The Ultimate Ranking Of Chain Restaurant Breakfast Sausages
Eating a hearty breakfast is the best way to kick off the day. It doesn't get much better than a plate full of buttery pancakes dripping with sticky maple syrup, fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy pieces of smoky bacon, and tasty breakfast sausage. Breakfast sausage is deeply flavorful and offers a touch of savory richness, which pairs perfectly with sweeter breakfast confections like waffles or french toast. Of course, enjoying a big breakfast is always easier when someone else is doing the cooking, and there's a good chance there are some chain restaurants around you that offer this meal— some of them around the clock.
But there are often some major differences in the quality of breakfast on the menu among these restaurants. At some restaurants, the sausage can be vibrant and juicy. At others, it might be gray and shriveled and far from appetizing. When you're in the mood for a hearty breakfast, it's good to know which chains you can count on. To help steer you in the right direction, here's the ultimate ranking of chain restaurant breakfast sausages.
Open since 1955, Waffle House is known for its relatively cheap menu and no-frills aesthetic. The company's yellow sign is an American icon that beckons prospective diners with its alluring glow. Waffle House has an almost utilitarian appeal to it, which we appreciate. Sometimes, you just need a straightforward breakfast for an honest price. And for the most part, that's what Waffle House delivers. But we aren't here to judge Waffle House as a whole. We're here with a much more narrow focus: to judge its breakfast sausage.
The chain uses Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage patties. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with them, there's also nothing special about them, considering that Jimmy Dean sausage is widely available in grocery stores. It has a familiar flavor that's enjoyable, but there's nothing spectacular about it.
Waffle House chops up its Jimmy Dean sausage patties and uses them in its signature Hashbrown Bowls. The potential problem with this is that chopping the sausage up results in different-sized chunks on the grill. The smaller pieces can get easily overcooked, resulting in tougher pieces that are unappetizing. Overall, we'd recommend getting some waffles or a Hashbrown Bowl with bacon instead.
Denny's is another chain restaurant that's well-known for its breakfast. The company has over 1,500 locations across the country, making it one of the most recognizable diner chains in America. It feels like a step up from Waffle House in a few different ways. The menu seems more expansive, offering everything from french toast and country fried steak to buttermilk pancakes and breakfast sandwiches. The sausage at Denny's comes in links and the restaurant claims it features a new and improved flavor.
The issue here isn't necessarily with the flavor of the sausage itself; it's with the actual texture of it, which can be very hit-or-miss. Cooking sausage may seem fairly simple, but there is some nuance to it. The outside should be lightly browned, but the inside should still be moist and tender. One wrong step and the whole affair can end up dry and shriveled. Worse yet, the sausages at Denny's can almost appear to be steamed or microwaved, taking on a squishy grayness that's highly unappealing. Sometimes it's cooked perfectly, but other times it really drops the ball. The reason Denny's ranked lower in our ranking is because the sausage is cooked so inconsistently.
Along with Denny's and Waffle House, IHOP is another chain that's been around for generations. Considering the word pancakes is built into the name, it's no wonder the chain is mostly known for its breakfast dishes. The menu at IHOP seems even more extensive than Denny's and offers a mix that includes crepes, waffles, pancakes, and several styles of eggs benedict. Not only is the menu more eclectic, but the quality of the food itself tends to taste better compared to Denny's and Waffle House. The pancakes are a little fluffier, the omelets are more impressive, and the sausage is dependably cooked with more consistency.
The sausage at IHOP comes in links made with pork. A side order includes four links, which seems fairly generous. While the sausage isn't necessarily exceptional, it still feels a step above a couple of the other major chains. The links taste good and have enough flavor to satisfy a craving. Another thing that nudges IHOP ahead of its main competitors is that it offers a choice of plant-based sausage patties. This gives more options to diners, which is always a good thing in our book.
TooJay's is a regional restaurant that has 20 locations in Florida. The restaurant has a deli-like feel and its menu offers specialty items like bagels and cream cheese schmears, pastrami by the pound, and slices of cake. TooJay's also offers breakfast sausage in two forms: links and patties.
We'd recommend the links over the patties. The links tend to be juicier, while the patties are occasionally overcooked. That said, the rest of the menu at TooJay's is worth exploring. The restaurant has excellent sandwiches, potato pancakes, and an exceptionally delicious open-faced tuna melt. But would we go out of our way to score some breakfast sausage here? Probably not. There are other chains around that have better breakfast overall, but there are still select items on TooJay's menu that are absolutely worth ordering.
Compared to some of the bigger chains in our ranking, Broken Yolk Cafe has a much smaller presence on the market. The restaurant has a little over 30 locations across the country, but the vast majority of its spots are located in California. The small chain specializes in omelets, benedicts, and Americanized Mexican dishes like breakfast burritos. It also offers traditional breakfast sausage as well as plant-based Beyond hot Italian sausage.
