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Cooking with Italian sausage is an easy way to add richness to your meals. Typically seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, fennel, and anise seed, it is generally made with a mixture of ground pork meat and fat (via Healthline). After being seasoned and wrapped in a casing, the sausage is usually preserved through salting, smoking, or drying. Each of these methods lends its own particular taste and texture to the sausage, creating a wide range of flavor profiles. Consequently, it has many different uses and suits a variety of applications such as baked pasta dishes, pizza, and charcuterie boards.
While it’s true that most Italian sausages tend to have overlapping flavors, there is still a wide variation in tastiness, depending on the quality and type of meat used and the specific seasoning blend. These fluctuations can be minor or major and often lead to discernible differences between brands. With so many sausages on the market to choose from, how can you know which brands are worth your while? Luckily for you, we’ve taken the time to select some of the best Italian sausages out there.
1. MeatCrafters spicy Italian sausage
A little kick of heat mixed into Italian sausage can add depth to the flavor. Think of the possibilities: a spicy Italian sausage sub with roasted onions, peppers, and provolone — or maybe a batch of baked ziti with fiery bursts of juicy pork. Sausage is already inherently flavorful thanks to its tasty seasoning blend, but something special happens when chili pepper flakes enter the equation. MeatCrafters makes its own delicious version of spicy Italian sausage that strikes a perfect balance of taste and texture while providing a pleasant hint of spice.
This spicy Italian sausage is made Tuscan-style, using Duroc pork that’s humanely raised. Flavored with fresh garlic, crushed red chili pepper flakes, anise, Indonesian white pepper, fennel, Hungarian paprika, Tellicherry black pepper, coriander, and allspice, this spicy Italian sausage offers a complex blend of flavors with a subtle level of heat. This package comes with four three-ounce sausages, which should be enough to feed at least two people, but could easily serve more if you incorporate it into a larger dish like baked pasta. With hundreds of glowing reviews from satisfied customers, this handmade small-batch spicy Italian sausage from MeatCrafters is one of the tastiest options on the market.
2. Bilinski’s spicy Italian red pepper sausage
There are a few elements that make Bilinski’s spicy Italian red pepper sausage exceptional. For starters, it’s made with organic chicken raised without the use of antibiotics. Research shows that organic chicken tends to be healthier for you, as it can contain nearly 40% more omega-3 fatty acids (via Health). Organic chicken farms are also prohibited from using synthetic materials, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and sewer sludge as fertilizer. In other words, buying organic chicken ensures that the meat you’re eating is raised more naturally, which is better for your health.
A good rule of thumb is to try and eat food that isn’t heavily processed, and this Italian chicken sausage only has seven ingredients: organic chicken, sea salt, fennel seed, crushed red pepper flakes, water, paprika, and black pepper. These sausage links come fully cooked, so all you have to do is brown them on the grill or in a pan and they’re good to go. We’d recommend enjoying these on a toasted bun with some caramelized onions and basil aioli.
3. Johnsonville hot Italian sausage
Named after the owners’ hometown in Wisconsin, Johnsonville has been in the business of making sausage since 1945. As one of the most recognizable sausage brands in the country, Johnsonville offers a wide range of products, including everything from smoked breakfast sausage and three-cheese Italian-style meatballs to bratwurst, jalapeño cheddar summer sausage, and chorizo.
Made with a blend of pork, paprika, salt, natural flavorings, and spices, Johnsonville hot Italian sausage packs a tasty punch. While this spicy Italian sausage isn’t too overwhelming when it comes to heat, it does introduce a gentle tingle of spice. We find that these sausages are best cooked on the grill over an open flame. As the fire licks at them, the heat creates a nice crust on the outer skin that results in a pleasant textural contrast with the juicy pork on the inside.
These sausages can easily be enjoyed as is with just a knife and fork, but we’d recommend pairing them with some steamed white rice and grilled vegetables. Easily accessible on the market and undeniably delicious, Johnsonville hot Italian sausage is an excellent option.
4. 365 mild Italian sausage
Whole Foods Market offers its own brand of Italian sausage under the company’s 365 label. Made with pork raised on a vegetarian diet with no added antibiotics or hormones, this sausage is blended with ingredients like sea salt, fennel, black pepper, garlic, rosemary extract, and lemon juice concentrate. This package of Italian sausage comes raw, so it can be shaped or cooked in a wide variety of ways. This is a great option to purchase if you want more control over how your sausage is prepared.
