With their great flavor, summer sausages make a handy on-the-go snack or a delicious addition to a family dinner.
These cured sausages are now popular in many households and in recent years we’ve seen many new types and brands available for sale.
But what makes the best summer sausage? The best summer sausage will contain high-quality ingredients, minimal additives, and the perfect blend of ground meats and seasonings. Good quality summer sausage is made using traditional curing methods and is aged to develop a great flavor.
Are you looking for the best summer sausages for you and your family? Read on to find out what makes the best summer sausage, including our suggestions for the best summer sausages you can buy at the store.
What Is Summer Sausage?
Summer sausage is the name given to a type of sausage that can be stored without refrigeration.
They are manufactured using processes including fermentation and salt curing to slow bacterial growth. Following this, they are vacuum packed to keep them shelf stable at room temperature.
Summer sausages come in many different forms, but they are normally based on a mixture of ground pork along with other meats such as beef or venison.
They are normally highly seasoned with ingredients such as mustard seeds, garlic, salt, black pepper, or sugar.
Some summer sausages are also smoked to bring out an additional level of flavor and preserve them for longer.
The fact that summer sausages don’t need to be kept in the refrigerator means that they are a handy addition to many cupboard shelves! They can be kept on hand ready for whenever you want them without taking up valuable fridge space.
Summer sausages can be enjoyed in many different ways, and many people will eat them in slices straight from the packet. They can also be used as sandwich fillings, lunch box snacks, pizza toppings, or as part of a charcuterie platter.
If you’re trying to choose the best summer sausages, you will notice that there are many options available. Let’s figure out how to pick the right product for your culinary needs!
How To Choose The Best Summer Sausage
There is such a wide variety of summer sausages available that sometimes it becomes overwhelming to choose the right one for you and your family.
Are all types of summer sausage the same, or are there certain things you need to think about when buying summer sausage?
If you are on the hunt for the perfect summer sausages to buy for your family, here are some factors you should take into consideration.
Type Of Summer Sausage
You may not realize it, but many types of cold meats that we enjoy are actually a form of summer sausage. Salami, pepperoni, and chorizo can all be classed as summer sausages, as they are made using the same techniques.
The name “summer sausage” was coined to describe a sausage that could be stored through the summer months without the need for refrigeration. So strictly speaking, this could include any type of cured sausage.
However, purists will maintain with the term “summer sausage” is used to describe a type of sausage developed many centuries ago in Europe.
Originating from Germany, which has a cooler climate, these sausages did not need to have as much water removed to enable them to stay fresh through the summer months.
This means that traditional summer sausage is softer and less dry than other cured sausages, such as pepperoni.
Storage Method And Shelf Life
Since summer sausages were first developed several centuries ago, we now have easier access to chilled storage facilities. We’ve also become much more aware of food safety and hygiene, and the risks of keeping meats at room temperature.
So, while summer sausage was intended to be a preserved meat that can be stored at room temperature, now many brands recommend that their products are refrigerated. This is often necessary to comply with food safety regulations.
If refrigerator space is at a premium in your house or you’re looking for a sausage to take as a snack on an outdoor adventure, then make sure you opt for one which does not need to be kept chilled.
Flavorings And Seasonings
Summer sausages come with a huge range of different flavorings and seasonings, from mild and subtle through to strong and punchy. They often include bold flavors which will infuse the entire sausage, such as garlic, mustard, or chili.
Smoked summer sausages normally have a sweeter, more delicate flavor. Most unsmoked ones tend to be more meaty and pungent. You’re more likely to find summer sausages that are flavored with warming spices than herb-based sausage.
The different meats used can also affect the overall flavor of the sausage. Pork-based sausages tend to be milder, whilst ones made with a large proportion of beef or venison have a more gamey tang.
When it comes to summer sausages, it is virtually impossible to avoid artificial additives altogether. This is because they are normally required as part of the curing process to comply with food safety regulations.
Summer sausage also tends to be high in salt, used as part of the curing process.
But although you are unlikely to find an additive-free summer sausage, some options are better than others. If the label lists a whole load of E-numbers and additives, then it is probably a product to avoid.
Quality And Welfare Standards
Nowadays, many people try to source high-quality meat that meets the highest possible welfare standards.
This is out of concern not only for the animals reared for meat but also for our own health and the environmental impact of meat products.
Standards can vary widely from country to country, but there are some basic terms you can look out for that will help you to the best quality summer sausage:
- Organic. This means that the animal has been reared using methods that are free from chemicals, including the food that they consume.
- Free-Range The animal must have been able to spend most of its life outside, in natural conditions. This is a high-welfare farming method and it is a good idea to buy free-range summer sausage if you can afford it.
- Antibiotic Free. Sadly, modern-day farming techniques mean that many animals are given antibiotics in a way that many people feel is unnecessary or unhealthy. If you want to reduce your intake of antibiotic residues in your food, choose antibiotic-free meats.
Best Summer Sausage
From a family-friendly budget option to a high-welfare organic brand, there are so many different types of summer sausage to choose from!
