Jimmy Dean-like Breakfast Links

Jimmy Dean Style Breakfast Links
Jimmy Dean-like Breakfast Links

     I got into making sausage about a year and a half ago. Partly because you have no idea what goes into store bought sausage and partly because of my love for sausage. The more I read about it, the more fascinated I became. I knew right away that I was going to try to make my own breakfast links. I have no idea why it took me so long, but I finally got around to it. No more store bought breakfast sausage for this family.

Two 5lb boneless pork shoulders (we'll get to what the second one was for later this week)
Two 5lb boneless pork shoulders (we’ll get to what the second one was for later this week)

     Lately, I’ve been going to Hirsch’s in Plano to get the pork for my sausage. They have a wonderful selection of meats, not to mention all their different types of wood for smokin. Recipes for sausage often call for 2.5 or 5lbs of pork butt. Hirsch’s will cut you the exact amount you need and will even debone it for you (I hate deboning butts). Not only that, but the quality of the meat is so much better. Plenty of marbling which is perfect for sausage making. If you aren’t in the area, I highly recommend you find a local butcher and shop there.

I thought about cropping the Jack out of the picture, but then decided to keep it real.
I thought about cropping the Jack out of the picture, but then decided to keep it real.

     Full credit for the recipe goes to a guy by the name of Kevin P. He’s a regular on the Smoke Ring forum and is considered a genius when it comes to sausage. I’ve learned a lot from reading his posts and have enjoyed all the sausage recipes of his that I have tried. This recipe is copied directly from one of his posts.

Jimmy Dean-like Breakfast Links

  • 5 lb pork butt, ground
  •  36 g kosher salt (about 5 tsp)
  • 1.0 g ground sage (little over a tsp)
  • 2 g red pepper flakes (add more to your taste)
  • 2 g thyme leaves (little over a tsp)
  • 3 g black pepper (1.5 tsp)
  • 2.5g ground coriander ( (little over a tsp)
  • Optional: 1/3 cup real maple syrup**
    **I find it too sweet & don’t add it.
  • 20-24 Sheep casings(or make a large chub to slice!) (I actually used 21mm collagen casings)
Meat all ground up and spices mixed in.
Meat all ground up and spices mixed in.


  1. Prepare 5 lbs of pork butt by deboning and cutting into 1 inch cubes. Place the meat into the freezer for 30 minutes to chill but not freeze. At this time, it would be a good idea to place the metal parts of the meat grinder into the freezer as well. Heat is your enemy when making sausage.
  2. While meat is chilling, combine your spices.
  3. Grind your meat with a fine cutting plate (I believe mine is 3/16″).
  4. Blend the meat and seasonings well by kneading for about 3 minutes.
  5. Cover tightly and refrigerate over night to allow the spices to marry.
  6. The following morning, take a small amount of the mixture and pan fry in a skillet. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  7. Using your smallest stuffing tube, stuff your sheep or collagen casings.
  8. Cut the sausage into lengths about 3″
  9. Cook the sausage at 350F for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150F, turning about halfway through).
  10. Cook the sausage within 24 hours or freeze for later use.
This is the casing I used for the sausage. I only used about half of one of them.
This is the casing I used for the sausage. I only used about half of one of the tubes.

     Here is a picture of 4lbs of the sausage all stuffed. 4lbs? You might be thinking “you said 5lbs of pork butt, though”. I took about a pound of it, divided it up into 1/4lb batches and saved it for later. Mrs. G likes to fry up bulk breakfast sausage and mix it in with her eggs. You can stuff it all, keep it all bulk or any ratio you desire. It’s up to you. I personally like links because I can take them to work with me and reheat them in the morning for breakfast.

All stuffed and ready to package
All stuffed and ready to package

     At 350F, they only take about 15 minutes to cook up. That gives you plenty of time to brew some coffee and cook up some eggs while you wait.

No more buying store bought breakfast sausage.
No more buying store bought breakfast sausage.

     These came out really good. I shouldn’t be surprised because Kevin P knows his stuff and he worked on these awhile before he dialed them in. They had a better mouth feel to them than store bought. Kind of hard to explain, but the texture and consistency was just better. The flavor was right on and the grease…they were nowhere near as greasy as the store bought stuff. I even gave some to a co-worker this morning to see what she thought and she loved them. She even asked if I would make her some more.

Things I Would Do Differently

     I think next time I would cut back on the sage. Although Mrs. G and my co-worker didn’t mind, I thought it was a bit much. Now, that could very well be an error on my part. I have a digital scale to weigh things out. It goes up to 11lbs, I believe, which is nice. But I think the drawback is that it doesn’t measure small amounts as well. I added in 1.0 g of ground sage, but it sure looked like a whole lot more than 1 tsp. Every bite I took, I kept thinking Thanksgiving (sage reminds me of Thanksgiving), but my other taste testers approved. I think I need to get a small scale for weighing out spices, herbs and seasonings.

21 thoughts on “Jimmy Dean-like Breakfast Links

  1. Good stuff! I’d probably be adding some heat to mine, and making everyone else’s sweeter. — I have all of the tools to make sausage, but the casings aren’t readily available here. Is there a mail order place that you would recommend?

    1. Adam, you can up the red pepper flakes. As for the casings, I got those at Academy, not sure if you have one near you. You could ask a local butcher or try the website Butcher & Packer. They’ve got all the stuff you need for sausage.

  2. Looks great Jason…..I need to make some soon as well as I haven’t made sausage in over a year. Might not have too much time though with the 50 in 50 thing…..

  3. Thanks so much for this! My husband is an American ex-pat, and Jimmy Dean isn’t available in Canada. He misses it a lot. I added fennel and black pepper, and with the addition of an egg, I made them into tasty sausage patties.

  4. We make venison sausage and put pork in it. We find that the cleanest pork is to use carnitas meat. The carnitas is pretty much all cut up however you might want to cut it up into smaller pieces for grinding. Even though carnitas is more expensive there is a lot less waste.

      1. I only used pork butt for these. You’d need to play around with the ratios to figure out how much venison to use. Since venison is so lean, I’d probably use more pork than venison. No basis for it, but I’d maybe try 80/20 pork to venison first and adjust from there. That’s just a wild stab, though.

  5. 80 / 20 pork to venison is ok if you are just trying to stretch your pork amount. To just fatten up a venison sausage I use a 60 / 40 venison to pork.

  6. I never put metal in the freezer due to it makes it brittle. I just keep the pork cold almost frozen. I out come is great best breakfast sausage ever

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