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I'm sure Jimmy Dean et al are nice guys but those are sorry excuses for sausage, IMO.

I've been grinding my own pork for sausage for a couple of years now but bought a pound of "hot" Jimmy Dean sausage the other day because it was on sale. (I'm not picking on JD; I'm betting most of that stuff in a tube is pretty much the same.) I won't do that again. First there's the texture. I made a couple of patties and the meat is ground so finely that they're like pre-formed, smashed burgers. Then this morning I crumbled some up and fixed in a scramble. Because I already knew that (see my quotation marks above) that hot wasn't hot, I minced up some jalapenos and browned with the meat. The eggs were good, the jalapenos were good. The sausage had a meat flavor but not a sausage flavor. I probably could have substituted beef and not been able to tell the difference.

If you have a KA stand mixer, the meat grinding attachment is about $50 and is so worth the money. If you don't want to grind your own meat, at least pick out a piece of pork shoulder, have the butcher grind it coarsely and bring it home and season it to your liking. In addition, you don't have to have all of the following:


I still remember the first time we fixed home ground sausage. Bob looked at me and said "If this is sausage, what's that stuff we've been eating all our lives that is called sausage." I guess I was a slow learner :) There aren't a whole lot of things Chow-related that I consider myself an expert on but this is something I know for sure. Try this and I guarantee you won't be sorry.

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  1. The Cafe on the Beach on Anna Maria Island in Bradenton FL has done all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfasts on weekends, for many, many years. It has been an institution. They recently lost their lease. They told me they have sold 6 million Jimmy Dean sausage patties and never had a thank you note from Jimmy.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Jimmy's dead so don't hold your breath!

        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

          OMG, that's hysterical! Thanks for posting. That may be good sausage to a Texan but I'm from Georgia and I think it sucks.

        2. Their sausage was actually pretty good...about 30 years ago before they sold out to a conglomerate.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Coogles

            Sara Lee. That's probably an excellent point.

            1. re: c oliver

              I remember reading an article in Texas Monthly years ago about how pissed off the locals in Plainview, Tx were when he sold the company and the recipie was changed. Plainview was where the plant was. I didn't find that article but I found this.


            1. re: EWSflash

              Never met a sausage I didn't like....even the MCD breakfast sausage is good.

            2. I'd love to see your recipe, if you are willing to share it.
              You likely have many, but just something spicy to get me inspired.
              I have a hand grinder, I'll call it exercise.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Bobfrmia

                It's a Batali recipe:


                He's changed it though. The recipe I use also includes 2T fennel seed which, for me, is critical. I love it. I'm having it tonight in a pasta sauce with orichette (?sp).

                1. re: c oliver

                  i just read the recipe and the comments - do you really use 4 TABLESPOONS of salt? i suspect it's a typo and should be 4 teaspoons.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Just pulled out the cookbook to doublecheck. A quarter cup of salt. But we're talking about 6# of meat. I've made this at least a dozen times and it's not too salty. Truly.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      actually, the online recipe only calls for 4# of ground pork shoulder, but still 4 TBSP of salt...plus 2# of pancetta, which is a salt bomb on its own. i'm no expert but most of the recipes i've seen only call for around 1 or 1.5 tsp of salt per # of meat. this just seems like overkill to me.

                      ETA, no disrespect to you, c. i'm just trying to wrap my brain around this one :)

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        My now-passed-on Italian friend shared with me (taught me) 3 generations of sausage making experience. His rule of thumb was 3 level tablespoons per kilogram of meat - just under 1.5 TBL per pound.
                        However, he did this for curing purposes as he air dried all his sausage. If you are using the sausages fresh or plan to freeze, I think the salt amount can be changed for personal taste. Thats the beauty of grinding your own, you control things like salt, fat, seasonings, etc.
                        I will give a word of warning that when curing meats, salt or nitrite/nitrate use should be considered seriously. In other words, a minimum is required regardless of personal tastes.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          And no disrespect taken :) I don't have access to pancetta so have always used bacon. Could that be the difference? I don't think the recipe would suffer from reducing the salt. As a matter of fact, I believe that enough that I'm just going to reduce it the next time. Thanks for the nudge, ghg.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            ha! i wasn't trying to get you to change it, but if you do, and you're still satisfied with the results, i'll be happy to hear it :)

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              With the fennel seed and the red pepper flakes, which are two of my favorite seasoning, why mess with much salt. I LIKE change unlike some CHs :)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Fennel and pepper flakes, along with the oft ignored granulated garlic.

                                You'll think you're sniffing sausage off a glass mirror through the tube of a tightly rolled hundred dollar bill,

                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                  I'll be buyin' some granulated garlic right away :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Not "powder", but "granulated". Easiest found in the large containers, The brand "Tones" works for me, but there may be others.

