Keto as a Way of Life
Keto Sweet and Spicy Italian Sausage
We may not be Italian, but we make good Keto Italian Sausage. It’s fantastic on Keto Pizza or with other low carb Italian-inspired dishes.
I recently posted a picture of a pizza we made on our Keto Ginger Facebook page and boasted that everything was made from scratch, including the Italian Sausage. Believe it or not, my dad commented on that picture and said, “I don’t believe you made Italian Sausage because you’re not Italian.” He always trying to bust someone’s sausage balls, I tell ya.
Well, jokes on him because I’m posting the recipe to prove that I did indeed make my own Italian Sausage even if I am mostly of Irish and German descent.
It’s “feckin’ lecker” if I do say so myself. <— please comment if you get this 🙂
Reasons to Make your Own Sausage on Keto
- You have control over the ingredients
- No additives or preservatives
- No sugar
- You control the flavor, spiciness, sweetness etc.
- You control the fat content
- You control the quality of the meat and even where the meat is sourced
- It’s cheaper than buying pre-made sausage
- If you choose to grind the meat yourself, it’s cheaper still
- It’s really cool to be able to tell people you made your own sausage!
Anyway, let’s get into how to make your own Italian Sausage.
It seems like a lot of people are intimidated by sausage making, but it’s really not that difficult as long as you understand a couple fundamentals.
Lean Meat / Fat Ratio
For this recipe, you basically want about 80% of your Italian sausage to be lean meat and 20% to be fat; that’s an 80/20 ratio. The fat is important because it carries a lot of flavor, it helps bind the sausage together, and on Keto, hitting your fat macro is a goal. As we’ve learned, animal fat is healthy in the right amounts.
Most sausage recipes start with 5 pounds of meat. To get your 80/20 ratio, just make sure that your meat consists roughly of 4 pounds lean meat and 1 pound of fat. That’s easy to measure if you are planning to grind the meat yourself.
Many butchers sell pre-ground pork, though, so check the package or ask the butcher what the ratio is.
Some people swear by a 70/30 ratio, and that’s fine for most sausage recipes. It’s even ok for this recipe. We just happen to prefer 80/20 so that’s what we’re going with here. If all you can find is 70/30, it’ll work. Just know that your Italian Sausage will render a bit more fat when you cook it.
Keeping It Cold is Key!
To make your Italian Sausage, you will be adding a lot of spices to the meat and mixing them in. It’s best to start with your meat as cold as you can get it without being frozen. I recommend moving the ground pork from the refrigerator to the freezer for about 15 minutes before you mix in your spices.
Do the same with the vinegar you are going to use. This recipe calls for either White Wine Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s important that the vinegar is as cold as possible.
Mixing agitates the proteins and enzymes inside the meat, causing them to break down and stick to one another. Mixing too much will cause the meat to take on a pasty texture that doesn’t create a nice end product. Your sausage will be dense and somewhat mealy after it’s cooked. That’s not pleasant to eat.
Keeping the meat and ingredients as cold as possible will slow this process a great deal, allowing you to mix the spices in more thoroughly before that pasty texture happens. If you’re mixing the sausage and notice that it starts becoming sticky, throw it back in the freezer for 15 minutes and start again.
NOTE: If you grind your own meat, don’t mix the sausage directly after you grind it. Grind the pork, then chill it immediately. Mix your spices after the meat is thoroughly chilled. I find that 15-20 minutes in the freezer is sufficient for this.
Like any other recipe, the quality of your ingredients will make all the difference in your finished dish. Make sure to use good ingredients. It’s not just about flavor; it’s about good health as well.
We’ve already discussed the meat a bit, but it’s worth mentioning that you should look for good quality pork. If you’re going through the trouble of eating healthy food without additives and crud in it, it’s worth it to pay a little more for good quality meat. Animals that were cared for, respected, fed well, not given hormones, and lived good lives are simply better for us. Eating animals is necessary. Treating them poorly before they’re killed for food is not necessary at all.
This is one of the reasons we’re big fans of Porter Road. They’re a Middle TN based butcher, so they’re local to us. They source their meat from local farmers who take care of their animals.
Porter Road’s philosophy is, “If it’s not raised right, it can’t be delicious.”
They have several meat delivery options, including subscription boxes. Their service and product are fantastic. Check ’em out!
If you purchase ground pork from the butcher, the meat is likely ground from the trimmings of other cuts; so, your sausage may end up containing some combination of shoulder, butt, and/or loin. That doesn’t really matter as long as the pork is high quality.
Grinding the pork yourself gives you more control over this, of course. You can grind all of it from the shoulder, for example. If you’re super picky like I am, you can grind the meat from a lean cut like the loin, and then add fat from another part like the shoulder or even the belly. This ensures you get the exact Meat/Fat ratio you want since you can weight each separately. You really don’t have to be that precise. It’s just that I’m a bit OCD in the kitchen.
Most Italian Sausage recipes contain either red or white wine. But that adds too many unnecessary carbs for Keto.
