Breakfast Sausage Brands Ranked From Worst To Best

Whether you're just looking for something savory to serve next to your French toast or you want to meal prep a bunch of breakfast burritos, sausage is a handy ingredient to keep around. But which brand of breakfast sausage you buy can make the difference between a meal you choke down for sustenance in the morning and something you crave the second you wake up. The only difficulty is choosing the perfect product among all the options. 

That's where we come in — we tasted 15 popular national brands of breakfast sausage to determine once and for all which is superior. If you've been loyal to the same brand of breakfast sausage for a long time, you might be surprised to find there are better options out there. And if you don't eat pork sausage, we mixed in several poultry and plant-based options, so no matter your dietary preferences, you'll be able to find the best sausage brand for your needs.

15. Butterball All Natural Fresh Turkey Sausage

Most of us only interface with Butterball when we're buying a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, but the brand offers a variety of turkey products that you can eat throughout the year, including this log of loose breakfast sausage meat. However, if our experience is anything to go by, the company should stick to slinging whole birds.

We were wary of this sausage as soon as we opened the tube. It smelled like gamey turkey, with very little evident seasoning. The texture was also disturbingly loose, more like a meat paste than a traditional breakfast sausage. Once we tasted the cooked product, our worst suspicions were confirmed. This sausage was far too finely minced and more akin to pulped meat than ground meat. The resulting mouthfeel was both mushy and foamy, two adjectives that rarely apply to appetizing food. It was almost like the interior of a chicken nugget that had managed to escape the crispy breading, and nobody likes a naked nugget. Despite the fine grind, there were still some tiny pieces of gristle scattered throughout.

The flavor did not help make up for the lackluster texture. There was barely any perceptible seasoning besides salt, and even the salt level wasn't high enough. The lack of seasoning made this taste more like a turkey burger than a sausage. This was being sold at a steep discount at our local store, and we can see why.

14. Bob Evans Original Pork Sausage Patties

In addition to selling grocery store products, Bob Evans is a chain of casual dining restaurants that are slowly disappearing from the American landscape. We can't say we're surprised based on the brand's pre-formed pork sausage patties. Of course, these patties are stamped out by a machine, so we're not going to dock too many points for aesthetics. Still, they looked more creepily uniform and hockey puck-like than the other brands of pre-formed patties.

Texture-wise, these were also processed with too fine a grind. The mouthfeel was pasty and excessively soft, with none of the slight bounce you look for in a well-made breakfast sausage. It wasn't as much of a problem as it was for the Butterball, but it was still less than ideal.

The one positive note for this product was that it contained a sufficient amount of salt. In all other respects, however, the sausage patties were under-seasoned. We didn't pick up any distinct herb or spice flavors, and they had too much sugar for our taste. There wasn't a strong taste of pork either. The limp flavor combined with the uniform texture made these feel too much like sliced hot dogs.

13. Smithfield Hot Roll Sausage

Smithfield may be a pork product empire, but its breakfast sausage is surprisingly hard to find, at least in our neck of the woods. It was only available at one grocery store, and only the hot variety was left on the shelves. That turned out to be a blessing, however, as the spicy sausage tasted excellent. We loved that it had a distinctly more cured, salty, hammy flavor than most of the other sausages we tried. The spicy element came in the form of red pepper flakes that added the perfect amount of heat without overwhelming the classic breakfast sausage seasoning profile. There was just enough pork fat in the mix to lend the sausage a strong, meaty flavor.

So if it tasted so great, why is it languishing in the bottom half of the list? It was undone by its texture. We like a little bounce in breakfast sausage, but this went past that to being full-on tough. Even worse, it was among the most gristly sausages we tried, with every bite sure to come with an unwelcome nub of cartilage or connective tissue. We really wish the texture was better because Smithfield's flavor would put it in the upper echelon of this list. Sadly we couldn't handle the toughness.

12. Farmland Original Pork Sausage Links

This casing-free pork sausage link came out of the package looking like straight pork fat flecked with tiny pieces of meat, and its looks weren't deceiving. When cooked up, it released an incredible amount of rendered fat into the pan, but even with all that leakage, there was still plenty of grease left in the sausage. Biting into a link sent melted pork fat shooting into our mouths, coating our palates and making it difficult to detect any other components. These sausages taste like lard, with few noticeable flavors besides salt.

This wasn't entirely bad since we like how pork fat tastes. The sausages were seasoned with the proper amount of salt and what little meat they had was tender and mostly free from gristle. However, as a standalone breakfast side dish, these would be pretty overwhelming. They're so rich that it's difficult to finish even one link. These would be better as an ingredient in a recipe so you could cook them, drain the fat, and combine them with other components.

11. Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage

The Lightlife was our least favorite of the plant-based sausages we tried. It emerged from its tube appearing unappealing and gray, but it wasn't all bad. Once it was cooked, it looked pretty nice and nailed the consistency of real meat sausage minus the unappetizing gristle. It was slightly bouncy yet tender and thankfully not mushy at all. It wouldn't convince anybody that it was real meat, but it would perform well in classic sausage dishes like biscuits and gravy or breakfast sandwiches.

The taste left something to be desired though. It wasn't awful and had a fair bit of seasoning and decent savoriness, but it wasn't great either. The first thing we noticed was something extra-sharp in the seasoning profile — perhaps a little too much black pepper? There was also a strong "fake meat" flavor that the seasoning couldn't overcome. It tasted like plant protein, most likely because of the soy protein isolate used to make it. We also noticed a bitter aftertaste that lingered even after we swallowed.

10. Banquet Brown 'N Serve Original Sausage Links

These frozen, pre-cooked sausage links had some great attributes. They browned up nicely and looked appetizing. The pork flavor came through prominently, they were well-seasoned, and they stayed juicy even after being heated up in the oven. The Banquet links were also not very gristly, which was nice. As a convenient breakfast side, they worked pretty well.

However, they had some characteristics we didn't like so much. They felt quite fatty and coated our tongues in oil, though not quite to the extent of the Farmland sausages. The worst part was their foamy texture. We suspected the odd mouthfeel might have been due to the presence of fillers in the meat, and we were correct. In addition to pork, these sausages contained both mechanically separated turkey and soy protein concentrate. 

At $1.78, this was the least expensive package of sausages we bought for this test, so perhaps that's why Banquet had to cheap out on the ingredients. However, there are some brands that cost just a few cents more that rank much higher on this list, so the low price point can't be used as too much of an excuse.

9. Jennie-O All Natural Turkey Sausage

Jennie-O is another turkey specialist with a poultry-based breakfast sausage, and its offering blew Butterball out of the water. This product had none of the textural deficiencies of its competitor and boasted a tight and coarse consistency that was reminiscent of good pork sausage. The seasoning mix in Jennie-O sausage was also excellent, with plenty of salt, pepper, and sage. A little rosemary extract provided an additional herbal kick.

The fact that this is turkey sausage is the main factor that prevented it from ranking higher. The Jenni-O seasoning blend applied to pork sausage would be amazing, but this product had a gamey turkey aftertaste that we weren't into. Nevertheless, it was still pretty tasty, and if you're looking to buy loose (not linked) sausage and want to avoid pork, this isn't a bad option. If you used it as an ingredient in a recipe, you probably wouldn't notice that it's not pork sausage except for the lower fat content.

8. MorningStar Farms Veggie Original Sausage Patties

Of the three vegetarian sausages we sampled, Morningstar Farms tried the least to approximate real meat, and that's okay. As long as it tastes good, not every vegetarian meat substitute needs to go for perfect replication. However, according to many irate comments on the company's website, the recipe has recently changed for the worse. We never sampled the old version of the product, but we thought the new version was actually pretty tasty.

These looked better than any of the meat-based pre-formed sausage patties and had a rustic pebbly exterior that browned well when cooked. They didn't taste at all like meat, but they didn't have a weird veggie protein flavor either. Instead, they tasted like grain, which was probably due to the wheat gluten included in the recipe. We enjoyed that aspect but found ourselves wanting the seasoning profile to be a little bit more like traditional breakfast sausage. They tasted like they might have ginger or some other sweet spice in them, which threw us off a little bit. Nonetheless, we still preferred them to Lightlife as far as veggie options went.

7. Applegate Naturals Chicken & Maple Breakfast Sausage

Applegate Naturals makes a wide selection of frozen meat products without using the chemicals and preservatives that you might find in other (cheaper) brands. It also raises its animals without antibiotics and claims to employ humane farming practices. As such, this brand might be a good choice for people concerned about animal welfare or who have a preference for natural foods.

Taste-wise, this chicken and maple sausage was a mixed bag. It lacked the unpleasant gamey aftertaste of some of the turkey sausage brands and had a nice black pepper kick. The mouthfeel struck the proper balance between tenderness and bite, and you could actually taste that the product was made with real chicken. 

However, we found these sausages to be a little sweet for us. The product description on the Applegate website suggests that these could be a substitute for pancakes in the morning, and we would agree. They contain sugar, maple syrup, and maple sugar, which combine to give them a candy-like sweetness. On the plus side, the flavor of real maple syrup came through strongly, so they delivered on the promise of their name.

6. Jimmy Dean Regular Pork Sausage Roll

When we close our eyes and imagine what a classic breakfast sausage looks like, a one-pound roll of Jimmy Dean pops into our minds. It's the stuff we've enjoyed our whole lives crumbled in sausage gravy, as patties next to pancakes, and slapped onto breakfast sandwiches. It was quite tasty, though not exactly mind-blowing.

