My research(basically wikipedia) shows that natural sausage casing is made from a layer from the intestines of animals such as sheep and cows. The alternative to natural casings are artificial casings. The most common edible kind is the collagen casing, typically made from animal hides. This isn't vegetarian either. The remaining kinds, cellulose and plastic, aren't edible and are usually removed to form skinless franks.

Are there alternatives in the market? Is it possible to produce a substitute casing at home using skins from vegetables or fruits(like the peeled off skin of an apple, given that it can be reshaped)?

I all do honesty, I'm not even sure what properties a proper sausage casing should exhibit. I don't know if they should be water proof or how they should react to heat.

I didn't take into account that different properties in the sausage casing are desired based on the cooking method. I prefer a sausage casing that I could par-cook/poach franks in. I was looking to adapting a recipe for beef franks to use lamb instead as well as attempting to create a vegetarian mix to see if I could make a reasonable facsimile to a real hotdog.

I don't want this question to be localized, so I'll leave my specific reasons for wanting a vegetarian casing aside, however it would be useful to those who have dietary certain restrictions (like only eating halal meats or if one in a vegetarian or vegan) to make sausages at home instead of purchasing them in stores.

  • 3
    what are you trying to do? If you're looking to stuff a meat sausage into something that's not from an animal, that seems rather pointless. As there's vegan gelatin, I would think that it'd be possible to make it, but why? You might want to explain what it is that you're trying to put in the casing.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 3:32
  • Well, I didn't want to limit myself to one recipe, but I was going to first adjust a recipe for franks to taste. There are a variety of recipes online, here and here, that I wanted to test out and see the outcome to. I'm not looking to smoke or cure (not yet at least), but parboil. The thought of eating the intestines though is somewhat unappealing to me, that's why I'm looking for an alternative.
    – Nil
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 4:55
  • many vegetarians have no trouble eating regular sausage casings... Or using gelatin... Mostly it's only the fanatical vegans that make trouble, the people who won't use leather belts or shoes either.
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 12:43
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    @jwenting Almost all vegetarians are going to have issues with sausage casings and gelatin. The people who don't mind eating sausage casings and gelatin would not be vegetarians.
    – SourDoh
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 21:19
  • 2
    Calling consequent vegetarians fanatical troublemakers is borderline insulting. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 2:44

5 Answers 5


If you're looking to parboil, likely your best bet is one that you've already dismissed -- inedible casings that you'd remove after cooking. You might even be able to get away with clingfilm, parchment paper or non-stick aluminium foil.

If you really want an edible casing, they do exist, just enter 'vegetarian sausage casing' into your preferred internet search engine, and you should find them. (I assume they're all reselling the same product, as the only option I've found is for 15/16", ~10lb strand)

As you also mention that part of your issue is not wanting to eat intestines, there are also collagen casings which are more readily available, but aren't vegetarian.


To deal with the issue of packing the sausage so you don't have air bubbles :

Place a line of meat down the center of what you're using, roll it up tightly, then seal the ends.

To get the meat lined up tightly: fold the back end of the sheet over the front, hold down the edges and use the edge of a sheet pan to press the meat tightly towards the back. If you're using something that might tear easily (eg, aluminum foil), you can work on top of another sheet of paper (waxed, butcher, freezer, etc.) and fold it over before pushing back, but don't roll it up to make the final sausage.

  • 1
    I didn't realize those vegetarian casings were edible, however they do come with the caveat "Cook for no longer than 3-4 minutes..." If smoking the sausage, I suppose this wouldn't be a problem, but if I were to simmer it for a period of 20 minutes like I planned, this would be a no go. Also, the collagen casings offer the same problems as the natural ones, they are made of animal hides and often the packaging fails to mention from which hides they are made from (not the case with sausagemaker's site which clearly indicates cattle hide).
    – Nil
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 17:18
  • 1
    The cling wrap/foil paper solution seems possible, it sounds as if removing them once the franks have been cooked for a while would be easier than with actual sausage casings. The reason I'd prefer the edible casing was to entirely avoid the removal process, but if it isn't that much of a hassle, then that might be the best bet. The problem is the heat tolerance with plastic wrap might not be high enough which aluminum foil might be hard to shape. But it seems that is my best bet.
    – Nil
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 17:21
  • Any idea what the "vegan" casings are made out of? sausagemaker.com/27801vegetablecollagencasings23mm.aspx
    – mdegges
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 17:35
  • @mdegges : no idea. I'd assume it's similar to vegan gelatin, which would explain the issues with having issues with boiling.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 22:30
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    The foil paper idea worked extremely well. I heavily modified a recipe from beef and pork to chicken and made several substitutes in ingredients as several shakers of spice mysteriously disappeared from the spice rack. The only thing I was completely satisfied with is the performance of the foil paper. I roll a sheet of aluminum foil into a cylinder, twisted on end, and spoon fed the mixture in through the other end. After parboiling, I unwrapped it and the sides of the frank were smooth and the whole meat was solid. Only problem was I did not pack it in tight enough and there were air pockets
    – Nil
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 2:01

If you are looking to smoke the sausage without a casing I would suggest forming your sausage into a leaf, grape or banana or into a corn husk. The banana or corn husk are not edible but the grape leaf would be good to go. I was going to suggest eggroll wraps or spring roll wrappers but I don't think that would be smoker friendly.

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    Thanks for the suggestions. These are answering my question directly and what I was originally looking for, however since Joe's method seems more useful to my immediate needs I'm selecting his answer for the time being. However, these are excellent suggestions.
    – Nil
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:46

Your local asian supermarket might have vegetarian intestine, which is probably made from alginate. But if it's frankfurters/hot dogs you're trying to make, you don't actually need the casings to be part of the sausage. You can just use plastic wrap and shape your sausages with a sushi mat.

  • Just don't cook with the plastic wrap unless it is microwave safe! Even so, you may not want it touching your food (especially oils and fats) while cooking. It is great stuff to use on cold dishes. But heating certain plastic wraps release chemicals linked to cancer and possibly other diseases. FDA has specifications around this. Also do your own research. Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 0:11

I stumbled across this while searching for substitutes for sausage casings and I had the idea that coffee filters could work. I have some turkey sausage mix chilling in the fridge and will try rolling it up in a coffee filter and twisting/tying the ends and steaming until firm. Then I can unroll when cooled and either grill or brown in a pan. This method could be used for smoking too, if the wrapped sausages were placed in a pan for smoking. Might even get bigger smoke flavor since the coffee filter is permeable.

  • Hello Jenspen, and welcome to Seasoned advice! We are not a discussion forum, and our threads are only reserved for answers to the existing questions. As you started with an idea which looked like a question, it got flagged for removal. I think that it is OK to propose solutions here for which you don't yet know if they will work, so I edited the post to sound that way. If you tried it, please edit your post to say if it worked.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 15:02

I know that removable cheesecloth is used by some for sausages, but that is as others have commented regarding purpose, fermenting, drying, smoking, semi-dry, or other aspects for the sausage. I personally have only ever used animal-based casings for making my Swedish grandparents' recipe for potatiskorv.

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