Nitrite-free and low-nitrite meat-curing systems were developed to eliminate or reduce nitrite in frankfurter-type sausages. Different composite meat-curing mixtures were formulated using cochineal and paprika as natural colorants, sodium hypophosphite (SHP) as antimicrobial agent, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as antioxidant and sodium nitrite. The treatment, which contained 0.015% cochineal, most closely resembled the 120 ppm NaNO2 in its ability to create cured-meat color. BHA was found to be a strong antioxidant at the 30 ppm level in cooked sausages during refrigerated storage for 5 weeks. All treatments containing 40 ppm sodium nitrite were successful in replicating sensory attributes of frankfurter samples. Our findings support the use of SHP as possible antibotulinal agent in nitrite-free meat-curing systems.