12 Popular Store-Bought Sausage Brands, Ranked

We love a good hot dog in the summertime, slathered with our personal preference of ketchup, mustard, or mayo. But delicious as they are, sometimes we crave something a little heartier and a little less reminiscent of college struggle meals. That's when sausage really hits the spot.

Sausages can be played up or down, either slapped into a hot dog bun or be the sizzling star of a classy Italian meal. They come sweet, spicy, or savory, and in a variety of meats, from mild turkey to bold chorizo. You can even eat them at breakfast or dinner. When we really consider it, there's a lot of versatility in a good sausage. So, naturally, the next order of business was choosing the best ones. To taste and test these products, we mostly cooked these on the stovetop, but you can choose your own adventure. Grill, air fryer, added in slices to recipes .... just please don't use the microwave unless you're really, really desperate.

There were a lot of brands to try that were completely new to us, and some that anyone would recognize from their basic grocery store. We had fun with flavors and tried some of both breakfast and dinner varieties to keep things interesting. Along the way, we stumbled upon some winners. If you're not hungry for a hearty meal, you just might be after reading our ranking of sausage brands, starting at the bottom and working your way (and appetite) up to the very best.

12. Jimmy Dean

We had to get some breakfast sausages on this list, and one brand seems to be the go-to: Good old Jimmy Dean. We decided to tease him out of his comfort zone a bit, however, by seeing what he did with turkey sausage. Jimmy Dean's Fully Cooked Turkey Sausage Links are going to hit differently than your average pork sausage for a few reasons. For starters, turkey is a leaner meat, which means that the sausages are less juicy and fatty. For another, the flavor is more mild and mellow.

But they can still be really good, potentially even better, than pork sausage when well done. Sadly, these are not it. The texture is off, both dry and somewhat pebbly, with odd bits of linty chunks that are off-putting. The flavor is bland enough that we couldn't tell whether it needed more or less salt (but knew it needed more seasoning). We're not likely to buy Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, whether it's turkey or pork.

11. Johnsonville

Johnsonville's sausages are for meat lovers. Each link is hearty, thick, and definitely bigger than other daintier sausages we tried. However, they don't quite live up to the expectations set by other products on the market. The texture is relatively average, with a slightly rubbery consistency and swollen, bulbous texture when cooked.

We decided to play up the robust size and texture of the sausages by choosing the vigorous Irish O'Garlic flavor. Alas, even with the pungency and kick of garlic, the taste of each link was also underwhelming. Instead of depth and nuance, these links go all-in on the meaty flavor, with plain old pork coming through. It's also a little too salty, which feels like overcompensating for the one-note flavor profile. On the plus side, these sausages are highly accessible, and their intensity will please anyone who wants the meatiest, heartiest sausage around, instead of the lighter, brighter, more delicate varieties. But there are better options available if you're seeking amazing, rich flavors with less aggressively fatty and salty texture and taste.

10. Aidell's

Upon a visit to his website, we spot the claim that Bruce Aidell is "The Original Sausage Artist." Props to the guy, because sausage-making is an art form less immediately transfixing than, say, watercolor painting. Aidell's Honeycrisp Apple All Natural Chicken Sausage excited us for a few reasons, mostly because it was one of the first sausages we tasted so we had no opportunity to be overly jaded. Honestly, however, it didn't set the tone we were hoping for.

The sausage skins don't have that snap we love, but they do have a distinct chewiness that is hard to slice into. Inside, the meat itself is slightly mushy and overly processed. One of us said that the texture reminded her of a cheap hotdog, which was a little harsh, but also pretty on the nose. We didn't get any of the fresh, tart, crisp apple flavor, which is the part we most looked forward to. In the end, both taste and texture were a little dull. Still, it wouldn't be bad at all sliced and mixed into a recipe where its mild and unchallenging qualities meld well with other flavors. Try using it in a simple yet delicious weeknight dinner like this chicken sausage and bell pepper pasta recipe we love.

9. North Country Smokehouse

Chorizo is coming in hot. It's bold and savory, vibrant and spicy, and cooking with chorizo is a real joy. A handful of the sausage brands we encountered had a chorizo option, but we decided to choose it as a litmus test for North Country Smokehouse. It just made sense to grab something rich and robust for a brand boasting country smokehouse inspiration in its name. All the products, including the flavor of the day Chorizo Mexican-Style Sausage, are carefully crafted and high-end.

