What are Breakfast Sausages?

Sausages go as far back as 3100 BC with the Sumerians. Although you may not have enjoyed the first sausages they made since the likely available meat then were horse, deer or vulture. Not exactly the breakfast sausages you’re used to. It wasn’t until 1000 BC when Turkish people improved upon the preserved meat with spices like sumac and cumin, and beef was the primary choice of ground meat.

But is there a difference between breakfast sausage and regular sausage?

Breakfast Sausage vs. Sausage Patties vs. Italian Sausage

sausage patties from mcdonalds
Photo from McDonald’s

Sausage refers generally to and encompasses nearly endless regional meats. It includes ground or mince-cooked meat with spices, and other varieties also have fat or granulated grains. This meat sells primarily in various varieties, from ground sausage to rope and links.

How many types of sausages exist? About 200 varieties are available across the globe, and breakfast sausage is one.

Breakfast sausages have usually been ground pork and seasoned heavily using a mix of herbs that include a combination of sage, thyme and salt. Some recipes also add maple syrup and bacon. This type of sausage is typically included in an American breakfast, which is what most farmers have to fill up on protein in the morning. This is why a breakfast sausage is also referred to as country sausage.

Farmers wanted to make the most of their animals, mainly pigs, and that meant grinding the trimmings and scraps. These were then seasoned with sage or black pepper and made for a tasty, nutritious breakfast.

What Kind of Breakfast Sausages are There?

  • Links – smoother mix of meats encased and cut widthwise
  • Patties – less homogenous than sausage links, it’s pressed into thin discs

There isn’t much difference between breakfast sausage and regular sausages. Breakfast sausages are mainly made of pork whereas other regular sausages may be made from ground chicken, beef, veal and sometimes even seafood. The seasonings will vary as well, with preservatives and fillers. This pork sausage is also made with fat.

Unlike a regular sausage, homemade breakfast sausage or store bought breakfast sausage is served only at breakfast.

Are Breakfast Sausages Healthy?

cooked breakfast sausages on plate
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels

You see pork, fat and preservatives in an ingredients list and you may think this breakfast item doesn’t seem healthy. It’s tasty, to be sure, but probably not as healthy as oatmeal, whole wheat toast and other healthy morning meals.

But this pork sausage doesn’t have to be heavy in fat and sodium. If you prefer not to eat pork in the morning, substitute the meat with chicken. Ground turkey is also a good idea since it’s lower in calories and saturated fat. You could get turkey sausage patties or links, either way, this delicious sausage will be a better option to a pork breakfast sausage.

What are Good Sausages for Breakfast?

italian sausages in deli
Photo by Benjamin Ashton on Unsplash

A breakfast sausage doesn’t just come in links or patties. Much like a regular sausage, this pork sausage may also be made as a:

Dry Sausage

It’s cured through an air-drying process under time-controlled temperature-humidity conditions. Because this sausage is mostly made in monasteries, it’s become known as the seminary sausage, and since you can store in warm weather even without a fridge, this dry sausage is also called a summer sausage.

Some examples of summer sausages are Spanish chorizo, salami and Lebanon bologna.

Pre-cooked Sausage

Made from pureed or smooth fillings that are usually partially cooked, pre-cooked sausages still need to be cooked before you enjoy them. Some examples are hot dogs, bratwursts, frankfurters and bologna.

Fresh Sausage

These sausages are made from made from ground, chopped or pureed uncooked meat. They’re not cure or smoked, and must be fully cooked. But you must prick the skin or casing before cooking to prevent the sausages from exploding. You can grill, pan fry or broil them; you could also crumble them up and mix them in sauces.

Smoked Sausage

A deli staple, smoked sausages are eaten as is or lightly cooked. They can also be mixed with sauces and other dishes to enhance them and bring out a smoky flavor. Some examples of this sausage are andouille (a pork-based sausage) and kielbasa (a U-shaped Polish sausage).

Homemade Breakfast Sausage vs. Branded Sausages?

If you’re something of a gourmand or a budding master chef type of home cook, you could create a homemade breakfast sausage recipe. You could experiment with a few different spices, from adding red pepper flakes to substituting maple syrup with honey or agave. if you have the tools to make pork sausages at home, it’s probably one of the best ways to guarantee you’ll have a healthy protein-rich breakfast with scrambled eggs and pancakes.

Alternatively, you could just pick up a few store bought sausage patties or links.

What are some of the most popular sausage brands?

1. Johnsonville Original Recipe Breakfast Sausage

Johnsonville is one of the most popular sausage brands, with several varieties. These include Brown Sugar & Honey Breakfast Sausage, Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage and Turkey Breakfast Sausage. But perhaps a good introduction to this sausage brand is through its Original Recipe, which has a hint of maple and sage with enough flavor to enhance the pork meat.

2. Bob Evans Pork Sausage Links Original

These pork sausage links from the restaurant chain have a mix of black pepper, sage, salt and a pinch of rosemary. If you love how Bob Evans flavors its dishes, then you’ll probably enjoy their sausage links for breakfast at home.

3. Jimmy Dean Heat n’ Serve, Original Cooked

Much like Johnsonville, Jimmy Dean is one of the hottest, most recognizable brands in sausages. It’s delicious and flavorful without the heavy additives. And it’s preferred for its juicy pork flavor.

4. Jones Dairy Farm Golden Brown All Natural Pork Sausage

If you prefer your breakfast sausage without the additives, Jones Dairy Farm delivers big on flavor without the unhealthy ingredients. It’s gluten-free and has no nitrites or nitrates, no MSG and no preservatives.

5. Smithfield Hometown Original Breakfast Sausage

When it comes to grilled sausages, Smithfield has one of the better varieties. Its smoky flavor is perfect for outdoor breakfast with hash and eggs.

Other popular sausage brands include Wegmans Breakfast with Sage Chicken Sausage, Banquet Sausage Links Cooked, Simply Nature Country Style Chicken Sausage, Applegate Naturals Classic Pork Breakfast Sausage and Morningstar Farms Sausage Links, Veggie Breakfast (a vegetarian option made from textured vegetable protein).

How to Cook Breakfast Sausage

Links, patties or crumbles, breakfast sausages may be easy to mess up. You could over cook or under cook them. Either way, a wrong cook could make your morning meal a terrible start for the day.

To start off, read the cooking instructions on your store bought sausage. Some brands may be OK to fry straight out of a package from a freezer. So you may not need to thaw them to room temperature.

But in general, you don’t want to:

  • Deep fry the sausages because it’ll toughen and dry up the meat and casings
  • Overcrowd them in a pan because you end up steaming the meat instead of browning them
  • Starting them on high heat because they could burn the outside and not cook the filling

The best way to cook sausages is on a pan with a bit of oil in medium heat. If there is a bit of pink, cook the links a bit more or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Alternatively, you could walk into any of the popular breakfast restaurants in America and order up a meal with sausages. After all, morning meals always taste better when you don’t have to spend time in the kitchen.

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