When you need an easy and delicious appetizer or snack, this recipe for Air Fryer Sausage Balls is hard to beat.
It's quick to throw together, quick to air fry, and definitely a crowd pleaser. In case you've never had a sausage ball before, they are the perfect ratio of biscuit meets sausage which meets melted cheese. They truly are the perfect appetizer!
Pair these amazing sausage balls with any dipping sauce you love OR give my honey mustard sauce a try. It's amazing with the sausage and cheddar balls.
They are simply perfect for the holiday season or any game day event where you need a quick and easy appetizer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! This recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled or cut in half if you only wanted a few sausage balls. The only difference (besides adjusting your ingredients up or down) is how many batches you will need to air fry. The amount that you can do at once depends on the size of your air fryer.
Absolutely. You can make up the mixture and form the balls, then freeze uncooked on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once frozen through, place the uncooked balls into an airtight container or freezer bag until you want to cook them. You can thaw to air fry or air fry from frozen. If you air fry from frozen, you will need to add some extra time and possibly adjust the temperature down if they are browning too much on the outside before they are fully cooked on the inside.
You can also make the balls and air fry them, let them cool and then freeze them. Allow them to thaw and then simply warm them up on a low temp in your air fryer or oven.
Once cooked, you can leave sausage balls out at room temperature for up to 2 hours, then they need to be refrigerated.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I've tried this recipe with several different types of sausage and any ground pork sausage (except for chorizo which is a little too wet) will work great in this recipe. You can use any type of breakfast sausage, like Jimmy Dean or Tennessee Pride ground sausage. I ended up using the Tennessee Pride, because... you guessed it, I live in Tennessee! You can also use sausage in a casing, like an Italian sausage or brat. You will want to remove the casing before mixing in with the other ingredients.
If you like things spicy, use a spicy sausage.
You can also use ground pork, ground turkey, ground chicken or even ground beef. Just remember that sausage is already seasoned, so if you use any of these, you will need to add seasonings like, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, rosemary leaves, garlic powder, onion powder. To ensure that your ground meat mixture is well seasoned, mix it up in a mixing bowl and before adding the remaining sausage ball recipe ingredients, take a small amount and pan fry it so you can taste it and adjust seasonings, if needed.
You can use any kind of shredded cheese that you like. I used extra sharp cheddar cheese, but a blend of parmesan cheese with cheddar or monterey jack will also work. Pepperjack is another great option for a spicier sausage ball.
It might seem funny that I'm calling these biscuit ingredients, but that's really what the third component of sausage balls is, biscuit dough.
It's the dough that holds the cheese and sausage together and gives that incredible crunch of a perfectly cooked biscuit!
Many people use Bisquick baking mix when making their sausage and cheddar balls and you certainly can! Since Bisquick is mostly flour with some added hydrogenated oil, salt and a leavening agent like baking powder. We don't need the leavening agent in this recipe and I prefer using butter, so using plain flour with a few extra ingredients worked great for me.
If you want to use Bisquick, omit the butter and salt in the recipe. Use 1 cup of bisquick and mix with the sour cream and half and half to hydrate it. If the mixture seems too wet to form the balls, add another Tablespoon of the Bisquick at a time until everything holds together and you can easily form the sausage balls.
You can probably even use prepared biscuit dough, the kind that comes in a can, like crescent dough. In that instance, I would cut the dough up into small pieces and press the cheese and sausage into the pieces of dough and then form the balls.
If you want to make the recipe like I did, you can certainly substitute whole milk or even skim milk for the half and half.
Gluten-Free Version: I think this recipe would do just fine with a gluten-free flour that works in a 1:1 ratio. I haven't tested the recipe this way, so please let me know if you try it!
Dairy-Free Version: Replace the butter with 1-2 Tbsp of oil of choice and use water instead of half and half. Use a dairy-free yogurt (or DF sour cream) in place of the sour cream.
Keto Version: If you want to make these keto, I would add an egg, 1 cup of almond flour and replace the sour cream and half and half with cream cheese (about 4 ounces). I have not tested the recipe this way, so let me know if you try it!
Oven Method Sausage & Cheddar Balls
While I love using my air fryer to make these sausage cheese balls, it's sometimes easier to use the oven if you need to make a big batch. Here are the instructions.
- Preheat oven to 400℉/200℃
- Line a baking sheet pan or a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper (to prevent sticking)
- Make the sausage mixture as written in the recipe and form the sausage balls.
- Place the sausage cheese balls on the tray
- Bake on 400℉/200℃ for about 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown and the internal temperature is 190℉/88℃ or greater.
- Remove from the tray and set on a cooling rack until you are ready to serve them. Enjoy!
