Crunchy air fryer sausage balls will change your appetizer game! These classic 3-4 ingredient sausage balls are cooked in an air fryer instead of the oven for an extra crispy outside. Give them a try and taste the difference!
How Are Sausage Balls In An Air Fryer Different?
Classic sausage balls are baked on a baking sheet in the oven. This method is simple and straightforward, so why bother with an air fryer?
When I tested air fryer sausage balls, I noticed that the exterior became crunchier than the oven-baked version. Almost as if they had been... fried... in air. Because it's an air fryer. Who'd have thought?!
Tossing sausage balls in your air fryer instead of your oven will result in a crunchier texture
Do I Have To Preheat The Air Fryer?
You can find all kinds of opinions on this subject. Some folks like to add ingredients to a cold air fryer and start from scratch. Some people swear by fully pre-heating the air fryer beforehand.
Me? I set my air fryer to the temperature I want and let it run for 5 minutes or so, just to give it a head start, even if it doesn't fully pre-heat before I add my ingredients.
When following air fryer recipes from others, I've found that fry time varies greatly. I really recommend checking early and often and investing in a probe-style instant read thermometer to ensure that anything you make in your air fryer is cooked properly.
In my air fryer, it took about 10 minutes at 325F to cook my sausage balls. Yours may take longer, or they may cook faster. The size of the balls will also vary the cook time.
Ingredients For Sausage Balls
The most basic, classic, sausage ball recipe contains 3 ingredients:
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese - from the block, not pre-shredded
- 2 cups baking mix
No baking mix? try my recipe for sausage balls without Bisquick (you can air fry these too!)
I also like to keep a little milk handy to drizzle into the mixture if it's too dry or too difficult to form into neat little balls. At minimum, a tablespoon or two will do it, and you shouldn't need more than ¼ cup. How much you need is going to depend on how you measure your baking mix and the natural moisture content of your cheese and sausage.
Why Can't You Use Pre-Shredded Cheese?
It's so easy to open up a bag of pre-shredded cheese and dump it into your recipe, right? I get it! But when you're making a recipe that needs to hold itself together - like sausage balls - using pre-shredded cheese may leave you frustrated.
Why? Cheese that has been pre-shredded has been coated with cellulose and/or potato starch to keep the shreds from clumping together in the bag. The coating can also prevent shredded cheese from wanting to stick to the other ingredients in sausage balls, resulting in everything falling apart instead of maintaining structure.
So for these air fryer sausage balls, grab a solid block of cheese and pull out your cheese grater. It'll be worth it.
Can I Use Different Sausage?
Yes, you can. Any flavor you like, really! If you like more spot, use spicy or hot ground sausage. More flavor? Use sage sausage (or add a pinch of sage to the uncooked mixture).
How Can I Add More Heat and Spice?
Looking for spicy sausage balls? The easiest option is using a hot or spicy ground pork sausage. You can also add a few dashes of hot sauce to the mixture, a pinch of cayenne, or a couple tablespoons of hot pepper jelly.
Yet another fun idea is adding a pinch of garlic and onion powders for a bit of extra flavor.
Freezing and Storage Instructions
You can freeze uncooked air fryer sausage balls, making your party and holiday prep even easier. To Freeze: arrange uncooked sausage balls on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour. Transfer to a freezer safe zip-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months (for best quality, they will be safe to prepare after this time if kept properly frozen).
To Prepare From Frozen: You can air fry frozen sausage balls directly from your freezer. Shake the fry basket every 5 minutes and extend baking time as needed (usually just a few extra minutes) until internal temperature reads 165F.
Store leftover, prepared sausage balls by keeping in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat by microwaving for 15-20 seconds or in your air fryer at 325 for a few minutes (check often). Reheating using the air fryer will result in the best texture.Print
Air Fryer Sausage Balls
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 30 balls 1x
This recipe is for a batch of classic, simple sausage balls with one twist: they're made in the air fryer! Air frying creates a deep golden and extra crunchy exterior. Give it a try!
- 1 pound ground sausage (hot, mild, or sage)
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese from the block
- 2 cups baking mix (Bisquick)
- Up to ¼ cup milk, any kind
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sausage, cheese, and baking mix. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of milk and mix with clean hands. Mixture should hold form but not be too sticky or dry. Drizzle in extra milk as needed.
- Set out a sheet of wax paper on counter top. Form mixture into walnut-sized balls and place onto paper.
- Set air fryer to 325F and let it preheat for 5 minutes. Place a batch of sausage balls inside, leaving a little room between each one so that the air flow can reach all sides of the balls.
- Air fry for 10-12 minutes or until deeply golden and a probe thermometer reads an internal temperature of 165F. Air fryers vary in how well they hold temperature, so your fry time may vary.
- Transfer cooked sausage balls to a clean baking sheet to cool and repeat air frying steps with remaining uncooked balls.
Instant Read Thermometer: seriously, I didn't know I was missing this thing in my life until I got one. No more over or undercooked food!
Power XL 7 qt Air Fryer: A good mid-sized easy-to-use air fryer.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Category: Starters
- Method: Air Fryer
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