The evidence is right in the brief ingredient list containing nothing unsavory: Pork, water, seasoning (paprika, spices) sea salt, red vinegar, brandy, sodium nitrite, and vinegar. Well okay, there is that brandy, but don't worry, it only adds a punch of flavor. We suspect that it might be the "can't put a finger on it" secret ingredient making the North Country Smokehouse links extra smokey. Or maybe it's the paprika? Whatever the case, though the flavor brings the heat, it doesn't taste exactly like authentic chorizo — more of a chorizo-flavored regular dinner sausage. The texture is also slightly tough and vaguely grisly. It's an interesting product for sure, and a step above something like Johnsonville, but we've had better sausages.

8. Harris Teeter

Italian sausages come in many forms and flavors. They're a great blueprint for riffing and customizing. You'll probably see a mild, sweet, and hot option in your everyday grocery store. To keep this taste test on its toes, we chose to analyze Hot Italian Sausage from our local Harris Teeter. We like the way this chain's store brand is usually a cut above, so we were interested to see how its sausages hold up to both the fancier craft brands and the big-name basics on the list. The verdict: It's just as we'd thought. This is a great lower-priced dinner sausage for your every need, from straight-up on a grill to folded into a hearty, soul-warming white lasagna. If it's not grilling season or you're just looking to try a different cooking approach, we think that these sausages would hold up really well to boiling (which is perhaps our favorite way to prepare all our sausages).

They've got some solid heat and spice, but we couldn't pick out particular spices or sources of the tongue-tingling. Nothing overpowers the total effect of just a flavorful, juicy link. They're also sizable, meaning we're getting our money's worth. Basically, if they're the more affordable option and you're questioning whether or not to just ruin your budget and go for the Gilberts or Aidells of the sausage world, don't worry. Your meal will still be a standout if you go for Harris Teeter.

7. Jones

What's your perfect brunch? Buttery, crisp-edged pancakes, golden-brown waffles with puddles of the best maple syrup, or custardy French toast? Though it'll always be a debate, one thing that is non-debatable is how a good breakfast sausage takes the meal to the next level. You really need that salty, robust, hearty flavor of meat (or a plant-based substitute) to provide the necessary contrast. And don't even get us started on how much breakfast sausage helps a plateful of scrambled eggs turn into a feast. You just have to choose the right one. We'll eat a bad one if we have to, but it's worth digging a little deeper to find gold.

As far as we're concerned, after this taste test, Jones Dairy Farm's All-Natural Golden Brown Pork Links is the gold standard of tasty, affordable, accessible, and approachable breakfast sausage. They're everything you need, and though they probably won't be the star of the show, they check the boxes with ease. First of all, they're made with all-natural ingredients and free from preservatives, which is a breakfast boon. Yet even without those preservatives, they're fully cooked, and even easier to fry up than your eggs. Each link has a spot-on flavor and texture, plus both a savory and slightly sweet flavor perfectly balanced with a barely-there blend of spices. The texture is juicy and tender, neither dry nor spongey. Obviously, Jones frozen sausages aren't the most luxurious, but for what you're getting, the getting is good.

6. 365 by Whole Foods Market

365 by Whole Foods Market has become quite the behemoth, thanks to its affiliation with Amazon. This means you buy Whole Foods Market products either in-store or with a simple click around your Amazon Fresh Prime account. Speaking of fresh, these Organic Feta Spinach Chicken Sausages were the freshest-tasting we tried. Chicken sausage is the lightest dinner sausage option, and we don't mean nutritionally — one link is packed with 14 grams of nitrate and antibiotic-free protein. They didn't leave our mouths feeling greasy, or our stomachs overly burdened. That lightness is accentuated by distinct chunks of salty, piquant feta cheese and tiny ribbons of vitamin-rich spinach.

Have you ever tried a traditional spanakopita recipe? That mixture of spinach and feta is magical with breezy Mediterranean notes. Putting those flavors into a sausage was the right move. The sausage itself wasn't as deep and rich as others; partly because it's chicken, and partly because it's not necessarily a craft product. But we really enjoyed every balanced bite, and we appreciated the way it doesn't go light on the chunks of cheese. Our positive experience with these means that we'll gladly be sampling different varieties of 365 by Whole Foods Market's sausages for a solid mid-range product.

5. Al Fresco

Al Fresco was more recognizable a brand than most when covering our chicken sausages. Since we try to give every brand its best shot at success, we inferred that a bright Sun-Dried Tomato variety matched the company's seeming proclivity towards fresh, light fare. Many Italian-inspired products are rich and fatty or hot and spicy, while this one proved none of the above. Instead, it's a mellow, easygoing, and almost delicate link with barely a snap but a nice, juicy inside. There's no need to worry about a dry chicken sausage over here, but also no need to worry about excess grease.

