lasts that long in our house. The instant my husband finds out that I’ve made another batch of homemade bologna, he heads for the freezer and pulls out hamburger buns so he can start making his favorite sandwiches. With a little red onion, a little mustard and some fresh lettuce, he’s on top of the world!

Equipment I Use To Make This:


  1. says

    I never did like the store bought bologna that would always be in my lunch as a child. This seems like a time consuming recipe, but one I would like to try still. I’m so curious to know how real bologna tastes! Lol.

  2. says

    Wow, I have never heard of making homemade bologna before! I’ll bet it tastes just as wonderful as you said. My family would probably love it! Thanks for linking up to “Making Your Home Sing Monday” today!

    • Katie B. says

      It’s really surprising how different it tastes from the store bought stuff. Next time I make it, I think I’m going to make it more garlicky. My husband seems to really enjoy it like that.

  3. says

    My mother in law used to make summer sausage using this same process. It is sooo much better (and healthier) than store bought. This sounds really good and would be so easy to make starting with 3 lbs of meat! Thanks for sharing on Busy Monday!

    • Katie B. says

      You’re welcome! If your mother-in-law would be willing to share her summer sausage recipe, I have a husband who absolutely loves that stuff!

  4. says

    I have never heard of making your own bologna before. We like bologna here, so I am definitely going to try this. Thanks so much for linking up with “Try a New Recipe Tuesday.” I hope you will be able to join us again this week. :-)

    • Katie B. says

      Just remember, Lisa, it definitely comes out differently than the store-bought stuff. The more you emulsify it, the smoother the texture will be. Also, I really recommend freezing it for a bit before slicing to get thinner cuts. Enjoy!

  5. Tamara says

    Hi, quick question. You say the emulsification takes place when you add the water, but I don’t see any place in the recipe, or in the description of the grinding, where you describe adding the water? Is it added as you grind? In the final grind? After the final grind? Thanks in advance! I’m quite anxious to try this recipe, but want to make sure I do it right!

    • Katie Berry says

      I’m sorry about that, Tamara, and I’ll fix it as soon as I get a chance. In the meantime, the answer is that you grind the meat first, then combine it with the chilled water in a food processor. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  6. Dave Van De Cappelle says

    I would omit the liquid smoke and put the sausage in my smoker. I would also use the sea salt, but also the amount needed for the amount meat, of curing pink salt.

      • Dave Van De Cappelle says

        i use a standard mix of about 60 to 70% Apple, the rest is Hickory, for a good smoke flavour on everything. And waiting fro Spring????? I do mine all winter long, even with 4 feet of snow in the back yard! I keep my smoker in my shed, at the back of the property and keep the route to it shoveled out all winter. I BBQ and Smoke most every weekend, all year long. I am Palladini69 or Palladini971 on Youtube and Palladini on Zippcast

      • says

        Alas, no shed here. My mean little homeowner’s association ruins all my fun! So I’m relegated to using a Weber smoker on the deck and, well, I’m a wimp so I wait until it’s warm outside.

        Thanks for the suggestion on the wood mix. I happen to have some hog casings in the fridge and think I’ll give them a try!

        Will look for you on YouTube next. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: