Presumably, the original sausage ball dates back to a 1970’s recipe found on the backs of Bisquick boxes across the nation. This was the start of Bisquick sausage balls.
Southerners added the sausage balls to their rolodex of recipe cards, which were then passed down to further generations. Now, many years later, youths, all alike, bring this “amazing” family recipe of sausage balls, that everyone “must try,” to holiday parties and football games, only to find their friends grew up with the exact same recipe.
So yes, this recipe is nothing new and there are many iterations on the internet. But, as a southerner, I felt the need to belatedly include this Christmas favorite here, having just consumed A LOT over the last few days. Honestly, yeah, they are that good.
These cheesy Bisquick sausage balls are, once again, served as a holiday party appetizer across the south. In the words of Sarah Dessen, my teenage-self’s favorite author, in The Truth About Forever, “When in doubt, grab some meatballs and get back out there. Everybody loves meatballs.”
In our family, sausage balls are only ever served on Christmas Eve during our annual brunch with close friends and family. On December 23rd, our family runs around cleaning, decorating, and prepping food in a frenzy, all leading up to the festive gathering. There never seems to be enough time to get all of the decorating done before everyone arrives, hence these easy and quick sausage balls. They take no time to make! Our mom, after everything is said and done, whips these up first thing in the morning. Our dad just continues to throw new batches into the oven as the brunch unfolds.
Depending on the year, we could end up with as many as 7-10 families, all with children around our age, attending our Christmas Eve brunch. With so many to host, breakfast casseroles were the go-to dish to feed the masses. Unfortunately, when our parents started this merry tradition, all of us children were too young to enjoy the complexities of a good breakfast casserole. (We were a picky crowd!) Instead, we stuffed our cheeks with enough sausage balls to fill us up and left the grown-up food for the grown-ups. The sausage balls have always been a hit. There are never complaints and never enough.
The leftovers, of which my mother always specifically sets aside, are reheated in the oven and munched on as we open presents on Christmas day.
Sausage balls are the perfect party appetizer because:
- They are finger and/or toothpick food.
- Easy and quick to make in large batches.
- Not messy. This is incredibly important. They can go from the tray to the mouth with no fear of spillage. (definitely important for dressy cocktail hours)
- When the balls cool, they do not stick together on the tray. Maintaining texture, shape, and presentation is key.
- People cannot get enough of them. They fill up on these cheap and easy appetizers so you don’t need to spend as much on the expensive entree.
- Look beautiful and cohesive next to a vegetarian tray of spinach balls.
For the most basic of sausage balls, you will only need 3 ingredients: Bisquick, cheddar cheese, sausage.
I learned the hard way not to use the pancake/waffle Bisquick mix for these sausage balls. The texture and flavor remain the same, but the structure does not hold up when baking. These bad boys deflated in the oven. Proof is in the picture below. Instead, make sure to buy the original Bisquick baking mix. The gluten-free and regular mixes both work wonderfully for this recipe!
I am a firm believer that freshly grated cheese tastes better than the pre-grated versions you can get in the grocery store. So, yes, I grate my own when making these sausage balls. My parents raised me to use a particular brand and sharpness of cheddar cheese. When shopping, go ahead and grab the sharpest cheddar of the Cracker Barrel brand. Trust me, you can taste the difference.
We are also particular about the sausage. The recipe shifts slightly depending on the sausage used. First and foremost, always use Jimmy Dean. It breaks up and mixes with the Bisquick much better than other brands.
I personally prefer the spicy version of Jimmy Dean sausage. It gives an extra oomph to the dish. When using the spicy sausage, I only add ½ tsp. of cayenne to the Bisquick.
When using the normal/regular or sage Jimmy Dean sausage, I add about 1 ½ tsp. of cayenne to the Bisquick. This version is milder than the spicy version. It still allows for a little heat without that extra oomph or kick.
All-in-all, that is it. Super easy, right?! I recently started serving these with a sauce resembling honey mustard. It is a mixture of southern hot pepper jelly and yellow mustard. The sweetness and slight hint of spiciness comes from the hot pepper jelly and the sharpness from the mustard. It mixes well with the savory nature of the sausage balls.
Below are some recommendations for hot pepper jelly and Sarah Dessen’s books mentioned above. I did not recommend buying Bisquick on Amazon as there are some shady selling practices for those products. You can pick them up at most grocery store chains though!
In the comments below, let us know if you grew up eating sausage balls during the holiday season. If so, how did your versions differ from ours? Our other holiday recipes include white chocolate and salted pistachio brittle, white hot chocolate, and peppermint marshmallows. We also want to know all about your favorite family treats shared during the holidays. Follow us on instagram, twitter, facebook, and pinterest!
And, for all of our friends and family we will not be seeing this season, we will be missing you this year. We though of you this Christmas Eve and will be thinking of you as we count down to the New Year. Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year!
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