                                    Some hounds haughtily eschew granulated garlic. I say that's sad, because they don't know all the applications that they're missing..

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      c, if you don't have a store nearby that carries Tone's, TJ's sells it, as does Penzey's.

                  2. Well, for the once, maybe twice a year sausage and gravy with biscuits that I make, it's fine and I believe the tube is still one pound, not minimized to 12 or 14 ounces like so many others. It's not all grease, either. It cannot in any way compare to your home-ground so I'm not surprised that it's a disappointment to you. For me, I'm not about to go out an buy a grinder just for the occasional sausage dish mentioned above but it's good to know folks grind their own sausage. And, I've read that you really don't need to grind your own meat to make sausage, just buy store bought ground and mix it up with spices...another good option...but we're eating less and less meats these days so for $2, the JD works okay!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Val

                      Although bred, born and raised in the South, I think biscuits and gravy is a loathesome dish. For me, no amount of tweaking of the ingredients will ever save it. So, yeah, go for it. I mentioned that grinding one's own isn't necessary; the butcher can do it for you. But if I were only going to fix something a couple of times a year, I'd want it to be really good. And you're right. It's not greasy. It's watery. But that's not surprising as the #2 ingredient is water. I used it again this morning with even more jalapeno and onion and it was still blah. My husband who is far more forgiving about subpar food even agreed. I think I'm just going to fry up the rest of it and put in the dogs food over the coming days.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        hey, and for me, born and bred in NJ, this dish is kind of "new" to me...so wtf do I know? NOTHING!!! Truly, am ignorant as can be on Southern really good cooking...all I know is that I tried Jeff Smith's recipe once, using JD's Sage sausage, all 3 sons loved it and still do, and so there you go...works for us, that's all! Thanks, CO!

                        1. re: Val

                          My problem with biscuits and gravy is that you take two potentially fantastically delicious products but when you pour one over the other, you turn a slightly crusty biscuit soggy. Doesn't float my boat but I know loads of people love 'em. But really, try the recipe of Batali's above. Just do a pound's worth and see what you think. I love Yankees at times :)

                          1. re: c oliver

                            That's why BiscuitHounds ask for the gravy on the side, then break off a piece of that baked goodie and dance it into the gravy. Keeps the crust.

                            1. re: FoodFuser

                              Now THAT, my friend, is one brilliant idea. Now to find a place in NoCal that makes a decent biscuit.

                    2. I have the attachment, and when I had a full-sized freezer back in the day, would make turkey sausage using salt pork for moistness and flavor. I had to do a large batch at a time because my now-ex complained so much about cleaning the grinder (yes, I'm spoiled). I went the lazy way and always made patties instead of links, but they were yummy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tracylee

                        I make 6# at a time and freeze in 8 and 16 oz. packages. Doesn't take up much room. I have the stuffer attachment but haven't gotten around to sourcing casings. My KA attachment comes apart into 5 pieces and washes up so easily.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I bought a KA stand mixer on sale years ago specifically for the meat grinder. I wanted to make venison sausage and I priced meat grinders and found I could get the KA with attachment on sale for just a little more money. Anyway, I've recently done what you just said. I bought pork shoulders cheap and made sausage. It's much leaner than the stuff at the store. I've made bratwurst, Italian, chorizo, and a breakfast sausage. I either make them into patties and then freeze or freeze in 1# packages. We won't go back to breakfast sausage patties and links from the store.

                      2. My mother is right AGAIN! She bought a meat grinder some years ago. She grinds her pork for sage sausage patties and also ground round for meatloaf. She said years ago that you could not buy packaged good sausage, being from the south she take sausages seriously. And I have to admit it hers taste better and you know what you are getting. Keep Grinding!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kpaumer

                          Funny how smart our mothers got as we got older :) I think the poster who suggested that it used to be better 30 years ago may have something.

                        2. Jimmy Dean was a hero of mine, from watching the TV series "Daniel Boone" in the 60's. (Burl Ives came in second as the buckboard traveling musician).

                          Jimmy pulled out of the entertainment industry in the early 70's, and stated that he would parlay his fortune into pork bellies in order to increase the quality of grocery store sausage. The superlative quality of his product garnered him a large market share.

                          But the industry trend toward consolidation got him and his standards. He made some really good sausage in the 70's. It has admittedly changed with its incorporation into the megacorporation.

                          I grind my butt in the KA, but if it's going to be for breakfast sausage, I add a pound of Jimmy Dean Sage flavor, for its grind, which the KA cannot match. Those big factory rotary knives provide a semi-emulsified texture that we cannot match with the KA, unless we want to invest in a $2,000 rotating buffalo chopper. Using the KA paddle at low speed to blend the Jimmy with the Home-ground pork yields fine results, It gives the best of both.

