regular sausage for pizza(top left), sausage(bottom left), versus italian sausage(bottom right)

Pizza – a term that elicits a sense of joy, comfort, and anticipation. From New York to Naples, this humble yet universally adored dish graces our tables, tantalizing our senses with an array of textures, aromas, and flavors. Today, we delve into a hot topic: sausage and Italian sausage, two stars in the constellation of pizza toppings. Which one truly steals the show? Let’s embark on this culinary adventure and find out.

Understanding Sausages


Journeying through history, sausages have been a gastronomic constant, adapting and evolving, intertwining themselves with diverse cultures and cuisines. The realm of sausages extends far and wide, encompassing types of sausage like pork sausage, chicken sausage, and even the humble hot dog, a variety of sausage that has claimed its unique space in the culinary landscape.

At their core, sausages are a celebration of resourcefulness and creativity. Traditionally, less prime cuts and fat parts of the pork are used, blended with a variety of spices, and encased within a thin skin, often made of animal intestines. Sodium phosphate and sodium nitrite are common preservatives, enhancing the shelf life of these flavorful parcels. The addition of natural flavoring agents like black pepper and thiamine mononitrate add an extra layer of complexity to the sausage’s taste profile.

Breakfast sausage, a favorite way of starting the day in the United States, is known for its hint of sweetness, thanks to the addition of maple syrup. It can be a great topping on a homemade pizza, too, offering a unique twist to the traditional sausage pizza recipe.

What’s the Deal with Italian Sausage?

italian sausage and an italian sausage topped pizza

Traversing across the Atlantic, we land in Italy, the homeland of a distinct variant of sausage – the Italian sausage. At the heart of an Italian sausage is pork meat, similar to a regular pork sausage. But what sets it apart is the unique blend of spices.

The licorice-scented herb, fennel seed, is the most important ingredient that sets Italian sausage apart from the rest. It adds an exotic, slightly sweet note, transporting you straight to the heart of Italy with every bite. In addition, a dash of red pepper flakes imparts subtle heat, while the sweet basil provides an aromatic freshness that is uniquely Italian. Garlic and onion powder are often added for an additional depth of flavor.

The Italian sausage you see in the grocery store often comes in various forms, such as sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage, and mild Italian sausage. Each type of Italian sausage varies in its heat level, adjusted by the quantity of red pepper flakes used.

Sausage on Pizza: The American Love Affair

sausage pizza, sausages

Pizza, a dish that has transcended its Italian roots, has found a new home in the hearts of the American people. Among the numerous toppings that adorn this beloved dish, sausage enjoys unrivaled popularity, rivaling even the iconic pepperoni pizza.

Ground meat, such as pork or beef, is a preferred choice for many. Golden brown sausages, cooked to perfection, add a depth of flavor that beautifully complements the sweetness of the tomato sauce and the creaminess of the mozzarella cheese. Additional ingredients like green peppers and red peppers can add a touch of freshness to counterbalance the richness of the meat. The aroma of a sausage pizza baking in the oven is enough to make any day of the week feel special.

Italian Sausage on Pizza: A Slice of Italy

sausage(left) italy and italian flag(main pic)

Though sausage is a staple on American pizzas, do Italians put sausage on pizza? Interestingly, Italian sausage is a more common topping in American-style pizzas than traditional Italian pizzas. That being said, the spicy sausage pizza, topped with hot Italian sausage, red onions, and a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes, is a tantalizing variant enjoyed by many.

When considering Italian sausage for your pizza, the size matters. Sausage for pizza is often broken into smaller pieces or small slices rather than large chunks. This ensures that every bite of pizza includes a piece of this mouth-watering topping.

Comparing Sausages: Regular vs. Italian – A Deeper Dive

When it comes to pizza, choosing between regular and Italian sausage boils down to your flavor preference and how these flavors interact with other ingredients. Regular sausage, with its straightforward, meaty flavor, can be a great addition to pizzas with many toppings, allowing it to blend seamlessly with other flavors.

