A slow Sunday morning brunch with eggs, sausages, and fruit is one life's simple pleasures. It's a delicious and relaxing way to start the last day of your weekend, and going Whole30 does not mean you have to give up sausage! You just have to know what kind to choose.
We're going to cover everything you need to know — that way you can keep enjoying those links without fear. Let's go!
Is Sausage Whole30?
Yes — all sausage in its natural state without added sugars or preservatives is Whole30-friendly. Whole30 is about eating naturally, and that goes for meat, fish, vegetables, fruit — you name it. By eating close to the source, you limit inflammatory foods and adopt healthier eating habits.
Now, this doesn't mean you should eat sausage every day. Sausages are processed meats, which means they've been cured, salted, smoked, or dried. In general, processed meats are linked to more inflammation and chronic diseases[*].
In short, sausage is okay as a treat and occasional breakfast choice, but I wouldn't build your breakfast meals around it on a daily basis. Healthy yogurts, fruits, leaner meats, and more vegetables are better choices for habitual meals.
What is sausage, anyway?
At its core, sausage is any ground meat (usually pork) stuffed into a casing or loose meat that is often turned into a patty. There are many ways to make sausage, from smoking, to curing, to the spices used, to the types of meat, and more.
Sausage casings were originally made from the intestines, but many are made from synthetic materials these days[*].
Major types of sausages include chorizo, bratwursts, salami, liverwurst, and andouille. In America, the most common type of sausage is the breakfast sausage, which is ground pork mixed with salt, spices, and sometimes breadcrumbs.
A common question that gets asked is: are hotdogs, sausages, and bratwursts the same thing?
The answer is no — hotdogs and bratwursts are types of sausages. A hotdog is ground more finely into a paste before restructuring it into a link, and bratwurst is a finely chopped then formed pork or veal link popularized in Germany.
Common sausage ingredients to avoid on Whole30
Because the majority of sausages are mass produced, they are susceptible to added sugars, preservatives, and other banned ingredients on Whole30. Here's what to look for when doing your shopping.
Added sugars (natural sugar is okay!)
Whole30 restricts all added sugars across the board. Flip the label over on any type of sausage you pick up, and if it says "Added Sugar" with anything other than 0g, then it's not Whole30-approved. Added sugar is hiding in lots of mass-produced products, so it's best to get in the habit of checking everything you buy. After a few trips you'll have your favorite brands locked down.
And remember, natural sugars are okay on Whole30! Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to eat fruit!
Preservatives and additives
Whole30 also requires ditching any products that contain inflammatory preservatives and additives. These are most prevalent in snack foods, frozen foods, and canned foods. In general, the fewer ingredients listed, the better.
The most common preservatives and additives to avoid are monosodium glutamate (MSG), corn starch, sulfites, soy lecithin, and carrageenan.
For a complete list of Whole30 additives, you can and can't have, go here.
Our Favorite Whole30 Sausage Brands By Type
Since sausage is a broad umbrella, we've separated our favorite Whole30 sausages out by breakfast sausage, chicken sausage, turkey sausage, and veggie sausage. While we've listed a specific product for each brand we recommend, most of these brands have multiple sugar-free, Whole30-friendly options for you to choose from.
The Best Whole30 Breakfast Sausages
If you want that classic, American-style sausage experience, then choose from any of the products below. Organic, no-sugar sausages tend to be more expensive, but they are absolutely worth it.
1. US Wellness Meats Pork Breakfast Sausage
US Wellness Meats has a long tradition of prioritizing the most humane cattle. They don't use GMO feed, they raise all of their cattle on grass instead of feed, and have built pride and technique into every bit of their process. If you want the best of the best, then this is the choice!
Ingredients: pork, salt, rubbed sage, ground red pepper, black pepper
2. Niman Ranch Andouille Sausage
If you're making a Whole30 gumbo or prefer to have a bit of that New Orleans flair, then Niman Ranch's sugar-free andouille sausages are perfect! Niman Ranch sausages are uncured, nitrite-free, and gluten-free.
Ingredients: pork, water, garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, celery powder, bay leaves
3. Teton Waters Ranch Hardwood Smoked Beef Sausage
Teton Waters Ranch is one of the few sausage brands that is officially Whole30 approved — meaning they were certified by the makers of Whole30 themselves. While this doesn't mean Teton Waters Ranch is more Whole30-friendly than other brands, it does mean that they care about Whole30's mission and are committed to serving the market. These sausages are also SO delicious!
Ingredients: grass-fed beef, water, sea salt, paprika, vinegar, celery powder, onion powder, natural smoke flavor, cherry powder
The Best Whole30 Chicken Sausages
If you want a leaner option in the morning during Whole30, then you could go the chicken sausage route. These are delicious and work well during lunch, too. I love to sauté some spinach and mushrooms and use chicken sausage as my main protein.
4. Trader Joe's Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
I will always be a Trader Joe's fan, and not surprisingly, TJ's has a fantastic chicken sausage option. I love this sweet Italian twist, and they go so well with some whole grain mustard. Drop by your local TJ's to pick it up, and keep an eye out for our amazingly delicious, Whole30 beef sticks as well!