The recipe is looking for some acidity as well as a bit of liquid to do a couple things; help keep the meat cold, and to help slow down those proteins and enzymes from becoming pasty as I mentioned earlier. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve found that white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will perform the same tasks and offers virtually no change in the flavor of the Italian Sausage.
Herbs and Spices
The spices listed in the recipe are straight forward and don’t need much explanation. The recipe itself below will include a link to each spice we use in our Italian Sausage so you can purchase them on Amazon if you wish.
A note on the Sweet and Spicy: If you don’t want it as sweet, take out some of the Monkfruit. If you don’t like it as spicy, leave out some of the Cayenne and/or Red Pepper flakes. You’re in control here!
Monkfruit quickly became our favorite Keto sweetener. It tastes good, has no aftertaste that we can discern and it doesn’t affect our blood glucose at all. It also stands up to heat better than most other Keto sweeteners.
The only downside is that it’s a little more expensive than other sweeteners, but we think it’s worth it.
Granulated (aka Classic) Monkfruit is a substitute for white sugar, and can be used as a 1:1 replacement in most recipes.
Learn More About Sweeteners
Interested in learning a little more about sweeteners and where they rank for Keto?
We put together a handy chart of 55 sweeteners commonly used on the market today. The chart shows you which sweeteners are actually sugar, which ones are bad chemicals or natural, where they land on the Glycemic Index and more.
We also rank each sweetener on the list as Good, Bad, or Ugly for Keto.
The tool list isn’t as scary as you might think.
A bowl to mix in, something to crush the fennel seeds (either a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle) and maybe a knife and cutting board if you’re going to mince fresh garlic. Of course, you’ll need measuring spoons and possibly a kitchen scale to weigh the meat.
Alton Brown calls this device a Doppletasker; a tool that is terrible at doing what it is meant to do, but terrific at performing another task.
For the most part, coffee grinders are bad at grinding coffee, but they're great for herbs and spices!
So that's what we use ours for.
You don't have to spend a fortune on this tool either. The coffee/spice grinder we got on Amazon had 5 stars, was inexpensive and has worked wonderfully!
Optional: If you want to grind your meat, you’ll need a meat grinder. I use my handy dandy Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the grinder attachment. The good thing about that attachment is it comes with a couple shoot sizes that lets you push the sausage into casings if you want to do that.
KitchenAid Grinder Attachment
The grinder attachment for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer is one of the funnest tools we have in our kitchen.
It’s hard to find sausage in the store without additives or sugar, so we started making our own.
Folks, I’ll never go back to the store bought stuff!
Cooking and Storage
You can store your fresh sausage in the refrigerator for up to a couple days. You can also freeze it for a few months. It will keep pretty much like any other meat. Mixing the spices in doesn’t cure the meat in any way.
You can use your Italian Sausage to make sausage balls, brown it up to make an Italian inspired meat and tomato sauce that’s amazing on Spaghetti Squash, or make stuffed green peppers topped with mozzarella. Our favorite is to fry it into little Italian sausage balls put it on Keto Pizza, so that’s what you see in the pictures on this post! Your imagination is your only limit here.
Thanks for Reading
We hope you enjoy this Keto Sweet and Spicy Italian Sausage Recipe. If you give this recipe a try, please let us know how it works out for you. Please drop us a line in the comments below, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on our Facebook Page where we share and discuss Keto recipes all the time.
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Keto Sweet and Spicy Italian Sausage
An easy way to make tasty Italian Sausage without the carbs
- 5 lbs Pork ground (80/20 lean/fat)
- 7 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- 3 tbsp Granulated Monk Fruit Adjust to desired sweetness
- 4 tbsp Fennel Seeds ground
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg ground
- 3 tsp Cayenne Pepper Adjust to desired spiciness
- 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes Adjust to desired spiciness
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder or 4 fresh garlic gloves, minced
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1/2 cup Fresh Parsley Chopped
- 1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar Ice Cold
Grind the pork to medium grind - If you bought pre-ground pork, skip this step
Ensure the pork and vinegar are cold. Rest them in the freezer for 15 minutes before mixing.
Prepare the Herbs and Spices while the meat is chilling
Grind the fennel seeds in the spice grinder or mortal/pestle. The smaller grind the better.
Grind the pepper if you're using fresh ground black pepper.
Mince the garlic if you're not using garlic powder.
Chop the parsley.
Grind the nutmeg if using whole nutmeg.
Mix together all the dry herbs and spices.
Mix the Sausage
In a cold bowl, add cold ground pork and cold vinegar.
Sprinkle about a quarter of the spices on top, then mix. Using gloved hands is ok (and easier), but using cold, metal utensils is better to keep the meat cold.
Add another quarter of the spices and mix.
Repeat adding spices and mixing until everything is incorporated.
DO NOT over mix! If the meat starts getting pasty or sticky, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Take it out and continue mixing.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days, depending on the date on the meat you bought. If you're going to keep it longer than 2 days before cooking it, it's best to freeze it in a tightly sealed freezer bag.
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