Healthy Sausage Brands, Recipe, and Tips

Choose Lean Chicken Sausage Brands or Make Your Own at Home

Many people love the taste of sausage which often evokes memories of filling breakfasts or summer barbecues. Sausage is rooted in cultures around the world such as France, Spain, Germany, and the Phillipines. In America, sausage is influenced by recipes and traditions from these countries.

This processed meat product is primarily made of ground meat flavored with various spices (often fennel, herbs, or garlic), salt, and other ingredients such as cheese, peppers, or bread crumbs. Sausage is often made with pork but can include any meat, including beef, venison, or chicken, and can be served in links, patties, or as loose meat.

The problem is that while sausages may be delicious, they are often high in total fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories. When eaten often, this meat product can be unhealthy. In fact, A 2012 study showed that regular consumption of processed red meat increases the incidence of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. And a 2013 meta-analysis of processed meat consumption suggested that 50 grams per day (or about 1.7 ounces per day), increased the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 51% and increased risk for coronary heart disease by 42%.

Many sausage products also contain additives, such as nitrites and nitrates, to preserve the meat, which when consumed in large quantities may be associated with an increased risk for gastric cancer. This is in line with the World Cancer Research Fund recommendation of "eating little if any" processed meats due to a strong link to colorectal (bowel) cancer.

However, you don't need to give up sausage completely in order to maintain a healthy diet.

While it's ideal to limit your consumption of the sausages that are highest in fat, calories, and additives, you can still eat them on occasion. If you want to eat sausage often, however, consider choosing healthier types of sausage, such as those made with chicken or turkey. You can also make your own to get the freshest variety with none of the harmful additives or high-fat meat. Below, we recommend multiple healthy sausage brands as well as a top-notch recipe to try.

Healthy Sausage Brands

Do you love sausage but want to limit the fat and calories? Finding healthy sausage is getting easier as more brands are making sausage with lower-fat ingredients like chicken.

Brands like Thin 'n Trim make low-fat sausage (70 calories per link, 2.5 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, and between 210 to 250 mg of sodium or 8% to 10% of the daily value) from healthy ingredients like skinless chicken meat, red bell peppers, and fennel.

Another popular and easy-to-find brand is Applegate Farms, which makes a wide variety of healthy dinner and breakfast sausages that are lower in calories than traditional pork sausage. Poultry sausage contains between 110 to 120 calories, 7 to 8 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 310 to 440 milligrams of sodium.

A third healthy sausage brand is Al Fresco All Natural. The Apple Maple Chicken sausage contains just 50 calories 2 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, and 150 milligrams of sodium (17% of the daily value) per link. It is made with skinless chicken, maple syrup, brown sugar, and dried apples. 

Remember that when you're choosing healthy sausage at the market, always use the nutrition facts label and the ingredients list as your guide. Occasionally, turkey or chicken sausage products that sound healthy may actually contain more fat and calories than traditional pork sausage. 

Make Your Own

Another way to enjoy healthy sausage is to make it yourself, which is much easier than you might think. All you need is a meat grinder to create your own. We'll get you started with this healthy sausage recipe made with ground chicken, apple, and bacon. You can customize the recipe, as well. Then, use the flavorful meat to make sliders, egg dishes, sandwiches, and more. It's a great way to incorporate lean protein into your diet.

Homemade Healthy Sausage

Begin by gathering and measuring your ingredients. This recipe makes about 9 pounds of meat. Making sausage in bulk allows you to freeze individual portions and use them in different recipes for months. If you don't want to make that much, simply divide each ingredient in half, in thirds, or in quarters to make a smaller batch.

Chicken, Apple, and Bacon Sausage Ingredients

  • 7.5 pounds of frozen chicken breast (no skin, no bones), partially thawed
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 9 ounces dried apples
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried sage
  • 3 bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups pure pressed apple juice (unsweetened, not from concentrate)

Simmer Apple Juice

The flavor in any variation of chicken and apple sausage comes primarily from apple juice. So, it's worth it to get a high-quality brand that is unsweetened and unfiltered. Bring your 3 cups to a boil. Then simmer until it cooks down to about 1/2 cup. Don't overcook the juice. If it starts to thicken to a syrup, you may have cooked it too long and will need to start over. Make sure it doesn't smell burnt or smoky.

Grind Lean Chicken

The next step is to grind your chicken for sausage. A Kitchen Aid mixer with the meat grinder attachment works well for this step. To get started, make sure the poultry is partially thawed. Then, cut each breast into 1-inch strips and feed it into your meat grinder. Use a coarse grind setting.

If you don't have a meat grinder, you can substitute ground chicken from your local grocer. Be aware, however, that this may change the nutritional information for your chicken sausage.

Grind Dried Apples

The next step is to add dried apples to your homemade sausage recipe for texture and flavor.  Try to find dried apples that don't contain added sugar or flavors. Put the apples through the meat grinder to continue to build the base of your chicken apple sausage.

Add Bacon

Even healthy chicken sausage needs some extra fat. Commercial sausage makers may add fat sources like chicken skin or dark meat for texture and flavor. But bacon works well, too. Feed it through the grinder as well. If you add 1 pound of bacon to this recipe, the fat content is still low. But feel free to experiment and add less if you want a version that is even lower in fat.

Season the Sausage Mixture

Add in the seasonings and blend with your hands. The mixture should stay cold. Use clean rubber gloves when mixing the ingredients. Once you've got the ingredients well blended, grab a pan, and cook a small portion to taste. Adjust the seasonings as needed. This is where you can customize your homemade chicken sausage. Don't be afraid to play with flavors to find something that you like.

Regrind for Better Texture

Once you've come up with your preferred combination and amount of spices, salt, and other additions in your test batch, mix those into the rest of your meat mixture.

Now, your homemade sausage is almost done. Put the entire sausage mixture through a second grinding using a finer setting on your meat grinder.  This will help to blend the chicken, apple, and bacon sausage flavors and get a better texture.

Prepare Sausage for Storage

Once the whole sausage recipe is complete, divide it into individual portions (70 grams each) to freeze uncooked and use at a later date. Take an ice cream scoop and place one full scoop on parchment paper. Then fold the paper over and press it into a patty. Use a digital kitchen scale to make sure the portions are correct. You can also purchase sausage skin from your local butcher to make sausage links if you prefer.

Healthy Sausage Nutrition

Now that the meat is prepared and packed into individual portions, assemble the individual packets into larger freezer bags. The sausage is easier to store that way.  Be sure to write nutrition facts on the outside so that if you are counting calories, the information is handy and easy to see. Then, you'll have delicious—and healthy—sausage at the ready whenever you want to cook up a batch.

Nutrition Facts (per 70-gram serving): 117 calories, 4 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams protein.

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4 Sources
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.
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