13 Ways To Instantly Upgrade The Humble Breakfast Sausage

You can't have sad-looking or bad-tasting sausage in your breakfast line-up, especially since breakfast has a reputation for being the most important meal of the day. Whether you like to follow recipes and craft homemade sausage or prefer to take store-bought sausages out of the package, there's no reason to settle for dry sausage patties that can pass as hockey pucks or links that lack flavor. First, if you make it from scratch, the best meat for your sausage is pork, specifically ground pork with 30% fat, although it's possible to make it with turkey, chicken, or beef.

Regarding pre-made sausage, there are plenty of fantastic options that have premium-quality ingredients and minimal preservatives. But even if you think you have palatable sausage, there are still ways to make it more captivating. After all, it may be a breakfast staple, but that doesn't mean you have to eat it or prepare it the same way every time. These techniques help you shake things up and start your day in a new light.

1. Dip them in pancake batter

There are different variations of pigs in a blanket. Some people use crescent rolls and hot dogs to create savory appetizers. While those are certainly a hit at parties, the breakfast version is arguably tastier and brightens your average morning. You make it with sweet pancake batter and classic sausage links, so it creates a flawless sweet and salty harmony. What's not to love about having a fluffy pancake layer with tender sausage in every bite? To successfully make this, start with pre-cooked sausage, raw pancake batter, and hot cooking oil.

If you don't have a fryer, you can set up a deep pot with the oil instead. You don't need any fancy equipment, except for maybe a thermometer. Once the oil is ready, insert a popsicle stick or wooden skewer into the meat, then carefully dip the whole thing into the pancake batter.

Remember to work in batches, and don't crowd the pot because they need room to cook on all sides. Use tongs to flip them once the pancake sets enough, then place them on a rack to drain. After a few minutes of waiting, you will be able to enjoy your delicious breakfast on a stick.

2. Glaze them

When you glaze meat, it always takes it up a notch, whether you make honey-glazed ham for Christmas or barbecue-glazed wings for game day. There is something so enticing about digging into the meat with a glossy, delicious coating that covers it. Although breakfast sausage might not be the most complex food item, it doesn't mean you can't glaze it. Several types of glazes complement the ingredients in standard breakfast sausage, for example, honey sriracha sauce. The honey's sweetness teams up with the sage, while the sriracha adds a slow punch of heat.

Meanwhile, if you're someone who dips their links in maple syrup, then a maple glaze is the choice for you. Other tasty options include balsamic or sweet chili glaze. Whether you cook the meat on the stovetop or in the oven, make your sauce of choice beforehand and generously pour it over the sausage before you cook it. Stir the meat pieces to coat them. Then, once you thoroughly cook them, add the remaining glaze to ensure the taste is prominent and the sausage looks shiny.

3. Air fry them

Once you cook breakfast sausage with this gadget, you'll understand the buzz about air fryers. The appliance makes meat crispy on the outside while still being juicy on the inside. It's further appealing because it doesn't take long to cook them, just around 10 minutes, give or take. So rather than babysitting stovetop sausage, you can stick the meat in the air fryer and let it do its thing. Although, we do recommend that you flip the links halfway through the cooking process so both sides get color.

The ideal temperature range is between 380 degrees Fahrenheit and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't worry about thawing any frozen links or patties that you have. But remember that if you cook sausages in a frozen state, they take longer than refrigerated meat. Another piece of advice: Leave room between the pieces when you place the link into the basket. Otherwise, you restrict the airflow in the appliance, and it can't do its job as efficiently.

4. Stuff them with cheese

One way to make outstanding breakfast sausages is to fill them with cheese, then when you cook them, the cheese inside melts. As a result, it oozes out when you bite into the sausage. This concept is optimal for making sausage, egg, cheese sandwiches, or even breakfast burritos. There are endless ways to customize cheese-stuffed sausage because you can use different types of cheese. For instance, pepper jack provides just a smidge of spice, whereas Swiss is creamy and nutty. When you make this sausage, shredded cheese is best, but if you only have slices, just break it into smaller pieces.

