What Makes Breakfast Sausage Different?


There is just something about breakfast sausages. They go good with every other breakfast item and especially with maple syrup. I shouldn’t have to tell you that though. If your like me you grew up eating breakfast sausage in its many forms.

I never wondered what makes the breakfast version different than other sausages. So when I become curious and started out to find this reason. I came across a bit of history and various cultural traditions around sausages.

Breakfast sausage is made with herbs and spices not typically used in other sausages. Historically it began with adding sage into the sausage. This was the first breakfast or country sausage. Today sage is still used to flavor most breakfast sausages, along with maple syrup or brown sugar.


There are different version of breakfast sausages. Not all of them call for maple syrup or brown sugar, or even sage.

Breakfast Sausage vs Regular

Breakfast sausage is not just called that because we serve them in the morning. Also known as “country” sausage in the United States, this unique version first became popular in the late 19th century.

If you want to learn more about the spices used for other sausage types. Read up on them in my post that goes into more detail.

7 Seed Varieties Used In Sausage Making

Called country sausage because this food carries the history of early farmers making sausage out of pig scraps. Farmers more than likely were the first to make and eat what we think of as breakfast sausage.

Today the iconic Jimmy Dean sausages uses rural countryside as its branding imagery.

It is not really known where or why sage starting be used. A idea is that it might have been because of its antimicrobial properties. This could have possibly prevented the sausage from spoiling.

Either way it is widely believed that sage was the herb that changed sausage history. Creating what is one of the most popular breakfast staple foods.

So we know that the spices and overall seasoning is what sets apart breakfast sausage from other types. Typically it is the strong flavors resulting from sage, maple seasoning, brown sugar or even ground nutmeg.

Sage is a herb in the mint family. It has a been used for a long time for culinary purposes. There is evidence of its use Around 14th and 15th century. Sage that is used for cooking can be called, culinary sage, kitchen sage, common sage and garden sage.

When you buy sage seasoning there are two common types used for cooking, both are forms of dried sage.

  • Rubbed Sage: Made instead by rubbing whole sage leaves together, creating more of a textured mixture not so fine.
  • Ground Sage: Made by taking entire sage leaves and grinding them into a powder.

Ground sage is more concentrated than rubbed. Rubbed sage is harder to mix in and does work better for making sausages. Either one can be used though.

You can also buy fresh sage leaves. This is not something you would want to use in making sausages.

Thyme leaves and red pepper flakes and are also commonly used to make homemade country sausage.

So here again are the most common ingredients in breakfast sausage.

  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • nutmeg
  • Brown Sugar
  • Bread crumbs
  • Black Pepper
  • White Pepper
  • Maple seasoning
  • crushed red pepper

Not every recipe uses all the ingredients together. Some don’t even call for sage. It is just that historically it has been sage that sets apart this sausage from others.

It is also how it is used with other foods, typically breakfast ones. Like biscuits and gravy made with ground pork, or breakfast sandwiches.

There are two popular types of breakfast sausage. Patty sausage and the link version. The sausage can also be grounded up and used to make other breakfast recipes, like breakfast burritos.

Pork is the most common type of meat used for country sausages. Beef, turkey and chicken can also be used. The same spices such as sage and maple seasoning is also what sets them apart.

These different meat can also be used for patties and also links. Chicken sausages are sometimes flavored using a type apple.

Breakfast link sausage can have casings. If you want to know more about different sausage casings, you can read my post specifically about them.

There really is not a regular sausage, there is only the differences between each variety.

Breakfast Sausage vs Italian Sausage

One main difference between say Italian sausage and breakfast sausage, is the use of fennel seed. Which is a important ingredient used in the Italian version. Most if not all morning sausages do not contain fennel.

Unlike Italian sausages they are not usually very strongly spiced. The flavor is very mild and not typically spicy at all. Italian sausages come in two flavors, spicy and mild.

Instead of using garlic breakfast sausages use sage. Garlic is more common in Italian sausages.

Italian sausages pair well with tomato sauce, or pasta dishes. Where breakfast sausages go better with, eggs, pancakes or waffles, biscuits, bacon or hash browns. Instead of sauce, maple syrup is used.

How To Make Breakfast Sausage

Making breakfast sausage is easier than it seems. Especially the patty version versus the links. Since no casing or sausage maker is required.

Here is a simple explanation for how to make them. This does not include any measurements. This is not a full recipe just a step by step rundown on how they can be made.

You are going to need the pork and the seasonings

Start by having ground pork in one bowl and mix the seasonings into another. Then once the seasoning mix is made, you are going to put the two together.

Shape the meat patties with your hands, heat a pan on the stove top. Once it is heated add in the sausages and cook them for about 10 minutes.

What You Need:

  • Ground pork
  • Seasoning

Ground Sage, thyme, red pepper (spicy sausages), black pepper, salt. Maple syrup or maple sugar or maple seasoning. These are the most common seasonings used. You can include all or pick which ones to use.

There are many recipes online for breakfast sausage. Deciding which one to make is the hard part.

American Breakfast Sausage vs European

American breakfast sausages and European can use sage. But sage is more commonly used in American sausage.

American version tends to be sweeter, the reason is European sausages use a wheat-based sausage filler. Instead of brown sugar or maple seasonings.

When World War I was going on there were food shortages, meat became more scarce.

The Brits would improvise, cereal and water was used as fillers and this lead to a special name given to their sausages.

British breakfast sausage are often called “Bangers” because when they cooked they often not just split, but would burst open. This was due to the extra fillers being used.

The name banger’s stuck and is still a common term for all breakfast sausages.

Rusk used by the British was like bread crumbs, only made from biscuits. This was one additive that was used to make their sausages.

Today the fillers are still used but the sausage quality is just as good. Some American sausages use these additives as well.

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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