This Whole30 Italian Sausage is simple, authentic, and perfect for making sausage patties—or any recipes that call for bulk Italian sausage!

An overhead shot of golden brown homemade Italian sausage patties on a black plate.

What is Italian Sausage?

Italian sausage is a type of sausage made from ground pork and a mixture of seasonings that typically includes fennel, red pepper flakes, and garlic. It’s often used in Italian-American cuisine and can be cooked and served in a variety of ways: in pasta dishes, on pizza, in a sandwich—you name it. Some variations also include paprika, sugar, or wine as additional ingredients.

Whole30 Italian Sausage

When you make homemade sausage, you can control exactly what goes in it—ensuring that it’s both tasty and Whole30-compatible. With this recipe, I replace the sugar with a little unsweetened applesauce and don’t include any wine. I’ve also come up with a dried herb and spice blend that makes this sausage taste amazing.

Tips for the best homemade Italian Sausage

  • Don’t skip toasting the fennel seeds! The toasted fennel is the reason Italian sausage tastes so distinctive. Also, make sure you crush the toasted seeds to release the most flavor.
  • Knead the sausage mixture until it is sticky and tacky. Making a double or triple batch? Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix everything up with ease.
  • Cook up a little patty to taste for seasoning. There’s nothing worse than under- or over-seasoned sausage so I always fry up a tiny patty and taste it for seasoning.
  • Chill the sausage for at least an hour to meld the flavors.

Ingredients

An overhead shot of the labelled raw ingredients to make Whole30 Italian sausage.

  • Ground pork: Pork is typically used in Italian sausage, but you can also substitute ground turkey, ground dark meat chicken, or ground beef. If you’re using ground poultry, just make sure it’s not the super lean stuff.
  • Unsweetened applesauce: The meat is naturally sweetened with applesauce instead of white sugar. You can leave it out if you like, but I think the subtle sweetness adds balance to the flavors.
  • Fennel seeds: Toasted fennel seeds give this sausage its distinctive anise flavor. Always toast and crush them before mixing ’em in the meat for the best flavor!
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Red pepper flakes: I use only ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes in this recipe because it’s more of a sweet Italian sausage. If you want a hot Italian sausage, you can increase the amount to ½ teaspoon and add some cayenne pepper, too.
  • Black pepper
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt

How to make Whole30 Italian Sausage at home

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds, shaking occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer the toasted fennel seeds to a plate to cool to room temperature.

A hand is pouring fennel seeds into a stainless steel skillet.

Crush the toasted fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or place them in a closed ziptop bag and bash them with a heavy object to crack the seeds.

Four process shots that show toasted fennel seeds being crushed in a mortar and pestle.

In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, applesauce, salt, toasted fennel seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and dried oregano.

A sequence of nine photos that show the ingredients for Italian sausage being added to a bowl of ground pork.

Use your hands to combine everything really well until the pork is sticky and tacky. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can mix the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

A hand is mixing homemade Whole30 Italian sausage in a clear glass bowl.

Form a tiny patty and cook it in the microwave (for about 30 seconds on high) or fry it in a skillet. Taste it for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Cover the sausage and chill in the fridge for at least one hour and up to 2 days. You can also freeze the sausage mixture for up to 2 months.

Two hands are placing a blue silicone lid on a bowl of raw Italian sausage that will be stored in the fridge.

How to cook Italian sausage

You can use this meat in any recipe that asks for bulk Italian sausage…

A closeup of a bowl of Whole30 Zuppa Toscana soup topped with crispy bacon bits.

…or you can form the bulk sausage into patties…

Forming a sausage patty with two hands.

…and fry them up!

An enamel cast iron skillet filled with golden brown sausage patties.

Whole30 recipes using Italian sausage


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Italian Sausage (Whole30, Paleo, Low Carb)

4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
chilling time1 hour
Servings 4
This Whole30 Italian Sausage is simple, authentic, and perfect for making sausage patties—or any recipes that call for bulk Italian sausage!

Ingredients  

  • teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 pound ground pork or ground turkey, chicken, or beef
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions 

  • In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds, shaking occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer the toasted fennel seeds to a plate to cool to room temperature.
  • Crush the toasted fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or place them in a closed ziptop bag and bash them with a heavy object to crack the seeds.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, applesauce, salt, toasted fennel seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and dried oregano.
  • Use your hands to combine everything really well until the pork is sticky and tacky. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can mix the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • Form a tiny patty and cook it in the microwave (for about 30 seconds on high) or fry it in a skillet. Taste it for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Cover the sausage and chill in the fridge for at least one hour and up to 2 days. You can also freeze the sausage mixture for up to 2 months.
  • You can use this meat in any recipe that asks for bulk Italian sausage or form it into patties and fry them up!

Video

Notes

Tips for the best Italian sausage:
  • Don’t skip toasting the fennel seeds! The toasted fennel is the reason Italian sausage tastes so distinctive. Also, make sure you crush the toasted seeds to release the most flavor.
  • Knead the sausage mixture until it is sticky and tacky. Making a double or triple batch? Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix everything up with ease.
  • Cook up a little patty to taste for seasoning. There’s nothing worse than under- or over-seasoned sausage so I always fry up a tiny patty and taste it for seasoning.
  • Chill the sausage for at least an hour to meld the flavors

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 648mg | Potassium: 349mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 49IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Sausage is one of our family favorites and finding a clean version isn’t always easy. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Made these today – meal prepping for the week but had a cheeky taste on the little piece to check for seasoning and this will be a firm favourite on rotation! Thanks for the recipe.