Sausages are a popular food item, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Japanese sausages are a little different than the ones we may be used to in the west, their most distinguishable feature being their crispy skins and Arabiki sausages. With many manufacturers such as Schau Essen, Nippon Ham, and Ito Ham making their own version of the best Japanese sausage, it can be challenging to figure out which one will suit your palette most.
In this article, we gathered the 21 most popular products from e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping, and taste-tested them all.
We tested each product for the following:
We then chose and ranked the 10 best products and put what we learned into a buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese sausages.
After joining mybest, Kyoka has tested over 1,000 products across a wide variety, such as food, health supplements, drinks, and cooking utensils and appliances. She's the manager and chief editor of mybest's kitchen supplies team. She edits articles to help people understand and get excited about the products we use and consume daily.
The products and services listed are ranked independently by the editorial team based on the relevant research (as of 11-04-2022).
Here are three essential points to keep in mind when choosing a Japanese sausage product to purchase.
While most Japanese sausages are made of 100% pork, some are mixed with chicken or lamb, and some even use starches as filler. The taste and texture of each product will vary depending on the ingredients and the proportions used.
Look for the JAS mark, which specifies quality standards. This mark is attached to products that meet specific quality standards, and there are four types: standard, above-average, high-grade and special grade. The differences between them are as follows:
The higher the grade, the higher the quality. Choose the highest degree you can if you want the crispiest, juiciest, and most flavorful sausages.
All sausages are processed meats, and as such, there aren't any completely additive-free sausages. But some ingredients are safer than others, and it's best to choose products with as few additives as possible.
Some chemicals used to process sausages have been shown to have carcinogenic properties. If you're someone who eats sausages daily, look for products that are free of sodium nitrate, preservatives, and artificial coloring.
Phosphate can also interfere with calcium absorption if consumed in excess. Some phosphates are used to increase meat's water retention and elasticity, so check the ingredient list carefully. Red food dye (Cochineal dye), which can cause allergic reactions, is another additive to be wary of. Some additives are water-soluble, so health-conscious consumers should boil their sausages first.
Sausages stay fresher if they are not exposed to air. Look for packages divided into smaller packages that can be used up in one go. Some also have a resealable zipper opening, which makes storage incredibly convenient.
If you want to have a supply of sausages on hand, look for frozen sausages. Frozen sausages are better suited for long-term storage than refrigerated sausages, allowing you to take them out of the freezer as you need them. Just be sure to wrap them tightly to avoid freezer burn.
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Juicy and Versatile Bite-Sized Pork Sausage With Light Casing
Koukun Coarse-Ground Pork Weiner
Well-Balanced Sausage With Great Texture and Blend of Spices
Gotemba Kogen Coarse-Ground Pork Sausages
Salty Umami-Rich Sausage With a Dash of Pepper
Soft Arabiki Sausage With Refreshing Basil Flavoring
The Grand Alto Bayern
Thick Sausage Made Through 72-Hour Aging Process
Entier Lemon & Parsley Wieners
Refreshing Lemon and Parsley Sausage That Pairs Well With Beer
Karuizawa Aged Pork Wieners
Umami-Filled Arabiki Sausage With Great Bite
Simple but Juicy Sausage Great for Children
Smokehouse Aged Arabi Pork Sausage
Slowly Aged Smokey Sausage With Great Snap
Home-Made Pork Sausage
Sausage With Fish-Cake Like Texture Best For Hotdogs
Nippon Ham's Schau Essen is a sausage made with scientific control standards to ensure that it is crispy and tasty all of the time.
When you bite into it, the skin is crisp, and the meat is plump. It is known for being succulent and juicy, and its strong pork flavor is full of rich umami. They are also light and bite-sized, so it is a versatile sausage that can be good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for both children and adults!
Prima Ham's Aroma Kaoru Coarse Pork Sausage is created by the brand's proprietary blend of 11 spices. Among our testers, it was well-received for its deep smoky flavor. The meat flavored with spices gave it a well-balanced salty and sweet taste. The more you chew, the deeper the flavor becomes, making each bite more addictive.
It also has a great texture, being crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The sausage has a lot of juice but is not overly greasy, so you can eat it without feeling heavy afterward. Its spices give it a great flavor profile, so we recommend mixing it with stir-fried vegetables as well.
Yonekyu's "Gotemba Kogen Arabi Pork" is made from coarse ground meat and natural sheep's intestines. Not just that, but it's been enhanced by a special salt to offer richer umami.
Despite its simple appearance, this Arabiki sausage is very juicy, with juices overflowing when you bite into it. The skin is crispy and the inside is chewy, making for great texture. The pork flavor is also solid and meaty, and the tangy pepper is also a nice accent that doesn't overpower the taste of the sausage. It is perfect for lunch boxes or as an accompaniment to drinks.
Ito Ham's Bergerwurst Basil is a sausage that focuses on three key elements: aroma, coarse texture, and umami. It's also marketed more for adult palettes.
The skin on this sausage is soft rather than crispy which balances well with the tightly packed meat. The basil flavor adds a refreshing accent to the sausage and never got old. It is recommended for dinner as it adds a colorful touch of freshness to your meal.
Ito Ham's Grand Alto Bayern is a sausage with a blend of spices and seasonings made using Itoh Ham's traditional 72-hour aging process to deepen its umami.
These sausage links are a bit thicker, making them chewy and juicy. The skin is also very snappy for an added crunch of texture. It also has a spicy pepper flavor and aroma that gives a lot of dimension to its flavor. This sausage was filling enough to be the main dish for dinner and is great for a barbecue as well.
Nippon Ham's Entier Lemon & Parsley Weiners is a Western-style sausage modeled after European links.
While the sausage lacks a bit of plumpness and crispiness in the skin, its flavor was great. Our testers said, "The refreshing and crisp lemony flavor goes well with beer", and "It tastes mature and elegant!" The sausage's lightness was highly praised as well, as it was not too greasy.
These sausages are a bit thinner and whiter, making them a good item to add to your dinner plate for color variation.
Shinshu Ham's Karuizawa Aged Arabi Pork Sausage is an authentic sausage made using traditional German methods and aged for at least three days.
The skin was so crispy that it made a snappy sound when bitten into, exactly like in TV commercials. However, this sausage wasn't as juicy as others, which was a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, it has a meaty flavor that's mildly salty and smoky taste and makes a perfect accompaniment for beer and cheese.
Nippon Ham's Houjun Arabi Sausage is a sausage specifically made to be the juiciest it could possibly be. They focused on juiciness by cherry-picking specific ingredients and incorporating a meticulous manufacturing process.
This sausage has a thin casing that bursts with juice when you bite into it. However, since it is a thinner sausage, there is not much bite to the meat itself. That being said, the simple flavor makes it great for children as well.
Marudai Shokuhin's Smokehouse Aged Arabi Pork Sausage is seasoned with rock salt from the German Alps and aged slowly for 72 hours to fully bring out the meat's umami flavor.
This sausage has a rich texture that is so crispy that it snaps and crackles every time it is bit into. It also retains the flavor of pork as you chew, releasing a deep aged smoky taste after every bite. On top of that, it is seasoned with various spices that make it perfect for breakfast.
Seijo Ishii's Homemade Pork Sausage is made with a commitment to high-quality ingredients, using only Japanese pork and natural sheep intestines for the casing.
The sausage had a slightly strange texture with crispy skin and chunky meat. The meat inside looks like fish paste and did not feel very meaty when eaten. Due to a lack of any meat juices, there was no noticeable meat flavor either. However, it has a smoky taste and a good chew, so we think that it would be delicious when used in hot dogs.
Next, we searched e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping for the best brands of wiener sausages available online in Japan. We then picked out the 21 best-selling products and taste-tested them all.
We tested each product for the following:
For our taste test, we decided to boil the sausages so we could get the most flavor out of the products.
We boiled the sausages over medium heat, keeping the water at a temperature of 175℉ (80°C) to keep the flavor from escaping. We then We gathered five Japanese members from our editorial department and then conducted a blind taste test, having them score each product on a five-point scale.
After testing all 21 products, we found that 100% pork products tasted better than those mixed with chicken.
These sausages were crunchier and more springy, juicier, and had an overall better flavor. Many mixed pork and chicken sausages had a fishcake-like texture and weren't as juicy, with little depth in their flavor. We recommend choosing 100% pork products for the best-tasting sausages.
Now that you know which sausage products are the best, here are some tips for the best cooking methods. Sausages can be boiled or grilled, but cooking them right can be a bit tricky.
Sausages should retain their snappy bite when cooked in the best way possible. Don't make any incisions in the sausages if you want them to have their chewy texture; if you cut them, the casing will shrink, and the meat will become firmer.
Most manufacturers recommend cooking their products in a dry frying pan, but we recommend adding just a bit of oil and some water to give the skin a crispier texture. The sausages will absorb the water, increasing their juiciness.
Make sure to turn them frequently, as the oil will make them burn easily. Cook evenly on all sides, and enjoy the tastiest, juiciest sausages!
Add two teaspoons of salt to half a gallon of water and bring it to a temperature of 175℉ (80°C) and simply cook the sausages until they float. If you cook the sausages at a full rolling boil, some of their flavors will seep out into the water. We recommend using a cooking thermometer to maintain an ideal temperature!
You can steam sausages in the microwave, which is easy and doesn't add any salt or calories. Make cuts in the casings, place the sausage on a plate, and cover with plastic wrap. If you don't cut them first, the skins will burst. This method is excellent for a quick breakfast or snack and saves you time and some dishwashing.
If you want more Japanese snacks and beverages, we've got you covered. Here are other articles on more of Japan's favorite snacks and drinks.
Translation: Susan Lucier-Ogawa, Kazuma Fujiwara, Mai T.
No. 1：Nippon Ham｜Schau Essen
No. 2：Prima Ham｜Koukun Coarse-Ground Pork Weiner
No. 3：Yonekyu｜Gotemba Kogen Coarse-Ground Pork Sausages
No. 4：Ito Ham｜Bergerwurst｜Basil
No. 5：Ito Ham｜The Grand Alto Bayern
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