How to Make the Recipe
Sausage & Cheese Mixture
**This only takes a few minutes, so if you are going to air fry the sausage balls right away, get your air fryer preheating on the hottest temperature for at least 10 minutes. Make sure the basket (or cooking surface) is inside the during the preheat time. This helps prevent sticking.
Place 1 cup of flour in a large bowl. Slice or grate ¼ cup of butter and add to the flour. Add 8 ounces of sausage and, either with a pastry cutter or your hands, mix sausage and butter into the flour.
You want to create little pebbles of flour coated sausage and butter like you would if you were making biscuits. If you want to see me do this, watch the video below.
Add in the salt and pepper, ¼ cup of sour cream, and 2 Tablespoons of half and half or milk to the bowl of sausage mixture. Continue to mix by hand or with a spoon until all the flour is incorporated.
Add in the shredded cheese and fold the cheese into the sausage mixture.
A dough will start to form and when it holds together, you are done mixing. You don't want to over mix the dough or melt the butter during this process. If your mixture gets to warm and you see the butter melting, pop the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes before continuing.
Forming the Sausage Balls
I used my Pampered Chef Large Scoop to measure out the sausage mixture for approximately 2-inch balls. This is about 3 Tablespoons of the mixture. Place the sausage balls on a piece of parchment paper until the air fryer has preheated and you have made enough balls to fit in a single layer.
The amount of sausage and cheddar balls you can fit at one time will depend on your air fryer-style. If you are using the Ninja Foodi PC & AC or a basket style air fryer, you can fit about 9-10 two inch balls. In the NInja Foodi XL Indoor Grill, I can fit 18-20.
You can make your sausage balls as big or as little as you like, but that will affect cooking times. The larger the sausage ball, the longer it will take to cook. You might also find that you need to lower the heat so the outside doesn't burn.
Air Frying the Sausage Balls
Once the air fryer has preheated for a full 10 minutes, spritz the air fryer basket with oil and place the sausage balls in a single layer in the basket of the air fryer. You can also use parchment paper liners to prevent sticking. Set air fryer to 350℉/175℃ and air fry for 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip the sausage balls over and air fry another 5 minutes.
The sausage balls should be golden brown and the internal temperature greater than 190℉/88℃. This will ensure the sausage is completely cooked and the dough part is also done.
Remove the sausage balls from the air fryer and let them cool on a cooling rack until serving. They can be served hot or room temperature. Just make sure they don't sit out for longer than 2 hours for food safety reasons.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Recipe
This sauce is so good that I'm turning it into a honey mustard salad dressing! You can make as much or as little as you like and, as long as you keep the ratios the same, it will turn out perfect!
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Spicy Mustard ( a spicy brown mustard or even a dijon mustard is fine)
Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium size bowl and refrigerate until use.
More Air Fryer Recipes
If you love recipes like this, here are several more that make great appetizers and snacks!
- Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp in the Ninja Foodi (or any Air Fryer)
- Air Fryer Crab Rangoon ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Air Fryer Boneless Wings
- Air Fried Cauliflower with General Tso's Sauce
- Air Fryer Fried Mushrooms
- Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Wings
- The BEST Air Fryer Onion Rings
- Ninja Foodi Recipe ~ Asian Sticky Wings
Air Fryer Sausage Balls
- Air Fryer
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup butter cold
- 8 ounces ground sausage I used bulk breakfast sausage
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons half and half or milk
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
Honey Mustard Sauce
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons spicy mustard
Sausage & Cheese Balls
- Preheat air fryer on the hottest setting for a full 10 minutes. Grate the 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.
- Add flour to large mixing bowl. Slice the cold butter and add to the flour. Add the ground sausage and mix together with a pastry cutter or your hands. The idea is to break up the sausage and butter and have it combine with the flour without melting the butter. Kind of what you would do if you were making biscuits or a pie crust.
- Add in the salt, black pepper, sour cream and half and half and mix together until you don't see any dry flour. Mix in the cheese and the ingredients will hold together like a ball of dough.
- Form the sausage balls with a large scoop that is about 3 Tablespoons and roll them between the palms of your hands until a ball is formed. Repeat for the remaining sausage mixture. *I usually place a sheet of parchment on a cooling rack and place the uncooked sausage balls there until I'm ready to air fry them.
- Once the sausage balls are formed and the air fryer has preheated for a full 10 minutes. Spritz the air fryer basket with oil and place the sausage balls in a single layer in the basket. Air Fry on 350℉/175℃ for 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
- When the 10 minutes is up and the sausage balls have reached an internal temperature of at least 190℉/88℃, they are done. Remove from the air fryer and allow to cool on a cooling rack until you are ready to serve them.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk until smooth.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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