In North America, Italian sausage (salsiccia [salˈsittʃa] in Italian) most often refers to a style of pork sausage . Modern health-conscious versions may use use turkey. The sausage is often noted for being seasoned with fennelor anise as the primary seasoning. In Italy, however, a wide variety of sausages are made, many of which are quite different from the product commonly known as ‘Italian sausage’ in North America.
The most common varieties marketed as “Italian Sausage” in North American supermarkets are hot, sweet, and mild. The main difference between hot and mild is the addition of hot red pepper flakes in the spice mix of the former. The difference between mild and sweet is the addition of sweet basil in the latter.
In Australia, a variety of mild salsiccia fresca (literally meaning “fresh sausage”) seasoned primarily with fennel is sold as “Italian sausage”, which is popular in magazine recipes and often used in place of regular sausage.