We love a good pork sausage, but there are times when you have to seek other options. Whether you have severe dietary restrictions or you’re just trying to find a healthier alternative, we’re here to provide you with the ins and outs of non pork sausage.
Non Pork Sausage
Alternatives to pork sausage include ground meat products made from chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb. Sausages don’t even have to be made from ground meat—it’s possible to create a plant-based alternative using ingredients like beans, eggplant, mushrooms, and soy. Homemade sausage is nearly always a better choice than store-bought brands.
About Pork Sausage
The majority of the sausage you’ll find in the supermarket is made from ground pork. The product is made by grinding fresh pork along with plenty of fat—usually a blend of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat, or a 75/25 blend for an especially juicy sausage.
Commercially prepared sausage is usually packed with fillers and preservatives in addition to the spices that give it its flavor. That’s why we prefer to make our own whenever we have the time and the proper ingredients.
You can stuff your homemade sausage into casings to help it keep a uniform shape. This is especially useful when you intend to cook the sausages on the grill. Natural casings are preferable, but artificial casings will give the sausages a more impressive appearance.
Fresh sausages, including the homemade variety, need to be fully cooked before you can enjoy them. All ground meat products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees in order to destroy any potentially dangerous bacteria.
Can You Substitute Non Pork Sausage In Recipes?
Absolutely. Most of the time, you can substitute a type of non pork sausage for pork sausage without even noticing the difference. Even if you can discern a slight shift in the flavor and texture of the meat, it shouldn’t have a negative effect on the dish.
While lean pork is considered a healthy alternative to beef, pork sausage is another story. The ground meat requires a hearty dose of fat in order to be palatable. When sausage is too lean, it has a dry, crumbly texture.
The sodium content in pork sausage is another worrisome factor. You can offset this issue somewhat by making your own sausage at home, but you’ll still need to add a decent amount of salt, lest you wind up with a bland product.
Alternatives to Pork Sausage
Chicken or turkey sausage is likely the most popular alternative to pork sausage, owing to its mild flavor and reduced fat content. Because lean poultry has very little flavor on its own, it serves as the perfect template for various seasoning blends.
Poultry sausage is typically lower in fat and sodium than pork sausage. This is true even of most commercially prepared brands. You can tailor the recipes to your preference when you make sausage at home.
Since poultry contains less fat than pork as a rule, you will need to boost the fat content a bit when making it from scratch. The end result will still be leaner, but if you don’t add some fat to compensate, the sausage will have the consistency of sawdust.
Let’s say you’re looking for an alternative to pork sausage, but poultry isn’t your thing. Can you use beef sausage as a replacement?
We would argue that it depends on the recipe. Beef sausage has a stronger and richer flavor than pork sausage. It might overpower the other ingredients when used in pasta or risotto dishes.
On the other hand, beef sausages are delicious when prepared over a hot fire and served alongside grilled peppers and onions. There are a number of other ways you can incorporate beef sausage into your menu rotation—even at breakfast time.
This type of sausage is an excellent option if you can’t eat pork for religious reasons, or just don’t care for the taste. However, in addition to its bolder flavor, beef sausage has a couple of other drawbacks.
For one thing, red meat contains higher levels of fat and cholesterol than pork. If you’re looking for a more heart-healthy choice, then beef sausage isn’t the way to go.
Also, commercially prepared beef sausage may contain low-quality beef and a great deal of unhealthy filler ingredients. Again, the best way to circumvent this problem is to make your own sausage using a meat grinder or food processor.
Lamb has an intense earthy flavor that lends itself well to strong spices. Merguez, a North African sausage seasoned with a spice blend known as harissa, is a prime example.
The bad news is that lamb is another red meat, which means it won’t do you any favors if your goal is to cut down on fat. Although most of the fats in grass-fed lamb are of the healthy omega-3 variety, the bolder flavor might be too much for some palates.
Even those of you who adhere to plant-based diets don’t have to forgo sausage. Thanks to the proliferation of inventive products, it’s possible to mimic the taste and texture of sausage using vegetarian or vegan ingredients.
There are a few decent options on the market, but as with all sausage types, you’ll yield far better results if you take matters into your own hands. Popular veggie sausage ingredients include beans, mushrooms, eggplant, flour, and soy.
When making homemade vegetarian sausage, you need to take care with the seasonings. You’re trying to replicate that hit of umami that you get from traditional sausage, while still keeping the fat and sodium content as low as possible.
The best veggie sausage will be fairly tender, with a slight chew to it. Remember that to keep the product fully vegetarian, you’ll need to invest in plant-based casings if you plan to use them to make link sausage.
A Word About Nitrates
Food manufacturers use nitrates to preserve processed meats, including sausage and bacon. While nitrates are a compound that occur naturally in plants and even in the human body, the type that are used for food preservation can be harmful when consumed in large doses.
These nitrates make the sausages look and taste more appealing. They also work wonders at preventing bacterial growth. However, when they’re exposed to heat—or even upon coming into contact with saliva—they convert into compounds that can increase cancer risk.
Whenever possible, look for nitrate- and nitrite-free sausage. Fortunately, thanks to improved farming and sustainability practices, these products are more readily available than they would have been in the past.
Is There Any Such Thing as Healthy Sausage?
Sausage will never be considered a healthy food, even if it’s the plant-based variety. The sodium content alone would be enough to make heart-conscious consumers pause before digging in.
That doesn’t mean that sausage can’t be part of a healthy diet. The key is to enjoy it in moderation. This is especially true of commercially prepared sausage, and particularly ones made from pork, beef, and lamb.
If making your own sausage isn’t an option, inspect the packaging carefully when selecting store-bought products. Look for chicken or turkey sausage made with no nitrates and as few preservatives as possible.
It’s also helpful if the meat came from pasture-raised animals that were raised without the aid of hormones and antibiotics. Essentially, the fewer ingredients that are listed on the package, the healthier the sausage will be.
While pork sausage is more common than other varieties, there’s no need to limit yourself to this type. Non pork sausage allows you to experiment with different flavors and textures. Depending on the product, it might even be more beneficial to your health.