We do not have genuine pork Italian sausages here in Israel. When a recipe like Ragu or Bolognese calls for Italian sausage, what meat could be used as a substitute for ground pork, and what seasonings should I add to match the seasonings that are commonly found in Italian sausage?

  • I have a friend who doesn't eat pork and I sometimes like to cook for her. I was about to ask a similar question. +1
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 15:15
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    A little fennel seed in the dish can trick people into thinking they're eating Italian sausage.
    – Dan C
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 19:51
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    Well, with Ragù alla Bolognese you can simply substitute your entire recipe with one that uses exclusively minced beef. It's quite common in Italy, perhaps in some regions more than the version with minced pork mixed in (in which pork should never ever exceed 50% but is usually much less anyway). Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 20:16
  • You may want to try alheira. Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 15:10
  • Most stores here in the US at least in NY sell Itlian style sausage using chicken instead of pork. Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 4:04

3 Answers 3


By "Italian Sausage" I think you mean the seasoned pork sausage available in many supermarkets throughout the US.

I've found that a 30-70 mix of beef and turkey/chicken works reasonably well as a substitute when pork is not available. Beef is too strong a flavor and turkey too weak in its own. Flavor-wise most italian sausage has red wine, fennel, and oregano.

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    @Erica : ragu and bolognese are sauces that include meat. I don't believe they're actually varieties of sausages. (Ragu means 'rags', and is a slow-cooked sauce where the meat completely falls apart. Bolognese is another slow cooked meat sauce from the Bologna area.)
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 13:20
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    Lamb can be used to make a mean meat sauce, however is too strongly flavored to be used as a substitute for port sausage @GalacticCowboy
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 16:15
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    @ToddWilcox: There's something amusing about shipping "Italian sausage" from California to Israel. It could wave hello to Italy from the boat on the way past. But it still might be easier than finding a non-pork sausage that's actually from Italy :-) Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 16:21
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    To be fully accurate, @Joe, "Bolognese" is a kind of ragù.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 19:06
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    There are more @Joe s in this thread than styles of Ragù in Italy. Consider changing your names to "Joe alla Bolognese" and "Joe di Cervo" or something :P Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 20:23

If you have not already looked, check the vegetarian section of where-ever you get groceries. At least here in the USA there are several varieties of Italian "sausage" that are entirely meat free and kosher. YMMV, but I find them to be an entirely satisfactory substitute.


Bar Akiva, you are very lucky as this is a really easy problem to solve: just don't use sausage in your ragu!

Traditional ragus don't have sausage at all. The usual recipes call for minced beef or minced calf meat as a primary ingredient; to it you can add a quantity of minced pork to add more flavour (by adding fat), balancing on your taste between 50% pork/50% other meat, to 100% other meat plus a bit of bacon, to no pork at all.

We even have duck ragu, rabbit ragu, wild boar ragu...really, don't let yourself be limited by pork.

Traditional Bolognese is also totally without pork.

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    @Jefromi the OP is actually asking for a substitute of the sub-par substitute of an optional ingredient. I suggested at least one and added a few more valuable information that will make the final product taste much better than substituting a substitute with, for example, a vegetarian sausage...
    – motoDrizzt
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 23:38
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    Okay, sure, maybe "not an answer" is too harsh, sorry - the part of your answer that actually talks about what kinds of meat you might use does answer the substitute question. However, I would ask that you refrain from all caps (looks like shouting) and preferably also avoid calling entire groups of people lazy or incompetent because they don't make food the way you prefer it. The world has room for a lot of different traditions, and there's no need to be hostile about our differences. I've therefore gone ahead and edited - feel free to edit further, but please keep it civil.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 23:40
  • Well...I totally agree about the caps part (I like them from time to time, but I have no problem if they are not ok here), so no problem with the edit at all. For the rest...dunno, problem here (in the answer, not with you, obviously) is that I was trying to put things into perspective for the OP: modern recipes call for sausage not for the taste it adds, but as an actual shortcut to avoid to have to use the correct ingredients to achieve the correct taste. Sorry, but if you find a recipe for the ratatouille saying "ingredients: canned ratatouille" you can't dismiss it as...
    – motoDrizzt
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 0:06
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    "they don't make food the way you like it". Here in Italy you use sausages in ragu when you are lazy, it's a matter of fact, not my taste, not a problem of traditions or be hostile whatsoever. We do ragu without sausages; and Bolognese is a kind of ragu that is even without pork. How can I'm supposed to correctly answer to a question which spun off from the objctively wrong premises, if I can't point they are wrong? That said...I'm civil. I promise :-) (by the way...I'm ok with all the edits, as I expressed my opinion here in the comments, OP can read them here)
    – motoDrizzt
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 0:08
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    The OP isn't wrong. They're doing something different. It's up to them to decide what they want to make. So how can you "correctly" answer? Look at my edited version of your answer. It still conveys that you and other people making traditional Italian food wouldn't do this, without telling the OP that they're wrong. Turning "different" into "wrong" isn't the most hostile thing I've ever seen, but it's still not nice.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 0:40

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