Over the past several years, chicken sausage seems to have gone from a newfangled semi-diet food to a respected product in its own right. I used to feel a little sheepish when I bought it — as if I were cheating on my foodie street cred by buying this non-authentic and clearly commercialized version of real European sausage. But as I started seeing more intriguing varieties appear in stores and realized how much I was coming to rely on them as a pantry staple, I decided why fight a good thing?
The truth of the matter is that chicken sausage is super handy and a great ingredient for quick weeknight meals. It comes in a huge variety of flavors, from spicy andouille and Italian herb to apple-chardonnay and pesto. Nearly all the chicken sausage I've seen is already cooked, so it saves me the extra step of needing to cook it through before adding it to a casserole or pasta sauce.
I usually keep a few kinds of chicken sausage on hand in the freezer. This way, I always have some options for weeknight meals. I can grab just one link or a whole package, and I know they'll thaw quickly in a bowl of warm water while I'm prepping other ingredients for the dinner.
Need more reasons to give chicken sausage a try? I'll give you five!
- Easy Weeknight Pasta Sauce: Just one or two links chicken sausage really round out a sauce without making it feel meat-heavy.
- No-Cook Pizza Topper: Our usual weeknight pizzas are super-quick affairs, and I love that I can just scatter the diced sausage over the top without needing to pre-cook it.
- Frittata Add-In: Dinner frittatas are always a way for me to use up leftovers from the week and adding some diced chicken sausage makes them feel like a more complete and filling meal.
- Easy Dinner Sauté: Quickly sautéed with veggies and some fresh herbs, this becomes an easy topper for a bowl of polenta or brown rice.
- Casserole Filler: Whether we're talking about a free-form weeknight pasta casserole or a potluck entree, I find that chicken sausage is always welcome. Pesto-seasoned links have been a recent favorite!
We are definitely fans of chicken sausage in my house. What about yours? How do you cook with it?
This post has been updated. Originally published April 25, 2012.
(Image credits: Nealey Dozier)