Lukanka: general guidelines

Забележка: това блогиране е в отговор на въпрос в коментар, затова и е на английски. Предварително да уточня, че това не е точна и конкретна рецепта за луканка, а общи насоки в правенето на сушени колбаси от този тип. Ако ще коментирате, давайте на ингилизки, да не се налага да превеждам! Мерси.

Mary-Anne, this is a reply to the question you posted as a comment to another post.

There are plenty of different ways to make lukanka (and all the similar sausages, like nadenitsa, sudzhuk, babek, dyado, sushenitsa etc). I’m going to give you some general guidelines and leave the rest to you. Experiment a lot with small batches, until you find a mix that suits your taste. When making this recipe I always wonder when was sausage invented and who did it?

You need three basic ingredients:

  1. Ground (minced) meat
  2. Spices
  3. Casing – something to fill with the meat

Minced meat

It is usually made of 60% pork and 40% beef (veal, preferably). You can choose the meat pieces yourself or rely on the butcher. The main property you should note is the amount of fat in the meat. Usually you’d have a very clear of fat veal and pork with some fat in it. Or, if you get a clear pork, you’ll have to add some fat to the mix.

The other thing is how finely the meat will be minced. Most machines have some kind of setting, which determines the size of the pieces in the ground meat after the mincing. The finer the meat – the more the sausage looks “factory-made”. Home-made sausages are usually made of larger pieced meat – some people even cut the meat by hand into tiny pieces, instead of mincing it with a machine. When you snap (break in two) a sausage, the finer one will show almost even inner surface, while the other should have coarser structure and look more “organic”. But that’s entirely to your preference. Minced meat suitable for meat balls should be a nice start.

How much meat do you need? Well, usually, an average sausage should use up to 300 grams of minced meat. During the drying process, it will loose some of that weight. A nice amount for starters is 1 kg of minced meat, which will allow you to make, say, four differently spiced sausages.


The spices may vary a lot in different recipes. Some families in the country have their own “secret” recipes and proportions. The most popular spices are: salt, cumin, black pepper (ground or as whole seeds), red pepper (hot (made of chillies) or sweet (made of paprika)), savory, garlic, nutmeg, coriander. Here’s a sample proportion:

  1. 1 kg minced meat
  2. 20 gr salt
  3. 5 gr sugar
  4. 3-5 gr ground black pepper or 20-30 whole seeds, crushed, not ground
  5. 3-5 gr cumin
  6. 3-5 gr savory

The sugar is used for preservation of the meat. You can also use potassium nitrate, but that’s up to you, as some people wouldn’t want any nitrates in their food. It’s still widely used as an additive (E252) in Bulgaria, though.

I suggest to try different combination spices in each of your first sausages, until you find a proportion you like. Write that down and name it, say “Hot and spicy”, “Salty sausage”, etc.

One thing to note: some people like to add the spices in the process of mincing the meat, while others add them after that and stir the meat to get an even distribution. I prefer the former method, but you have to have a pretty good idea of the proportions, as if you add too much salt or any other spice, it’s impossible to “fix” that later. So you may want to have your meat minced and then gradually add spices, until you hit a taste of your liking.


Originally, we use natural casings – animal intestines, usually from a pig. They have suitable properties – they stretch quite a bit without tearing, they are porous, which helps the drying process, and they add to the overall taste of the product. Also, they are edible, so if you want to toss the sausage on the BBQ, you don’t need to peel it. I imagine that would be harder to get in the States, so you might as well use a synthetic casings. It’s less likely you’ll get the same taste and it’ll probably need a bit more experimentation to get it right, however.

Once you fill the casing, tie tightly both ends and let it hang in a cool, dry place. You also have to punch a few holes in the casing with a small needle, so the sausage can “breathe” in order to prevent molding of the meat.

Every day or two you have to roll it with a rolling pin, so it gets a flat shape. Another way to do it is to press the sausage between two flat objects with weight on top. For example. use two cutting boards and put something heavy on top. Keep the sausage pressed during the night and hung in the daytime.

Usually it should be dry enough to eat after 30 days. You could also eat it sooner, but fried or grilled or BBQed. I’m not going to discuss smoking the sausage, as well as alternative means of drying; this should get you started.

Well, that’s about it. I hope you find this post useful!

7 thoughts on “Lukanka: general guidelines”

  1. tazi rezepta mi pomogna mnogo. Az imam rezepta za lukanka obache tia ima celitra v neia. Az neznam tochno kakva podpravka
    e tova. Vie znaeteli?

    Imashli rezepta za kurvaviza – Bulgarska.

  2. Селитрата се използва като катализатор на процесите и същевременно за спиране на загниването, един вид да стане луканката суха без да мухляса. А селитрата е азотна сол (нитрат) и един неин вид се ползва широко в земеделието – амониевата селитра.

    Иначе кървавица не съм правил никога и не мога да ви помогна с рецепта!

  3. Please correct the amount of salt.

    The general rule is 22g/kg. Anything above it will ruin the sausage.
    Another note – the sugar in quantities about 3g/kg has a pretty good conserving power. I would never use nitrates in my home made sausages.

    Also, this is something, which might be personal, but I tend to make 16-17 kilograms of sausage at once. I don’t have patience to clean the equipment too often. In that case, the amount is too large and it will dry too much if I keep it outside. So, I put it in freezer plastic bags (1 gal), I am pushing all the air out (as much as I can) and then I store the sausage in the freezer. The quality is not affected, and I have good reserves for about 2 months.

    I don’t see a problem that the site is in English. Many people around the world are excited about everything „Bulgarian“, but of course language remains a hurdle. Good idea the site is inclusive of these people as well.

  4. Thanks for your comment!

    An alternative method for storage is letting the whole batch dry and then store the dried sausages in ziplock bags or sealing boxes in a freezer. That’s what I do with our pastarma (pastrami).

  5. I´m searching for a real bulgarian lukanka. Thanks a lot!! I´ll try to make some sausages tomorrow…. i hope it works!!

    Best regards from germany.

  6. Thank you, I am a beginner and love home made lukanka, which is too pricy in Toronto and not best in taste …

  7. The bulgarian word Selitra is Saltpeter in English. This is potassium nitrate and is the only way to prevent botulism which is potentially lethal if the meat is diseased. Of course you can use nitric salt as well. Salt and sugar can kill everything but Clostridium botulinum. It is the bacteria that produces the botulinum toxin which is heat resistant and will kill you. I personally use saltpeter in small dose like 0,5grams per kilo.

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