This chicken apple sausage is surprisingly simple to make and has a slightly sweet lilt that’s magnificent any time of day. Here’s how to make it and how to cook it. No meat grinder required. And did we mention it’s healthy?!
Chicken Apple Sausage
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Makes 12 patties
Working in batches, place the chicken in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, probably 6 to 8 pulses. Transfer to a large bowl.
Dump the bacon and butter in the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, at least 6 times and perhaps 12 times.
Add the bacon and the butter to the chicken and stir by hand until combined. Add the apples and stir again.
In a spice mill or coffee grinder, grind the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and peppercorns together to a medium-fine grind. Add the ground spices to the chicken mixture along with the salt, nutmeg, and cayenne. Mix with your fingertips until well blended. Pinch off a small amount and heat it in a little oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, turning once, until cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasonings in the uncooked sausage mixture accordingly.
To make patties, using your hands, shape the sausage mixture into 12 to 15 patties, each about 3 inches (7 1/2 centimeters) in diameter and 1/2 inch (12 millimeters) thick. (The patties can be made up to 1 day ahead, tightly covered, and refrigerated or frozen.)
To make links, see the variation below.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Working in batches, add the patties and cook until the bottom is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the patties are golden brown on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes. It may be necessary to add a touch more oil with subsequent batches. Transfer the chicken apple sausage patties to paper towels to drain briefly, then serve. Originally published April 22, 2015.
How To Make Chicken Apple Sausage Links
If you prefer sausage links to sausage patties, you’ll need a meat grinder or a stand mixer with a sausage-stuffing attachment, a total of about 6 feet small pork or sheep casings (available from most butchers and Whole Foods Markets), and the instructions that follow.
1. Place the sausage mixture in the freezer. Meanwhile, soak the casings in a large container of warm water for 30 minutes.
2. Drain the casings. Working over the sink, gently run warm water through each casing segment, pinching both ends and lifting up the water-filled casing. Cut out any sections of casings that leak.
3. Slip the end of a casing onto the meat grinder (or sausage-stuffing attachment), leaving about 6 inches of overhang. Grab the mixture from the freezer and tightly pack the chilled mixture into the canister.
4. Start cranking the meat grinder handle very slowly (or turn the stand mixer on low speed) until the meat begins to collect in the casing. Tie the far end of the casing in a knot. Continue cranking (or increase the speed of the meat grinder or stand mixer to medium-low) and pass more mixture through the tube, holding the filled casing loosely in one hand to regulate how tightly it’s packed.
5. When the casing is stuffed to your liking, even out the width of the sausage and then remove the casing from the grinder (or attachment) and measure about 6 inches unfilled casing and then tie a knot in that end. Twist the stuffed casing to create links that are even in size. (The extra casing before the knot is to compensate for the amount of casing used in twisting.) Prick the links with a needle (or pin or skewer) all over to allow steam to escape while cooking.
6. If not using right away, arrange the links on a wire cooling rack placed over a baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to allow the casings to dry, which creates crisper casings when the sausages are cooked.
7. Transfer the links to resealable plastic bags and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
Recipe Testers' Tips
This amazing recipe will be added to my breakfast/lunch/dinner rotation. It's as good as can be. It far surpasses any store-bought chicken apple sausage and is very simple to make. I make many types of sausage and always use a meat grinder. I nearly feel foolish now that this recipe simply instructed us to use a food processor. I challenge anyone to detect the difference. I used half boneless, skinless thighs and half boneless, skinless breasts. I found the amount of spice to be perfect.
This recipe made 1 dozen man-sized patties, which of course means...I will need more! I used about 3 tablespoons oil and cooked them for about 5 minutes on each side. I would also like to mention that I wrapped the patties separately in plastic wrap and then put them in baggies. In a moment of sheer laziness, I also put them on a plate, covered them with a paper towel, and microwaved them on high for 2 minutes and 10 seconds. To my delight and surprise, they were delicious. And if you're thinking they might've been rubbery...they weren't! I've had these with pasta and on biscuits. These are so good that I find myself just eating them on their own, straight from the skillet or microwave.
I have 2 minor tips that will make this much easier:
First, cube the meat before freezing in a one-gallon resealable plastic bag. Flatten the cubes into a single layer and it will freeze faster and come apart more readily when it's time to add it to the processor.
And I simply peeled the apples then grated them on a box grater. You really do not need to core or even slice the apples just, peel and grate, turning the apples as you go. One last hint, DON'T FORGET TO SQUEEZE THE JUICE FROM THE GRATED APPLES. Simply put the apples in a couple of paper towels and wring them. You will be surprised how much juice there is!
