Over the past eight or so years I have sampled hundreds of sausages from around the UK and beyond. I readily agreed to write about my top twenty sausages not realising how hard it would be to narrow down seventy to eighty favourites to twenty. Every single county in the UK has really good sausages and I’ve tried several sausages who could so easily have made my top twenty but didn’t quite make it!
This list is not written in order of preference, just in the order that they appeared when I went through my list of over 1300 UK recommended butchers.
Musks Original Sausages are, for me, the classic of sausages. I first started eating Musks sausages when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I’m sure that they have helped my love of sausages to grow. They are still true to the original recipe which James Musk came up with over 100 y ears ago. The quality of the ingredients is second to none and, despite being upscaled to meet supermarket demands, many traditional production methods are still used.
More recently a pork and Aspall Cyder sausage has joined their already wonderful range.
Regular readers will notice that I often reach for Musks original sausages to join me when I am sampling anything from wine to mustards. They are the perfect sausage for any meal and with any accompaniment.
Powters sausages are another classic sausage and the secret family recipe has stood the test of time since 1880. Four generations of sausage makers have continued the family business. Recently Powters have been expanding their product line while staying true to their core quality values. A notable new recipe is pork and ale. A marriage made in heaven between Powters and local brewer Greene King in nearby Bury St Edmunds. They are superb and already a top seller.
There is some local rivalry between Musks and Powters but it’s not as fierce as some would have you believe. Between the two sausage makers they have put Newmarket firmly on the map of fine UK sausages.
From humble beginnings Morris has established Rothbury Family Butchers as one of the top butchers in the UK. His sausages are amazing and his experimentation most welcome in the World of sausages. All of the sausages I have ever tried from Rothbury have been excellent and well worth special mention. To pick an individual sausage is difficult but the Cragside Cracker has to be a contender for the top spot.
Morris can sell you a mixed hamper of sausages which is an excellent way to try out several varieties in his excellent range. He also has a wide range of well source and well presented meats and other items in his shop which is well worth a visit if you are in the area and well worth the journey if you are not.
Charles has more than 30 different varieties on offer and many of them are really innovative recipes you may never have thought of. Of particular mention is the Pork and Christmas Pudding sausage. This might not sound very appetising but believe me when I tell you it is. I recently reviewed them for this website:
“Putting Christmas pudding into a sausage turned out to be a stroke of genius”
You can read more of my review by clicking here. Charles and his team have won 300 awards in 25 years! If you try any of his products or visit his shop at anytime you will see why. Look out for him at the Nantwich Food Festival when he always has something special happening for his visitors.
Meeting Russell of R J Hirst was a real treat for me on one of my Sausage King Adventures. He has successfully combined three secret recipes into his own secret R J Hirst sausage recipe. His sausages use no artificial preservatives so he has to keep making up fresh batches throughout the day. The results are excellent. I spent a morning with Russell and Sadie in Woodhall Spa and almost every single customer was buying his excellent sausages. One lady had ordered 70!
Russell is one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met and he is a blur buzzing around his shop dealing with customer orders and chatting to customers. His shop is small (they are looking for bigger premises) but the quality of everything they do sets them aside from many other sausage makers.
As soon as I walked into Gareth’s Butchers in Welwyn I knew I was going to love it. It is like an Aladdin’s cave of exciting and tasty things. Luckily when I visited I was just in time to try out their Oakland sausage, their signature sausage. I could see immediately why people travel from miles around to stock up on this particular variety (although the rest of their range is also popular).
Hannah (Gareth’s wife) and Tony make up the trio who make the shop tick. Between them their banter with the customers, service and quality of products would put many butchers to shame. Hannah is the innovate force behind many of the sausages and runs the deli part of the business (which is currently expanding).
The Great Tasting Meat Company hit the headlines with their heart-shaped Valentine steaks earlier this year but it’s their sausages which are the real gem of their offering. They use the finest grass-fed free range rare breed pigs in their sausage range.
Of particular note (but sample their whole range if you get chance) is the cracked black pepper pork sausages which are perfectly flavoured and succulent. You can see why they’ve won so many awards. If you get chance you might want to order a Speciality Box of Free Range Award Winning Sausages to try. Flavours include Gloucester Old Spot traditional pork and Gloucester Old Spot cracked black pepper as well as some others.
