Easy Homemade Beef or Chicken Italian Sausage

Spaghetti with meat sauce is one of my go-to meals in a hurry, made speedy by using prepared sauce in a jar. There are many good brands and varieties available. The thing is, I really like mine made with Italian Sausage instead of plain hamburger like many people use, but I don't eat pork, and it's difficult to find non-pork varieties at the store. 

Yes, there are some out there, as well as Boca Italian Sausage (expensive), but for one thing, I don't always know if they'll be available in a given store on a particular day, but for the other, my hubby only eats halal (kosher) meat, so I pretty much make most things like this myself when not available at the local halal meat markets and grocery stores. I just buy ground meat and season it myself at home.

I've found that what makes really good sausage is not the type of meat used as much as the amount of fat. You need a little bit of extra fat in the ground meat to get the same consistency and texture of traditional sausage, but if you're trying to eat healthier, you can use leaner meats. The flavors will still be there, thanks to the herbs, spices and resting time, but the texture will be a bit different.

Both ground beef and ground chicken have worked equally well for me, so I'm sure it would work with ground turkey, lamb, venison or other ground meats just as well. Some people have found success by blending different meats, but I haven't tried tkhat yet, though I sometimes think a blend of mostly chicken with just a little beef would give me the flavor and texture I'm looking for, as chicken on it's own seems a bit lacking in the flavor department.

I usually make this up just a pound at a time as I need it for recipes, but on occasion I've quadrupled the recipe, and then frozen it in 1 lb. packages. This is really helpful, but I'm not always that on track and working in advance! Plus, if I buy 4 lbs. of ground meat all at one time, I may plan for that to be made into four very differently flavored meals!

This recipe can be used in casings if you're daring, but I just use it as bulk meat to crumble and brown for adding to pasta recipes, or patty to fry and grill. You can also roll a portion of the meat into a sausage shape for grilling, and serving on a roll with peppers and onions for sausage sandwiches.

Most of the distinctive flavor in Italian Sausage comes from fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. If you're not familiar with fennel seeds, they are available in the spice section and look like this:

Easy Homemade Beef or Chicken Italian Sausage

1 lb. Ground Meat, Any Kind (Preferably not lean, but a little fatty)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Teaspoon (tsp.) Each:
~ Paprika
~ Garlic Powder
~ Fennel Seeds
1 Pinch Each:
~ Black Pepper
~ Red Pepper Flakes
~ Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper
~1 tsp. Sugar for Sweet Italian Sausage
~ Extra Red Pepper Flakes for Spicy Italian Sausage


  • Let ground meat come to about room temperature for better mixing and flavoring. Add all the herbs and spices to the meat and mix until well combined. 
  • Cover and chill for several hours or, even better, overnight before using. You can use the spiced meat right away if you're in a hurry, but to get a really good sausage flavor and texture, it's best to let it chill for quite a while to let the flavors blend.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4/14/2013

    Thank you so much for this!! I love Italian sausage but I'm trying to watch my fat intake and haven't been able to find a chicken/turkey sausage that even comes close to the same flavour. I will be trying this one this week for sure!!


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