Little Smokies from Scratch

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Recipe - Little Smokies from Scratch

From the Weston Kitchen

5-6 hours
Cook Time


Cocktail Franks

  • 1 lb venison or beef, cubed
  • 1/4 lb fat, cubed
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • small white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cure #1

(You can use 1 tablespoon of kosher salt if you don't have cure. the cure just helps with color and will bring the franks closer to those store-bought ones that your guests are likely accustomed to)


  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup beer (an Amber or Christmas Ale works well here)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


You know us — from scratch doesn't mean we threw some store-bought smokies in a slow cooker with some ketchup. We made the cocktail franks ourselves, smoked them, made a homemade sauce... and then we threw them in the slow cooker.

  1. Prepare Sauce
    Use a tomato press to puree your tomatoes. Use a chopper to dice the garlic and onion. Divide it in half - half will be used in the franks and half will go into the sauce. Combine all ingredients for the sauce (follow instructions on the package for the corn starch) in your slow cooker and set to low while you prepare the franks.
  2. Prepare Meat
    Use a meat grinder to grind together the venison and fat through a coarse plate. Regrind through a medium plate, then finally through a fine plate. Mix the grind with the remaining frank ingredients.
  3. Stuff Cocktail Franks
    Use a sausage stuffer or jerky gun to stuff the franks into casings. If you leave the casings loose enough, you may be able to tie one long link into several links. It's much more difficult to use this technique with smaller casings, so if you find that the casings are bursting, you may want to tie them off one at a time as you stuff.
  4. Smoke Cocktail Franks
    Fill your smoker water bowl, fill the wood chip box*, and smoke the franks at 170° F for 1 hour. Check their internal temperature - you're targeting 140° F. You'll likely need to smoke for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Combine
    Once smoked, cut apart your little smokies and add them to the slow cooker with the sauce. Continue to cook on low for at least an hour before serving.

*Wood chips (we used hickory), soaked in water for 30 minutes

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