At Gate Farm (Wettenhall Road, Poole) they are back to farming like it used to be and you can see for yourself as they are open Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-6pm.
Croots Farm Shop is an absolutely first class farm shop who produce some truly marvellous sausages. Their name kept coming up as an example of a sausage maker who was innovating and trying new things. They have run sausage recipe competitions, innovated with flavours and even got premiership footballers involved with their sausages.
I tried their traditional pork sausages. To say the Croot’s sausages are excellent is an understatement. They now have a reputation both in Derbyshire and around the rest of the county and you can see why. Click on the right to see a short film about them (but be warned it was early and my brother says I have a face for radio)!
Matt Cockin at The Fruit Pig Company is, in my view, something of a true celebrity in the World of sausages. After 20 years service in the RAF he realised his dream of owning a smallholding, trained in meat processing and started making sausages to a standard which many lifelong butchers can only dream of.
The quality of ingredients used by The Fruit Pig Company really is up there at the top. To say the sausages were succulent and flavoursome is a massive understatement. An unusual combination of 85% rare breed pork, multiseed and bread as well as other ingredients such as nutmeg really do make for a fantastic sausage. I also got the chance to try juniper and black pepper bacon which was amazing!
I first tried these sausages over four years ago and hopefully the fact they still come to mind as a classic gives you an idea of how good they were. I was lucky enough to sample a whole range (click here to see some of the reviews on this website) and I can still remember the truly wonderful flavours. Their Gloucester Old Spot would be perfect with anything and I was impressed with it’s no messin’ porky flavour. They have a commitment to use local, naturally fed, “happy” meat, allied to an understanding of seasonal ingredients which makes their sausages irresistible.
While I am writing about the Bristol Sausage Shop I would do you an injustice if I did not just also quickly mention another of their sausages – The Lucifer: Pork with jalapeno chillies! This one is not for the faint hearted but an absolutely fantastic flavour like the rest of their range.
Established in the 1860’s, no butcher’s shop could be more traditional than Leaning’s of Tealby. Situated on the Viking Way, Leaning’s butcher’s shop is famous for it’s delicious home made Lincolnshire sausages. Delicious is an understatement.
Ian is a rock of the sausage World constantly producing products of very high quality and selling them online allowing a little piece of Lincolnshire to be available to anyone in the UK.
The Leaning’s website also has a good selection of innovate sausage recipes perfect for any occasion. Highlights include sausages in red wine sauce and toad in the hole.
The very innovate and excellent people at The Somerset Sausage Company have an excellent range of sausages on offer. While their classic pork were cooking under my grill I (honestly) cracked open a bottle of champagne to celebrate what I knew was going to be brilliance in sausage making. They didn’t let me down. I love to try a sausage maker’s pork original because I figure that if he can’t make a decent pork banger then what hope is there with the pelican, foie gra and lemon grass sausage!
The classic pork were really well flavoured and porkie but nothing about them was over powering which was perfect!
Plumms is a family run small business based in a village on the outskirts of Coventry and is run by Alan Plummer. What I love is that his whole sausage making endeavours have only grown up because he became frustrated with the other sausages available and wanted the best for his family. Orders from friends and family forced him to consider making sausages for a living!
Plumms’ lamb and mint are ideal as a ‘standalone’ sausage or as an addition to a meal, flavoursome with the hint of mint creating a fresh and morish taste.
In addition to great sausages Plumms also sell sausage making equipment and have a variety of articles on their website about what to look for in a quality sausage. The key one for me is a short ingredients list. Also if it has words I don’t understand in it then the alarm bells start ringing!
Uncle Henry’s Farm Shop at Grayingham was set up as an outlet for Steve and Meryl Ward’s prime pork produce and has developed into one of the area’s premier places for local produce. They are also really nice people who I first met at the Lincolnshire sausage and potato festival.
Uncle Henry’s Caramelised Onion Sausages are very well flavoured and balanced and oh so moorish!
Uncle Henry’s staff are constantly innovating, various members of staff have won a number of awards and customers seem to really enjoy trying out new ideas and making suggestions.
