Breakfast Sausages, Ranked From Worst to Best

Breakfast Sausages, Ranked From Worst to Best

From salty to spicy to everything in between, these are the ones to add to your grocery cart.

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Ask anyone who lives with me, and they’ll tell you that I’m extremely low maintenance when it comes to breakfast. Usually eggs or oatmeal with fruit will do. Sometimes I’ll spice it up with a bagel and cream cheese or pancakes. To me, sausages are usually reserved for a special breakfast outing. That might sound ridiculous, but that’s just me.

Little did I know that breakfast sausages, like Lunchables, are somewhat of a monopoly. While browsing several grocery stores in my hometown, I saw only a small number of brands available. Part of this is due to inventory—certain stores were simply out of stock and hadn’t had a chance to replace certain brands yet. Unlike french fries or ice cream, breakfast sausages are located in multiple places within the grocery store. Depending on the type you’d prefer, you can find them in either in the meat section or the freezer aisle.

For consistency, I stuck with only sausage links, not patties, because I was able to find more of the former. With the help of my two kids and spouse, we judged ten different brands of sausages on the following qualities: color, flavor, texture, and nutrition, such as calories, fat, sodium, etc. Here’s how ten breakfast sausages fared in our taste test, ranked from worst to best.

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10. Jimmy Dean Heat ’n Serve Turkey Sausage Links

10. Jimmy Dean Heat ’n Serve Turkey Sausage Links

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Photo: Hoang Samuelson

I’m sorry, Jimmy Dean, your sausages were the least delectable out of all the brands we tried. Instead, what we were greeted with was something akin to animal poop. My son said it looked like our former cat’s poop, while my daughter said it looked like our dog’s poop. Nothing that we’d want to eat. Well said, kids.

Although turkey is great, in my opinion, it does not make great sausages. Perhaps the only good thing I can say about this product is that it falls in the middle in terms of price. If affordability is your jam, then by all means, go for it. Just don’t expect a glossy shine, nor any tenderness or juiciness on the inside. Be prepared for your children to exclaim that it looks and tastes like animal poop.

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9. That’s Smart Original Sausage Links

9. That’s Smart Original Sausage Links

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Photo: Hoang Samuelson

Finding this brand at a local discount store was like finding a treasure—a brand I’d never heard of or seen before. Further research confirmed That’s Smart is a budget-friendly brand available exclusively at Hy-Vee, a grocery chain in the Midwest. Indeed, these sausages were the cheapest one out of the bunch: only $1.49 for 10 sausage links, which is quite a steal.

Made with pork and turkey, these sausages were tiny, and like Jimmy Dean’s sausages, they reminded me of dog poop. The interior was somewhat juicy and tender, but sadly overridden by saltiness. In fact, they were so salty (their sodium content is 410 mg for 3 links) that I could not imagine eating more than one. If you try these sausages, make sure to have a big glass of water nearby.

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8. Banquet Brown ’N Serve Original Sausage Links

8. Banquet Brown ’N Serve Original Sausage Links

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Photo: Hoang Samuelson

I was under the impression that because this brand dominates the shelves at multiple grocery stores that it must be good. Why else would stores have so many of them? These sausages are cheap, and for good reason—they just don’t taste the way breakfast sausage should.

Similar to That’s Smart sausage links, Banquet’s sausages are made with pork and turkey, with added citric acid, BHA, and BHT to “protect flavor,” according to the package. But even with additives, the sausages were bland on the inside and dark, chocolatey brown on the outside (but not in a good way). As for looks and taste? “Very much like poop,” said my kids.

Inside the microwave, they split open, leaving behind remnants of a better-to-forget lifetime of experiences eating bad diner food. Save yourself the $2.00 and buy a single sausage at McDonald’s instead.

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7. Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Links

7. Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Links

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Photo: Hoang Samuelson

To me, Great Value’s light beige exterior with spots all over it is reminiscent of a production line flaw, as if someone forgot to include an ingredient or two. Its flavor was unexceptional, something that my dog would love, but failing to satisfy humans’ higher expectations for taste, texture, and smell. The meat was a bit chewy, which is fine when you consider certain cuts of beef are the same way; however, when it comes to breakfast sausages, I was expecting an easy, juicy bite. Walmart might be known for low prices and value, but sadly this product only satisfied one of those criteria.

