Homemade Breakfast Sausage Is Totally Worth the Effort

I have had a KitchenAid faucet for roughly 13 years – long enough for the novelty to get worn out at a distance. Over the years, our relationship has stagnated. Tired. Even without love. I took my mixer for granted … but this whole quarantine revived the romance. I still bake a little (and never will !). Instead, I used my KitchenAid to chop up batches of breakfast sausage and it made my morning a lot more enjoyable.

It all started with a sale at Sur La Table, a spectacle I wouldn’t normally participate in, but social isolation can lead to dark corners of the internet. (I think we can all agree that there is something sinister in all high-end appliance stores.) Either way, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had a KitchenAid grinder attachment in my cart (and mug modeled after cabbage). I bought it and that night I dreamed of a sausage.

Since then, I’ve devoted much of my free time to perfecting my breakfast sausage recipe. I didn’t originally plan to write about it – that was the hell for me – but I’m too proud of it to keep it a secret. It turns out that if you have a meat grinder, breakfast sausage is incredibly easy to make and tastes awesome as hell. A little labor wasted pays off. However, there are a few things to be aware of before embarking on the sausage making quest.

Don’t buy a plastic grinder

KitchenAid manufactures two grinder attachments – a metal one and a plastic one. Metal is more expensive, but plastic sucks. You see, plastic can’t be refrigerated. Or you can, but not as cold as a metal one, and a cold meat grinder is simply necessary.

Why is it so cold?

Fat is an important part of sausage, and heat is the enemy of fat. If your meat grinder is warm, the fat in the meat will melt, causing the sausage to smudge and smudge, resulting in poor chopping. Since the act of grinding itself can generate heat, it is very important to cool everything – all metal parts of your grinder and the meat – completely before grinding. Just put the pieces in the freezer for half an hour, add the meat straight from the refrigerator and you’re ready to chop. (If you can comfortably hold the grinder, then it is not cold enough.)

Dried herbs are great

I initially tried to imagine fresh sage and thyme, but switched to dried for several reasons. First, it means fewer shopping trips. I still limit my travels around the world, and a jar of grated sage lasts much longer than a bunch of leaves. It is also simpler, does not require grinding, and results are more reproducible. The amount of fresh sage in a quarter teaspoon can vary depending on how consistently you use them; dried sage is much more uniform and removes the ambiguity in the sausage equation.

Do not sweeten

In an effort to make a more fancy breakfast sausage, I added two tablespoons of pancake syrup (not maple) to a serving of pork. Not only was the pork flavor lost, but the excess sugar burned the sausage rather than brown, and spoiled much faster than previous batches (bacteria love sugar!). After several rounds of experimentation, I found that a tablespoon of brown sugar per pound of pork shoulder provides the best browning and flavor.

(Dry) brine before grinding

Aside from manipulating measurements, time is a variable that you can use to control the texture and flavor of your breakfast sausage. After mixing the herbs and spices, combine them with the diced pork shoulder and refrigerate for at least half an hour. The longer you let it cool, the more moisture you will lose. This is not necessarily a bad thing: I left one serving of dry brine in this way for about 12 hours, the result is an aggressively aromatic, tasty sausage with an intense meaty character. I let another batch, which contained the same proportions of the same seasonings, sit for about 45 minutes, and this batch was softer, softer and slightly fresher in flavor. Both were good, although I think a 12 hour sausage would go better with something like a cookie and gravy , where you risk muffling the flavor with cream and flour.

Write everything down

As with any experiment, changing one variable at a time is key, and writing can help you decide what to tune and when. It’s no secret that I hate everyday activities such as measuring and taking notes, but without them I couldn’t have perfected my sausage. I’ll share these notes with you as a recipe, but I encourage you to tinker with it if you’re so inclined; breakfast sausage can – and perhaps should – be very personal.

Claire’s Bespoke Breakfast Sausage


  • 1 lb. pork shoulder, the fatter the better
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Cut the pork shoulder into 1/2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Combine the seasonings in a small bowl, then add the mixture to the pork, stirring to coat it evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour or until 12, depending on how aggressive and meaty you want the sausage to be. Half an hour before chopping, place all metal parts of the grinder attachment (or the entire grinder, depending on the model and manufacturer) in the freezer. Grind according to the manufacturer’s instructions and either cook immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to five days.


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