The Lincolnshire sausage is one of our county’s most famous culinary traditions. Plump, juicy, herby, and brimming with flavour, they are a staple of cooked breakfasts and hearty dinners across the UK. But what is their story? Where did they originate, and what are the special ingredients? Where in Lincoln can you find the best ones, and what recipes can you try with them? We take a deep dive in this guide to Lincolnshire sausages – including a taste test of produce from some of the best butchers in Lincoln.
What is a Lincolnshire sausage?
Sausages are the cornerstone of many classic British dishes, from bangers and mash to toad in the hole. They are produced in different forms and flavours all over the country, but there are two regional sausage variations that stand out as household names: Cumberland and Lincolnshire.
The defining characteristic of the Lincolnshire sausage is the use of sage as the dominant herb flavour. The meat is ground coarsely rather than mashed up, which also distinguishes it from the chunkier chopped meat used in Cumberland sausages.
Lincolnshire sausages are comprised of just a few simple ingredients. The ground pork and sage is mixed in with breadcrumbs and seasoning, and typically not much else – sometimes a pinch of spices such as nutmeg or ginger. The meat content must be a minimum of 70%, and the fat content a maximum of 25%.
However, every butcher has its own special way of making Lincolnshire sausages. They come in many shapes and sizes too, as there are no standard dimensions (as is the case with the Cumberland sausage).
This means you will find plenty of variety, which you will see later in the guide, as we explore samples from a selection of local butchers.
A quick history of Lincolnshire sausages
The Lincolnshire sausage has roots dating back to at least the 19th century; however, its precise origins are not clear.
A longstanding family butcher business in Grimsby, John Pettit – which sadly closed in 2017 – claimed that its recipe was the very first, originating in 1810.
Aside from this, the earliest verified reference to a Lincolnshire sausage recipe is dated to May 1886.
Fastforward to the 21st century, and Lincolnshire sausages are celebrated locally as one of the county’s most distinguished products. The Lincoln Sausage Festival is held every October at Lincoln Castle, and features cooking demonstrations and a competition to name the best Lincolnshire sausage.
The Lincolnshire Show, held annually in June and one of the UK’s longest-running agricultural events, also often features Lincolnshire sausage demonstrations and workshops.
Lincolnshire sausages are now made and sold all over the UK, but there’s no replacement for the local butchers here in the county. If you’re visiting Lincolnshire for the first time, trying a sausage-based dish in a restaurant that sources locally can be the best way to experience an authentic taste. Otherwise, pop into a butcher and buy some to take away – you’ll be supporting local businesses at the same time.
Our search for the best Lincolnshire sausage
As Lincolnshire’s largest city and the official county town, Lincoln is at the heart of the food scene and is home to many excellent butchers. Meanwhile, many other sausage-makers from across Lincolnshire also have shops located in the city.
We decided to put some of the best butchers in Lincoln by reputation to the test. On a sunny Saturday morning, we dropped into seven acclaimed local butchers to buy a few of their famous Lincolnshire sausages. That afternoon, we fired up the BBQ in the garden for a little taste test.
These are the local butchers we tried, listed in order of where they appear in the photo below before we stuck them on the BBQ:
- Curtis of Lincoln
- Foster’s Butchers and Bakers
- Uncle Henry’s (Gainsborough-based, sold in Lincolnshire Co-op stores)
- Pepperdine & Son
- Redhill Farm (Gainsborough-based, but has a shop on Bailgate in Lincoln)
- Simpsons Butchers at Pennells Garden Centre
Before setting off to buy the samples, we wondered whether we would discover much variety, or whether the local Lincolnshire sausages would turn out to be mostly the same. As you can see, the length, width and colours varied greatly!
The same was true of the flavours – each recipe had its own distinct flavour and quirks. In the next section we dive into our findings, with a little background about each butcher.
Best butchers in Lincoln for Lincolnshire sausages
Lisa’s parents came around to help us out with the taste test. We weren’t going to get through all those sausages on our own!
None of us are professional tasters by any means, and we all had different favourites. So, below we run through the highlights and characteristics of each sausage as we discovered them.
Before we dive into it, it’s important to say that every one of these sausages was excellent. There was certainly no ‘worst’ sausage! You can’t go wrong with buying Lincolnshire sausages from any of these butchers. But hopefully, our quick reviews will help you find the sausage that will best suit your personal taste.
