Food

Tried & Tested: Vegan Sausage Rolls

By Julia O'Driscoll
31.07.19

In the first of our Tried & Tested series, the Eco-Age team put meat-free sausage rolls to the taste-test.

No children’s party, picnic basket or hotel wedding buffet is complete without a deliciously beige platter of sausage rolls. But if you’ve adopted a plant-based diet, as many people have in the last 5 years, you’ll have no doubt had to face up to the reality of these pastry-cased delights suddenly becoming off limits. 

That all changed in January when the much-loved highstreet baker Greggs launched its vegan sausage roll, sparking a trend with big brands soon following suit. Piers Morgan’s outspoken disapproval of the product seems only to have helped fuel its ensuing success, with Greggs’ first-half profits boosting by 58% on 2018’s figures.  

As parliament has been busy debating whether the terms ‘sausage’ and ‘burger’ are misleading when referring to meat-free alternatives, the Eco-Age team has busied itself with a much more pressing issue: which vegan or vegetarian roll ranks top in the meat-free sausage stakes? Let the judging commence! 

About the judging

Three vegans, one vegetarian and one poor-excuse-for-a-vegetarian tested five brands, judging the products on various criteria including taste, packing and the Piers Morgan test - a.k.a. would you know the difference. Although editor Kelly claims her vegan sausage rolls would give Jamie Oliver’s a run for their money, we decided not to include them in the judging process but have included the recipe below, if you want to try them yourself at home. 

Disclaimer: despite visiting four shops (including a superstore), we were unable to acquire a packet of Tesco’s meat-free sausage rolls in time for the tournament. We will keep you updated when said rolls have been acquired and tested. 

Fry’s Vegan Sausage Roll

Despite an impressive 4.2 average rating by Sainsbury’s customers, one unimpressed individual said “even the dog would not eat it.” We were intrigued to try the Fry family’s creation.

Packaging

Liz: PLASTIC EVERYWHERE. Bad job on that front, Fry’s.

Kelly: Nil points. 

Pastry

Kelly: Buttery, flaky, delicious.

Sophie: Very flaky, though quite dry – defo needs ketchup or sauce. 

Flavour

Sophie: Meaty flavour but very dense and kind of sticks your mouth together.

Liz: Intense but surprisingly good. This is definitely one which tastes less like a cardboard cutout of a sausage roll. 

The Piers Morgan Test

Sophie: Probably could pass for a basic sausage roll - maybe a value one…

Kelly: Not sure this one would win over Piers due to the texture of the ‘sausage’, but a gallant effort from Fry’s to get a meaty taste. 

Liz: It’s a close one, but I think the flabby pastry would alert Piers’s spidey sense to the true nature of this ‘sausage’ roll. 

Average score: 6

Marks & Spencer Plant Kitchen No Pork Sausage Rolls

Marks & Spencer is “rather proud of our vegan sausage roll,” each of which has 81 layers of “light, flaky, dairy-free puff pastry.” Because 80 layers just wouldn’t be enough.

Packaging

Julia: Not bad - recyclable cardboard, but a shame about the plastic film window. 

Lori: Could do better as no information provided about disposing of the plastic film.

Pastry

Lori: Good pastry but too much of it.

Kelly: A bit too thick, not flaky enough.

Flavour

Sophie: The flavour is quite mild, perhaps not seasoned enough.

Liz: As tasteless as Donald Trump's Twitter feed. 

The Piers Morgan Test

Kelly: It didn’t taste true to a sausage roll.   

Sophie:  I’m not sure these would pass with meat-eaters.

Additional comments

Liz: It's nice you made the effort M&S, but there are definitely some simple things which could be improved. 

Average score: 4.25

Quorn Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

As we struggled to locate the vegan Tesco rolls, we settled on a Quorn sausage roll for the vegetarians as a substitute. Despite a 4.75 average rating by Sainsbury's customers, our taste testers were less than impressed.

Packaging

Julia: Poor! So much plastic.

Liz: Plastic outside, plastic inside. Completely unnecessary! Why Quorn, why?

Pastry 

Julia:  Seemed undercooked and undelicious. Perhaps would have been better had we cooked. 