Andrew, the owner of Bradwell Butchery and Delicatessen is one of the most enthusiastic and nicest butchers I’ve met. Not only is he a butcher but he is also an artist and I think that comes out not only in how he lays out his shop but also in how he prepares his meat.
His beef is particularly well hung and he stocks Blythbough Free Range Pork. His all important sausages are also fabulous. On the left I am pictured outside his shop (before it’s facelift) with a string of his original pork (long story) which were fabulous. His sausage range is excellent and, as with everything else, he puts in a great deal of care to ensure everything is just right.
More recently he has expanded the shop into the unit next door to diversify his delicatessen range.
When I heard about Mr Singh’s Bangras I thought it might be more of the same and just another curry flavoured sausage. How wrong I was! The Bangras are a true innovation and incredibly tasty. Although I’ve not yet finished writing up the review for this website they just have to be included in my top twenty. Even on innovation alone they deserve a place but they also earn a place on taste.
The Bangra was first created in Shimla, a hill station in Northern India by Mr Harnam Singh in the 1940s. The secret recipe has been passed down the generations and is now being produced for all to enjoy by Harnam’s grandson, Daljit Singh.
They are spicy and authentic tasting but not overpoweringly so. I ate mine with great chips but I’ve just noticed a recipe on their website for masala mashed potatoes which might just be the perfect accompaniment next time.
I got the chance to try Steve’s original pork sausages at the Champion of Champions sausage competition in London last year. As he had taken the title of Champion of Champions the previous year’s his sausages were served to judges, guests and butchers for lunch. They were absolutely cracking as you would expect from someone awarded the top prize in the UK.
Sorry to say I haven’t got a picture of the sausages themselves so instead Steve and I and his trophy! To say Steve is a nice guy is an understatement and he knows butchery inside-out. You can see instantly why he must be a hit with all his customers.
I was lucky enough to try a polish sausage from Mettrick & Son which was morish and meaty and a must for my top 20. I am told they are an authentic recipe, they clearly have a very high meat content with a natural coarseness about them. They tasted slightly sweet and had a deep rich flavour.
The business, which has been going for over 100 years, is in very capable hands with John. Not only is he an award winning sausage maker but also a TV star having appeared on various local and national programmes.
Ivan Thompson, the founder of The Sausage Shed, has over a quarter of a century of butchery experience, rigourous training and experience of working to the highest standards, coupled with a passion for making the tastiest sausages.
I was lucky enough to try a selection of his range last year and really they could all be considered for the top twenty. To single one out is difficult but I am going to go for Pork and Marmalade. I love sausages that make me think about my own pre-conceived ideas and question them. I’m not a “sweet and savoury” person but this really worked for me. The sweetness of the marmalade which could have been too much with the pork was balanced with some black pepper.
The winner of the 2009 Champion of Champions competition was a pork and marmalade sausage and these would certainly have given them a run for their money.
I was lucky enough to find myself at the Goodies Christmas Fayre last year and so had the opportunity to try out a range of their excellent sausages. I think my favourite, and entry for the top 20, has to be mexican chilli although I could have picked almost any other sausage from their range with other highlights including garlic and sweet chilli.
Goodies Farm Shop has developed from Stuart, the owner and founder, selling potatoes in a lay-by into one of the best farm shops in the country. Recently the farm shop has been extended and now includes a cheese counter along with the vegetables and butchery. They also have a range of other gourmet treats!
I couldn’t really have a list of my top twenty without a mention of Tavern Tasty Meats! Tavern Tasty are Norfolk’s only Accredited Rare Breed Survival Trust Butcher.
I like all of his range that I’ve tried but in particular the wholegrain mustard sausage. This is a well balanced and flavoured sausage with a moderation of spices and the mustard adds a warmth to it without overpowering the rare breed pork.
I should stress once again that this list is not in order of preference it is just the order in which it happened to be written.
I hope you enjoyed reading my top 20. I take it as a really encouraging sign that it was so difficult for me to come up with just 20 sausages / sausage makers, the UK really does have many many top sausage makers to choose from. I could have happily provided 80-100!
If you would like to suggest some of your top sausages please comment using the form below.