We’ve also included the price we paid at each butcher for four sausages. Note that prices are usually based on weight, not per sausage, so this can vary. And the lower prices for four sausages don’t necessarily equate to the cheapest, as some are bigger than others!
Cost: We paid £2.43 for four sausages
Bellamy’s family butchers is located a little way out of town, just off Newark Road in North Hykeham. By road this is roughly 4.5 miles from Lincoln city centre.
We heard about this butcher because it’s local to Lisa’s parents, and so its produce is often served up at our family BBQs. We’ve been impressed every time, so we had high hopes for their Lincolnshire sausages! We were not disappointed.
One characteristic that Bellamy’s shares with every other butcher on this list is friendly service. You can always expect to be greeted with politeness and a smile. There is some debate whether Lincolnshire is in the north or not, but this is one local trait that suggests it is!
Bellamy’s Lincolnshire sausage was the fattest of those we tried (which you can see in the pre-BBQ photo further up the article – it’s the one on the left). So, while it was among the most expensive for four sausages, you get value for your money.
We found this sausage to be meaty with a lovely balanced texture, and a peppery flavour. It didn’t have such a strong herby punch as others we tried, so if you prefer a slightly more subtle flavour, Bellamy’s is a great shout.
Curtis of Lincoln
Cost: We paid £1.88 for four sausages
Curtis of Lincoln is one of the city’s oldest local businesses, having been around for nearly two centuries. If you’ve read our guide to things to do in Lincoln you’ll have seen that we recommend tasting Curtis’ sausage rolls as a quintessential Lincoln experience!
Curtis of Lincoln began life as a humble pork butcher in the early 19th century. As the business flourished it expanded to sell many different kids of local delicacies, from a range of meats to plum bread and cakes, and now has a fleet of shops sprinkled across the county.
However, not all Curtis of Lincoln shops sell raw meat produce. We dropped into their city-centre store on the Bailgate to pick up some Lincolnshire sausages.
The thing that struck us when tasting a Curtis Lincolnshire sausage was that we immediately recognised the distinctive flavour from their sausage rolls, like a pang of local nostalgia. It’s quite a salty flavour in comparison to the other sausages we tried.
This is definitely one to try if you want a local classic with many years of history behind it.
Foster’s Butchers & Bakers
Cost: We paid £1.85 for four sausages
Foster’s is a Lincoln-based butcher that not everybody knows about, although it’s been around for well over a century. Featured in our guide to hidden gems in Lincoln, it is one of our personal favourites, and we shop there regularly when hosting BBQs.
Now run by the sixth generation of the same family, its premises are located on Monks Road, about a ten-minute walk from the city centre.
The staff are always helpful. I bought a few other bits while picking up some sausages, and the team offered friendly recommendations (and even some advice on barbecuing techniques!).
This sausage combined some of the best aspects the two above we had already tried. It was chunky, meaty, and had quite a salty flavour (but less so than Curtis of Lincoln). Excellent overall.
Next time you’re in Lincoln, we highly recommend dropping into Foster’s to try one of their pork pies or sausage rolls. It’s well worth the short walk from the city centre.
Uncle Henry’s, available in Lincolnshire Co-op stores
Cost: We paid £3.55 at the Co-op for six sausages (which works out at £2.36 for four). You can also buy them loose over the butchery counter at Uncle Henry’s own shop in Gainsborough.
We often shop at our local Lincolnshire Co-op, its shelves stacked with oodles of local produce. As independent co-operatives these stores sell all sorts of goodies, whether it’s Ferry Ales Brewery beers, Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, or, of course, tasty local Lincolnshire sausages.
Uncle Henry’s is a butcher based near Gainsborough that is stocked at many of our nearby Co-ops. The business was started in 2006 but has family farming roots dating back over a century. It has won a whole string of awards, including ‘Britain’s Best Sausage’ on BBC’s The One Show.
The pork produced by Uncle Henry’s is from Hampshire pigs, reared on site and fed on cereal crops also grown at the farm. We picked up a six-pack of their Lincolnshire sausages from the Co-op to add into the mix for our taste test.
Our verdict was unanimously positive – these were right up there among our favourite Lincoln-based butchers. They had a strong herby flavour, much to our liking. The texture was dense and meaty, but not too chewy. Delicious!