Regular sausage is often made from a combination of pork, beef, and chicken. It’s typically seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices, but the flavor profile is generally milder than that of Italian sausage. This type of sausage can be bought in links, patties, or ground form, providing flexibility for various pizza recipes.

fennel seed and anise seed

Contrastingly, Italian sausage is a more characteristically flavorful ingredient, bringing a depth of flavor that can define the taste of a pizza. It’s a type of pork sausage that’s seasoned with fennel seed or anise seed, which gives it a distinctive and slightly licorice-scented flavor. Other common seasonings include salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.

basil and pepper flakes

Italian sausage comes in both sweet and hot varieties. The sweet variety is seasoned primarily with sweet basil, while the hot variety includes hot pepper flakes for that extra kick. These bold flavors make Italian sausage the star of the show on a pizza with fewer toppings, enhancing the overall taste experience.

Another aspect to consider is texture. Regular sausage, particularly when bought ground or in patty form, can be crumbled into small pieces that distribute evenly over a pizza, providing a consistent flavor in every bite. Italian sausage, on the other hand, is often sliced, allowing for larger, juicier pieces that offer a more pronounced bite and flavor burst.

In terms of cooking methods, there’s a significant question: Do you brown Italian sausage before putting it on pizza? It’s generally a good idea to cook Italian sausage before placing it on your pizza, especially if you prefer smaller pieces over larger chunks. Doing so ensures the sausage is fully cooked through and helps to enhance the flavors, adding a deeper complexity to your pizza.

Lastly, when considering health aspects, both types of sausage contain protein, fat, and sodium, but the specific amounts can vary based on the type of meat used and the amount of seasoning. Regular sausage might have slightly less fat and sodium, depending on the meat blend and spices used, while Italian sausage may have more due to the added flavorings.

In the end, the decision between regular and Italian sausage on pizza is subjective, based on individual taste preferences and dietary needs. Whether you prefer the simple, meaty flavor of regular sausage or the robust, complex notes of Italian sausage, both are worthy contenders in the pizza topping arena.

Health Considerations: Balance and Moderation

No food discussion is complete without touching upon nutritional aspects. Sausages, while high in flavor, can also be high in fat and sodium. It’s important to consider these factors, particularly if you are conscious about your daily diet.

Sausages, both regular and Italian, contain a significant amount of protein, which is vital for muscle growth and repair. However, they also contain a considerable amount of fat, including saturated fats. While fat is a necessary part of our diet, too much-saturated fat can lead to increased cholesterol levels, posing potential risks to heart health.

Sausages are also high in sodium, primarily due to the salt used as a flavor enhancer and preservative. High sodium intake has been linked to increased blood pressure, which can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, processed meats such as sausages often contain additives like sodium nitrite and ascorbic acid, which, while safe in moderation, can be harmful in large quantities.

Despite these considerations, sausages can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. Pairing sausage with high-fiber foods, such as whole grain pizza crust and an array of vibrant vegetables, can help balance out the meal. Fiber not only aids in digestion but also helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Consider adding ingredients like green peppers and red peppers to your pizza, which are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, promoting overall health. Onions, too, are a great source of vitamin C and flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.

If you’re concerned about fat content, consider using leaner sausage alternatives. Chicken sausage, for example, typically has less fat and fewer calories than pork or beef sausage, making it a healthier choice for those watching their fat intake.

And remember, portion control is crucial. A serving of food should fit into your overall daily diet and align with your dietary goals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single serving size of meat is about 3 ounces, which roughly equates to three thin slices or two thicker slices of sausage.

A pizza loaded with veggies, and sprinkled with a controlled portion of sausage, can be both a nutritious and satisfying meal. When balanced with regular physical activity and other healthy eating habits, you can enjoy your favorite sausage pizza without guilt.

In the end, food is meant to be savored and enjoyed, not feared. Being mindful of what and how much you eat can go a long way in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So go ahead, and relish your favorite sausage pizza, but remember – balance is key!


So, as we draw the curtain on our pizza saga, what’s the verdict? Sausage or Italian sausage – what will it be on your next pizza night? In reality, the answer lies in personal preference. Both types have their merits, and the best way to decide is simply to try them for yourself.

The next time you’re kneading pizza dough or perusing the sausage section of your grocery store, remember – the possibilities are as limitless as your creativity. Here’s to many more delicious pizza adventures!

Remember, this is a casual exploration of the delightful realm of pizza toppings. Always ensure food safety and maintain a balanced diet. Your health is important, and so is the joy you derive from your food. Pizza is more than a dish; it’s a journey, an experience, and a testament to the simple pleasure of savoring good food. Enjoy your pizza, one delicious slice at a time!

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