This Is What Breakfast Sausage Is Really Made Of

The contents of sausage can often be a mystery. With over 24 different types of sausage out there, you can find ingredients from the Cajun spices in Andouille to the color-giving blood in black pudding. Often the names of different sausage types are no help in identifying their ingredients — as is the case with breakfast sausage (also called fresh country sausage), which got its name because it's commonly eaten for breakfast. We'll have to dig a little deeper to figure out what goes into this tasty morning protein.

A few different types of meat can fall under the breakfast sausage umbrella, but pork is the most popular type. The seasonings used are simple but distinct. Typically, you'll see black pepper and sage at a minimum, which adds plenty of earthiness and a little spice. Additional herbs and spices like thyme, marjoram, cloves, and rosemary are often thrown in the mix, along with garlic, paprika, nutmeg, red pepper, and onion powder. You may also see recipes with a little brown sugar, which balances out all that spicy earthiness to give breakfast sausage a crave-worthy sweetness (and sets it up for a healthy dose of maple syrup).

A breakfast sausage for every tastebud

Breakfast sausage can come in link or patty form. If you're ordering it at a diner, you'll typically get the former, and if you're making it at home, you'll generally whip up the latter (unless you opt for making your own sausage links). To make patties, you'll need ground pork, which you'll mix with the spices and then form into rounds to sizzle on the stove. You can also buy breakfast sausage at the grocery store, although you may wind up with add-ins like corn syrup and citric acid if you do so.

If you're making it yourself, you can experiment with whatever substituting ingredients you like. While pork is common, there's no rule saying you have to use it. If you'd like something a little lighter, replace the pork with a protein like ground chicken or turkey. Or try out Cincinnati's famous, unique breakfast sausage blend called goetta. Created by German immigrants, it involves a mixture of pork and beef, along with oats, onions, and seasonings like garlic and ginger. And in today's world, you can find plenty of vegetarian and vegan breakfast sausage options featuring proteins made from soy or peas. But if you're unsure what's in the breakfast sausage lying before you, something with pork, sage, and black pepper is a great first guess.