Not Martha

Sausage Balls

sausage balls on a plate

The other week I came across this recipe for Sausage Balls in a thread about Bisquick over at Ask Metafilter. The recipe goes like this: Mix together one pound of spicy sausage, on pound of finely shredded cheddar cheese and three cups of Bisquick. Form into quarter sized balls and cook on a baking sheet at 350 for 20 minutes. People insisted they were delicious and I was very curious about how they would turn out, so we made some.

sausage balls being formed from stiff dough

It took a while for the dough to come together, and it takes a bit of strength.

sauage balls finished baking

They puffed a bit while baking.

sausage balls, one shown broken in half

Inside you couldn’t really see the sausage.

They tasted ok, interesting for a breakfast item. But they weren’t the breakfast crack we’d been expecting. They had some heat from the spicy sausage, but the cheese flavor was pretty mild. We figure that if we’d used a really good extra sharp cheddar instead of simply sharp cheddar it might be more alluring. And they are fairly close to scones, so I might make a cheddar scone with breakfast sausage substituted for some of the butter instead. That said it was fun to pop little balls of cheesy bread into you mouth first thing in the morning.

a hard boiled egg surrounded by sausage mixture

We had so much dough left over we decided to make something like Scotch Eggs. I steamed some eggs for 11 minutes, which I find is just right to set the egg without overcooking it, then cooled and peeled them. We wrapped them in the mixture and baked for about 30 minutes. It turned out ok but ultimately didn’t work, as the cheese mixture puffs in the oven the egg settled to the bottom so it was more blanketed than wrapped at the end. Pretty good, but at this point we were full of sausage balls and couldn’t finish them. Overall? Probably won’t make again but it’s given me some ideas for cheese breakfast biscuit treats of some sort in the future.

(p.s. The pictures above were all taken with my S90 on a darkly overcast morning. Most of the pictures used only the light from the window. I had the camera set to automatic and I think they turned out really well, I didn’t lighten them in Photoshop.)

· comments [32] · 02-15-2010 · categories:food ·

32 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MamaLana // Feb 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I have always secretly loved sausage balls when someone would bring them for an office party. Thanks for the recipe!

  • 2 Andrea_r // Feb 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I saw that thread & was curious about the sausage balls. The Scotch eggs idea is BRILLIANT though.

    Huge fan of Scotch eggs. And sausage.

  • 3 Sarah // Feb 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I suspect that like myself, the large # of people on that thread love them partially for the nostalgia factor. These are Christmas morning treats in my family, and the holiday is just not complete without them! Our family’s version has some spices (I want to say paprika? I will look it up) & a little milk to help bind it together.

  • 4 Mandee // Feb 15, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    These are a southern staple – not just at Christmas, but definitely a requirement Christmas morning.

    My grandmother’s recipe calls for less Bisquick – try 2 cups next time and use extra sharp cheese. I’ve also learned to bake them on a stone or a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil.

  • 5 R.M. Koske // Feb 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Like MamaLana, I know them exclusively for parties. They’re not (IMO) breakfast food, they’re hors d’oeuvres.

    (I’d love them on Christmas morning like Sarah mentions, but that’s partly because my mother never made breakfast for Christmas, it was usually fingerfood and we’d nosh all morning long, so that still feels like party food to me.)

  • 6 KV // Feb 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    My mom almost doubles the cheese and that makes them soooo much better.

  • 7 crystal // Feb 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I think it is a Southern thing…every good southern girl should know. :) They are awesome with maple syrup. :) yumm!

  • 8 Kara // Feb 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I second reducing the Bisquick – our family recipe also uses only two cups, which yields a very dense, sausage-and-cheesy ball. We like ours better with shredded ‘fiesta’ cheese because the cheese melts better and has a richer flavor. I think that blend is monterey jack, asadero, and colby cheeses. I have to admit that I have no idea how much cheese actually ends up in there, because we tend to dump it out of the bag until it “looks about right”.

  • 9 Katie // Feb 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    My family has made sausage balls for forever. We use this recipe (pretty much) but we do use your observation about the extra sharp cheddar and we eyeball the measurements. I like a lot cheese and sausage so I usually just dump in a good amount of bisquick and then add a ton of cheese and enough water to make it mix together. Your batter looked a lot dryer than mine usually does… try adding more hot sausage and more water next time. I love them even more the day after! At parties everyone always wants my recipe but they’re my favorite for breakfast like you used them (not just as hors d’oeuvres)

  • 10 megan // Feb 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks everybody, I had no idea they were a Southern thing. I wish I’d grown up eating them. I’ll definitely add them to the Christmas day finger foods that we keep around to graze on.

  • 11 Alison // Feb 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    My Mom used to make these when I was little. She would freeze them before Christmas and I would sneak into the freezer and eat them…so I always like them cold.
    Love the scotch egg idea…must try!!!

  • 12 Sam. // Feb 15, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Oh. My. God. I had no idea there were other families out there eating sausage balls! It sounds crazy, but my family fights over these things. Anytime I’m bored, it’s the treat I make. My kid is thoroughly obsessed with sausage too so he loves them. Carryin’ on the tradition :).