Pepperdine & Son
Cost: We paid £1.75 for four sausages
Pepperdine’s is one of Lincoln’s most popular butchers, enjoying a central location on Sincil Street just across from the old Corn Exchange. You can’t miss the life-size apron-clad butcher figure smiling outside the entrance. This another of our personal go-to butchers, whether for BBQ meat or grabbing a delicious snack sausage roll or pork pie while in town.
Like others in this selection, Pepperdine & Son is a family butcher that has been going for over 100 years. Businesses like this really are the foundation of our city’s food scene.
Pepperdine’s were the cheapest Lincolnshire sausages for four, although they were also the smallest in size, so the price is relative.
This sausage wasn’t as thick and juicy as some others, but made up for it with its bursting flavours. Strong tones of sage were mingled together with a delicious pepperiness. It had a pleasant soft texture, the kind that breaks apart in your mouth, releasing the flavour.
We’ll definitely be back to Pepperdine’s for more!
Cost: We paid £2.94 for four sausages
Redhill Farm is one of Lincolnshire’s most renowned pork specialists. It comes with the prestige of supplying its produce to Wimbledon and Lord’s Cricket Ground, among other high-profile venues and restaurants. It has also won dozens of awards and accolades over the years.
The Gainsborough-based business has a shop in a premium location on Lincoln’s Bailgate, as well as making regular appearances at Lincoln Farmers’ Market. Its free-range pigs are reared naturally on a 180-acre farm.
Against this backdrop, it’s no surprise that Redhill Farm’s Lincolnshire sausages came with the highest price tag among this selection. But would they live up to the hype? We thought so.
The sausages had a rich and wholesome meaty flavour, owing to their high pork content, with a subtle pang of sage and spices coming through. A fabulous all-round Lincolnshire sausage.
Simpsons Butchers at Pennells Garden Centre
Cost: We paid £2.03 for four sausages
Pennells Garden Centre is a brilliant place to visit if you want to find original Lincolnshire food products. I had never been until recently, as I wrongly assumed it to be a straightforward garden centre, the kind of which I don’t typically spend a lot of time in! However, stuck at home recently, we’ve started paying more attention to our garden. And when I popped into Pennells pick up a few plant pots, I was amazed to discover a farm shop on site selling an array of locally sourced delicacies.
It also features an outlet of Simpsons Butchers, twice winners of the Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards.
The business’ first shop was opened in Heckington in 2001 by Gary Simpson, then just 20 years old. Having flourished and grown, Simpsons now has several stores across Lincolnshire and is a member of Q Guild, a collective of elite butchers from all over the UK.
Simpsons’ Lincolnshire sausages had the most distinctive taste of those we tried. With a strong herby kick, we also thought we could detect a hint of aniseed – a secret ingredient perhaps? Whatever it was, it worked a treat!
Map of the best butchers in Lincoln
The map below shows the locations of the Lincoln butchers we tried out in this Lincolnshire sausage guide:
More Lincolnshire butchers to try
Our Lincolnshire sausage taste test focused on butchers and suppliers local to us in Lincoln. However, there are many more outstanding butchers located around the wider county.
These are a few highly reputed butchers in Lincolnshire, known for their sausages:
- Grasmere Farm (several shops)
- Boston Sausage (featured in our article on things to do in Boston, Lincolnshire)
- Handon’s Butchers, near Boston
- Ancaster Butcher, near Grantham
- Lakings of Louth
Where to try Lincolnshire sausages in Lincoln
Living in Lincolnshire means that we always get to start the day with Lincolnshire sausages in our breakfast! We’ve been on a mission lately to find the best places for breakfast in and around Lincoln.
Our guide to breakfasts in Lincoln is an ongoing work in progress and features our favourites. And of course, most of the places we feature serve superb Lincolnshire sausages. We wouldn’t expect anything less!
Check it out to help you choose the right place to start your day in Lincoln.
Lincolnshire sausage recipes to try at home
Pretty much any classic sausage recipe can be made with Lincolnshire sausages. They work great in casseroles, salads, stews, pasta bakes, and many more dishes.
Believe it or not, we didn’t manage to get through all 30 sausages we bought for the taste test in one afternoon. So, we’ve stuck the leftovers in the freezer, and we will be trying out some alternative recipes with them. Keep an eye out on the blog soon to find out what we come up with!
For now, here’s a couple of classics you can try:
Do you have a favourite butcher in Lincoln for Lincolnshire sausages? Let us know in the comments below!