How To Make Sausage Balls, the Easy Retro Appetizer That Deserves a Comeback

updated Oct 27, 2020
How to Make Sausage Balls

This retro appetizer is made with Bisquick, sausage, and cheese and is a hearty snack or starter.

Serves8 to 10

Makesabout 40

Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Someone dipping sausage ball into barbecue sauce.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

I have quite an extensive love for Bisquick. Spying the sunny yellow box in my pantry always gives me a sense of comfort — I know I can quickly whip up biscuits or pancakes without a lot of measuring. One of the most popular recipes using Bisquick is sausage balls, a retro appetizer that’s a bit reminiscent of the little barbecue sauce-glazed meatballs speared with frilly toothpicks served at cocktail parties.

Here’s our version of these savory, cheesy bites, filled with fresh herbs and two kinds of cheese. It’s just as good as an appetizer as it is a TV- or game-watching snack.

What Are Sausage Balls?

The original recipe for sausage balls, which Betty Crocker says is one of their most requested recipes, calls for a lot of sausage and cheese, a dash of dried herbs, and some milk and Bisquick to hold it all together. Baked into small balls, they look like regular meatballs but have a more doughy, bready texture, and they’re served with barbecue or Heinz chili sauce for dipping.

Heinz chili sauce is a retro sauce that tastes a bit like ketchup mixed with Worcestershire sauce, but it’s not really spicy at all. I personally prefer the sweet tang of barbecue sauce with the sausage balls, but the chili sauce is also a nice contrast.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowel

Updating Classic Sausage Balls

This updated version of sausage balls veers slightly from the original in a few ways, mainly using fresh ingredients that pack more flavor.

  • Herbs: Our version uses fresh herbs for more impact, mainly in the form of parsley. A little bit of fresh rosemary also goes a long way, but it’s also fine to skip it if you’re not a fan.
  • Cheeses: We like sharp cheddar over regular cheddar, as it cuts through the savoriness of the sausage more. We suspect the original recipe might have been developed with the Parmesan cheese from a green can, but we love the taste of freshly grated Parm a lot more here.
  • Sausage: The original recipe calls for bulk pork sausage like breakfast or sweet Italian, which works great and bakes up nice and juicy. Here, we call for the same, with the option of using chicken or turkey sausage instead if you’d like to lighten things up. Make sure to buy uncooked sausage.

Bisquick holds everything together and contains leaveners and salt, so don’t be tempted to just sub flour here instead. This recipe makes about half the amount of the original (which made about 100!), so feel free to double if you have a large crowd or want to freeze some for later. They can also be frozen uncooked and popped into the oven straight from the freezer.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How to Make Sausage Balls

To make sausage balls, it’s best to start by stirring everything together except the Bisquick, basically making a wet sausage mixture. Then you’ll mix the Bisquick in with your hands. I like mixing it in two steps so that the gluten in the Bisquick isn’t overworked, which would result in tougher texture.

Form the mixture into little balls and bake in a hot oven until cooked through, which only takes about 15 minutes. These are usually served with the sauce just for dipping, but I found that brushing them with the sauce and letting it bake on for just a few minutes gave them a really nice flavor.

Served with more sauce for dunking, these comforting bites of sausage and cheese held together with tender, herby dough are pretty irresistible. We ate a batch just with some green salad for lunch, but I wouldn’t hesitate to have a stash ready to go in the freezer if we were entertaining and needed something warm to serve to guests — they’re the ultimate fun party food.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell
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Here's how to make the best homemade sausage balls.

How to Make Sausage Balls

This retro appetizer is made with Bisquick, sausage, and cheese and is a hearty snack or starter.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Makes about 40

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 8 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 3/4 ounce

    Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1/4 cup store-bought or 2/3 cup grated on a Microplane)

  • 1 tablespoon

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    fresh rosemary leaves (optional)

  • 8 ounces

    uncooked sausage, preferably bulk pork

  • 1/4 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1 1/2 cups

    Original Bisquick

  • 1 cup

    barbecue sauce or Heinz chili sauce, divided

Equipment

  • Chef’s knife and cutting board

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper

  • Large bowl

  • Brush

  • Rimmed baking sheet

  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon

  • Box grater (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven and prepare the pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, then coat with cooking spray.

  2. Grate the cheeses. Shred 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups) and grate 3/4 ounce Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup grated store-bought or 2/3 cup grated on a Microplane). Place both in a large bowl.

  3. Chop the herbs. Finely chop 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves and 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves if desired. Add both to the bowl of cheese.

  4. Mix in the sausage and milk. Remove the casings from 8 ounces sausage if needed and add the sausage to the bowl. Add 1/4 cup milk and smash against the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until evenly combined.

  5. Stir in the Bisquick. Add 1 1/2 cups Bisquick and mix with your hands until the mixture sticks together and forms one mass.

  6. Form the sausage balls. Form the mixture into 1-inch wide balls (a generous tablespoon each, about 40 total) and place on the baking sheet, spacing them about 1-inch apart.

  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Bake until light golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

  8. Glaze with sauce. Brush the sausage balls with 1/4 cup of the barbecue or chili sauce. Bake until the sauce darkens slightly in color, about 5 minutes more.

  9. Serve with more sauce for dipping. Serve the meatballs with the remaining 3/4 cup sauce for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The formed sausage balls can be frozen on a baking sheet until solid. Transfer to a zip-top freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. Bake from frozen for about 20 minutes before glazing.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

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