                          With my childhood coonskin cap firmly flaying, 50 years after its commericial apex, I still buy Jimmy's sausage, and Jimmy and Burl are still heroes. Can't sever that link with the past.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: FoodFuser

                            My husband thinks Jimmy Dean is the best breakfast sausage ever made. Maybe or not, but I don't love any kind of sausage enough to make it myself. Then again we're not Southern so there you are. His admiration may just have something to do with the TV show, I wouldn't be surprised.

                            1. re: coll

                              Well, your husband is wrong :) but we won't bother trying to open his mind. And if you don't even like sausage so, yeah, why should you make it? Case closed.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                The case is never closed on skinless casing-free sausage.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  My husband is never wrong, and no case is ever closed with him unless he wins. Ask him yourself! (I'm just chuckling thinking of you starting an argument about this with him, I'd be glad to sit on the sidelines) Maybe I'll bring it up with him later and see what he has to say anyway. Then he can get into Italian sausage, which where his sausage expertise lies anyway. His grandmother always made it herself, so he knows something about the general process. If we didn't have so many top notch Italian sausage shops nearby, I'm sure I would give it a go too, I think I do have the Kitchenaid attachment somewhere, given as a wedding gift from his side.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Cool. Report back. If he's ever had homemade breakfast sausage and prefers JD then we know his taste buds headed south long ago :)
                                    ETA: Winning isn't everything in case you haven't helped him figure that out!

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      I don't even try, sometimes he's really funny when he's mad, sort of like the guy on Youtube. He's really perceptive about things though, especially food, he's the one that guided me to my cooking heights, by critiquing everything I ever served. I'll let you know later.

                              2. re: FoodFuser

                                My sausage is 2:1 pork shoulder to bacon, not all shoulder. I've been considering the next time grinding some of with the small-holed thingamajiggy and some with the large (usually only use the large) as the patties wouldn't be quite so fragile. But it's that very emulsification (thanks for the right word,FF) that makes the JD texture so off.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  We'll just need to do a friendly disagree on the texture. For two years in my college kitchen I got to play with a buffalo chopper, and if I had one at home today, I'd be in hog heaven.

                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                    I think the combo might work. Not ready to disagree. I'm plagued with an open mind :)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Have you tried adding sage for the breakfast sausage? I always buy the JD sage.

                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                        I'm not going to add JD to my sausage but I will add sage and I will combo two different grinds. That's compromise, right?

                                  2. re: c oliver

                                    Me, I like the coarse grind.
                                    The wife prefers a finer grind....
                                    I use the larger plate for air dried (which she doesn't eat) and pass it through a second time with the small plate for our fresh sausage.

                                    1. re: porker

                                      If you ever offer apprenticeships, please put me at the top of your list :) I can tell I could learn ALOT from you, Mr. Piggy.

                                  3. re: FoodFuser

                                    How about grinding a second time with a smaller plate, then a third grind. Me thinks it'll be fine.

                                  4. I think grinding your own sausage is great for two reasons:
                                    1. you create a product specifically for your tastes
                                    2. you control what goes into it
                                    Me, I'm not such a breakfast sausage fan. Don't get me wrong, I like a nice breakfast link, or pattie, just that we don't eat it very often.
                                    My love is Italian sausage.
                                    Being in Canada, one of my favorites is Roma strong, followed by specific small grocery house-Italian. I agree with you c oliver, to me fennel seed is key to a great sausage. Plus I like heat - alot of heat, so I grind and stuff my own, adding as much or as little fat as I want, fennel, and very hot or mild or in between. That, plus the sausages end up costing less than the commercial version.

                                    As fall is approaching, its almost sausage making time. I also air dry about half I make. Again, coming out better than any beef jerky or dried sausage that I can buy.

                                    Also, experimenting can be fun, making cajun boudin, or pepperoni sticks, or merguez, or breakfast, or whatever. Just have a look here at the possibilities

                                    Many people see it as alot of work (I buy whole pork legs and go from there. Even use the skin to make cotechino, a pork-skin based sausage), I see it as an event to be enjoyed (plus drinking wine helps).

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: porker

                                      Thanks for the link; I've saved it. I have The Sausage-Making Cookbook but am embarassed to admit I've barely looked at it.

                                      I LOVE cotechino! I bought one at a butcher in North Beach in SF and made a Batali dish called Cotechino in Jail in which the sausage (cooked and "casing" removed) is stuffed in a piece of veal shoulder. It was amazing.

                                      Thanks for replying to this thread. You've gotten me energized to branch out.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Good to see that lpoli is on a new server. His site was down for while.

                                        Here's a few more sausage links in CH:

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Back to topic, it is rumored that initially Jimmy Dean wanted to invest in sardines, but he was worried that the homonym would engender too many jokes.

