/ Food & Drink

What’s the secret to a scrumptious sausage?

Pork sausages make one of the nation’s favourite meals, but what makes a tasty, premium pork sausage? Our taste tests show that there is such a thing as a delicious, cheap and relatively healthy pork banger.

In our taste tests, we chose 17 premium plain pork sausages with 80% meat content or higher, comprised of 10 branded sausages and seven supermarket own-brands.

Our four experts tested the sausages without knowing which ones they were trying, scoring each for its taste, texture, aroma and appearance. So what set the top three sausages apart from the others in the test? Apparently, a tasty sausage has to be succulent, so those that achieve the right moistness are well on the way to making a cracking banger.

The taste test toppers

The Good Little Company Great Big Sausages available from Waitrose and Ocado topped our taste table and were praised for their succulent texture, scoring 76% overall. Asda’s Extra Special 6 Pork Sausages stormed into second place with a 75% score, only narrowly missing out on the top spot.

Costing just £2.00 a pack – or 44p per 100g – this test shows that cheaper sausages can still get an expert’s stamp of approval. Our third top performer, Debbie & Andrew’s Harrogate 97% Pork Sausages, are available from all major supermarkets and have a slightly coarser texture, scoring 74% overall. They also boast a notably higher meat content.

It seems that seasoning makes a big difference, as herbs help the flavours blend together successfully. Caution is advised though – herbs traditionally used to complement the flavour of your supermarket sausages, such as thyme and rosemary, can be too strong and overpower the pork flavour if not used sparingly. The Waitrose 6 Gourmet Pork Sausages, seasoned with black pepper and nutmeg, had one of our testers refer to the spice as ‘very numbing’.

Can you get a healthy sausage?

According to our experts, fat is an important component of a good sausage. The right balance between meat and fat can help differentiate between a fabulous banger and a frightful failure. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a sausage that goes easy on the fat. After all, our taste test topper contained the second least amount of saturated fat per 100g, coming in at 4.5g per sausage.

But is the nutritional value of a sausage important to you? Or are you more concerned about good flavour and where the sausage comes from?

If you’re a sausage connoisseur, make sure you put British Sausage Week in your diary, which runs 5-11 November.

Comments
Member

Sorry to start off with a negative comment but I’ve waited a few days and nothing has been posted.

I’m sure that some sausages are perfectly wholesome but – like burgers – they can be used to conceal any old junk. (Mechanically recovered meat, minced gristle, etc.) I have heard a few horror stories too, some dating back to wartime when meat was in short supply.

I used to hesitate to eat ready meals but have managed to stop worrying about what they might contain. Maybe if sausages had a different name I might be tempted.

Member

Sausages have come a long way from wartime fortunately. Did you know that’s where the nickname bangers came from, as their high water content due to the scarcity to other ingredients, caused them to explode when heated? (little sausage fact there)

The 17 sausages we tested were 80% meat and above, which I think is a good start. Labels are also good to look out for if you want to know more about your meat – free range pigs, for example.

I agree with you on the name though!

Member
John of Newsham says:
16 December 2012

you keep saying this, but as you know under eu legislation that 80 per cent is allowed to included 50 per cent fat and 20 per cent connective tissue. Or are you claiming you analysed the content and the 80 per cent was “lean” meat. Given some of the prices I would be most suprised. I feel confident you simply went by the ingrediants on the pack, and as i say that 80 % meat figure can include 50 percent fat ant 20 percent stuff you would not feed the dog.

Member
Sylvia says:
20 July 2012

We used to live in Essex and found a local supplier who made delicious Cumberland sausages. I have yet to find a replacement in Lincolnshire and have tried all the supermarket and butchers in the area. However i will try the selection you have listed and hopefully will find your choices to my liking.

Member

HELLO SYLVIA
I LIVE IN SOUTHEND ESSEX CAN YOU TELL US WHERE THIS BUTCHER IS PLEASE?

Member
G Cox says:
20 July 2012

I can never find the link from the email to the main test results story. What is it please.

Member

Hi G Cox – apologies for that. You can read the main news story on our site here – http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/07/premium-sausages-without-the-price-tag-290952/, along with a link to the full results. Hope that helps.

Member
John says:
23 July 2012

I like a sausage to taste good but I have to avoid high fat. pity you didn`t give the fat/saturated fat score for the sauages people who live away from he SE can buy.
Why not an examination of ” reduced fat” and “lite” Sausages, cheese etc?

Member
Shawn Grinter says:
7 November 2012

BRING BACK PORKINSONS!!

Member

Your tests look at “taste, texture, aroma, appearance” – all these can be produced artificially, as in junk food. If those were your only criteria, what happened to food content – quality meat as opposed to reclaimed, extenders, etc? I like sausages, but from a reputable supplier with a high meat content. We use M&S and frequently £2 a pack (or 2 for £4 but they freeze) gets you something that meets all your criteria with a junk-free recipe and decent quality ingredients.
In contrast, I also like hot dogs – but I watched a “How it’s made” programme and was horrified at the amount of processing that turned dubious ingredients into something that had “taste, texture, aroma and appearance”. It’s not food, it’s entertainment. Give me straightforward food anytime.

