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Veggie burgers, herby tofu, and grilled salads are classic vegetarian choices for summer cookouts, but a growing number of consumers committed to a vegetarian lifestyle means options are more plentiful than ever. Enter: grilled sausages (and their crumbled counterpart). But with so many plant-based sausage selections available now it is hard to know which tastes closest to the meaty thing. At least, it was.
We did the hard work of sourcing every pseudo-sausage we could find, cooked them all up and taste tested them so that you don’t have to. These are the three we’ll be buying again and again.
How I Tested the Plant-Based Sausages
I visited six different grocery stores and found 18 varieties of plant-based sausages from 15 different brands. I focused on savory dinner sausages, leaving breakfast sausage for another time. Some sausages were available in links, while others were packaged as ground sausage for serving as crumbles or patties.
When I got home, I divided the sausages into two separate categories: savory and chorizo. Savory sausages included Italian-style, Bratwurst, and similarly flavored sausages. The second category of sausages were garnet-hued, spicy, and seasoned with smoky paprika and spices. The two styles of chorizo are cured Spanish and fresh Mexican, but not all of the packages specified their cuisine of origin.
I prepared the sausages in as many ways as possible: as links, patties, and/or crumbles to gauge the versatility of the product. I judged on flavor, texture, aftertaste, and similarity to traditional sausage. I am not a regular consumer of plant-based sausages, so while this was not a blind taste test I did not have prior experience, preconceived preferences for, or biases against any brands.
In the end, there were three clear favorites.
Best Plant-Based Ground Sausage: Impossible SpicyGround Sausage Roll
I was blown away by the impossibly accurate flavor and texture of Impossible’s ground sausage. The raw sausage was quite wet and a bit sticky, but the appearance was shockingly similar to pork sausage, with bits of fat and seasoning distributed throughout the plant-based meat. The sausage changes color and browns nicely, just like traditional sausage does. The savory variety was salty, juicy, and perfectly fatty. The spicy version was similar to the savory, but with a spicy kick at the end. Either flavor would work well in pasta sauce for dinner or stacked between a biscuit for breakfast.
Post-taste test, I was left longing for their plant-based sausages in link form so much so that I found that Impossible does sell both Italian and Bratwurst sausage links. These varieties were out of stock in all of the grocery stores I visited. You can bet I’ll pick up a package of those next time I find them in-store. Until then, I’ll shape the ground sausage into patties and serve them on soft burger rolls with spicy mustard instead of standard long rolls.
Best Plant- Based Link Sausage: Jack & Annie’s Smoky Jack Sausage
Finding a link sausage that I’d be happy to serve from the skillet or the grill was surprisingly difficult, but one stood out from the pack. Most of the other sausages were made with soy or wheat gluten, but the main ingredient here is jackfruit! These plant-based sausages are squeezed into a thin, plant-based casing, and while that casing came a little loose after browning in the skillet, it was not noticeable upon eating.
When I broke the sausage apart with my fingers to make crumbles, it felt like traditional sausage, although slightly more dense. It browns nicely and maintains the classic crumble consistency. The flavory is smoky with a slight sweetness at the end, like good barbecue, with no off-putting aftertaste that was common to others I tasted. The sausage is juicy, flavorful, and exactly what I want to serve on a soft bun with a squeeze of spicy mustard.
Best Plant-Based Chorizo: Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo
I tasted six chorizo plant-based sausages and Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo was the best of them all. This plant-based chorizo comes in a long folded tube wrapped in a removable plastic casing.
It crumbles into the skillet, without being too sticky nor too dry. The sausage browned slightly over medium heat as the crumbles heated through, maintaining a variety in the size of the crumbles and developing some crispy bits around meatier crumbles. Paprika, garlic, and spicy red pepper give Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo well-balanced and robust flavor. Add this sausage to meals, including breakfast tacos and grain bowls, all day long.
Did your favorite make the list? Sound off in the comments below.