If you grew up in the south, you have probably eaten more than your share of sausage balls. Traditionally made with Bisquick, sausage cheese balls are savory little appetizers chock full of sharp cheddar cheese and your favorite sausage.
I think these are the best sausage balls because they have a ton of flavor, they bake up nice and tender, and they are still delicious once they cool off. As far as I’m concerned, this makes them the perfect appetizer.
For another retro Southern appetizer, I think you’ll also like my mom’s cheese olive puffs.
And for ease of browsing, you can find all my appetizer recipes in one place. Thank you for being here!
Watch my sausage balls recipe web story here.
Sausage Balls At A Glance
✔️Skill Level: Beginner
✔️Skills: Grating, Mixing
✔️Type: Individual appetizers
✔️Number of Ingredients: 9
✔️Prep Time: 10 minutes
✔️Cook Time: 25 minutes
✔️Yield: 24-48, depending on size
Jump Straight to the Recipe
What Makes These The Best Sausage Balls?
When I finally decided it was necessary to have sausage balls on the site, I wanted to make sure they were The Best.
So I read a ton of recipes and read a lot of comments on recipes.
The number one complaint about many recipes was that once they cooled down, they got as hard as rocks.
Well, not these, my friends. I made it a point to test these at room temperature, even after sitting out for hours, and they are moist and tender.
They also have a lot of really deep flavor courtesy of Worcestershire sauce.
One of my dearest friends, Lizzie, makes fabulous sausage balls, and she told me she uses Worcestershire, so now I do too. And so will you. And you’ll be so happy!
This recipe is easy to scale up or down, and you can make it with flour, baking powder, and butter, or you can substitute Bisquick if you prefer.
As written, the recipe makes 24-26 larger sausage balls or 48-52 smaller poppable sausage cheese balls.
They also freeze really well, either before or after baking, so you can make a ton, freeze them, and bake them from frozen whenever you need them.
How to Make Them
There are three main components in sausage balls: the “baking mix” or flour/leavening/butter, the cheese, and the sausage.
It is easy to vary the flavor of these guys based on your taste, and depending on if you want more cheese, more sausage, or equal amounts of both.
Whatever you decide, the amount of baking mix is enough to hold them together and help them keep their shape without making them overly bready. When you break one open, it’ll look like unrelieved sausage-y goodness, and then when you take a bite, you’ll get a bit of a biscuit vibe.
But mainly, you’ll get rich bites of cheddar and sausage in every single bite. Even in a tiny bite.
They are very easy to make.
If you’ve made sausage cheddar balls before, you can skip down to the recipe.
If they’re a new treat for you, you may benefit from reading the how-tos, variations, etc.
Here’s what you’ll need.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- flour: plain all-purpose flour is a great choice here. Bread flour will make your sausage balls a little too chewy, and cake flour won’t provide enough structure so they will be more likely to fall apart when you try to eat them. I use King Arthur all-purpose flour. NOTE: if you don’t have a scale, please measure the flour (or Bisquick if using) at 1 1/2 scant cups.
- baking powder: Just to give them a little lift and to keep them from being heavy
- poultry seasoning: Since I used country sausage which has a lot of sage in it, I call for poultry seasoning. If your preference is for a sweet or hot Italian sausage, use a mixture of dried thyme and oregano, or go with Italian seasoning
- cayenne pepper: If using hot sausage, you can leave the cayenne out. It is up to your personal taste and how much spice you like. I used a mild sausage and went with 3/8 teaspoon of cayenne. They have a nice bite, but are not super spicy.
- black pepper: I honestly don’t really measure–I just grind some into the mix. If you don’t like pepper, feel free to leave it out
- butter: Provides the fat that is missing since this recipe isn’t based on Bisquick.
- Worcestershire sauce: This is the flavor magic right here, friends. I call for a LOT of Worcestershire, but it adds a ton of rich flavor. The math comes out to less than 1 teaspoon Worcestershire per 1 oz sausage ball and less than that if you make them smaller. NOTE: Depending on how fatty your sausage is, you might need less Worcestershire than I call for. Start with 4 Tablespoons and add additional only if the dough isn’t holding together well.
