Fire up the grill and enjoy these tasty heart-healthy Italian sausage burgers at your next cookout.

The words sausage and heart-healthy aren’t typically found in the same sentence, but these quick-to-make burgers allow you to enjoy the flavors you love in a healthy way. A homemade spice mixture is added to lean ground pork, creating a full-flavored sausage patty with significantly less sodium and saturated fat than processed store-bought sausage.

No grill? No problem. Toss formed patties on a sheet pan and broil on the highest rack in your oven, flipping once, until fully cooked.


1 lb lean ground pork
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
Optional – 4 slices provolone cheese, Dijon mustard

Spice Mixture

1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
¼ -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, depending on desired heat level
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Several grinds of cracked black pepper

Peppers & Onions Mixture

1 small onion
1 medium red pepper
1 medium green pepper
2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste, no salt added


  1. In a small bowl, combine all spice mixture ingredients. Place ground pork in a large bowl and sprinkle with the spices. Mix well and form seasoned pork into 4, 4 oz patties. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

  1. De-seed peppers and slice peppers and onions into uniform pieces. In a large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté sliced onion for 3 minutes before adding sliced peppers. Sauté another 6 minutes and then add dried basil, red wine vinegar, and tomato paste. Stir well, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers are tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

  1. Preheat grill to medium high. Grill patties for 4-6 minutes per side until cooked through. Finished burger cooking temperature should be a minimum of 160°. If desired, add a thin slice of provolone cheese during the last minute of cooking.
  2. Lightly toast insides of buns on the grill and if using, coat with a thin smear of Dijon mustard. Serve burgers hot, topped with onions and pepper mixture.
Now that’s a tasty burger!

Serves 4.


Nutrition for 4 oz burger with peppers and onions (refer to packaging for bun nutrition):

Calories 232 Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 4 g Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 70 mg Sodium 65 mg
Potassium 164 mg Total Carbohydrate 7 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g Sugars 3 g
Protein 24 g