Member

Hi Malcolm – All of the sausages we tested were premium – ie. they had a meat content of 80% or above. But between the sausages themselves there was quite a difference between ratings for taste etc, which is useful to know as a lot of the premium sausages didn’t differ very much between meat percentage – beyond all being above the 80% benchmark.
It’s interesting you mention price as well – the sausage that came second in our tests was also the second cheapest, so its good to see you don’t need to pay a premium price for premium ingredients (with no need for hot dogs either!)

Member

Thanks Florence – I did see the 80% lower limit, but that leaves 20% for other “things”, which is why I personally prefer 90% plus. But equally, there is “meat”, and there is “decent meat” – which is why I am fussy about where I buy. I have faith in M&S for food quality (not to the total exclusion of others) and M&S matched your “cheaper sausages” on price, so my taste buds were happy.

Member
John of Newsham says:
15 December 2012

that 80 percent meat figure includes fat and connective tissue which is allowed to be called meat under the regulations.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-440103/Duchy-original-sins–Charles-range-spotlight.html

So in fact 75% of your sausage boasting 80% meat could be made up of fat, testicles, a**s, sinews, eybrows, just ask anyone that has worked in one of these places.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
27 November 2012

I have noticed a significant decline in Frozen Pork sausages&Pork&Beef.Many years ago we use to buy Sausages regular but now i refuse to pay for Sausages that contain only 40% or less meat the so called Premium Sausages are what we use to get.

Member

Malc Moore – there are plenty of sausages around from 75-94% meat that are fresh, and reasonably priced. They can generally be frozen so you can squirrel offers away in your freezer.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
2 December 2012

Malcolm-R I have checked out M&S I thought there was quite a high salt content in the sausages but even so quite good.Price Displays in M&S Very POOR so SMALL! .A lot of supermarkets use such small pricing government fails to tell them to make it a reasonable size.I thought Tesco’s sausages were awe-full for the price they asking.

Member
Graham Cox says:
27 November 2012

Still can’t find the results. you directed me to

http://www.which.co.uk/documents/pdf/p66-67_sausages-291528.pdf,

but there are no results .
Where is the table listing all sats, salt etc ?

Please include some healthy sausages next time like Sainsbury’s extra lean Cumberland..

it is also delicious to avoid an early death.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
27 November 2012

At onetime BEJAM now ICELAND sold decent sausages but its really gone down as regards selling decent sausages i acknowledge what you say Malcolm R. but really what has happened is the large packs 16 or 20 pack of sausages have nosedived in Quality yes you can buy fresh not long ago i bought some from a reasonably local Butcher but his Labels very tiny it said 65%Pork&Apple gave them a try not again.I fully support a minimum size for Labels by Which at the moment the food industry is getting away with blue murder conning the most vulnerable the mum with 2 young children cannot read&keep her eye on the children and the elderly who are partially sighted.

Member

Malc. Moore – we bought for our sports club meals M&S sausages – 3 packs for £10 which I think was 48 sausages at least 75% pork. They were pretty good.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
27 November 2012

Thanks Malcolm R i may checkout M&S don’t usually shop at M&S i always regard it as an Upper class shop though i do like their Bramley Apple pies which i use to buy from another retailer.Due to redevelopment we have lost a few individual traders but having a local Aldi has gone some way to make up.I did like the individual trader though sadly disappearing from our high streets due to greedy councils demanding high Rents.

Member
John of Newsham says:
15 December 2012

Florrence this is very dangerous stuff here. According to the Daily mail the meat in a sausage can include 30% fat and 25% connective tissue.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-440103/Duchy-original-sins–Charles-range-spotlight.html
That means that your 80% meat figure could be could be less than 50% of what any of us recognise as lean meat.

In short 50 percent of your sausage, even if it boasts 80% meat, is made up up of fat, a**s, testicles ear connective bits which, if you laid them out on a table few would eat. you assetion about how 80% meat is therfore a good thing is very worrying.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
16 December 2012

Does anyone remember Big Fat Marsh Pork Sausages i suddenly remember how tasty they were when i was young. The food industry seems to get away with cons&cover ups that others cannot do e.g.One sees a nice picture of John West Stewed Steak only to read it only Contains 65% actual meat
bearing in mind what is actually considered meat it makes me wonder just how much is actual stewed steak.

Member
John of Newsham says:
16 December 2012

exactly, i bet its the same as sausages, where the definition of “meat” is allowed to include stuff that most dogs would turn their noses up at.

Member

I had this reply from M&S, when I asked about the meat in their sausages, which is relevant.
“The technologist has assured me that all of our sausages are made using pork from M&S approved slaughter sites. To ensure a consistent, high quality product we only use cuts of boneless, rindless pork meat from the shoulder, loin, legs & forend. Rindless pork cutting fat will also be present. Connective tissue is not used in any of the sausage products we sell.”