The sun-dried tomatoes are a feisty addition because they actually provided a punch of tang and zest thanks to the acidity. It helped elevate the meat from pleasant to piquant, and we enjoyed rising to the occasion. The usual blend of Italian herbs and spices plays around in the background, never overtaking the flavor of either chicken or tomatoes. In the end, we decided that, while none of us were blown away like we were with the top products, Al Fresco makes a standard and tasty middle-of-the-road product that's accessible, healthful, and a great change of pace from a pork sausage.

4. Amylu

When we saw the creative, highly intriguing flavors of Amylu's No Antibiotics Chicken Sausages available, we had to choose the most unexpected one of all: the Artichoke, Leek, and Gruyere. We rarely think of leeks, um, at all, which is entirely on us. But we could never even begin to fathom putting them in sausage. Artichokes, meanwhile, are personal favorites, and you can't offer us a much more appealing cheese than gruyere. How would the brand do all those flavors with a baseline sausage, plus incorporating such innovative elements?

Sure, some of the other brands like 365 by Whole Foods Market create sausages without antibiotics, and, thankfully, it's not exactly a unicorn find anymore. But we still appreciate the emphasis Amylu places on its choice. The brand really shines with its use of ingredients and the resulting flavor. Each bite was a dynamic experience, tasting the vegetal earthiness of leeks, transitioning to the umami of artichokes, and punctuated by that perfect sprinkling of Gruyère. Some of us even really think we could detect the hints of rosemary and red bell pepper as promised in the ingredient list. Moist and juicy but not greasy or fatty, these are rich in flavor and light in mundanity. We're excited to try some of the other niche options from Amylu, like Cacio e Pepe or Tomatillo, Peppers, and White Cheddar. These aren't traditional, but they're a whole lot of fun.

3. Bilinski's

These may not look like much at first glance; we admit it. We all love a nicely golden-brown link, but are rather grey and unappetizing, huh? It didn't entice us to sample it, but here we are, doing our job. Thankfully the bland color disguises an intriguing, delicious, and nuanced product. Well, as nuanced as sausage can be. Bilinski's Organic Wild Mushroom With Italian Herbs Chicken Sausage works some practical magic with flavor, and we'd love to see what else the brand is capable of. Rather than simply tasting like a mushy log-shaped mushroom, it's still definitely a chicken sausage with enough hearty flavor to satisfy any carnivore.

The mushrooms and herbs add a well-rounded flavor profile that makes the product deeply savory in the same way a Thanksgiving sausage stuffing might be after hours of simmering and baking with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and other aromatics. In this case, the bread part of the stuffing can be the hot dog bun in which we'll nestle this funky, tasty link. In case you haven't gotten the memo yet, we really liked this one. We have faith that Bilinski's will works this same flavorful magic in its other varieties. Also, note that there are five links in a package. Many of the others on this list only provide four.

2. Gilbert's

Smoked gouda seems like the absolutely perfect cheese to go with the smokiness of a good sausage. When we picked up a package of Gilbert's to add to our taste test, we decided to see how well the brand navigates flavors by sampling the Smoked Gouda Chicken Sausage. Luckily for us, Gilberts does indeed craft a nice link with plenty of cheesy flavors.

Chicken sausage can be a little lackluster in the flavor department since you're not dealing with the robust fat of red-meat sources. Remember our disappointment at Aidell's? Maybe we just had a bad batch over there, but it made us approach this next chicken sausage with wary expectations, but Gilbert's stood out. The flavor of grilled chicken came through even though we weren't exactly standing over a cantankerous Southern barbecue. The choice of cheese sang and brought out everything we enjoyed in the baseline meat. There was a little spice added for savory warmth, and a touch of creaminess thanks to the cheese. We would recommend Gilbert's. Just don't make these mistakes when cooking with sausage. Food like this deserves some care and attention. Side note, we really enjoy the product packaging design. Go Gilbert's.

1. Kayem

Kayem's Artisan Pineapple Uncured Bacon Sausage is a game-changer in the sausage world. We like our bacon crispy, our sausage juicy, and our pineapple where it belongs — which, in this case, is in a sausage. The texture was spot on — juicy and tender with a satisfying snap when you bite into it. It's like a Hawaiian pizza party in every mouthful.

Every bite was a winning combination of sweet, savory, smokey, and spicy. The links are perfectly sized, not overly large like Johnsonville or Harris Teeter,  or wimpy like a hot dog. It's also got that one-two punch of snappy skin and meaty interior. Yes, when it rang in at around $7 for four sausages, it was a bit of a splurge. But we think it's totally worth it, at least on occasion. Choose your favorite flavors, such as Sweet Pepper and Provolone, and go ham on this stuff. Kayem is a solid, high-quality product. We never knew we needed the brand, nor pineapple and bacon sausage, before, but we're sure glad we discovered both.