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6. Johnsonville Original Recipe Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage

6. Johnsonville Original Recipe Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage

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For this brand, I tried really hard to come up with something, anything to authenticate the brand’s value, but in the end, I had to judge it based on the parameters I’d laid out prior to tasting. Johnsonville’s breakfast sausages claim to have no fillers and 7 grams of protein, and while that is great marketing copy, it doesn’t make up for the taste, which was bland. I cooked the sausages according to the package instructions, and they came out shriveled up like a sad, rejected puppy. These were the darkest out of the bunch. Our consensus is that this sausage was just too rubbery.

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5. Al Fresco Country Style Chicken Breakfast Sausage

5. Al Fresco Country Style Chicken Breakfast Sausage

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The best (and worst) thing I can say about this sausage is that it is forgettable. It is simply so-so, not terrible in terms of taste, but as far as texture and color is concerned, is nothing to brag about. My partner said it was a bit “spongy, but in a good way.” My kids commented that it was a little bit spicy. I’d agree on both counts.

The spices may have something to do with the “hint of sage and thyme” notated on the package. At $3.46 for eight sausage links and 40% less sodium, it’s a decent choice to take on a camping trip or to make as a simple breakfast at home—just make sure you set middle-of-the-road expectations for this one.

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4. Kroger Original Pork Sausage Links

4. Kroger Original Pork Sausage Links

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Kroger, like Jimmy Dean and Great Value, is a brand you can purchase in bulk, at $9.99 for about 30 links. Nutritionally, these come out to 90 calories per link (ouch). But for what it’s worth, Kroger sausages taste great. These received high marks from all of us in terms of flavor, color, texture, and smell. There was a certain level of “creaminess” to these sausages; we liked the fact that it wasn’t too spicy or too salty, that it had the right amount of juiciness on the inside. The sausages came out with a rich, dark color that reminds me of what you’d get at a local diner. Dip these in ketchup or eat them plain—either way, you’ll enjoy them.

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3. Smithfield Hometown Original Links

3. Smithfield Hometown Original Links

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Smithfield was, hands down, my kids’ favorite breakfast sausage. I can see why; they were absolutely delicious, and my partner thought so too. In general, this brand scored high marks on color, flavor, texture, and taste. But the best thing about Smithfield’s sausages was the smell, which was divine. It wafted through our entire kitchen as I took them out of the microwave, making me feel warm all over. Its beautiful, dark brown exterior, coupled with the lush meat that’s not too chewy and not too salty, scored high marks for all of us.

I also loved the fact that Smithfield is one of the most affordable options. For less than $5.00, I got a bag of 25 sausage links, at a unit cost of approximately 17 cents per link. Not a bad deal at all.

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2. Simple Truth Chicken Breakfast Sausage (Apple Maple)

2. Simple Truth Chicken Breakfast Sausage (Apple Maple)

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Photo: Hoang Samuelson

I came to the store at just the right time, because these Simple Truth sausages were on clearance for $1.99 at my local Fred Meyer. (I’m guessing they were clearing out inventory to make way for new products.) Surprisingly, these sausages were gargantuan, measuring almost twice the length of other breakfast sausages. When I bit into one, I was met with a heavenly soft and tender piece of meat. It also tasted quite sweet, presumably from the apple maple flavor. The insides were beautiful and almost a hazelnut color, and its size did not shrivel up in the cooking process like the other ones did.

This sausage was such a big hit in our household that I’d still buy it even if it weren’t on sale for $1.99. Heck, I’ll buy it even if it’s $3.99. It’s that good.

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1. Villa Roma Breakfast Sausage

1. Villa Roma Breakfast Sausage

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Photo: Hoang Samuelson

I was surprised to learn that this California-based brand that started in 1987 does not dominate the larger grocery chains. This is complete blasphemy, because they were simply the best, period. Villa Roma’s sausages were the only ones that required cooking in the pan. (For the other nine products, I popped them in the microwave for about a minute and 15 seconds). This was no problem at all, because cooking four links only took me about 4-5 minutes. The result was a set of beautiful, caramel brown and extremely plump links, juicy and tender on the inside. The flavor was intense, but that’s what makes them so great. Be sure to wash these down with a strong cup of coffee or orange juice.

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