The chain makes homemade biscuits and gravy with sausage, but some diners have reported that the gravy can be a bit runny. Country gravy shouldn't be too thick, but it also shouldn't be too thin. The best country gravies strike a balance between these extremes, and it seems that Broken Yolk Cafe struggles with this at times. There's nothing to write home about when it comes to the sage on its own either. This restaurant has a lot of delicious options on the menu, but sausage isn't really a reason to visit.
Village Inn opened its doors in Colorado back in 1958. What started as a single restaurant has bloomed into over 100 locations across the country. The company specializes in classic diner staples such as three-egg omelets, club sandwiches, and patty melts. Village Inn's breakfasts are served all day, which makes it a great option when you get a late start but you're still in the mood for something hearty. The restaurant makes its sausage patties in-house, which puts it lightyears ahead of some of the bigger chains that use premade varieties. This effort pays off in spades, resulting in fresher sausage that's more flavorful.
The biscuits and gravy plate at Village Inn comes with hashbrowns and two eggs prepared to order. Two homemade sausage patties come nestled between a pair of fluffy buttermilk biscuits drizzled in creamy country sausage gravy. If you prefer sausage links, you're in luck, because Village Inn offers those, too.
Huddle House has over 250 restaurants, with most of its locations scattered around the Deep South in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Virginia. Diners tend to think of the chain as similar to Waffle House but with deep-fryers and an expanded menu. Some highlights on the breakfast menu include blueberry muffin bites lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar, country fried steak, and hashbrowns stuffed with sausage.
The Stuffed Hashbrowns at Huddle House are offered with ham and cheese, or with bacon, sausage, and country gravy. Lovers of breakfast sausage are bound to love the latter, which comes with hashbrowns, bacon, sausage patties, and cheesy scrambled eggs, and is then topped with more hashbrowns and a drizzle of sausage gravy. Beyond how good it tastes, we appreciate how this dish's construction makes it even more delicious. The country gravy slowly drips down into the hashbrowns and sausage patties, coating everything as you eat it. Huddle House is very casual and offers simple food but the menu still feels a bit more interesting than some of its competitors.
Perkins is a diner that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The chain has over 250 locations and is also known for its baked goods, including coconut cream pie, cheesecake, and brownies. The chain's breakfast menu makes it very easy to customize meals, inviting diners to choose eggs cooked in any style along with a protein like bacon or sausage, different types of potatoes, and various sides. When it comes to sausage, Perkins has three types to choose from, including patties, links, and turkey sausage. This chain lands above some of its competitors in our ranking since it offers more sausage options than many other restaurants.
Breakfast sausage is delicious, but let's face it — it's also not exactly the healthiest item on the menu. Sausage is often made with pork, which contains twice as much fat as turkey. Turkey also offers more protein than pork. This is why Perkins gets some bonus points from us for offering turkey sausage. Perkins' turkey sausage offers the same flavor profile as pork but with less fat and more protein, which is a win in our book.
Mimi's opened its first restaurant in 1978 and now operates in 45 locations across 12 states. The chain has become well-known for its freshly baked muffins and croissants, which gives the chain a level of freshness that's better than some of its competitors. Like Perkin's, Mimi's also offers turkey sausage. The difference here is that the sausage is in more interesting dishes, such as its Farmhouse Breakfast Tacos. Mimi's Farmhouse Breakfast Tacos come with smoked bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. It also comes with a side of salsa for dipping. Some dishes even come with several types of sausage so you don't have to choose your favorite.
What's surprising about Mimi's is that it doesn't offer biscuits and gravy on the menu. You'd think that a restaurant that prides itself on baking croissants and muffins every day would also throw some fresh biscuits in the oven. At the same time, the breakfast menu here, along with the sausage, is undeniably tasty.
With over 650 locations in the United States, Cracker Barrel is another chain that many diners are familiar with. Over the years, the restaurant has become known for its all-day breakfast, chicken and dumplings, and its gift store that sells all kinds of snacks and trinkets. Cracker Barrel is often strategically positioned by highways, making it a convenient place for travelers to pull over for a hot meal when hunger strikes. The breakfast at Cracker Barrel is consistently delicious, including its smoked sausage patties.
The smoked sausage patties at Cracker Barrel are well-seasoned and flavorful. The outside of the sausage often has a little crispness to it, while the inside is still tender. If you like biscuits, then make sure to order some at Cracker Barrel, since they're fresh and hand-rolled. You can also order them with country gravy if you're extra hungry. The restaurant also sells spicy chicken sausage links and plant-based Impossible sausage patties. Cracker Barrel's sausage is very good for a chain, and the chain's breakfast is dependable and delicious.
After Bob Evans opened up a modest diner in 1946, he started selling his homemade sausage from a truck. He purchased a farm to expand his operation, which led to the opening of more restaurants. Today, there are over 400 Bob Evans restaurants across the country serving the brand's famous sausage for breakfast, and you can even find it in grocery stores nationwide.
