Traditional Cumberland Sausage Ring

This page on the traditional Cumberland sausage ring will cover the recipe for making Cumberland sausage and also the classic way of presenting it... a practical way to cook a long large sausage.

Sausages are an absolute BBQ staple so trying a different way to cook and present a sausage is the order of the day.

Cumberland sausage ring

Before we go any further I'm going to declare myself a sausage snob. I make my own because commercial sausage makers these days are more concerned with profit than tradition. To put this into context this is the typical process that a sausage maker uses (remember water is profit):

1. Grind lean meat with fat (proportions vary)

2. Add a manufactured seasoning which contains:

  • Carmine – a pink colouring that gives the impression of a higher meat content
  • Maltodextrin – a binding agent that gives that rubbery texture to many sausages. (Coeliacs should take care because maltodextrin can be derived from wheat or barley)
  • Stabiliser (E451) – this helps emulsify fat and also aids water retention therefore making the sausage heavier and more profitable.
  • Flavour enhancer (E621) – Monosodium glutamate
  • Antioxidants E304i & E307 – added to extend the shelf life of the product
  • Preservative (E221)

3. And finally comes the rusk (commercial breadcrumb) which soaks up yet more water.

In other words:

  1. Get the cheapest cut of meat
  2. Add as much fat as possible
  3. Dilute with water until colourless and flavourless
  4. Add flavour enhancers to make it taste better
  5. Add colour to make it look like meat

A typical blend using a commercial sausage seasoning is as follows:-

  • 6 Kg pork trim (fatty off-cuts)
  • 1.2Kg fat
  • 1 Kg rusk
  • 2 Kg water
  • 1 x sachet of seasoning chemicals

All the sausage maker has to do is vary the seasoning, maybe use a alternative sized casing and a different variety of sausage has been made.

Call me a snob (it's OK I've already admitted it) but I don't want to eat that.

Moreover this doesn't reflect the tradition, eg.the English breakfast sausage contains rusk so fair enough but Cumberland sausage and many other varieties do not. Thus the only logical conclusion that I can come to is that rusk is added to keep costs down and profit up.

What Is Cumberland Sausage?

Cumberland sausage is one of the oldest and most popular sausages in England originating from the an old English county in the North West of the country whose most notable national park is the Lake District. Cumberland sadly lost it's identity in the 70's when the administrative regions of Cumberland and Westmorland were combined to form Cumbria.

The Cumberland sausage is classically made with roughly chopped meat and lots of pepper. It is stuffed in natural hog casing, is traditionally coiled (not linked), sold by length and because it's not linked you can cook it as a ring.

Ingredients For A Cumberland Sausage Ring:-

  • 1kg (2.2lbs) pork trim
  • 115g (¼lb) streaky bacon
  • 2½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 60ml (¼ cup) cold water


Grind the pork trim and bacon using a 6mm (¼ inch) plate and place it in a mixing bowl. Add the water and the seasonings and get your hands in and mix.

When everything is thoroughly mixed, run it through the grinder again and then place it in the stuffer cartridge.

Stuff into hog casings and coil to form your Cumberland sausage ring.

Preparation, Cooking & Presentation

The best way to present it and cook it is as a ring so you'll need a couple of pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Coil the sausage up and then truss it as you can see in the picture at the top, you'll need a 60cm (24inch) length of sausage to do this.

Note: I wouldn't normally be recommending that anyone puncture the skin of their sausages prior to cooking (see sausage grilling tips below) because this only lets the fat drip out and the inside of the sausage will dry out quickly.

Trussing the sausage makes it easy to flip and because it is a thick sausage with a large cross section the impact of the puncture is minimal, especially on the internal part of the coil.

Cook you Cumberland sausage ring indirectly at 160°C (320°F) for approximately 30 minutes.

To serve, place on a bed of mashed potatoes and pour over lashings of hot onion gravy.

Sausage Grilling Tips

Grilled merguez sausages

The Cumberland sausage ring is cooked indirectly but most sausages are grilled so to finish off here are my basic tips for grilling sausage:

  1. Keep the fat in the sausage and let it drip out naturally. Don’t prick them.
  2. Make sure that your sausages are fully wrapped in the skin. When you separate them always give the skin a twist to tighten the link before cutting with a sharp knife or scissors

Cooking Perfect Grilled Sausages

Sausages are best cooked slowly so if you’re on charcoal, keep a good distance away from the heat until the coals have fully settled and be patient. Savor the experience of hearing the occasional sizzle as the fat drips into the coals and smoke rises to give your sausage that all important BBQ taste.

The concept of the sausage is that the meat cooks slowly in the gently mobilized fat to give the ultimate flavor and the skin browns gently. Too often have I seen black torpedoes, raw in the middle – enjoy the experience of slow cooking barbecue sausages and you will be rewarded.

barbecue grilled English breakfast

If I’m in a hurry (like at breakfast) then the gas grill is the order of the day and in this situation I use the hot plate because the burners (even on low) dictate that you have to be very nimble at turning so as not to end up with a cremation. Because there’s a combination of flavors at breakfast you don’t have to go for an expensive sausage with added herbs and spices – try a simple pork sausage and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

See Also:-

What Are Wienies?
Gluten Free Sausages

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