Ingredients: chicken, water, sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, potassium lactate, organic basil, organic garlic, celery powder
5. Pederson's Whiskey Fennel Chicken Sausage
If you're cooking a dish that isn't burying the sausage in a lot of other ingredients, then give these whiskey fennel & cheese chicken sausages a shot. They are perfect next to some fresh cauliflower or potatoes and are a nice option to have around for quick lunches.
Ingredients: chicken, panela cheese, water, vinegar, salt, whiskey, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, celery powder, and sea salt, fennel, natural hog casing
6. Whole Foods 365 Mild Italian Chicken Sausage
If you're a Whole Foods shopper, then you have a lot of Whole30 sausage options, but one of our favorites is their mild Italian chicken sausage since it doesn't contain any sugar. The lemon and fennel make these bright, so I recommend serving them alongside something starchy or using them in a spinach bowl of sorts.
Ingredients: chicken, water, sea salt, vinegar, fennel, black pepper, dehydrated garlic, rosemary extract, lemon juice concentrate
The Best Whole30 Turkey Sausages
Turkey sausages have exploded in popularity over the past decade due to their lower fat profiles. They do a good job of getting your breakfast fix without sacrificing too much taste or texture.
Many turkey sausage brands have a small amount of added sugar (so little that it says 0g on the packaging), so if you're being extra strict I recommend sticking with our first choice, Jones Dairy, or making your own. The other two are still healthy choices, so if you really enjoy a brand it's okay! Remember that Whole30 is about creating healthy lifestyle choices — not making eating impossible.
7. Jones Dairy Farm All Natural Turkey Sausage
The ingredient list for Jones Dairy Farm turkey sausage is short and sweet, which is exactly the way we like it. Based out of Wisconsin, this company is strict about its quality and is clearly devoted to offering extremely healthy products.
Ingredients: turkey, water, potato starch, sea salt, spices, lemon peel powder
8. Butterball All Natural Turkey Breakfast Sausage
This is a good and fairly cheap alternative to traditional breakfast sausages. Keep an eye on other Butterball products, though — sometimes they contain sugars and additives not allowed on Whole30.
Ingredients: turkey, water, salt, spices, sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, vinegar
9. Applegate Savory Turkey Breakfast Sausage
Applegate also makes a Whole30-friendly turkey sausage! All of their turkeys are humanely raised, and they never use antibiotics or growth hormones. This means they taste better and are healthier for you.
Ingredients: turkey, water, cane sugar, salt, spices, rosemary extract
The Best Whole30 Veggie Sausages
If you're completing Whole30 as a vegetarian or want healthy veggie sausage options to have around the house, then these are for you. Lots of veggie sausages have hidden sugars, so just make sure you check that label.
The same goes for this list as our turkey sausages — most veggie sausages have small amounts of sugar in them, so if you want to be extra strict then go with our first choice, Tofurkey. The other ones have small amounts of natural cane sugar in them but are still very healthy options!
10. Tofurkey Plant-Based Original Sausage
Tofurky is a popular vegetarian sausage that uses a combination of sundried tomatoes and tofu to achieve its signature taste. One of my favorite breakfasts is a Tofurkey sausage, two eggs over medium, half an avocado, and some spinach. It's a wonderful way to start the day.
Ingredients: tofu, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed canola oil, water, soy sauce, soy flour and/or concentrate, sun dried tomatoes, basil, granulated garlic, sea salt, spices, sunflower oil, potassium chloride
11. Field Roast Bratwurst Sausage
It may be the wheat gluten, but Field Roast veggie sausages have a signature texture that I cannot get enough of. It's this crumbly goodness that still holds its shape when you need it to, and I always feel like these are a treat. These have a little sugar, but it's from natural cane sugar — you can decide how strict you want to be!
Ingredients: vital wheat gluten, beer, filtered water, caramelized onions, expeller pressed safflower oil, expeller pressed palm fruit oil, yeast extract, garlic, pea protein, barley malt extract, onion powder, granulated garlic, spices, cultured cane sugar, vinegar, sea salt, caraway, red pepper, black pepper
12. Amy's Meatless Veggie Sausage
I'm a big fan of Amy's soups, so when I found out they had veggie sausage breakfast links, I had to give it a shot. Instead of relying on tofu and seitan like other brands, Amy's goes for a big mix of organic veggies including mushrooms and carrots. These are great alongside some eggs and potatoes!
Ingredients: onions, mushrooms, bulgur wheat, wheat gluten, celery, carrots, tofu, long grain red rice, quinoa, oats, safflower and/or sunflower oil, green lentils, unbleached wheat flour, bell peppers, filtered water, sea salt, potatoes, garlic, spices, flax seed meal, extra virgin olive oil, hickory smoke flavor, agave syrup, black pepper, cane sugar, yeast
The bottom line on Whole30 sausage
As long as you're eating sausage that doesn't have added sugars or any banned preservatives, then you can still keep sausage as part of your diet on Whole30.
We just recommend making it a limited part of your diet — Whole30 is about being healthy, after all! If you're eating a bunch of pork day in and day out, you may not feel or see the results you're looking for.
That being said, treating yourself is an integral part of succeeding on a diet and achieving long-term dietary success.
Good luck, and happy eating!