                                            Plus, he feared that with any IRS infraction, he would end up in the can.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          It was on a Chowhound thread that I discovered pork skin braciole. I had made veal versions where I used a thin cutlet, added a stuffing, rolled, tied and braised.
                                          Using the pork skin sounded great and I vowed to make it next time I skinned a leg for sausage.
                                          Heres some pictures: pig skin, stuffing, rolled & tied, braised in toamto sauce and wine, final product.
                                          It was awesome.

                                          Yeah, I'd suggest when making sausages, reserve a bit of meat to try a different type (and keep notes), you'll come across some great ones along the way - and some meh.

                                          1. re: porker

                                            Oh, wow. Just wow. I can taste that through the computer screen :)

                                            1. re: porker

                                              Porker.....I feel faint, light headed, rapid heartbeat,......... great dish!!!!!!

                                        2. I usually make my own sausage (I too have the grinder attachment for the KA - I'd gotten it originally for DH but he just let it sit until I'd had enough and just started using it myself), and I have to agree that there is no comparison. And since you're not even bothering with casings, it's really easy too. I used the breakfast sausage recipe from Charcuterie and even gave portions out for Christmas last year. That being said, we are in the process of moving, and my attachments are all in a storage unit (my KA is not - it went to stay with a trusted friend and even though the house isn't ready for the details it's ready enough for my mixer, dang it). I'd rather have some sausage for my Sunday sausage biscuits than no sausage at all, so I make do with JD and I don't even mind...much. Note, though, that I said sausage biscuits and not biscuits and gravy, because I can't stand the latter, and I'm a born and bred Southerner! Much to my husband's chagrin, too, because he loves it (and he's from central CA!).

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: auburnselkie

                                            Bless you, my child. Another biscuits and gravy loather :)

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              We're a small but powerful group, I think! :)

                                              1. re: auburnselkie

                                                And in my case anyway, quite vocal :)

                                                As a post-mortem, minus the two portions I used in the two scrambles, I cooked up the rest of it yesterday and will add it to the dogs' food over the coming days. Even Frugal Bob didn't object. RIP, JD.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Be something the dogs turn up their noses...

                                                  1. re: porker

                                                    My avatar has only refused lettuce and carrots. If it's meat, it's food.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Mine? It was meat, it was food.

                                          2. If you think for one minute that Jimmy Dean ever made sausages, you must still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. J.D. products are mde in food processing factories that are contracted to private label many different brand name we see on TV. I've actually seen J.D. sausages come out of such a factory in Norwood, MA. Don't be too disallusioned, that's the way of the world.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: CocoDan

                                              Why did you think that I thought that? I mentioned they're owned by Sara Lee. However, his family did used to raise pigs and make sausage so it was probably a logical business for him to look at. And why would I be disillusioned? I think perhaps you don't get the point of my post. I wasn't asking if people felt the same as I. I was stating a fact.

                                              1. re: CocoDan

                                                Sorry, but as I posted earlier, his sausage started in Plainview , Tx. and not being spit out of Sara Lee plants all over the country. He came from a family of hog farmers, and they sold out to Sara Lee in 1984. I have a link above, the brothers butchered the hogs, and the mother seasoned it. Sounds like a family business to me.

                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                  Just noticed that some Jimmy Dean products are being sold as Jimmy D's. He's probably rolling over in his grave!

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    Yep. but perhaps he gives revel in all of it.

                                                    To be known "Jimmy D" was a treasure and trick that few of us ever achieve,

                                                    He was justa sweet Hick, got caught up in the thick, of the passion that at that time swept Holywoood. Pork bellies he knowed, so that's what he growed. The rest: Tasty Spiced Greasy food history.

                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                      I hope he's happy, he seemed like a real nice guy. I was thinking they were copying Mickey D.

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        You may have something there, with a corporate scare. Just imagine a Mick D and Jim D.

                                                        We'll know more of such merger if they issue a burger, a frozen fried version, in cardboard convenience packs, breaded, of course, Made of Pork, not of Pollock, when microwaved steamy, they could market them as "Filet O' Piggie".

                                                        But those frozen-sold buns, would lack all the fun, of the tartar sauce and melted cheese.

                                              2. Hmmm, I bought the KA grinder attachment years ago but only used it for a couple of recipes, not including sausage, before losing interest. In fact, I had to look twice to make sure I hauled it along in the last move.

                                                I'll have to try sausage making soon. Like another poster here, I am eating less meat all the time. But that just means I want the meat dishes that I do eat to be super-duper-yummy-good. I'm also trying to reduce my intake of preservatives and 16-syllable additives, so there's one more reason to give it a try.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mandycat

                                                  All our beef/ham/pork salads were made courtesy of the K/A grinder when I was a young sprout