- cheese: I like a good sharp cheddar, but you are welcome to use your favorite, from mild on up to extra sharp. Do NOT use pre-shredded cheese. It will make the mixture too dry. No matter what cheese you decide to use, always grate your own, either with a box grater or with a food processor and the shredding disc
- uncooked sausage: Any bulk (no-casings) sausage will do here as long as it’s uncooked. If you have uncooked sausage in casings, just slit the casings with a sharp knife and peel them off. My preference is for an extra sage-y country sausage
Why There is No Salt in This Recipe
This might be the only recipe on my site where I don’t call for any salt.
That’s because there is a lot of salt in the cheese, the sausage, and the Worcestershire sauce.
I tested the recipe with and without salt, and it doesn’t need any more than what it already present in the “salty ingredients.”
Here’s how you’ll bring the dough together:
- Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Whisk them well and scatter in bits of cold butter.
- Rub the butter in with your fingertips. It’s the same motion you’d make if you were snapping your fingers.
- Continue mixing in the butter until there are no visible bits of butter in the mixture.
If using Bisquick in place of flour/baking powder/butter, just whisk the spices into the Bisquick and then proceed:
- Add the grated cheese right on top of the flour.
- Break the sausage into small pieces and scatter them in with the cheese.
- Pour the Worcestershire sauce evenly over the sausage and cheese.
- Use clean hands, a
stand mixer, or a hand mixer to thoroughly mix the dough together so it holds together in a ball.
Once you have your dough, divide (scale) it into 24-26 1 oz pieces or into 48-52 1/2 oz pieces.
Roll them into smooth balls, and place on a parchment-lined baking pan. They can be fairly close together, so 26 will fit on one tray just fine. You’ll need 2 trays if making smaller balls.
OPTIONAL: Freeze for 30-45 minutes and then bake at 350F (convection or conventional) for about 25 minutes.
Serve hot. Or warm. Or at room temperature.
There are three main ways to vary the flavor of your sausage balls:
- Change the spicing (poultry seasoning and cayenne)
- Change the sausage
- Change the cheese
Keeping that in mind, here are a couple of variation ideas:
- Mexican flavors: use cumin and Mexican oregano for the spices, try fresh chorizo as the sausage and pepper jack as the cheese
- Italian flavors: use Italian seasoning and smoked paprika, sweet or hot Italian sausage, and a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan (to equal 8 oz)
Equipment You May Need
This is a pretty straightforward recipe. No fancy equipment needed.
If you don’t have a large glass bowl, that’s a great, multi-use item that’s nice to have. Same with half-sheet pans.
And you know I want you to use a kitchen scale.
You may want to check my list of must-have tools for serious bakers, as well.
Tips and Tricks for Success
You will get the best results by weighing all your ingredients. If you don’t have a scale, measure the flour as a scant 1 1/2 cups. Do not pack the flour into your cups. Lightly spoon and sweep. Nobody wants a dry sausage ball, and if yours are dry, this is most likely the reason.
Depending on the sausage you use, you may not need all the Worcestershire sauce called for. Start with some and add more only if the dough refuses to hold together.
Vary the flavor by swapping out seasonings, cheese, and sausage. This is a very customizable recipe.
Always start with blocks of cheese rather than pre-shredded. Pre-shredded cheese has an additive in it to keep it from clumping together, and it will make your little guys too dry.
To help your sausage balls hold their shape, put trays of unbaked balls in the freezer for 30-45 minutes before baking.
Sausage Ball Q & A
Yes, you can. Substitute a gluten-free baking mix for the flour. In that case, you may want to let the finished dough rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before shaping to soften up any bits that could otherwise make your sausage balls a little gritty.
Absolutely. Form into balls and freeze on sheet-pans until solid. Then store in zip-top freezer bags for up to a month. Bake according to the recipe directions. You may need to bake them an additional 2-3 minutes when baking from frozen.
They’ll be fine at room temperature, tightly sealed once completely cool, for 3 days. For longer storage, freeze them in zip-top freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible.
To get the most air out of the bag, seal almost all the way, and then stick a straw inside and suck out as much air as you can before sealing. Freeze them for up to 2 months.
Thaw at room temperature and then reheat in the oven for 5-10 minutes or in the microwave for a few seconds each.
They will lose their crispiness if you microwave them, but they’ll still be tasty.
I have seen other recipes that call for serving sausage cheese balls with dips, but honestly, I don’t think these need any dip.
I have been enjoying them “straight up,” both at room temperature and heated up, and they are really good.
