Italian sausage is something I use often for pasta and our weekly pizza nights. Lately we’ve all been feeling the pinch of higher food costs, particularly for meat. One way I save money on meat is by making my own Italian Sausage Seasoning to add to ground pork.
Typically plain ground pork is cheaper than sausage so I save several dollars a month on my groceries. Another huge advantage is being able to customize the sausage to our preferences. It can be as spicy or garlicy, or herby as we like.
My Spice Cabinet
Having a generous spice cabinet is a big priority in my kitchen. I buy spices and herbs in bulk and store them in my spice cabinet. Opening the doors and seeing everything in the different jars makes me very happy. Most of my bulk spices come from Natural Grocers and some I order online. When I need to restock something I shop around for the cheapest price and go with that.
Most of my seasoning blends are made with the same basic ingredients with one or two key items added or swapped. This is what makes it so affordable to make your own blends. Once you have a good supply of a handful of spices and herbs you can go for it. This blend has fennel, my Chili Powder has ground dried chiles and cumin, my Cajun Seasoning has thyme and celery seed, and the Garlic Herb Steak Seasoning has dried mustard, dill weed, and rosemary. Other than these distinct seasonings they call for basically the same things.
Italian Sausage Seasoning
These are all the spices that I use in my Italian Sausage Seasoning. I like using garlic and onion powder in this blend instead of the dried garlic and onion flakes. The flakes are great in recipe where they will cook longer or when you want a chunkier texture. For this blend I’m mixing it with ground pork and browning it for pasta sauce or a pizza topping so the powder works great.
I use red pepper flakes and ground chilies. Here I’m using Kashmiri chili powder but cayenne would also be delicious or you can just use the red pepper flakes if you don’t want that much spice. Ground pork tends to be bland so I like the extra spice. There is the fact that I have a slight spice and chile obsession so I tend to collect unusual types. I’m working on not being a hoarder of spices.
A Word on Fennel
Fennel is a strong flavor and can be kind of an aquired taste. I used to hate biting down on a fennel seed but lately I’ve been enjoying it more in Italian sausage. This is what got me started making my own sausage in the first place, there was always too much fennel in pre-made brands. You can buy ground fennel but I like to buy fennel seeds and grind them up in my mortar and pestle. Nothing will make you feel like a chef more than using a mortar and pestle!
Italian Sausage Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed, fresh ground
- 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Measure all the spices and herbs in a bowl. Extra points if you measure them in piles so you can admire all of them together. Alternatively you can measure straight into the jar you will use for storage and shake to blend. I can never gauge the correct size of jar I will need so I measure into a bowl.
Stir the spices and herbs together thoroughly and pour into a jar for storage. I also hoard fun jars so I always have a perfect jar on hand for my spice stashes. It will keep for several months in a cool dry place. Around here it’s gone long before then so I wouldn’t worry about it.
To use this seasoning blend just add 2 tablespoons to a pound of ground pork before browning. Ideally it would be mixed a couple hours before you cook it so the meat can marinate in the spices and herbs but if you toss it together in the skillet that’s fine too. Enjoy!