One idea is to mix it with ground beef, add some minced fresh garlic, and roll everything into meatballs for spaghetti. Pro tip: push a little chunk of mozzarella into the center of each meatball to stuff it with cheese. It doesn’t get much better than homemade meatballs with melted cheese in the middle served with pasta and garlic bread.
Of course, you could always brown the whole package in a pan and chop it up into cooked chunks to use as a topping for homemade pizza or stromboli. A tasty mild-flavored sausage like this is pretty much guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Score yourself a package of 365 mild Italian sausage to see what you’ve been missing out on.
5. Fortuna’s hot Italian dry sausage
Specializing in old-world-style Italian sausages and salami, Fortuna’s is a family-run company with a history of sausage making that goes back for generations. Using pork that’s trimmed by hand and old recipes handed down for over a century, Fortuna’s lovingly makes its sausages and cured meats right here in the USA and will happily ship its products straight to your door.
Fortuna’s hot Italian dry sausage is available in a sampler pack that includes other cured meats like pepperoni, soppressata, and salami. The sausage is only mildly hot, so there’s no need to worry about it being overpowering. If you want to make your own sausage and adjust the seasoning to your liking, Fortuna’s also sells spice packets. The blend is made with a simple yet flavorful mix of salt, black pepper, paprika, anise, fennel, and red pepper flakes. If you like dry sausage but can’t stand even a hint of heat, you can always opt for the sweet seasoning which swaps out the chili flakes for garlic and coriander.
Because this sausage is dry and already cooked through, you just have to slice it and you’re ready to chow down. Paired with nice cheese, fresh bread, and wine, this is a seriously tasty snack that’s sure to satisfy any sausage lover. Fortuna’s doesn’t just sell sausage and salami — Mediterranean olives, stuffed cherry peppers, and hot pepper jam are just a few of the other mouth-watering specialty snacks it has in stock.
6. Bilinski’s organic wild mushroom chicken sausage
Another great pick from Bilinski’s chicken sausage lineup offers links blended with wild mushrooms and Italian herbs. Made with organic chicken, porcini mushrooms, sea salt, black pepper, garlic, oregano, basil, and onions, this sausage has a rich flavor that’s truly tasty. Just like Bilinski’s hot Italian red pepper sausage, this chicken and wild mushroom sausage is fully cooked, which makes it very easy to prepare.
We’d recommend slicing it into bite-sized pieces and searing the sausage in a pan until it’s lightly browned. The porcini mushrooms add an earthy depth to the flavor that’s undeniably scrumptious. The oregano and basil also shine through to provide herbal notes that pair perfectly with the chicken and porcini mushrooms.
To really amp up the mushroom flavor, try finely chopping these sausages and cooking them down to add to stuffed mushrooms. When chicken, porcinis, garlic, and cheese combine and are baked into mushroom caps, the result is a wild jubilee of flavor. All things considered, this organic wild mushroom chicken sausage is a great option when you want to try an alternative to pork.
7. Applegate sweet Italian chicken sausage
Applegate has been in the business of slinging sausages, hot dogs, bacon, cold cuts, cheeses, and other prepared foods for more than three decades. The company’s sweet Italian sausage is made with a flavorful blend that includes organic chicken, sea salt, organic fennel, and organic garlic. This sausage is so flavorful and hearty that some customers insist that it makes a great meat sauce for lasagna. With a nearly perfect Amazon rating from over 2,000 reviews from satisfied buyers, it’s clear that there’s something special about Applegate’s sweet Italian sausage.
If you’re looking for an easy sheet pan dinner recipe, this sausage is a great contender. Simply add some of your favorite vegetables, like sliced onions, peppers, and mushrooms to a lightly oiled sheet pan and place the sausages on top. Throw it all in the oven to bake until the sausages are browned and the veggies are cooked, and dinner is served with minimal effort. Flavorful and made with organic ingredients, this sweet Italian sausage is one of the most solid picks you can make on the market.
8. 365 hot Italian sausage
Made with a special blend that includes pork, salt, black pepper, fennel, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper, this hot Italian sausage from Whole Foods Market has a moderate level of heat that’s pleasant and flavorful. In fact, some customers wish it were a little spicier, but are happy to report that this hot Italian sausage makes amazing meatballs.