Serve these as part of a holiday spread that could include cream cheese and red sauce (ie: the best sauce to pour over cream cheese), pepperoni bread, and maybe some broiled goat cheese.
A Note About Measurements
For convenience, consistency, and accuracy, almost all my recipes are written by weight, either in ounces and/or grams, even the liquids.
I strongly encourage you to purchase a kitchen scale and learn to use it.
This is the one I used for years. I love it and highly recommend it:
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
It would be so helpful to me and to other readers that, when you make a recipe, you rate it and leave a comment. Whether it’s a recipe or an informational post, your feedback helps others decide if the post is helpful or if the recipe works as advertised.
If you could leave a star rating, that would be very helpful. Thank you for being here!
The Best Sausage Balls
- 6 oz all-purpose flour 168 grams or a scant 1 1/2 cups
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ⅜ teaspoon cayenne pepper more or less, to taste
- 1.25 ounces butter 35 grams, 2 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded on a box grater 224 grams or 1/2 pound
- 8 oz your favorite bulk sausage (I use country sausage with extra sage) 224 grams or 1/2 pound
- 3 oz Worcestershire sauce 85 grams or 1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons
- Heat the oven to 350F (convection or conventional).
- If making 1 oz balls, line one half-sheet pan with parchment. If making 1/2 oz balls, line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment. Set aside.
- Shred the cheese, and break up the sausage into a few smaller pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, poultry seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne pepper until well combined.
- Cut the butter into little pieces and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture is mealy with no large, visible pieces of butter. (NOTE: you can also substitute 1 1/2 cups or 6 oz of Bisquick for the flour/baking powder/butter). If substituting Bisquick or similar, just whisk it together with the seasonings.
- Toss all the ingredients together lightly, then pour the Worcestershire evenly over the mixture.
- Using your clean hands or in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix until evenly moistened and combined. The sausage ball mix should hold together in a ball.
- Scale out at 1/2 oz (about 1 Tablespoon) or 1 oz (about 2 Tablespoons). Roll into balls and place 25-26 per tray.
- To keep the sausage balls as round as possible, freeze the trays for 30-45 minutes.
- Bake on the center rack for 25 minutes, rotating the pans after 15 minutes.
- Sausage balls are done when they are a bit crisp on the bottoms, the tops are golden brown and firm, and the internal temperature reads 195-200F.
- Let cool for a couple of minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Did You Make Any Changes?
Note About the Amount of Flour (or Bisquick)I call for 6 oz of flour, which assumes 4 oz per cup. That's a very "light cup," so if all you have is measuring cups, spoon them full very lightly and gently sweep off the excess. Whatever you do, do NOT pack the flour or Bisquick into the measuring cups. The best way for you to get the results you want from a recipe that promises moist, not dry, sausage balls, is to weigh the ingredients as outlined in the recipe. If you use measuring cups, be sure you're measuring out what I would call a *scant* 1 1/2 cups of flour (or Bisquick, if that's what you're using).
VariationsVary the flavor by swapping out seasonings, cheese, and sausage. This is a very customizable recipe.
Optional Step for Patient PeopleTo help your sausage balls hold their shape, put trays of unbaked balls in the freezer for 30-45 minutes before baking.
Can I make them gluten-free?Yes, you can. Substitute a gluten-free baking mix for the flour. In that case, you may want to let the finished dough rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before shaping to soften up any bits that could otherwise make your sausage balls a little gritty.
Can I bake them from frozen?Absolutely. Form into balls and freeze on sheet-pans until solid. Then store in zip-top freezer bags for up to a month. Bake according to the recipe directions. You may need to bake them an additional 2-3 minutes when baking from frozen.
How should I store them?They’ll be fine at room temperature, tightly sealed once completely cool, for 3 days. For longer storage, freeze them in zip-top freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible. To get the most air out of the bag, seal almost all the way, and then stick a straw inside and suck out as much air as you can before sealing. Freeze them for up to 2 months.Thaw at room temperature and then reheat in the oven for 5-10 minutes or in the microwave for a few seconds each. They will lose their crispiness if you microwave them, but they’ll still be tasty.
What are my qualifications to teach you baking and pastry? As a former working pastry chef and special educator, I marry my passions for both teaching and for baking into explaining techniques, methods, and developing the best possible recipes. For more info, you can read more about me.
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