Below are our top picks for the best varieties of summer sausage for you and your family:
|1||Old Wisconsin Premium Summer Sausage Original Flavor||A great value summer sausage with high-quality ingredients|
|2||Hickory Farms Farmhouse Premium Beef And Pork Smoked Summer Sausage||Highly seasoned pork and beef blend smoked over hardwood|
|3||Stonie's Summer Sausage With Cheese and Jalapeno||A smooth and well-rounded flavor with a gentle spiciness|
|4||Deli Direct 100% Pure Beef Summer Sausage||An all-natural sausage made with hickory-smoked beef|
|5||Dan The Sausageman Roasted Garlic Summer Sausage||Roasted garlic paired with red pepper for a sweet and mildly spicy flavor|
|6||Pearson Ranch Hickory Smoked Venison Summer Sausage||An exotic hickory-smoked venison summer sausage made from all-natural ingredients|
|7||Usinger's Thueringer Summer Sausage||Slow-smoked course ground pork and beef sausage seasoned with white peppercorns|
|8||Pepper Joe’s Carolina Reaper Slow Smoked Spicy Summer Sausage||A super-spicy summer sausage flavored with the world’s hottest chili pepper|
|9||Foustman's Naturally Cured Artisan Lamb & Rosemary Salami||A delicious pairing of ground lamb with rosemary in a naturally-cured salami|
1. Old Wisconsin Premium Summer Sausage Original Flavor
Old Wisconsin has topped the bestseller lists with their summer sausages time and time again — and with good reason!
Made with a blend of ground pork and beef, their original recipe encapsulates everything we love about a good summer sausage.
The meat is firm without being too dry, the texture is smooth but not mushy, and the flavor is absolutely perfect due to the careful blend of spices and seasonings.
To top it off, these original summer sausages are carefully smoked using hardwood, to give a delicately sweet, smokey flavor. They don’t contain any unnecessary fillers or binders, and the sausage casing is easy to peel.
In our opinion, if you were to choose just one summer sausage, then this simple but delicious original blend would win every time!
2. Hickory Farms Farmhouse Premium Beef And Pork Smoked Summer Sausage
The Hickory Farms summer sausage comes in a close second behind our top pick, as it features many of the same great qualities.
However, this recipe is more highly seasoned and saltier than the Old Wisconsin version, so may not suit all tastes.
The great thing about this sausage is that it is perfect as a stand-alone snack, and does not need to be paired with cheese or any other foods.
The hardwood smoked flavor is intense and perfectly complements the rich, spicy meat. Made with a mix of beef and pork, the texture is firm without being too dry.
3. Stonie’s Summer Sausage With Cheese And Jalapeno
Taking a bold step away from traditional summer sausages, our next pick combines grass-fed beef and pork with real cheddar cheese and flakes of dried jalapeno chili to create a sausage that is sublime and delicious!
We think that, apart from the original flavored summer sausages, this cheese and chili blend is one of the best you can get. It is smooth and rich and is made from all-natural ingredients.
Although this is a cured summer sausage, the manufacturers advise that it will last longer if kept in the refrigerator. To enjoy it at its best, allow it to come to room temperature before consuming.
4. Deli Direct 100% Pure Beef Summer Sausage
This 100% pure beef summer sausage is one for the purists amongst you!
With just the minimal seasonings to bring out the flavor, this sausage is an intense hit of beefy flavor without any unnecessary trimmings.
It is gently smoked over hickory to give it a subtle, sweet flavor, and is made from all-natural ingredients. The larger sausage size means you can cut it into big rounds, perfect for pairing with a chunk of mature cheddar cheese.
5. Dan The Sausageman Roasted Garlic Summer Sausage
All too often we find that garlic sausage can be a bit too, erm, garlicky. We get that garlic sausage should taste like garlic, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
The great thing about this roasted garlic summer sausage is that the mild garlic flavor is not too overpowering, and is perfectly complemented with red bell pepper to add sweetness and depth of flavor.
The result is a summer sausage that is deliciously tasty without being too spicy (or garlicky)!
And if you like some added heat, simply pair it with a dab of hot mustard for a true taste sensation.
6. Pearson Ranch Hickory Smoked Venison Summer Sausage
If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual, then this venison sausage combines all the great attributes of summer sausage with the great gamey flavor of venison.
Pearson Ranch has long been a market leader with their unusual sausage variations, and this hickory-smoked venison option is a firm favorite amongst their customers.
On its own, venison can be quite overpowering, but this blend also includes pork to give a sweeter and more moist texture to the sausage. It is made from all-natural ingredients and is free from added nitrites.
7. Usinger’s Thueringer Summer Sausage
Made the old-fashioned way with course-ground beef and pork, the grainy texture of this summer sausage makes a pleasant change from the more commonplace smooth sausage meat we are accustomed to.
The meat is well-seasoned with white peppercorns, giving it a great tangy flavor.
Usinger’s sausages are all slow-smoked for days in traditional brick smokehouses over hardwood slabs. This technique ensures that the flavor is smooth and intense, without being harsh and overpowering.
8. Pepper Joe’s Carolina Reaper Slow Smoked Spicy Summer Sausage
This summer sausage is not for the fainthearted, but don’t let that put you off!
The Carolina Reaper is the world’s hottest chili pepper, and when added to this beef and pork summer sausage it gives an intense heat as well as a great chili flavor.
The sausage is slow-smoked over hardwood, giving rich, smokey undertones to the bold, punchy flavor.
The texture is firm and moist, and it makes a great addition to a charcuterie platter. Just remember to warn your guests that this one is considerably spicier than your average summer sausage!
9. Foustman’s Naturally Cured Artisan Lamb & Rosemary Salami
Foustman uses traditional dry-curing methods to create summer sausages in a range of different flavors.
It’s a tough call to say which one is the best, but this innovative lamb and rosemary blend is so different that it really stands out from the crowd!
Summer sausage made with lamb meat is somewhat of a rarity, so this is a great choice if you want to bring something different to a picnic or sharing platter. The rosemary is not too overpowering and perfectly complements the rich, salty ground lamb meat.
The great thing about Foustman’s summer sausages and salamis is that they are made with minimal additives, and are free from nitrites and nitrates.