If you want a versatile food, look no further than sausage. Served with eggs at breakfast, tucked into a bun for lunch, or sliced up and served with pasta at dinner—sausage can easily make an appearance at every meal. Just like flavors and uses of sausage can vary, so can the healthfulness of this processed meat. Some brands are so high in saturated fat and sodium, that you’d be close to your daily limit by the time you finish breakfast. So if you eat sausage regularly, it’s important to be sure you’re choosing the best sausage brand for your health.
We asked registered dietitians for the sausage picks they recommend and like to enjoy themselves, as well as the ones they suggest steering clear of. Read on to learn more about the best and worst sausage brands, then go make a delicious meal that also complements your health goals.
In order to make sure you’re getting the healthiest, best-quality product, dietitians recommend focusing on a few of the following factors.
How to pick the healthiest sausage
Saturated fat: One of the big health culprits of sausage can be found in the large amount of saturated fat it contains. The American Heart Association recommends less than 10% of your total calories come from saturated fat, which is only 23 grams per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. Recent research has found that saturated fat from meat may have more of a negative impact on heart health than saturated fat from dairy products, another prominent source of this type of fat.
Type of meat: Sausage is traditionally made from pork, which is typically high in saturated fat and calories. But those of us looking for a healthier sausage can choose options like turkey or chicken sausage, which tends to be lower in saturated fat and higher in protein per sausage, explains Jamie Nadeau, RDN, of The Balanced Nutritionist.
Next time sausage makes an appearance on your grocery list, give one of these healthier options a try.
Best sausage brands
Gilbert’s Craft Caprese Chicken Sausage has a moderate amount of sodium, with each link containing 530 milligrams of sodium, or 22% of the recommended daily limit. “Their packaging also sets them apart from other sausage brands because each sausage is individually wrapped, which makes them a great option if you only need one or two sausages at a time,” says Nadeau. “Instead of opening an entire package, you can just grab what you need.”
Applegate Naturals Chicken & Maple Breakfast Sausage Patties are a delicious lower-sodium, low-fat option for breakfast sausage. “These patties are made with Applegate humanely raised chickens that use zero antibiotics or hormones, boosting real, quality ingredients, with no chemical nitrates or nitrites. And, they’re totally gluten and casein-free,” says Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD.
Just one patty has only a gram of saturated fat and just 220 milligrams of sodium, or 10% of the recommended daily limit.
“When it comes to sausage brands, Al Fresco All Natural Spinach & Feta Chicken Sausage stands out as an exceptional choice,” says Jessie Hulsey RD, LD, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian. One sausage has just 2.5 grams of saturated fat and only 390 milligrams of sodium, which is just 17% of the recommended daily limit.
You won’t miss the extra sodium—even without it, this sausage is superior in flavor. “Made with lean chicken meat, the Al Fresco brand takes it a step further by incorporating spinach and feta cheese, adding a delicious twist to the classic sausage,” adds Hulsey.
“As a dietitian, I am always excited to discover sausage brands that offer a perfect balance of taste and nutrition, and Amylu Tomatillo, Peppers & White Cheddar Chicken Sausage is a standout choice,” says Hulsey. “Made with lean chicken meat and without any added nitrites or nitrates, this sausage offers a lean protein source without compromising on taste.”
This sausage is nitrite- and nitrate-free, and is also free from natural nitrite sources, like celery salt, which can react with protein in meat to have the same carcinogenic risk as synthetic nitrites.