For links, flatten the sausage mixture into a square thin enough to roll it into a log. Scatter the cheese on top, form it into a cylinder, cut it into links, and close the ends to trap the cheese. For patties, shape the meat into portions and press them into extra-thin patties. Use half of the patties and pile cheese on top of them. To complete them, use the remaining patties as lids over the cheese and seal the edges. They might turn out a bit messy the first time you make them but don't fret. The delicious taste overrides any appearance imperfections.

5. Bacon-wrap them

Bacon and sausage often compete for a spot on the breakfast table, but sometimes it puts you in a pickle because you desperately want both. While you can cook each separately, combining the two into one crispy yet juicy portion of protein is nothing short of genius. This method works best with breakfast links rather than patties because it's easy to bend the bacon to encompass the sausage.

If your links are short, cut the bacon slices in half first. Then, to assemble them, carefully wrap the bacon around the sausage. While it is okay to use pre-cooked sausage, we don't recommend it because it might dry out since you have to wait for the bacon to cook thoroughly. If there is too much overhanging bacon, slice it off. Next, place the bacon-wrapped sausages on a sheet pan with the seam touching the tray. You can secure them with toothpicks if you wish, but it isn't necessary if you're careful.

To be safe, use a kitchen thermometer to ensure the sausage reaches the minimum safe internal cooking temperature. As reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the sausage you make with pork or beef needs to hit 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, if you create links with turkey or chicken, they need to cook to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before you consume them. Meanwhile, you'll know you cooked the bacon once the edges are brown and crispy.

6. Boil the sausage

If you cook country sausage in a pan and it constantly turns out dry, you might want to revamp your cooking method and boil the sausages instead. This route is advantageous in bringing the meat to the correct internal temperature because it makes it pleasantly tender. 

When you think of boiled sausage, it might remind you of boiled hotdogs, which have little to no color. However, if you typically like to have browned sausages, we hear you, and you can always sear them in a pan afterward to get that appetizing look. Remember that this technique isn't for sausage patties but just the links.

Additionally, it depends on if you simmer the sausage in a pre-cooked or raw state. Of course, when it's raw, the sausage takes longer to cook, which means it might take roughly 30 minutes. On the other hand, you can plop the pre-cooked links in boiling water, and they finish in about 10 minutes. Naturally, when you heat food that has already been cooked, it saves you time. If not, the fresh sausages are clearly just as tasty. They just take some more patience.

7. Add fiery spices to the seasoning mix

While the taste of sausage pairs well with sweet ingredients, it tastes equally wonderful with spicy ones. You can dip store-bought sausages in spicy sauces, but with homemade sausages, you can mix hot spices directly into the meat. Commonly, the meat mixture has sage, fennel, and thyme. However, it benefits greatly when you add crushed red pepper flakes. Of course, you don't need much to notice the taste.

The general consensus for red pepper flakes is between 1 to 3 teaspoons per batch of sausage. Also, if you want your breakfast protein to be unique, you can use curry powder, which is spicy in some cases and milder in others. Other stand-out options for spices include cayenne powder, smoked paprika, or hot chili powder. Again, start with a small amount, and if you're unsure whether you should add more, you can cook a small sample to examine the taste.

8. Crumble the sausages and mix them with cream cheese

Cream cheese and sausage might be an unexpected match for you, but folks make sausage cream cheese casseroles, dips, rolls, and more. The reason why this combination is so satisfying? The silky cream cheese is light and melts in your mouth, which pairs well with the opposing hearty meat. For the best results possible, cook the sausage with your preferred method. If you don't have pre-crumbled meat, use a tool to break it up before you transfer it to a frying pan, then add cubes of cream cheese.

From here, sprinkle parmesan cheese and seasonings such as dried garlic, onion powder, or black pepper. Allow the cream cheese to soften, then directly remove the food from the heat. The texture of both kinds of cheese is best when you enjoy it instantly after you make it. Therefore, it's not a good idea to make this ahead of time and hold it for later consumption.

9. Cook them in apple cider

Apples and pork, or any kind of sausage, for that matter, go together quite well because of the textural contrast, especially when the fruit's consistency is the perfect balance of soft and firm. The flavors are complimentary too. There is a reason why a hefty plate of pork chops and applesauce is considered comfort food. Also, companies sometimes make apple breakfast sausage with apple bits inside the mixture.

