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Have you ever wanted to sub ground turkey for ground sausage in a recipe?  Here’s how you can transform the turkey with spices already in your spice rack!

How to sub ground turkey for ground sausage

Why sub ground turkey for ground sausage, you ask?

  • If you want to make a recipe that calls for sausage, but don’t have any on-hand
  • If you don’t eat pork
  • If ground turkey is on sale at the grocery store
  • If you’re watching your diet and want to eat less fat, cholesterol, and sodium

Seasoning ground turkey like ground sausage is really easy to do!  All you need is a homemade spice mix.

How to substitute ground turkey for ground sausage

(Does anyone else think dried spices are incredibly beautiful?)

Here are my favorite recipes with ground sausage that would taste great with this substitution

My husband and I also eat this seasoned ground turkey as a topping on homemade pizza. Delicious!

How to Season Ground Turkey like Ground Sausage


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or equal parts dried basil, oregano, and thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon packed light brown sugar (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or whole fennel seeds


  1. In a small bowl, combine all spices (including brown sugar, if using) and set a aside.
  2. Brown ground turkey in a large pan on stovetop.
  3. Add red wine vinegar and stir.  Add spice mix and stir to combine.

Use in place of ground sausage in your favorite recipes!

Seasoning mix adapted from allrecipes.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest (@kellymcnelis) for more recipe ideas!

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9 years ago

What can i use instead of the red wine vinegar?

9 years ago

I thought this was for a breakfast sausage, the kind with sage. Instead I found an Italian sausage recipe. I like that, would be great to make my own Italian sausage since sometimes it is near impossible to find in my tiny rural grocery store.

8 years ago

Thank you so much!
We don’t eat pork or beef and I have been trying to find a way to sub in ground turkey in our Italian recipes and have it taste the same. I have used fennel seeds in the past however the flavor wasn’t the same. Thank you for the exact seasoning breakdown. I will be trying this out in my baked ziti this weekend. Thank you for sharing.

8 years ago

Would this work as well with ground beef?

8 years ago
Reply to  Kelly McNelis


Yahli Eady
7 years ago

thank you for this recipe! every year, my kids and I hunt for ground turkey sausage to stuff our turkey with – sometimes we find it sometimes we don’t. with this recipe I’ll have it whenever I need it! thank you very much!

Jill Petrush Rogers
7 years ago
Reply to  Yahli Eady

Yahli, you’re so welcome!

Lita Watson
6 years ago

My child is allergic to fennel, celery and carrots. So that ground or whole fennel seeds ingredient can be replaced by anise for this recipe, can’t it?