Sausage Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sausage Calories, Fat, and Carbs by Variety

sausage annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

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. But in general, sausage is usually high in saturated fat, sodium, and calories. 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 USDA for one medium Italian sausage link (75 g).

  • Calories: 242
  • Fat: 19.6g
  • 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 (breakfast sausage) provides 92 calories, 5 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 202 milligrams of sodium
  • One link of beef bratwurst provides 253 calories, 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 22 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat and 643 milligrams of sodium
  • One three-ounce serving of polish sausage (also called kielbasa) provides 287 calories, 11 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 25 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat and 905 milligrams of sodium
  • Three slices of blood sausage provide 284 calories, 11 grams of protein, 1 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 26 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat and 510 milligrams of sodium
  • One four-inch link of chorizo sausage provides 273 calories, 14 grams of protein, 1 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 23 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 741 milligrams of sodium

Hot Dog Calories and Nutrition

The most popular type of sausage is the hot dog. A beef hot dog provides 186 calories, 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat and 572 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 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 Aidells Chicken and Apple sausage provides 180 calories, 12 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 12 grams of protein and 640 milligrams of sodium.
  • One serving of Aidells breakfast sausage (made from chicken and apple) provides 120 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 8 grams of protein and 420 milligrams of sodium.
  • One link (78 grams) of al fresco brand Buffalo Style Chicken Sausage provides 100 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 13 grams of protein and 510 milligrams of sodium.
  • Two links of breakfast sausage made from turkey provide 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of protein and 340 milligrams of sodium.

Sausage Nutrition and Preparation FAQs

Is sausage healthy?

In general, processed meats like sausage are not considered "healthy" foods. But no single food is going to make or break a healthy eating program. If you like sausage, keep it in your diet, but eat it in moderation and 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? 

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.

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Article Sources
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