Making homemade breakfast sausage recipe is easier than you think. You just need ground pork and seasonings.
5 from 1 vote
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uncooked sausage patties on board.
Photo by: The Wilderness Collective

What is breakfast sausage?

Breakfast sausage is as much a staple to the American breakfast plate as bacon or ham.

It’s simply seasoned ground meat that is cooked up in patties or links or browned up in crumbles and mixed into sausage gravy.

The most common meat used for breakfast sausage is ground pork, but there are no rules, you could also mix in ground beef, poultry or game meat. You can buy ground meat at your local grocery store or grind your own.

After I trim my Competition Pork Butt, I'm left with a lot of excess pork trimmings. I usually freeze them in 2-inch cubes, until I'm ready to make sausage. I grind the partially-thawed cubes into ground pork and then mix in 2 tablespoons of the breakfast sausage seasoning blend for every pound of meat.

What makes breakfast sausage unique is the flavor, which is controlled by the herbs and seasonings that you mix into the sausage. I’ve shared the seasoning blend that I use most often, but it’s completely adaptable to what you like.

This recipe is really balanced. It only has a slight heat and a touch of maple. Try out the base recipe and then mix things up and create your own breakfast sausage blend.

Ingredients

bottles of herbs and spices and ground pork.
  • Ground Pork: You can buy pre-ground pork at the grocery store or grind your own. For more flavorful and juicier sausage, look for pork that is 80% lean to 20% fat, or use pork shoulder for your at-home grind.
  • Salt, Pepper, Sugar: This trio is important for the base. Use kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, fine white pepper and maple sugar. If you can’t find maple sugar, you can also use coconut sugar, raw sugar or brown sugar.
  • Herbs: My favorite herbs for breakfast sausage include thyme, rosemary, sage and fennel seed. I always use dried herbs, because it’s easier and they melt into the meat better.
  • The Kickers: These are the ingredients that will make your sausage stand out. White vinegar powder gives the sausage a little acidic jolt. MSG adds umami and cayenne provides a little heat.

Substitutions: Once you master the base recipe, you can make all sorts of adjustments. If you like spicy breakfast sausage, add more cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes. If you prefer maple breakfast sausage, mix in more maple sugar.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to make homemade breakfast sausage

This sausage seasoning makes enough for 2 pounds of sausage. You can double or triple the seasoning recipe and save the blend in your pantry for up to a year. Or, you can make a large batch of sausage and freeze the sausage logs.

  1. STEP ONE: In a small bowl, combine all of the seasonings until well blended.
  1. STEP TWO: Place one pound of ground pork in a large bowl. Sprinkle in two tablespoons of breakfast sausage seasoning. Mix throughly. I find I get a better blend, if I use my hands.
bowl of ground pork mixed with seasonings.
  1. STEP THREE: Place a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the counter. Shape the sausage mixture into a log and place it on the plastic wrap. Roll the plastic around the log and twist the ends.

Sausage Gravy

If you want to make sausage gravy, there is no need to wrap the sausage. Just cook 1 pound of sausage in a large skillet, until it’s cooked through. Break it up with a wooden spatula as it cooks.

After it’s browned, add 2 tablespoons butter and let that melt. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then, pour in 3 1/2 cups of cold milk, 1 teaspoon of breakfast sausage seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon of Girl Carnivore Ooomami Blend. Stir until it thickens. Serve on top of my Tender Buttery Flaky Homemade Biscuits.

How to cook breakfast sausage

You can cook breakfast sausage on a griddle like a Blackstone or Ninja, in a large skillet on the stove or in an air fryer. My favorite method is in a cast iron skillet on the stove, because I like how the patties brown in cast iron.

  1. STEP ONE: Remove the sausage from the plastic wrap. Slice it into eight 1/4-inch thick patties.
two hands pulling on ends of plastic wrap-wrapped sausage.
using knife to slice sausage log into patties.

PRO TIP: If your sausage log is partially frozen it will be easier to slice, because it will hold it’s shape. My favorite knife for slicing sausage is the Cutco cheese knife. The open blade keeps the meat from sticking.

  1. STEP TWO: Place a large cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add the patties to the pan in a single layer and cook for 5-7 minutes per side, until browned on the outsides and no longer pink on the inside.
sausage patties in pan.
Photo by: The Wilderness Collective

To cook sausage in an air fryer, set the air fryer to 400F degrees. Place the patties on the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 3-5 minutes.

To cook homemade sausage patties on a griddle, heat the griddle to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping occasionally for even browning.

cooked sausage patties on a wood plate.
Photo by: The Wilderness Collective

How to serve keyword

Remove the breakfast patties from your pan, air fryer or griddle and place them on a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet to absorb any excess grease. If you’re not going to serve them right away, you can keep them warm in an oven set to low.

Serve with eggs, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, hash browns, fresh fruit or whatever you enjoy for breakfast.

Photo by: The Wilderness Collective

Cooked sausage is also great on breakfast sandwiches or broken up and mixed in with eggs to make breakfast burritos or omelets.

Breakfast sausage links use the same recipe and meat blend from above, but it involves a little extra work.

