Good old-fashioned Bisquick sausage balls are delicious little bites of heaven ready in under 30 minutes and made with 3 simple ingredients. Bisquick, raw sausage, and cheese.
These bite-sized snacks seem to be a requirement for all holiday gatherings at all homes in the south. Well, maybe not ALL, but a good majority of them.
Every southern family has its own recipe and method for these. We prefer ours with a bit more meat than Bisquick biscuit mix.
That’s probably our northern influence. Meat, meat, and more meat!
Whenever one of our friends ate one of mine, he was amazed. He said he had tried making them before but was never able to get them crispy or moist like mine.
He said they were always dry and kind of crumbly. I suspect whatever recipe he was using used too much baking mix or flour.
If you use too much baking mix you need to add milk to overcome that. We actually use just enough hold it all together.
If it weren’t for the few small lumps that came off the side of the bowl, you might not even realize there is any baking mix in there.
But I promise it is there!
I even left this photo here so you can see what it looked like before I mixed it up by hand.
Do not cook the sausage, it needs to be raw. Read that twice – the sausage needs to be raw.
Cooked sausage will not come together easily with the ingredients and will leave dry pockets of baking mix everywhere.
Sam is the one that told me the secret, don’t cook the sausage and use more sausage than flour or baking mix!
Let the sausage come to room temperature for easier mixing. This will take a minimum of 15 minutes.
I seem to have better luck with the cheaper sausages on the market. My guess is it has more fat in it.
There are usually kids and picky eaters at my holiday gatherings so I stick with a standard breakfast sausage. Spicy sausage can be used for more bite.
If you choose to use this recipe, and we hope you do, you may see some grease left on the pan.
Grease remains on the pan because there just is not enough dry ingredients to absorb every bit of grease that comes out of the sausage and cheese.
The fat melting during baking is what keeps these sausage balls from drying out.
Other types of sausage
Any kind of sausage that is raw can be substituted.
Spicy breakfast sausage is commonly substituted for those who like to spice things up a bit.
If I were using Italian sausage, I would probably change my cheese to mozzarella though and serve with a marinara sauce rather than sour cream.
I use pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
One, it is less work. Two, it seems to hold up better when mixing it all together.
If you really don’t like the pre-shredded cheese, go ahead and shred your own. The cheese may disappear but the flavor will still be there.
Leave the cheese in the refrigerator until it’s time to mix the ingredients unless smaller cheese pieces are desired. Cold cheese will hold its shape during baking.
In that case, room temperature cheese will break apart into smaller pieces in the mix. I like to see the cheese, so I add it at the end.
As with the sausage, a spicier cheese can be substituted.
Without Cheese or Other Cheeses
The cheese can be omitted. I have made these without cheese and they are still good. Cheese just makes everything better!
Different cheese can be used according to your taste.
If you want to grate your own cheese, that’s perfectly fine too. I think the pre-shredded cheese saves me some time and I find that it holds up better when being mixed into the sausage ball mix.
Spicy cheese would be great mixed with a spicy sausage. Just keep the heat level in mind if there will be kids eating these.
Cream cheese can be added to sausage balls if you like.
You can easily add up to 8 ounces of softened cream cheese to our recipe. Mix it in well with the sausage before adding the Bisquick.
Now, in the south, you might hear all sausage balls being called Bisquick sausage balls, even when it is made with other brands of baking mix and even those with flour. It’s like calling all facial tissues Kleenex.
I have used other brands without issue.
Using a gluten-free baking mix is an acceptable substitution and I suspect with all of the flavors going on no one will notice a difference.
I do not use the gluten-free version very often, only when necessary to meet the dietary restrictions of guests. It’s just a matter of price.
The amount called for in the recipe is not a mistake!
Truly, we use way less than other recipes so we can avoid diluting the sausage flavors by adding milk.
This recipe is made for meat and cheese lovers!
Mixing the Dough
For a rustic looking ball with all the lumps and bumps you might remember from childhood, go ahead and get at it with a set of impeccably clean hands and mix it all up.
A dough hook on a stand mixer (affiliate link) works great and is quick, but the balls will have a smoother texture. But honestly, there is no need for breaking out a mixer to make these.
