Nduja is a spreadable Italian salami type sausage which comes from the southern region of Calabria. Its name most likely comes from the French word andouille, which is a type of sausage made with innards, tripe, lung, and liver, boiled with vegetables and spices. Nduja was locally made from meat trimmings that remained after winter time pig slaughter. The sausages were originally made in Spilinga, Vibo Valentia province, Calabria, “from pure meats and for the poor”; by poor meats was meant the cuts like lungs, heart, spleen and meat and fat trimmings that remained after making cured noble products like hams, butts, bacon or loins. Nduja remained not widely known for long time, however, what started as the sausage for the poor, has since 2016, become a popular spreadable salami sausage in Europe, UK and the USA. Nowadays. Nduja is made from quality pork meat, fat, salt and hot pepperoncino peppers. This spice added at 3% or more, gives a very intense red color and an unmistakable taste to the sausage.
Pork back fat, belly, jowls (cheeks)700 g1.55 lb
Pork meat: shoulder, ham (leg), loin300 g0.66 lb
Ingredients per 1000g (1 kg) of meat
Salt 3%30 g5 tsp
Cure #1 (optional)1.5 g1/4 tsp
Red peperoncino, hot, powdered, 5%50 g1.76 oz
Red peperoncino, sweet, powdered, 5%*50 g1.76 oz
  1. Meat and Ingredients. Meat (70%): shoulder and ham trimmings, loin, lean pork belly. Fat (30%): back fat, pork belly, jowls. The fat must not contain any connective tissue or leftover skin. Hot pepperoncino peppers are added at 3% or more.
  2. * In Italy, it is common to add 150 g (5.29 oz) per 1 kg/meat of fresh sweet pepperoncino, as these peppers are inexpensive and available everywhere. Powdered sweet pepperoncino may be added as well. In other countries they may be hard to obtain so it may be practical to add powdered sweet Hungarian paprika. If whole dried peperoncino peppers are used, they are briefly soaked in hot water, then drained and the green stalks are removed. This washes and softens them which facilitates mincing and produces a better-quality meat paste after all ingredients are mixed together. The minor disadvantage of adding fresh pepperoncino peppers is that they bring additional moisture to the mix, which has to be later eliminated by longer drying. The grinding of the meat is carried out simultaneously with the grinding of the whole dried chili pepper after rinsing them in hot water to wash and soften them. The grinding of meat with chili pepper facilitates shredding and contributes to a smoother meat paste.
  3. Grinding The meat and fat must be finely ground in order to produce easily spreadable sausage. Cut meat and fat into 12 mm (1/2”) strips or cubes, then grind through 3 mm – 5 mm (1/8-1/4”) plate.
  4. Mixing/kneading. In the past in artisanal production nitrates were not added, however, they are strongly recommended today, not as much as color development, but for protection against pathogenic bacteria and to delay the onset of fat rancidity. Ground meat, fat, salt, cure #1 and pepperoncino powder are mixed very well together. Kneading with clenched fists, squeezing paste between the fingers, it is more like kneading the dough. Of course, with a mechanical mixer the mixing can be accomplished within minutes.
  5. Stuffing. Normally the intestines of pork are used such as regular hog casings, pork bungs, or blind caps (caecum). The sausages are firmly stuffed and pricked around with a needle to allow movement of smoke and moisture. Nduja contains a lot of fat which may clog some of the casing’s pores and inhibit drying. Large diameter casings (blind caps) are reinforced alongside and across with cotton twine. The classic form of Nduja stuffed in blind caps (caecum) is known as “orba.”
  6. Conditioning. The sausages are hung for 4-6 hours at room temperature until the casings feel fry.
  7. Smoking/Drying. The sausages are smoked/dried at 20-25° C (68-77° F) for 5-7 days with smoke applied for 1 hour each day. Nduja was traditionally smoked with hard woods such as oak, beech or olive. Using soft resinous (like pine) or aromatic wood, would impregnate sausage with turpentine like aromas. Although application of smoke imparts some smoky its main benefit is prevention of mold which would normally start growing on the moist surface of the sausage.
  8. Maturing. After smoking, the sausages enter the proper drying - maturing stage, often called ripening which is done usually in a separate room at 15→12° C (59→53° F), 65-75% humidity and some ventilation. In Calabria, hilly and mountainous areas provided perfect conditions. The sausage stored in the small intestine is ready for consumption (always raw) in 20 days after stuffing, the one preserved in the caecum needs up to 2 months and is usually consumed within the year.
  9. Storing. Keep Nduja at 10-12° C (50°-55 F), 75% humidity.
Nduja is served raw by spreading it on a slice of bread or on a roll.
In time, the popularity of the Nduja expanded to other regions which developed their own variants:
  • Nduglia - produced in Belsito, Cosenza province, Calabria, also includes a certain amount of precooked pork skins, garlic and wild fennel seeds
  • Ndulia - produced in Taverna, Catanzaro province, Calabria, also contains precooked pork skins, guts and wild fennel seeds