If you want to make sausage links, you’ll need a sausage stuffer and sausage casings.

Personally, I use the LEM Products 1605 5-pound vertical sausage stuffer. Unlike my Smoked Beef Sausage, which is a thicker sausage, you’ll want to use the smallest stuffing tube for breakfast sausage.

You’ll also want to use smaller casings. Sheep casing is usually the perfect diameter. If you prefer not to use animal casings, which are made from intestines, you can use edible collagen casings.

  • Soak the casings in water.
  • Attach the small tube to the stuffer.
  • Slide on a wet casing.
  • Fill the stuffer with your breakfast sausage blend.
  • Slowly crank the handle to push the meat into the casing; when it reaches the end of the tube, tie the casing in a knot.
  • Keep cranking, working the meat into the casing.
  • Once you reach the end of a casing, tie off the end. Then, twist the sausage rope into links.

How to smoke breakfast sausage

There are two options when smoking breakfast sausage. You can smoke it all the way to 160F degrees, so that it’s fully cooked. Or you can cold smoke it, so that it has just a hint of smoky flavor, but finishes cooking in a skillet or air fryer.

For smoking, you could just shape the sausage into logs without casing, but I prefer placing the blended meat into fibrous casings. The casings aren’t edible, but they help the meat hold its shape and they are permeable, so the smoke can penetrate into the sausage.

Soak the casing in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. Then, use your hands to stuff the sausage inside.

If you want to fully cook the sausages, place the stuffed sausages on a smoker set at 225F degrees with indirect heat. Smoke them until they reach 160F degrees, which will take about an hour.

Cold smoking is a little more challenging, depending on your grill. If you have a pellet grill or Ninja Woodfire Grill, you can set the temperature to 150F degrees. Then, add the sausages and smoke them for around 2 hours.

If you want to smoke them at an even lower temperature for more than 2 hours, you will need to add 1/2 teaspoon of pink curing salt #1 to the spice blend in the recipe card below. This is important because the meat will be out of the USDA safe zone, which can cause botulism.

My cousin Baron and several of his family and friends, smoke hundreds of pounds of breakfast sausage in Kentucky. They use the cold smoke method. They light a charcoal fire and let it burn down to a bed of coals. Then, they put the grill in the smokehouse and cover the coals with pre-soaked hickory wood and let it smoke overnight. He said it's important to soak the hickory wood so it doesn't catch fire and increase the heat. 

With either smoking method, the fibrous casings are not edible. You can store the smoked sausage in the casing in the refrigerator or freezer, but you will need to remove it before eating the sausage.

Storage

If you make sausage in a one-pound batch, you can store the blended meat in the refrigerator wrapped tightly for 3-5 days.

I like making several pounds at a time, so I leave one pound in the fridge and freeze the additional pounds for up to six months. I roll the logs in plastic wrap and store them in a resealable plastic bag.

Once you cook the sausage, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze cooked sausage for up to 6 months.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Mix your seasoning blend in advance, so you can make sausage quickly any time you want
  • For the best flavor, use ground pork that is 80% lean and 20% fat
  • Roll the sausage mixture into logs and freeze, so you always have some on hand
  • Once you master this easy recipe, experiment with your own seasonings

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when the sausage is cooked through?

If you’re cooking sausage patties, it will take about 10-15 minutes for them to cook in a skillet over medium heat. You’ll know they’re done when the outside is brown and the inside is no longer pink. You can also measure the internal temperature of the meat with a digital meat thermometer. The goal temperature is 160F degrees.

What seasoning do you put in ground pork to make sausage?

Ground pork is commonly used to make breakfast sausage and Italian sausage. Breakfast sausage seasoning usually has salt, pepper and herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage and fennel. Italian sausage usually includes coriander, paprika, garlic and Italian herbs.

Are there nitrates or nitrites in breakfast sausage?

This recipe does not include nitrates or nitrites. However, if you want to cold smoke breakfast sausage at temperatures below 140F degrees for longer than 2 hours, you will need to add a preservative like pink curing salt #1 to prevent bacteria growth.

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uncooked sausage patties on board.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

Making homemade breakfast sausage recipe is easier than you think. You just need ground pork and seasonings.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 16 patties

Ingredients
 

  • 2 lbs ground pork

Breakfast Sausage Seasoning

  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp maple sugar
  • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp ground rosemary
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp white vinegar powder
  • 1 tsp MSG
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Instructions
 

  • Mix: In a small bowl, combine all of the spices together, until blended.
  • Add Meat: In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of spice blend for every 1 pound of meat. Mix well.
  • To Store: Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Add 1 pound of sausage on the plastic and roll it into a log, twisting both ends. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
  • Cook: Remove the plastic from the sausage and slice it into 8 patties. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping a few times, until they are brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.

Notes

This recipe makes 4 tablespoons of seasoning, which is enough for 2 pounds of sausage.
If you slice your sausage into thinner patties, they will only take about 10 minutes to cook. Thicker patties will take a bit longer. 
Read the article above to learn how to smoke or cold smoke the sausages.

Nutrition

Calories: 154kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 10gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 613mgPotassium: 173mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 32IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg

This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator

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