/ 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.


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.


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!

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.

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.



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.


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.

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?

Shawn Grinter says:
7 November 2012