We tasted this back-to-back with the Smithfield, and the contrast in textures was quite noticeable. While the Smithfield sausage was tough, the Jimmy Dean was soft, tender, and juicy. It had one of the best mouthfeels of any of the pork sausages we sampled. The flavor, sadly, was a little muted. It tasted good, but the seasoning didn't blow us away as it did in some of the other pork sausage brands. The meat was also a tad too sweet, though not nearly as sugary as the Applegate Naturals brand. If we were going to buy this again, we'd probably opt for the spicy version to get an extra kick.

5. Swaggerty's Farm All Natural Breakfast Sausage Patties

Swaggerty's Farm presents itself as a premium sausage manufacturer, and we tried a premium version of the brand's sausage by purchasing the all-natural pre-formed patties. These sausages had a reassuringly short ingredient list: pork, water, salt, spices, and sugar. After some of the brands on the bottom of the list, Swaggerty's definitely tasted premium to us.

We noticed a different seasoning profile compared with many of the other breakfast sausage brands. We picked up much less herbal character and sweetness; instead, these patties leaned into savory flavors. We thought we could detect some onion and garlic powder, which was a welcome addition to the mix. We liked the minimal amount of sugar as well, as it allowed the meaty taste of the pork to shine through. The texture was nice and firm without being tough, although there were a few small pieces of gristle. The absence of MSG and preservatives in this product could appeal to the same people who like Applegate Naturals.

4. Jones All Natural Golden Brown Turkey Sausage

This was the only turkey sausage that we could say wholeheartedly was good sausage, full stop — not just good for turkey sausage. In fact, other than it not being greasy, there's no way we would be able to tell this wasn't pork sausage if we were served it blind. In addition to being the best turkey sausage we tried, it was also the best pre-cooked frozen link, so it was both tasty and convenient. It was nicely pre-browned and looked great after being warmed up. 

This was the most herbaceous sausage we tried, with a ton of sage. The company doesn't use mechanically separated meat, so the links had none of the weird texture of some of the cheaper sausage brands. There was just a touch of sweetness, which balanced well with everything else that was going on flavor-wise. It didn't taste gamey at all and had a mild meaty savoriness. We recommend this over any other poultry sausage.

3. Impossible Sausage

We've been quite impressed with Impossible Foods' plant-based "ground beef" products, so we had high hopes for this sausage made from plants. The product did not look appealing at all in its raw state. It was primarily composed of pink sludge with a loose, almost pourable texture. The sludge was studded with hard white chunks of what we presumed to be coconut oil based on the ingredient list.

Bad first impression aside, something magical happened to this sausage when it cooked. It firmed up and took on an appearance that was indistinguishable from traditional pork sausage. One bite confirmed the eye test: This stuff really tasted and felt like "real" sausage. It had the classic sage and black pepper flavor profile and the texture was really meaty. It also had a lot of fat in it, which made it more like pork sausage than either of the other vegan options. We would probably be fooled by this if we didn't know it was vegan. If we focused really hard, we could taste a slight plant protein aftertaste, but it wasn't noticeable at all.

2. Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage

Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage links differentiated themselves from the competition in a couple of ways. For one, these were the only links that came wrapped in casings. Even though the casings were collagen rather than natural intestine, they still added a pleasant snappiness. Although the meat was finely ground, it was held in tightly by the casings so it didn't feel mushy.

In addition to the casing, the other unique aspect of the Johnsonville links was their seasoning mix. After sampling over a dozen sausages flavored with variations on the same spice blend, the spices in these links really stood out. They didn't taste much like herbs or black pepper but instead leaned toward sweeter spices. We're not exactly sure what specific seasonings were in there, but we thought we could taste ginger along with mace and maybe nutmeg. These spices played well with the pork and made for a delicious sausage that was different from the norm. These aren't in the top spot, however, because they might disappoint someone who's looking for the classic breakfast sausage experience.

1. Farmer John Classic Pork Sausage Links

If you're looking for the best possible version of a classic, straightforward breakfast sausage with no twists or modern innovations, we recommend Farmer John. These skinless links were fatty enough to deliver serious pork flavor, but not so fatty that all we could taste was lard. The meat was very coarsely ground, which gave it a satisfying chew, but it was still quite tender and succulent too. It delivered the perfect mix of all the typical breakfast sausage seasonings: herbs, black pepper, and salt. There was just enough sugar to moderate the savoriness without turning the sausage into a pork-flavored dessert.

Even though this isn't one of the all-natural brands, Farmer John sausage doesn't have mechanically separated meat or other fillers in it, so you know it's high-quality. Even better, it's one of the cheapest brands we tested — a half-pound box only cost $2 at our local supermarket. As long as you eat pork, you can't go wrong with Farmer John.