Just like 365’s mild Italian sausage, this package comes raw, which makes it easy to customize into a ton of different dishes. One good way to put this hot sausage to use is to make spicy sausage biscuits and gravy. The cayenne pepper and red pepper chili flakes add a little hint of heat, but if you want to kick it up a notch, you can always add a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce to the sausage gravy. Served over fluffy biscuits, there’s nothing quite like starting your day with biscuits and gravy made with hot Italian sausage — and there’s no doubt that 365’s version is a great foundation to whip it up.
9. Taverrite’s mild Italian sausage
The recipe used in Taverrite’s mild Italian sausage has been passed down for three generations. It’s easy to see why this blend has withstood the test of time so well. Made with only a handful of simple ingredients that include pork, salt, paprika, and citrus, this mild Italian sausage has a fresh taste that delivers some major flavor.
When you take a peek at customer reviews of this product, it’s abundantly clear that this is some top-notch stuff. Some say it’s the best sausage they’ve had in over 40 years, while others take the time to comment on the perfect seasoning. These sausages come fully cooked, so only a minimal amount of time is required to prepare them. If you’re looking for easy quick meal ideas, take note.
Try slicing these up, warming them in a pan to release some flavor, and using them on a homemade pizza. Another simple idea that’s super tasty: Roast slices in a pan and add beaten eggs, sauteed spinach, peppers, and shredded cheese, then slide it into the oven to bake a killer sausage frittata. Quick, delicious, and easy on the wallet, Taverrite’s mild Italian sausage can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your cooking game.
10. 365 spicy Italian chicken sausage
Another top-tier choice when it comes to Italian sausage is 365’s organic spicy chicken from Whole Foods Market. Sealed in a natural pork casing, this Italian sausage is made with a blend of ingredients that includes organic chicken, crushed red chili pepper flakes, fennel, anise, sea salt, mustard seed powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
There are plenty of reasons why this sausage has over 2,200 satisfied Amazon customer reviews. While some praise it for being highly flavorful and juicy, others are happy to point out its stellar level of spice. Some go as far as to declare this spicy chicken Italian sausage as their absolute favorite chicken sausage on the market. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.
What’s the secret that makes 365’s spicy chicken Italian sausage so delicious? We think it has to do with the fact that it’s made with organic chicken and a balanced blend of seasonings. The mustard seed powder adds a sharp tanginess, while the crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper introduce a moderate tingle of heat. But don’t worry — the spice level on this sausage is really approachable. Savory with a little kick, this sausage also contains no nitrates and is made with chicken that’s antibiotic-free with no added hormones. When it comes to spicy organic chicken sausage, 365 offers a respectably delicious batch that’s tasty and affordable.
11. Bilinski’s organic mozzarella chicken sausage
Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil are a classic trio in the world of Italian food. The smooth creaminess of mozzarella complements the bright acidity of tomatoes, and basil’s herbal aromas add a unique freshness that ties it all together. Of course, the typical way most of us tend to enjoy this mix of flavors is in a Caprese salad, but Bilinski’s has managed to capture this crowd-pleasing combination in sausage form.
Made with mozzarella, organic basil, and tomatoes, this Italian chicken sausage also features ingredients like garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. This sausage is flavorful without being spicy, which makes it an ideal choice for those who like to steer clear of heat. Try browning these on the grill and enjoying them with a salad and some cheese ravioli. Easy to cook and delicious, Bilinski’s organic mozzarella chicken sausage is savory with a touch of cheese and lacks the heat you’ll find in spicy sausage. This is a solid pick that should satisfy just about everyone at the dinner table.
12. MeatCrafters sweet Italian sausage
Handmade in small batches, this sweet Italian sausage from MeatCrafters is sure to delight pork lovers everywhere with its fresh blend of spices and top-notch ingredients. Minimally processed and made with no artificial ingredients, this sausage is mixed with a blend of ingredients that includes natural pork humanely raised without the use of antibiotics, salt, pepper, fennel seed, anise, basil, oregano, and just a touch of sugar.
With hundreds of glowing Amazon reviews from satisfied customers, it’s clear that this sausage is tasty enough to write home about. One of the best ways to enjoy it is by grilling it over flames until it gets lightly charred, then serving it in a toasted hoagie roll to make a sausage sub. If you really want to knock it out of the park, add some basil aioli, melted provolone cheese, and a spoonful of giardiniera for a punch of briny bite.
This sausage is also excellent when cooked with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and garlic served with a simple pasta tossed with marinara and topped with grated Parmesan. Versatile and succulent, this sweet Italian sausage is bound to enter your regular rotation once you give it a taste.