You could try simmering the apples and meat together for an extra flavorful dish instead of mixing fruit directly into the meat mixture. But hold on — it gets better, don't just simmer them in any liquid, but in apple cider. This way, the apple flavor takes charge.

The simmered sausage doesn't necessarily get much color with this cooking method, but you can always sear them beforehand if you like the sausage browned. You can chop the apples for a side dish within a few minutes, and with the sausage cooked this way, it instantly makes your morning meal much more satisfying.

10. Make blueberry breakfast sausage

Blueberries and sausage? Yep, before you disapprove, just think about how delectable your breakfast sausage tastes with blueberry pancakes or muffins. Like the other sweet ingredients on this list, blueberries are an excellent companion for the seasonings in sausages — the berries' natural floral notes and touches of acidity suit the savory sausage quite well. 

Not to mention, when you add them to the meat mixture, they provide a different texture. You can use either fresh or dried berries in the mix. Fresh blueberries are bursting and juicy, while dried ones are on the chewy side.

One Reddit user started a thread and asked for country sausage recipes, where someone mentioned this specific inclusion. A Redditor who used to have a meat business said, "We did a maple/blueberry variant of the same recipe, which just adds 1 pint fresh blueberries (lightly smashed) and 1 cup real maple syrup. Both were huge sellers." The fantastic thing about this component is you can add as many or as few berries as you wish.

11. Include citrus zest in your recipe

More than one kind of citrus boosts the quality of breakfast sausage. First, pork and orange are excellent pairings. The proof is in the pudding — people commonly enjoy a rejuvenating glass of orange juice with their breakfast sausage. If you plan to make a batch of homemade sausages, add orange zest directly into the meat mixture. Include 1 tablespoon of orange zest and ensure it becomes thoroughly incorporated. 

The small amount of zest is enough to balance the heartiness of the meat. You can also use lemon zest, which has a similar result, except the lemon provides more tanginess than the orange. However, it enhances the flavors of herbs that you use in the mixture. Specifically, lemon, sage, and thyme are a lovely trio to use. 

This addition doesn't overwhelm your palate but occasionally provides a refreshing twist to your morning meal. Bear in mind that you want to work with the freshest zest possible because the air dries it out somewhat quickly, which affects its intensity and texture. For the most flavorful outcome, don't use your grater until you can toss the zest into the meat mixture.

12. Caramelize them with brown sugar

If your go-to method with country sausage is to pan-fry it, it's super straightforward to caramelize them. Of course, this also works when you boil them first and finish them in the pan, as we previously mentioned. Brown sugar complements many breakfast foods, like oatmeal, muffins, and sausage.

This is because the molasses in the sugar balances out the smoky qualities of the meat. Some companies even make brown sugar sausage to purchase, but it's not the same as when you make homemade caramelized meat with it. Doing so creates a dry caramelized crust on the meat.

To make brown sugar sausage, wait until the meat is almost done, then toss brown sugar into the hot pan and wait for it to soften. When the brown sugar breaks down and bubbles, flip the sausages to coat them in the sticky mixture. This is easiest to do with sausage crumbles or patties, but you can still succeed with links. Eventually, the sugar hardens, which leaves you with a butterscotch-like shell to bite into.

13. Pair the sausage with wine

Amazingly enough, wine enhances the flavor of typical breakfast sausage. This might be the most effortless option on this list because you only have to pour a glass and enjoy it with your morning meal. This idea might seem strange to you if you only have wine with dinner or dessert. 

However, with every dish you make, breakfast or not, there is likely a type of wine that complements it and highlights its best features. Nevertheless, you must choose carefully because you don't want your beverage to distract from the food or clash with its ingredients. Luckily, we've got you covered on which wines are best to serve with your breakfast links or patties. 

Specifically, Chenin Blanc or Grenache wines are both impeccable options to include in your breakfast spread, but any kind of wine that is on the fruity side is worthy. Sweet and light wines work so well because they coordinate with the sausage's seasonings, and their properties don't conflict with maple, which commonly finds its way into store-bought products.