Why buy chicken apple sausage when it’s so easy to make your own? This recipe has 3 things going for it:
1. No special equipment needed. Grinding the chicken and bacon in the food processor makes this recipe accessible.
2. I can control the sodium. We watch how much sodium we eat and tend to skip sausage because it’s just too salty. This chicken apple sausage is super flavorful but not super salty.
3. It tastes naughty. Chicken sausage tends to be dry and icky. Not this chicken apple sausage. That little bit of bacon and butter add richness and flavor to plain old chicken breast. If I couldn’t see what I was eating, I would never guess this sausage was made with only chicken breasts.
A few things to make this recipe go a bit faster: I grated the apple in the food processor, and then swapped the grating disc for the metal blade to grind the chicken. I cut the partially frozen chicken breast and bacon into large chunks and processed them in batches with diced cold butter, so all I had to do was combine it with the spices. The less mixing I had to do, the better.
I cooked the patties on my nonstick griddle set to 400°F and they cooked without any oil in about 10 minutes, flipping once. Perfect for breakfast.
This chicken apple sausage recipe is a winner. Not only does it yield a batch of super satisfying sausages, but I also get the satisfaction of making my own meat products. (This is not something I usually do!) I used a mix of chicken breasts and thighs, which was great. I found the amount of spice to be perfect, and I would definitely not skimp on the nutmeg or cayenne. (Actually, I'd add a bit more cayenne next time.) Before pulsing the meat in the food processor, I cut it into 1-inch chunks. For me, this was imperative. Also, I had to pulse the meat a lot to get a course grind (~15 times for the chicken and about 8 times for the bacon).
After tasting a tester patty, I was very pleased. I added 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mixture, but overall the flavor was perfect—peppery and subtly floral. The sausage mixture yielded 15 small patties. The cooking time was accurate, but I can't say if more cooking oil was needed for subsequent batches, as I froze most of the patties. To serve, I braised a few sausages in broth with some tomatoes and cabbage and served it over polenta. This was so tasty and inexpensive!
Important: You need a spice mill to grind the peppercorns and coriander seeds. There is NO way that you can grind these spices with a mortar and pestle. Trust me. I tried it and nearly sprained my wrist. (I ended up chopping them with my sharpest sushi knife—there was no other way, since I don't own a spice mill. This was annoying.)
Making chicken apple sausage at home is a good way to ensure that you know exactly what you're serving and eating—no mystery ingredients. For those of us less on the DIY end of the spectrum, forming the spiced meat into patties rather than stuffing it into casings makes the process less labor-intensive yet produces results that are just as tasty. These patties are a case in point.
Adding some bacon to chicken breast meat increases the fat content for better binding and cooking and also enhances the flavor without sacrificing all the advantages of white meat chicken. Fennel, coriander, nutmeg, and black and cayenne peppers provide a warm spicing that plays off the lean (but not too lean) meat mixture and sweet-tart apple shreds. I ground the chicken in 2 batches. The bacon fat held the pieces together pretty persistently, which is why it took so many more pulses to grind it.
This chicken apple sausage recipe makes very good sausage. The bacon and the apple help to keep the patties somewhat moist. I might add even more of these components the next time I make this recipe. The combination of spices worked quite well and was just about the right amount. I cut back slightly on the nutmeg and the cayenne and there was a nice level of heat in the finished product. I didn’t get a strong sense of the bacon in the cooked patties.
A final note: when you squeeze the grated apple dry, be sure to catch the juice from the apples and either drink it, use it in a salad dressing, or for some other delicious purpose.
I adore sausage made with fennel, so this recipe started off on the right foot for me. Chicken, fennel, and apple—what’s not to like? The fennel was a lovely addition to the chicken meat, and I enjoyed the floral notes from the cardamom and nutmeg and the hint of heat from the cayenne.
I liked the rustic chunkiness for the meat after using the food processor. After mixing it all together, it seemed a little wet. I wasn't able to use the mixture right away so had to cook and taste it the next morning. The mix still seemed a little moist but workable. Cooking time was just right at 4 minutes per side. Since the meat used was chicken, I chose to use the longer cooking time to be on the safe side. I used a nonstick pan so no additional oil was needed.
I cooked 6 sausages and froze 5 for another time. I served these sausage patties with rye toast, sunny-side up eggs, and sliced tomatoes. Yum! These would also make a great chicken burger for the grill if the patties were larger.