Liz: Still a little too thick for my liking - although if you like your sausage roll consumption to include a complimentary jaw workout then this is the one for you. There was also this weird inner layer of stodge encircling the sausage inside.

Flavour

Julia: Not very tasty. Quite bland and very much in need of condiment to spice it up.

Liz: A little better than the M&S rival - I could actually taste where the pastry ended and the 'sausage' began. 

The Piers Morgan Test

Julia: Sadly, this roll would more likely prove Piers’ point that imitations don’t have a patch on the original.

Liz: Sorry Quorn, there's no chance Piers would believe this was a 'real' sausage roll.

Average Score: 3

Waitrose Vegan Lincolnshire Style Rolls

Customers say “These are absolutely divine” and that they were “pleasantly surprised”, but half of those reviewing noted these were a little dry.

Packaging

Liz: Cardboard box = good Waitrose, plastic window = not so good Waitrose. Do the rolls really need to see out into the big wide world that badly?

Sophie: At least the cardboard is super easy to recycle.

Pastry:

Kelly: A bit dry and too thick.

Sophie: Very flaky pastry.

Flavour 

Kelly: OK - not very sausage-like and could have more overall flavour.

Liz: I like my sausage rolls to taste like sausage rolls, not slightly foisty vegetables... says the vegetarian (yes, I’m aware of the irony!)

The Piers Morgan Test

Sophie: these taste the most vegan and so probably wouldn’t fool the average meat-eater.

Julia: Piers wouldn’t be impressed. 

Average score: 4

Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll

The sausage roll that started it all off. Greggs says it launched the product following “following strong consumer demand, including a petition by PETA last year, which was signed by more than 20,000 people.”

Packaging

Lori: Paper bag – delightful.

Kelly: Big thumbs up - package free if you take your own or Greggs’ paper bag can be recycled.

Pastry 

Liz: Flakey perfection. Light, airy and easy on the tastebuds. 

Julia: Just completely delicious. Tastes so like melty buttery goodness. 

Flavour 

Sophie: Realistically meaty, one of the most impressive fake meats I’ve tried.

Julia: Absolutely excellent. Lightly, meaty-flavour with just the right amount of peppery goodness.

The Piers Morgan Test

Kelly: Exactly how I remember a Greggs sausage roll.

Sophie: I reckon you’d find it difficult to tell this apart from a real sausage roll

Additional comments

Lori: By far the best sausage roll I’ve ever eaten (so far). It’s so great to be able to pick something up when I’m out and about that is convenient, vegan and doesn’t break the bank! 

Sophie: I really love how the vegan option is the same as the regular, makes plant-based very accessible and will hopefully encourage more people to choose.

Average score: 9.8

So there you have it - the sausage roll that started the trend reigns supreme for our testers. Think you could do better? Kelly does - try your hand at her recipe and impress your summer party guests.

How to make your own vegan sausage rolls

Ingredients

1 x Jus-Rol Ready Rolled Chilled Puff Pastry Sheets (Or make your own!) 

6 x Vegan or Vegetarian sausages of choice (I like Linda McCartney or Sainsbury’s Shroom Dogs) 

Mustard

Sesame seeds

Plant-based mylk (I use oat) for brushing

Method

  • If sausages are frozen, pre-cook and wait to cool.

  • Roll out the puff pastry and cut length-ways along the middle, so you have two long strips of pastry.

  • Line three sausages lengthways along the centre of each strip.

  • Spread some mustard on the pastry along the side of the sausages (optional, but highly recommended)

  • Fold over the pastry so that the sausages are wrapped like one long sausage roll, and seal using plant-based milk.

  • Brush the milk over the pastry and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

  • Cut into sausage roll shaped chucks and arrange on a lined or greased baking tray, and cook in the oven until the pastry is golden, flaky, and the sausages are heated through.

 

 

Read our sustainable barbecue guide and serve up charred asparagus, herby gem lettuce and coffee and almond popsicle for a delightful plant-based menu.

Find out how to have a low-waste picnic and pack your hamper with homemade snacks.

Check out which dairy-free milk is the best alternative and have a go at making your own.

Tried & Tested: Vegan Sausage Rolls