I add my cheese at the very end of the mixing. Waiting until the end allows more of the cheese to stay together, which leaves nice cheesy pockets in the cooked sausage balls.
Forming the Sausage Balls
I find it easiest to make all the sausage balls the same by using my medium number 40 cookie scoop (affiliate link) and then splitting that in half.
If you want larger sausage balls, by all means, don’t split the dough in half.
Just make sure you cook the larger balls until the centers are 165°F.
I don’t use a smaller scoop because this mixture tends to be, for lack of a better word, stringy, and it seems to get stuck.
Stringiness comes from the nature of raw ground meat. With this texture and the shape of the cheese shreds, a small scoop seems like more work to me than pulling it into 2 pieces.
Once you have uniform sizes, just roll them gently between your hands.
HOW TO SERVE
You can serve these plain or with some dipping sauces. Maple syrup as a dipping sauce is perfect for breakfast or brunch.
Frito Lay makes a great cheddar cheese dip (affiliate link) that would pair nicely with these.
Sour cream is always good, especially if you have used a hot sausage or added cayenne pepper for heat.
Want even more heat? No problem, add some sriracha sauce to your sour cream like we do our Bacon Wrapped Baby Potato Bites.
I have served with honey mustard, plain mustard, mustard mixed with mayonnaise for a “creamy” mustard dip.
Grape jelly mixed with chili sauce (affiliate link) would also be a great sauce to serve on the side. But I have to admit, I prefer mine plain.
MAKE IN ADVANCE
These can be made in advance.
In fact, there are are two solutions for making them in advance.
- The balls can be prepared in advance, stashed in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and cooked just before company arrives to serve them hot. They can also be stored in the freezer. Thaw before baking.
- You can bake them and place them into the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freezer for up to 3 months, and re-heat them as needed.
Why are they dry?
Probably because they probably have too much baking mix in them. Try adding some milk or reduce the amount of Bisquick.
If you used our recipe and they are dry, your sausage balls might have dry pockets is that they were not mixed well enough. You really need to get your hands in there and mix it all up.
If you have burnt bottoms, you may have your oven temperature set too high or the pan may be too close to the burner if you have an electric stove.
The bottom of the sausage ball will be darker than the top no matter where you put the baking sheet in the oven.
The bottoms are right on the baking sheet and are gathering more heat from the metal than the tops of the sausage balls that are surrounded by just hot air.
The cheese may even ooze out and brown on the bottom. Once the cheese has set, you can easily break it off.
I kind of like the flavor of the browned cheese, so I tend to leave it.
Make Without Bisquick or Baking Mix
If you find yourself without any baking mix, don’t fret, you can still make these.
Substitute 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking soda for the baking mix.
If you don’t want to use any of these so you can keep it gluten-free, keep reading, you cando that too.
If you need gluten-free sausage balls, you can certainly use the gluten-free baking mixes.
You could also substitute it with 1 1/2 cups of Rice Chex crumbs. I process Rice Chex cereal into a fine crumb and use it as a substitute in my meatballs any time I need a gluten-free filler.
Rice Chex are cheaper than gluten-free bread crumbs, gluten-free flour mixes, and gluten-free baking mixes. although, all are options here.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, I say 4 days because that is the longest they have survived without getting eaten in my house.
Just pop the sausage balls into the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds and they will be almost as fresh as the day you made them.
If you are out tailgating, wrap these in foil and put them into the cooler. Throw them onto the grill for a few minutes and they will be rewarmed.
This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, and quadrupled, making it perfect for crowd cooking too!
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Bisquick Sausage Balls
- Parchment Paper
- 2 pounds ground breakfast sausage mild or hot, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups Bisquick or another baking mix
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese mild, medium, or sharp
- If sausage is not room temperature, allow it to come to room temperature before beginning.
- Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper and set aside.
- Mix sausage and baking mix until all baking mix has been incorporated.
- Add cheese and mix well.
- Form into 1 inch balls.
- Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. The baking sheet needs sides to keep grease from spilling onto the oven floor.
- Place the baking sheet into 375 Degree F oven.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and serve.