Bob Evans' sausage has a more complex flavor compared to other breakfast chains and sausage companies thanks to the company's seasoning blend and selection of pork. The restaurant also offers a wide variety of ways to enjoy the sausage, from a breakfast sandwich made with a buttermilk biscuit to big platters. When we're in the mood for some breakfast sausage, Bob Evans is definitely one of the first chains that comes to mind. The fact that it's also available in grocery stores is a testament to how popular it is.
Another Broken Egg Cafe has about 70 locations located in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. What sets this chain apart from the pack is the menu's embrace of Southern and Cajun cuisine. There's an omelet with tomato hollandaise, andouille sausage, shrimp, and crawfish. Shrimp and grits — a beloved Southern staple — also graces the menu. But Another Broken Egg Cafe also mixes in tons of more traditional breakfast dishes, like Belgian waffles and eggs benedict. And, one of the best parts is that the sausage at the restaurant is made in-house, which makes it extra fresh-tasting.
There aren't too many chains where you can score breakfast sausage and andouille sausage on the same breakfast menu, and that's part of why Another Broken Egg Cafe has earned a top slot in our ranking. There's no doubt it gives diners some unique menu items that can't be found at other chain restaurants. The company is willing to roll the rice with some bolder flavor combinations, which is something we respect.
Flying Biscuit Cafe has about 30 locations and has been open since 1993. As its name suggests, the chain is famous for its biscuits and bakes nearly 5,000 of them every week at each of its restaurants. The company's sausage is made with chicken and sage. The chicken gives the sausage a leaner texture and the sage adds an herbal flavor.
The menu at Flying Biscuit Cafe is a bit more pared-down compared to some of the chains on this list. While that might mean fewer choices, it also means the kitchen can really hone in on executing its dishes with consistency. The biscuits and gravy is made with the company's signature chicken sage sausage and will have you coming back for more. If you're in the mood for a different kind of sausage, order the hash and breakfast tacos, which feature chicken chorizo. The flavors at Flying Biscuit Cafe are vibrant, the prices are reasonable, and the sausage tastes fresh.
Metro Diner has been open since 1992 and was even featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." The chain restaurant has become known for its classic diner food, offering dishes like fried chicken and waffles with strawberry butter, griddle-seared meatloaf, and biscuits and sausage gravy.
One thing we appreciate about Metro Diner is how the sausage gravy is prepared. Rather than chopping the sausage into minuscule pieces, it is left in bigger chunks. This may seem like a minor detail, but if you've ever had country gravy that has tiny bits of sausage, you know how much of a bummer that can be. The sausage in country gravy should still have some bite to it, otherwise the sausage takes on a granular texture that makes it hard to fully appreciate the flavor. Metro Diner seems to understand this. While this is a chain that you can count on for any meal of the day, the breakfast (along with the sausage) is worth a pitstop.
After the founder opened up pizza joints and made biscuits from scratch, he decided to switch gears as his biscuits grew in popularity. Biscuitville now has nearly 70 locations and a devoted following. The restaurant specializes in biscuit sandwiches, and offers them with various proteins including ham, bacon, and country-fried steak. Biscuitville also sells breakfast sausage and turkey sausage made with locally sourced meat.
The Ultimate Sausage Biscuit comes with two sausage patties, a locally sourced fried egg, and two pieces of melted American cheese. It's simple but delicious, proving that ingredients don't need to be complicated to achieve greatness. The biscuits are firm enough to hold everything together, but light enough to still stay fluffy. Another item worth checking out is Biscuitville's jalapeno pimento cheese (sourced from Red Clay Gourmet) that is made with sharp white cheddar, smoked gouda, and freshly roasted jalapeno peppers. We'd recommend trying a sausage biscuit with the pimento cheese instead of the American — the smoky touch of roasted jalapenos add some heat that compliments the sausage.
Lester's Diner is a regional chain in South Florida. The restaurant has a nostalgic feel inside, complete with red booths and posters of American icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. The diner's breakfast sausage comes in links or patties and both are well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. The patties are seared on the griddle until they're lightly browned on the outside. But it's Lester's links that truly shine here. They are extra plump and juicy, and the proportions seem bigger than other restaurant chains.
To get a comprehensive view of the diner's breakfast, we'd recommend ordering Lester's Big Deal, which comes with three eggs cooked to order, three pancakes, and bacon along with two sausage links and a sausage patty. This deal gives you the best of both worlds, so you can sample each type of sausage.
First Watch rises to the top slot and takes the crown for our favorite chain restaurant breakfast sausage. The biscuits and gravy is made with the restaurant's turkey sausage, and while turkey sausage is often (and in most cases, understandably) thought of as dry and lean, immersing it in country gravy all but guarantees that's not the case. This sausage is deeply rich and flavorful, soaking up the gravy's creamy seasoning with remarkable absorption. The restaurant also has chorizo that it features in an omelet.
First Watch has earned the highly coveted spot at the top of our list for its amazing breakfast sausages. Its smart and delicious menu easily allows diners to be indulgent or health-conscious. If you've never checked it out, consider this as a sign to change that — and the biscuits and turkey sausage is a great place to start.