    We’re not too particular with our recipe though. I use a full bag of shredded cheddar, a roll of sausage, and 1 cup Bisquick. It does take quite some time to knead out but it’s totally worth it…

  • 13 Heather // Feb 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    One step that no one seems to have mentioned:

    If you freeze the balls, even very briefly, before putting them in the oven, they do much better maintaining their ball shape and brown more evenly. (And my mom and little sis insist that they taste much better. I can’t tell a difference, but I do they they’re prettier.)

  • 14 Lori // Feb 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Like Mandee said above, try less bisquick and use sharp cheese. Sausage balls are a christmas tradition for us!

  • 15 mahlookma // Feb 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I love sausage balls! However, the recipe that I’m used to has beer–preferably Shiner Bock…but that might just be because I’m in Texas.

  • 16 Melissa // Feb 15, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Oh my I haven’t thought of sausage balls in YEARS. My mom used to make them with Bisquick when I was a kid, they were one of her go-to hors’ds. So yummy.

  • 17 Ariane // Feb 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I love sausage balls!! My mom always makes them for midnight on Christmas Eve. Us way less bisquick 1/2 to 1 cup…just enough to hold them together, extra sharp cheese (I use Cabot’s Hunter’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar), good hot sausage (Gianelli if you can get it) and a little water if the mixtures too stiff. then roll into the balls and bake till they’re golden and crispy. The best part of these is the crispy cheese that melts out of the balls and onto the pan! Even better if you use them as a dunk in cheese fondue!

  • 18 MK // Feb 16, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Oh lawdy! Yep, these are a Southern Christmas morning staple. We have always used Cracker Barrell brand (extra sharp) cheese blocks, hand shredded in THICK shreds not the extra fine. The packaged fine shredded cheeses don’t seem to lend much cheddar flavor to either sausage balls or cheese straws.

    Have you tried a breakfast strata? Some recipes incorporate spicy sausage, cheddar cheese and eggs. So tender and delicious.

  • 19 Amy // Feb 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Like others have said, these are meant to be finger food, not breakfast (although I do love to have leftovers with fruit for breakfast the next day…)

    You need to use thick-shredded sharp cheddar, not fine. Fine shreds will just dissolve and disappear, but thick shreds will keep their cheesy flavor and appearance.

  • 20 Kim U // Feb 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    The first time I had sausage balls was at a holiday party here in Nashville, I had never heard of them before that. Since then, I don’t think I’ve been to a single holiday party that doesn’t feature sausage balls. It’s like a requirement here. They’re best when they’re still warm and even better if you have a mimosa to go with them.

  • 21 Jen // Feb 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    My husband has been talking about sausage balls and I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. These look delish. I’m totally in.

  • 22 tonya // Feb 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Shout out to my Southern heritage. My ex-mother-in-law (rest her soul) made fantastic sausage balls, and we always had them on New Year’s.

    Yum. Thanks for reminding me how much I miss these sweet tidbits of the south.

  • 23 Hannah // Feb 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    My grandma made sausage balls every Saturday for breakfast since I can remember. It’s a recipe I’ve now mastered and don’t even measure anymore! It’s a recipe I’ve brought from the south up to the northwest, and so far it’s a hit up here!

    I echo other commenters on using less Bisquick. I would recommend maybe one to one and half cups and using smaller balls, 3/4 in to 1in in diameter…makes them much juicier and greasier! :)

  • 24 kris // Feb 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Scotch Eggs – No Bisquick. Just hard boiled eggs – peeled, wrapped in breakfast sausage (i’m lucky enough to have a local sausage shop that makes awesome bangers) and then flour, egg, bread & fry (or bake). The best food ever. No need for fillers.

  • 25 amanda // Feb 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    use more cheese, and maple sausage!

  • 26 kathy miller // Feb 23, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I make the same sausage balls ,but flatten them out and wrap a Jalapeno pepper with cheese in it in the center,roll in shake and bake for pork and bake them……called alligator eggs,great for parties!!

  • 27 Jessica // Feb 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Ooooh! If I may offer some constructive criticism… Your sausage balls are WAAAY overcooked.
    These are definitely a Southern staple…a party food in my home. (I make cheese straws at Christmas). And they are so fabulous!
    Thumbs up to you for cooking these.
    Try them again. You won’t be sorry!

  • 28 Suzie Q // Mar 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Wow. Sausage balls are a Southern staple. Great for appetizers. Make a batch and store in fridge and nuke them in the microwave when you want a snack. Yum!

  • 29 Laura // Apr 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Ok- this may sound weird…I too am southern and love every second of a sausage ball. My Grandmother uses cheese whiz…it adds extra moisture and some needed saltiness.

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  • 31 Leslie // May 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I add a little bit of heavy cream to make the mixing easier, and the result is a fluffier sausage ball. I also agree with using cheddar that is shredded in larger pieces. I use Tennessee Pride hot sausage, and sometimes I will add finely chopped rosemary.

  • 32 Lizard // Jan 26, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I have to agree yours look very overcooked. They also don’t look right from a mix/ratio standpoint — way too bready/cake-like. You might want to try again using some of the posted suggestions.

    They need to have sharp cheddar at a minimum, if not a more flavorful mixed cheese. Fresh cheese vs pre-grated is going to make a difference too.

    Try again! They really are delicious.

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