Whether it comes filled with beef, pork, a combination of the two, or even vegan “meat”, a sausage roll served piping hot from a bakery or pie shop is hard to beat.

And while this list doesn’t cover them all – there are plenty of worthy runners-up all over the city, not to mention regional bakeries nearby – these are the snag rolls that have stuck with us. They’ve seen us through good times and bad (the last few months especially).

The styles below vary – though there’s a fair bit of pork and fennel across the board – but all have moist and flavourful fillings; flaky, golden pastry; and a beautifully balanced ratio between the two. Bonus points for house-made tomato sauce or relish on the side.

The Graham from The Pie Shop in Brunswick ($7)
Matt Wilkinson tells us the sausage roll at his creative pie shop is named after an old family acquaintance who was “a right boring git”. But this juicy, spice-filled number is anything but. It’s made with free-range pork mince, grated carrot and an all-butter puff pastry that’s sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s then cooked low and slow to keep all the moisture in, followed by a high-temperature blast for a few minutes for a crisp crust. It’s “a bugger to cook”, according to Wilkinson, but the result is maximum crunch.

75 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

Char siu sausage roll from Candied Bakery in Spotswood ($6.80)
While Candied’s beef sausage roll is one of its bestsellers, the char siu roll takes a less well-trodden path, inspired by the classic Chinese dish. Organic pork is mixed with a sticky marinade of black-bean sauce, honey, fresh ginger and a boatload of Asian spices, all encased in a buttery pastry. The result is a juicy sausage roll that’s sticky, sweet, and doesn’t need any extra condiments.

81A Hudsons Road, Spotswood

Vegan sausage roll from Smith & Deli in Fitzroy ($6.50)
Like many traditional sausage rolls, this one’s got veg and herbs sprinkled throughout (incluing onion, garlic, carrot, apple, rosemary and thyme). But vegans who might be missing the sausages of yore won’t be disappointed. Thanks to chef-owner Shannon Martinez’s transformative magic, tofu is minced then sautéed with a secret mix of seasonings and spices to replicate the meatiness of the original.

111 Moor Street, Fitzroy

Pork, sage and fennel sausage roll from Tivoli Road Bakery in South Yarra ($8.50)
This sausage roll’s ingredient list reads almost like a shopping list for a gourmet grocer: Western Plains pork, Pepe Saya butter, and an egg wash made with Burd eggs and St David Dairy milk. The team here adds herbs, fennel seeds and sourdough breadcrumbs, then pipes it into the pastry and wraps each roll by hand. After baking, they’re served with chilli jam. And if you can’t get to South Yarra, you can try making an old iteration (which involves caramalised apples) at home.

3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra

Lamb and beef sausage roll from Wonder Pies & Deli in Bulleen, Collingwood and Melbourne CBD ($6–7)
It’s no wonder that one of Melbourne’s best pie shops also excels at snag rolls. Chef Raymond Capaldi launched Wonder Pies as a wholesale business in 2017; now his goods are stocked at his two delis, the factory outlet in Bulleen and at cafes all over town. The sausage-roll pastry is made with vegetable fat instead of butter, and it’s wrapped around a moreish mix that’s 90 per cent meat (the remaining 10 per cent consits of tasty cheese and veg, plus some fresh parsley). Get it hot from the warming cabinet in the new Collingwood shop, or take home a pack of frozen rolls from the outlet.

4B Kim Close, Bulleen
128 Langridge Street, Collingwood
18 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (currently closed)

Lebanese sausage rolls from Oasis Bakery in Murrumbeena and Fairfield ($9.90)
As this popular family-run bakery, cafe and grocer shows, the classic Aussie sausage roll also lends itself well to Middle Eastern flavours. Minced lamb is mixed with currants, haloumi, roasted almonds, spices and parsley, then wrapped in pastry, topped with sesame seeds and baked. Grab one to-go from the cafe, or bring home a two-pack to heat and serve at home.

9/993 North Road, Murrumbeena
92–96 Station Street, Fairfield

Pork and fennel sausage roll from Falco Bakery in Collingwood ($9)
The newest bakery on this list is not one to be outdone. Falco’s hefty 15-centimetre snag roll has a crispy, crackled exterior from the all-butter pastry (that’s made fresh for each batch). Inside is an aromatic base of confit fennel mixed with pork mince, onion, fennel seed and fennel pollen. The result is a moist and juicy filling enveloped by ultra-flakey pastry.

288 Smith Street, Collingwood

Dim sim sausage roll from Pie Thief in Footscray ($6.50)
This colourful pie shop has retired its crowd-pleasing parma sauso roll – in its place is a dim sim version, inspired by the deep-fried snack. Pastry comes filled with a sticky Chinese sausage mix similar to lap cheong (a Chinese pork sausage that’s dried, but this isn’t) and shiitake mushroom. It’s best served hot, but it isn’t bad cold either – co-owner Aaron Donato says he even “shame ate one straight out of the fridge” after a particularly long shift.

297 Barkly Street, Footscray

Italian pork sausage roll from All Are Welcome in Northcote and Thornbury ($9)
At this popular Northcote bakery (and its younger sibling in Thornbury), finely minced pork is combined with fennel and fresh oregano, with a fat-water ratio that keeps it moist and light after baking. It’s wrapped in puff pastry that’s laminated with Belgian butter and baked fresh daily – the whole process takes up to 24 hours from start to finish, but they’re snapped up quick. The best bit is the bottom layer of pastry, which soaks up all the meaty juices.

190 High Street, Northcote
887 High Street, Thornbury

Pork, mustard and thyme sausage roll from Meatsmith in Fitzroy, St Kilda and Brighton ($4.50)
This sauso roll (from Andrew McConnell’s fancy butcher) requires a little more effort than a ready-to-eat roll – you have to heat it up at home – but it’s well worth it. It’s made with rare-breed Tamworth pork mince, celery seeds, capers, thyme, Dijon mustard and ketchup, all wrapped in all-butter pastry by Paterson’s. Pick one up on your next shop, keep it in the fridge or freezer, then pop it in your home oven for juicy, golden rolls whenever the craving strikes.

273 Smith Street, Fitzroy
227A Barkly Street, St Kilda
612 Hampton Street, Brighton

Gourmet lasagne rolls from Molly Dene in Bentleigh ($4.20)
When you take home the gourmet sausage-roll prize from the Great Aussie Pie Competition, you must be doing something right. Ly Chua’s family took over this longstanding bakery a decade ago, and brought home the top gong for the roll filled with beef mince, tomato paste, breadcrumbs and spiral pasta (which is kept al dente for extra bite). A dash of paprika on the egg wash adds smokiness to this hearty, bolognaise-esque roll.

169 Centre Road, Bentleigh

Classic sausage roll from Tony’s Pies in Essendon ($3.50)
The cheapest of the lot comes from Tony Gavaghan, who opened his family-operated pie business in 1985. His secret seasoning blend is mixed into a beef and pork filling, which is piped onto a pastry, then rolled by hand every day. For something a little bit different, the bakery has its own take on the lasagne roll, too.

309 Buckley Street, Essendon

Beef sausage roll from Green Refectory in Brunswick, $4
Owner Sandy Green has been making these snag rolls for 16 years, and they’re the biggest seller here. A fresh batch is made every day at 5am, but there are always more in the cool room waiting to be baked once those run out. Each one is rolled by hand and packed full of beef, carrots, potato and onion, and served with house-made tomato relish. The generous, quarter-kilo portion can be a meal on its own.

115 Sydney Road, Brunswick

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on July 28, 2020. Some details may have changed since publication.