July 6, 2011

TVP Breakfast Sausage

I started eating vegetarian in January 2011, mostly because I think it's healthier and I don't really ever crave meat (except seafood, which I still occasionally eat). One thing I missed though was having a good breakfast sausage with my pancakes. Well, no more!
TVP (textured vegetable protein) is an amazing thing. It's soy protein that has had the fat removed (it's what's left when extracting soybean oil) and then they heat it and extrude it into various shapes. Most TVP you'll find is textured to simulate the consistency of ground meat. You just pour boiling water over the dried TVP, let it rehydrate, and it's ready to go. It's great to add protein and bulk to a vegetarian tomato sauce, and you can even use it to bulk up ground meat, making it both cheaper and healthier. You can make vegetarian meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, or my favorite, a savory and slightly sweet breakfast sausage. (Really, for me, this is a vehicle for sage, my favorite herb.)

TVP Breakfast Sausage
yield: 6-8 patties
prep/cook time: 20 minutes

  • 1 cup TVP
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed*
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 egg*
  • Sausage herbs and spices (adjust per your preference)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh minced sage
    • 1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon molasses or honey
    • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar or sugar substitute
*you can omit the flaxseed and add an extra egg yolk, or omit the eggs (to make it vegan) and add an extra tablespoon of ground flax. Both of these ingredients are binders that help the sausage hold its shape. If you make a substitution, you may need to adjust the liquid up or down so it's not too wet or dry.
  1. Combine TVP, flaxseed, and all herbs, spices, and sweeteners in a bowl. Pour over boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes (or cover and wait until ready to use).
  2. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add egg and pulse until combine. (You can just mix the egg in without a food processor, but processing it helps it have a homogeneous texture and makes it stick together better.)
  3. Form into 6-8 patties. Fry on a greased skillet or griddle over medium high heat until browned (about 3-5 minutes). Flip and brown on second side. (Patties have a tendency to fall apart when forming/placing on griddle, but just press them back together and they'll solidify together when cooked.)
This could easily be adjusted to make a more Italian-style sausage, with more fennel or anise, red pepper flakes, garlic, onion, etc., or even a chorizo-style sausage with smoked paprika and lots of heat. One of these days I'm going to experiment with gluten-free biscuits and TVP sausage gravy! Stay tuned for my infinitely modifiable pancake recipe.

Recipe is naturally vegetarian (vegan: replace egg with flaxseed) and gluten-free. Contains soy (TVP).


  1. Hi there! Our mutual friend Amy B. pointed me to your blog, as I've had a GF/V diet for about 18 years. Always glad to see someone else recipes/experiments!

    Just FYI, some TVP out there is actually NOT gluten-free. I guess some people think wheat counts as a 'vegetable.' Buying TVP (especially in bulk) can be tricky for those of us with gluten-free diets. I recommend Bob's Red Mill, which is certified gluten free. http://www.bobsredmill.com/tvp-textured-veg._protein.html

  2. Hiya, thanks for the heads up! You're right, some TVP is made from wheat, so you do need to be careful for gluten-free. All of what I've seen has been all soy, but I always check just in case.

  3. Yeah, I think avid label-reading is mandatory for this diet!

    BTW, my standard vegan egg replacer is:
    1 tbsp. ground flax seed + 3 tbsp. warm water

    Mix thoroughly in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or so. It will actually take on a viscous, egg-like texture!

    This replacer works really well in baked goods, which need all the cohesion help they can get if they're vegan AND GF!

    (NB: For those new to flax, best store it in the fridge as the omega-3s and 6s tend to break down quickly.)

    PS This is Kelly again; I don't know why it wants to post my name as 'Unknown.' Sorry 'bout that!

  4. Thanks Kelly. I love using flax as an egg replacer too. That's why in this recipe I just mix it with the TVP and pour the boiling water on top, killing two birds with one stone. "Flax eggs" are amazing!