Hot-off-the-grill sausages and frankfurters are two of summer’s great pleasures. But thanks to their high calorie, salt and fat content, the tasty meats have gotten a bad rap. The good news is that there are a number of options on supermarket shelves that won’t harm your health or your hard-earned beach body. Since reading and comparing every package’s nutrition label to find the best can take forever, we did all the legwork.
All you have to do is pick up one of our Eat This, Not That!-approved picks, head home and fire up the grill. All of the meats below are free of scary additives and have no more than 160 calories, 11 grams of fat and 600 milligrams of sodium per serving—with the majority of them falling far below these nutritional upper limits. Stick with these healthy brands and you’ll never be far from a quick, healthy protein-packed meal.
BEST BEEF HOT DOG
Applegate Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog, 1 frank
|Saturated Fat||2 g|
A fair share of conventional dogs are cured, meaning they’ve been doused with nitrates and nitrites, chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer and diabetes. Applegate is one of the few companies that don’t add these dangerous additives to their dogs. Their Uncured Beef variety is also low in calories, fat and salt, earning it a top spot on our list.
BEST LOW-FAT SAUSAGE
Thin n’ Trim Chicken Sausage, Chipotle & Peach Salsa, 1 link
|Saturated Fat||0.5 g|
Thin n’ Trim combines a little bit of heat with a dash of sweet flavor to make their delicious Southwestern-flavored sausage. It’s free of MSG and nitrites, so you can dig in guilt free. To take your BBQ game to the next level, throw your sausage in a whole-grain bun and top it with sautéed onions and peppers, spicy giardiniera (mixed pickled vegetables) and a low-sodium salsa.
BEST TWO-MEAT FRANK
Applegate Natural Uncured Beef and Pork Hot Dog, 1 frank
|Saturated Fat||2.5 g|
This frank is made with a blend of beef, pork, water and spices—that’s about as clean as you can get. Applegate also shuns nitrates, fillers and additives you don’t need — or want — in your dogs. Combine that with their sound nutritional profile, and it’s clear why this company earned the title of best duel-meat frankfurter on supermarket shelves.
The Original Brat Hans Organic Bratwurst Chicken Sausage, 1 link
|Saturated Fat||1.5 g|
We’re fans of this plump pork brat because it has fewer calories and less fat and sodium than any other variety at the store. It’s also free of antibiotics, hormones, nitrates and nitrites. The Original Brat’s tasty, but relatively neutral flavor makes it a perfect canvas for a wide range of toppings from traditional German sauerkraut and hot mustard to pickled chilies and chutney. Pair it with a healthy beer for the full bierhaus experience.
BEST SPICY SAUSAGE
Al Fresco Chipotle Chorizo Chicken Sausage, 1 link
|Saturated Fat||2 g|
Our love for Al Fresco runs deep. No other company offers a wider variety of bold-flavored, low-calorie and low-sodium sausages—and this variety is one we can’t get enough of. Makers of this variety use dried mango, adobo sauce and tomato puree to give it a unique, rich flavor. Throw a link into a bun or mix it up by throwing slices of them on a homemade grilled veggie pizza.
BEST PORK SAUSAGE
Aidells Cajun Style Andouille, 1 link
|Saturated Fat||4 g|
Since it’s free of scary additives, this Cajun-style smoked sausage is far better than its competition. Even so, we can’t ignore its higher sodium count. If you decide to indulge, stick to one sausage and keep any BBQ classics laced with salt—like chips, cheese and ketchup—off your plate.