The History of Bisquick Sausage Balls

I did not grow up with Sausage Balls. Actually I did not even know of their existence until a random day sick on the couch watching Food Network. I do believe it was an episode of Trisha Yearwood’s cooking show. I made the little sausage appetizers for a holiday once and quite liked them. I could never quite get them in rotation as my family is much more of a dips and deviled eggs bunch.

What ingredients are in Sausage Balls?
The basic recipe is just three ingredients: Bisquick, bulk pork sausage (usually of the hot variety), and cheddar cheese. The proportions typically are 3 cups of all-purpose baking mix, 1 pound pork sausage, and 2 cups of cheddar cheese but it can wildly differ sometimes between recipes. After that, I have come across recipes that add any of the following ingredients: cream cheese, green onion or chives, jalapenos, red pepper flakes, and/or cayenne. Some recipes also call for making one’s own all-purpose baking mix or simply subbing out the Bisquick with self-rising or just plain ol’ all-purpose flour.

Many recipes also serve the Sausage Balls with a dipping sauce. The typical one by far is a Dijonnaise sauce that is made by mixing your preferred proportions of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Sometimes honey is added to the mix. Others get more creative such as one recipe that made a Jezebel sauce that was a “sweet-hot sauce that gets its name from a racy little gal in the Bible”.

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Who and where were Sausage Balls created?
I wish I had a better answer to this but this is what I do know. According to Jean Anderson in her cookbook American Century Cookbook, she says that these “nippy hors d’oeuvres” were around since the 1960s. This gets kind of confirmed in Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible where Paula Deen writes “Now y’all I swear sausage balls have been around since just about the dawn of time.” Paula Deen being born in 1947 makes the 1960s a plausible time for these little appetizers.

One would guess that these were created by General Mills to sell more Bisquick. The recipe is included in the 1990’s 60th-anniversary recipe booklet for Bisquick. Though the recipe is a bit different from the usual one that floats around newspapers and community cookbooks. The recipe still uses the 3 cups of Bisquick and the pound of pork sausage but bumps the cheddar cheese up to 4 cups while adding ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon each of rosemary and parsley flakes. This makes me guess that the Sausage Ball probably has a similar origin story to California Dip as that someone, most likely in the South, created the recipe, the recipe spread through word of mouth, and Bisquick took note of the increased sales eventually creating there one version of the recipe.

When was Sausage Balls popular?
These have been and will always be popular in the Southern parts of the United States. Honestly almost all my sources were from Southerners waxing poetic about these little Sausage Balls. This also happens to be Bisquick’s most requested recipe.

The Sausage Balls appear at many Southern gatherings with one cookbook calling them a staple of the South, especially at holiday time. In The Southern Bite Cookbook, Stacy Little highlights how prevalent the little bites are in Southern holidays: “There isn’t a proper Southern social event that doesn’t have sausage balls on the menu. These things show up at birthday parties, bridal and baby showers, wedding receptions, and of course, the holidays – just to name a few.”

Paula Deen jokes that while she is a little tired of the appetizer personally, she would not make them for a party. Cookbook author Lisa Fain writes about the appetizer in both The Homesick Texan Cookbook and QUESO!. She says that in Texas “sausage balls are a beloved nibble” that may not be fancy but are popular. In the humorously named cookbook Boobs and Biscuits, they talk about how these were so popular to bring to parties that they “would actually ask people to sign up for dishes in order to ward off having 5 variations of sausage balls at the parties!”

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Why should I make Sausage Balls?
At the most basic all you need is three easy-to-obtain ingredients to pull together a quick and tasty appetizer. Need more convincing? One newspaper article summed it up perfectly when they said that these appetizers are “simple to make, taste incredible warm or at room temperature, freeze beautifully, and are just as good reheated.”

How do you make Sausage Balls?
Like any recipe (but especially this one), use it as a guide. Play around with the proportions until you get something that suits your taste. Maybe you want more of the sausage texture, so try decreasing the Bisquick to 1 cup, or if you rather like a more “biscuit” texture, then bring it back to the original three cups. Honestly, these little appetizers are fairly forgiving to experimentation. The amount of spices and mix-ins that can be added is only limited to your imagination.

Bisquick Sausage Balls

  • Servings: 30 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A classic Southern appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose baking mix (Bisquick)
  • 1 lb hot or mild pork sausage
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of mayo
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the the baking mix, sausage and cheese until well incorporated.
  3. Form into bite size balls and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. (A small ice cream/cookie scoop works well here to keep the balls uniform in size).
  4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until they are cooked through.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard and honey. Serve with sausage balls.

SOURCES:

Algood, Tammy. “Sausage Balls Make A Simple, Savory Finger Food”. The Jackson Sun. December 29, 2021.

Anderson, Jean. The American Century Cookbook. United States: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1997

Chandler, Jennifer. The Southern Pantry Cookbook: 105 Recipes Already Hiding in Your Kitchen. United States: Harper Horizon, 2014.

Deen, Paula., Clark, Melissa. Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes. United States: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Fain, Lisa. The Homesick Texan Cookbook. United States: Hachette Books, 2011.

Fain, Lisa. QUESO! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip. United States: Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed, 2017.

Howard, Vivian. Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South. United States: Little, Brown, 2016.

King, Chula. “Festive Sausage Appetizer Will be Star of the Party”. Ventura County Star. December 6, 2020.

Little, Stacey. The Southern Bite Cookbook: 150 Irresistible Dishes from 4 Generations of My Family’s Kitchen. United States: Thomas Nelson, 2014.

Locke, Karen. Boobs and Biscuits: Four Generations of Southern Family Recipes. N.p.: Power of Three Publishing LLC, 2020.

Long, Patricia. “Easy Recipes Can Be Made Early For Holiday Parties.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram. December 10, 2008.

Nelson Hannon, Amy. Love Welcome Serve: Recipes that Gather and Give. United States: Center Street, 2017.

Rahman, Gholam. “For A Powerful Citrus Taste, Use Zest Instead of Juice”. The Palm Beach Post. January 26, 1995.

“Safari’s Recipe Potpourri”. The Shreveport Journal. April 1, 1971.

Sperka, Melissa. Melissa’s Southern Cookbook: Tried-and-True Family Recipes. United States: Countryman Press, 2016.

St. John, Robert. “Caring Still Alive in the South”. The Magee Courier. August 3, 2006.

Stoneback, Diane. “Once Over Lightly”. The Morning Call (Allentown, PA). June 18, 2003.

Whitmore, Courtney Dial., Dial, Phronsie. The Southern Entertainer’s Cookbook: Heirloom Recipes for Modern Gatherings. United States: Gibbs Smith, 2021.

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