There are some recipes where pepperoncino is added in greater percentage (10-15%), however, it must be noted that there is a sweet and hot peperoncino powder, so the attention to the fact must be made when ordering the spice. The amount of hot peperoncino in Nduja recipes starts at 3% and goes much higher, however, adding too much will deliver mouth pain instead of aroma.


Calabrian Peperoncino peppers come from Calabria in southern Italy, a region that is known for its hot peppers. These pepper flakes have a spicy, mildly fruity taste and aroma — not unlike habanero, but a little bit milder. In Italian cuisine peperoncini are used with moderation and the flavor is considered more important than the heat. Dry Calabrese Peperoncino flakes are easily obtainable on the Internet, otherwise, red pepper flakes can be used. Red pepper flakes usually include about 80% of Cayenne pepper which is rated at 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville units, so the amount added to the sausage should be accordingly decreased. As a consequence, the Scoville rating serves only as a rough guide to the heat, which is quite varied among the different cultivars.

Hotness of some common peppers:

Common Sweet Bell Pepper, 0 - 100 degrees SHU (Scoville Heat Units)
Plain Hungarian Paprika, 100 – 500 (SHU) Jalapeńo, 2,000 - 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
Peperoncino Calabrese, 15,000 – 30,000 (SHU). This hot pepper is used for making Nduja.
Cayenne, 30,000 – 50,000 (SHU)
Diavolicchio Calabrese, 150,000 (SHU)
Habanero – 300,000 (SHU)
Ghost Chili (Bhut Jolokia) – 1,000,000 (SHU)
Caroline Reaper – 2,000,000 (SHU)


Fennel(Foeniculum vulgare) is one of the most important spices used in Italian sausages. A fresh Italian sausage can be found in every American supermarket as it develops a wonderful flavor and aroma when grilled, all due to fennel seeds. The hotness of the sausage is controlled with cayenne pepper, but fennel gives Italian sausage its character.
Fennel has a wonderful aniseed or liquorice (licorice US) (Glycyrrhiza glabra) flavor that comes from anethole, an aromatic compound also present in anise (Pimpinella anisum) and star anise( Illicium verum), however, fennel exhibits a milder aroma.

Wild fennel. Many traditional Italian recipes ask for wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) which requires little care and is easily maintained and reproduced both in the garden and in the wild. Its stems can reach 2m (6 feet) and being a perennial crop, when the winter arrives, it is cut at the bulbous root and then its root will produce new shoots.
Cultivated fennel(Foeniculum vulgare) is an annual or biennial plant with a taproot. It reaches 60–80 cm (2-3 feet) in height. The large white heart-shaped sheath that develops at the base is consumed.


In artisanal production sea salt was often used as most of Italy is surrounded by Mediterranean Sea. In addition, there was an ample supply of rock salt due to the abundance of salt mines in Italy.

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