The Healthiest Sausage You Can Make or Buy (2023)

Sausage comes in many different varieties. Is sausage healthy? Because many different types of meat and animal parts it's difficult to label sausages one way or another. Many types of sausage are heavily processed and high in calories. While sausage is a good source of protein, it is best consumed minimally due to its high sodium and saturated fat content. So if you're looking for lean protein options or require a low sodium diet, it might be hard to include this food in your day-to-day meal plan.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDAfor one medium Italian sausage link (75 g).

  • Calories:242
  • Fat:19.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Sodium:574mg
  • Carbohydrates:1.6g
  • Fiber:0g
  • Sugars:1.1g
  • Protein:13.6g

Many registered dietitians may include sausage in their list of common empty calorie foods. Empty calorie foods provide energy primarily in the form of added sugar and unhealthy solid fats such as saturated fat or trans fat. Many empty calorie foods also provide high levels of sodium. While all foods are fine to enjoy once in a while, empty-calorie foods are not recommended regularly.

Nutrition data varies for different kinds of sausage. Italian sausage calories and nutrition (shown) indicate that even though the food provides protein, it is high in calories, high in fat, and very high in sodium.

Sausage Calories by Variety

The USDA provides nutrition data for other types of sausage. Some are much lighter than Italian pork sausage links:

  • One pork sausage patty (27g) provides 88 calories, 5 grams of protein, 0.4g grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 0.3g grams of sugar, 7.3g grams of total fat, 2.4 grams of saturated fat and 220 milligrams of sodium.
  • One link of beef bratwurst (57g) provides 180 calories, 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 22 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium.
  • One three-ounce serving of polish sausage made from pork (also called kielbasa) provides 277 calories, 12 grams of protein, 1.4 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of total fat, 8.8 grams of saturated fat and 745 milligrams of sodium
  • Four slices of blood sausage (100g) provide 379 calories, 14.6 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 1.3 gram of sugar, 34.5 grams of total fat, 13.4 grams of saturated fat and 680 milligrams of sodium
  • One link of chorizo sausage (80.4g) provides 278 calories, 15.5 grams of protein, 2.1 grams of carbohydrate, 22.6 grams of total fat, 7.6 grams of saturated fat and 790 milligrams of sodium.

Hot Dog Calories and Nutrition

The most popular type of sausage is the hot dog. A beef hot dog provides 189 calories, 7 grams of protein, 1.7 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 0.8 grams of sugar, 16.8 grams of total fat, 6.8 grams of saturated fat and 497 milligrams of sodium. But when you eat a hot dog, you probably also eat a bun and a maybe even a few toppings.

A hot dog bun provides an additional 126 calories, 4 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 2 grams of total fat, and 222 milligrams of sodium. If you add mustard and ketchup your calorie count will probably not increase much, but you may add a few grams of sodium and sugar.

Lower Calorie Sausage Choices

Because of the fat and sodium content of sausage, it is not the healthiest choice at mealtime. If you're trying to improve your eating habits for improved health, there are other meats and non-meat protein sources that provide better nutrition.

There are, however, some types of sausage that are slightly healthier and provide a source of lean protein. Some butchers and popular brands make chicken, turkey and even seafood sausage (made from fish like salmon, or blends of fish or shellfish) that are slightly lower in fat and calories but still full of flavor.

  • One link of chicken and Apple sausage (85g) provides 110 calories, 3 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 15 grams of protein and 460 milligrams of sodium.
  • One serving of breakfast sausage (made from chicken and apple) provides 70 calories, 2 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 9 grams of protein and 240 milligrams of sodium.
  • One serving of Buffalo style skinless chicken sausage (85g) provides 110 calories, 7 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 13 grams of protein and 590 milligrams of sodium.
  • Two links of breakfast sausage made from turkey (57g)provide 99.8 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 11 grams of protein and 420 milligrams of sodium.

Sausage Nutrition and PreparationFAQs

Is sausage healthy?

In general, processed meats like sausage are not considered "healthy" foods. In fact, the World Cancer Research Fund recommends eating little to no processed meats. However, with new food science and technology methods, there are some meat products that are not cured and are made with less sodium. No single food is going to make or break a nutritious eating program. If you like sausage, keep it in your diet minimally, but try to fill up on lower fat, nutritious foods including vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, and lean protein.

What is a single serving of sausage?

In general a single serving of any meat or seafood is 3 ounces. However, you'll notice that on many processed sausage packages, a single serving is indicated as one link—which is usually less than three ounces. For example, a single serving of Applegate Farms Hot Dogs is one hot dog, or 47 grams (1.65 ounces). A single serving of Johnsonville Original Recipe Breakfast Sausage is three cooked links, or 55 grams (just under two ounces).

Are hot dogs cooked or raw?

(Video) Why I quit buying store-bought breakfast sausage and started making my own.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is a myth that hot dogs are pre-cooked. The agency recommends that you cook hot dogs completely before eating.

How long does sausage stay fresh in the refrigerator?

Most manufacturers recommend that you consume sausage products before the "best by" date on the package or within 2 weeks of purchase. Once a package is opened, you should consume the food within one week.

Can sausage be frozen?

You can freeze sausage. Put the meat in an airtight container. Individually wrap each sausage if you plan to eat small portions occasionally. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Can I make my own sausage?

Yes! Making sausage is easy and fun. Use this Healthy Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Turkey, Bacon and Apple Sausage recipe to give it a try.

A Word From Verywell

Remember that a single food—like sausage—won't make or break healthy lifestyle goals. Try to plan healthy meals and enjoy an occasional indulgence in moderation for good health and well-being.

17 Sources

(Video) How To Cook Sausages - Boil n Burn Method - Super Results - Sausage Recipe

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Italian sausage. U.S. Department of Agriculture: FoodData Central.

  2. Empty Calories. University of Michigan MHealthy Nutrition and Weight Management Program.

  3. Sausage. U.S. Department of Agriculture: FoodData Central.

  4. Beef brats smoked bratwurst, beef brats. USDA FoodData Central.

  5. Polish sausage, pork. USDA FoodData Central.

  6. Blood sausage. USDA FoodData Central.

  7. Sausage, pork, chorizo, link or ground, cooked, pan-fried. USDA FoodData Central.

  8. Frankfurther or hot dog, beef. U.S. Department of Agriculture: FoodData Central.

  9. Roll, white, hot dog bun. U.S. Department of Agriculture: FoodData Central.

  10. Chicken Apple Sausage. USDA FoodData Central.

  11. Apple breakfast chicken sausage, apple. USDA FoodData Central.

    (Video) The Best Sausage French Toast Recipe Ever Made!

  12. Buffalo style skinless chicken sausage. USDA FoodData Central.

  13. Turkey breakfast sausage, turkey. USDA FoodData Central.

  14. Limit red and processed meat. World Cancer Research Fund International.

  15. Suggested Servings from Each Food Group. American Heart Association.

  16. Fact or Fiction from Food Safety for Moms to Be. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  17. Hot Dogs and Food Safety. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The Healthiest Sausage You Can Make or Buy (1)

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.

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