Clean Eating Sausage Balls Recipe

by Jimmie

Love sausage balls but hate the nitrates in sausage and the weird fats in processed baking mixes? Make sausage balls the healthy clean eating way with this recipe and tutorial.

Clean eating is a dedication to cooking with real foods and avoiding processed and artificial foods. Unfortunately many of our favorite foods, especially party foods, are laden with chemicals and preservatives added during the manufacturing process.

However, with a bit of extra effort, many of our favorite foods can be remade in a clean eating style that is healthy. "Cleaned up" sausage balls, for example, are just as delicious as the processed version made with boxed baking mix and commercially prepared sausage. And there is just a small amount of extra work on the cook's part.

Revisiting a Classic Appetizer With a Healthy Makeover

Clean Eating
Sausage Balls for Breakfast
Sausage Balls for Breakfast
Sausage Balls Ready to Bake
Sausage Balls Ready to Bake
Ingredients Ready to Mix
Ingredients Ready to Mix

Ingredients for Clean Eating Sausage Balls


  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter 
  • 1 pound homemade sausage
  • 8 ounces grated cheese
  • ½ cup water

Why Make Homemade Sausage?

You can see that my recipe for clean eating sausage balls calls for homemade sausage. Why not use store bought bulk sausage?

Simply put, commercial sausage is full of chemicals! Nitrates, known carcinogens, are used in processed meats such as sausage. 

By making your own sausage, you control what is put into it. You can also season it to your taste, making it spicier or more bland according to your preferences. 

Because the fat content of homemade sausage is much lower than that of commercial prepared sausage, do not neglect to add fat to your sausage ball recipe. The butter is essential. In fact, if you have some leftover bacon grease around, add it to your sausage ball mixture. It will add moisture and flavor to your sausage balls. (Add up to ¼ cup.)

If you don't have homemade sausage already prepared, here is my recipe. I normally make four to five pounds at a time and freeze it until I want to use it. The flavor improves with time, but you can certainly mix some up and immediately use it in the sausage ball recipe.

Simply mix the seasonings into the pork. It's very simple.

Ingredients for Homemade Sausage

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons sage
  • ½ teaspoon thyme

A Pound of Homemade Sausage

Homemade Sausage
Homemade Sausage

Steps in Making Sausage Balls

Photo Tutorial
Cut Butter into Flour
Cut Butter into Flour
Flour Mixture
Flour Mixture
Grate Cheese
Grate Cheese
Mix All Ingredients
Mix All Ingredients
Mix With Hands
Mix With Hands
Mixing Action
Mixing Action
Make Balls
Make Balls
Place on Greased Baking Pan
Place on Greased Baking Pan

Directions for Making Sausage Balls

Clean Eating, Healthy Style

The first step in making clean eating sausage balls is the flour mixture. You are duplicating the chemical laden baking mix that is normally called for in sausage ball recipes. So mix together your flours, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in cold butter with a pastry tool (see link below). You can use a fork or your hands for this step, but a pastry blender makes it easier.

Grate your cheese. Any kind of high fat cheese will work, but sharp cheddar is the traditional flavor for sausage balls. As you can see in the photos, I used a colby jack cheese. It turned out just fine but didn't have the distinctive orange tint that sausage balls normally have.

Why grate your own cheese when you can buy bagged cheese already grated? One reason is economic -- grated cheese is normally more expensive than block cheese. Another reason is to avoid the anti-caking agents that are put on grated cheese to keep it from clumping in the bag. What are those chemicals? Are they safe? The FDA says they are in safe in small quantities, but I don't see any need to take any chances. It is little extra effort to grate the cheese myself. My arms get a short workout, and I save a few cents at the checkout. Besides, I want my sausage balls to clump!

Now that you have your baking mix and sausage, you simply add in the cheese and water and mix well. This will seem somewhat dry, and you will quickly have to use your hands to mix it well. (Take off your rings first, and dive in!) As I wrote above, if you have leftover bacon grease, you can mix that in as well. Up to ¼ cup of bacon drippings will add flavor and healthy fat to your sausage balls. You can add olive oil instead of bacon grease if you feel your mixture is too dry.

When your dough is thoroughly mixed, form it into small balls about the size of meatballs. Place them on greased baking sheets. It's okay if they touch, but realize that they will puff when they bake.

The bottoms will get a crunchy texture from contact with the pan. If you like that crunchy texture, flip them over halfway through baking to get more of it on other sides of the sausage balls. 

If you feel your sausage balls are not browning sufficiently, spray (or brush) them lightly with olive oil. That helps to give that crispy outside while locking in moisture inside.

Bake the sausage balls at 375° F. If you plan to eat them immediately, bake for the full 25 minutes.

If you plan to store them, precook them for only 15 minutes. Allow them to cool before packaging in zipper top freezer bags. Freeze for up to three months. Refrigerate for up to ten days. To cook, place thawed sausage balls on greased baking sheets. Spray or brush them lightly with olive oil and bake for 12-15 minutes until heated through and golden. The oil will give them better color and a crispier texture while locking in moisture. Do not neglect that step. Refrigerating or freezing your sausage balls dries them out, so replacing the moisture is necessary.

How to Eat Sausage Balls

Sausage balls are a splurge if you are on a low-carb diet. But by using whole wheat flour, you reduce the negative impact of the carbohydrates. Plus the combination of fats and protiens with the butter, pork and cheese balance out any glycemic effect. 

Sausage balls are fantastic for breakfast. Serve with some fruit for a complete meal. They are also great on appetizer buffets. Everyone goes for the meaty snacks first!

Sausage Balls Ready to Go Into the Oven
Sausage Balls Ready to Go Into the Oven
Sausage Balls the Morning After, a Great Breakfast
Sausage Balls the Morning After, a Great Breakfast

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The zing of lemons balances the dense texture of a traditional pound cake. In this recipe, you juice and zest fresh lemons for the maximum lemon flavor.
Updated: 02/21/2012, Jimmie
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


sheilamarie on 09/20/2012

These sound great, Jimmie! Can't wait to try them!

Cheryl on 03/04/2012

OH my goodness you are just everywhere I go lately Jimmie. Clicked on a yummy looking recipe and was pleasantly surprised to see your familiar face. :) Can't wait to try these out. God bless!

TerriRexson on 01/09/2012

We had sausage balls for tea at the weekend! I had to translate to UK quantities - we weigh most ingredients, I used pork mince and I left out most of the seasoning because my kids are fussy. They were a hit! Even my younger son who doesn't really like meat happily ate them spread with cranberry sauce. And my older son and his Dad loved them.

What do you normally eat them with? Sorry, I'm not up to speed with such American delicacies!

freelance on 01/08/2012

These sound yummy! Can I make them without flour? I`m a flourless girl....

Marie on 12/31/2011

Your recipe pages are excellent, Jimmie. Best I've seen on Wizzley. I make my own burgers but I haven't yet tried sausage balls, these look great.

Jimmie on 12/30/2011

Gowriter, I guess that you could use turkey sausage or beef sausage! That would work. You would probably need to use ground beef (not ground chuck) so that you get more fat into the mix. With ground turkey, you would need to add quite a bit more fat. Turkey itself is too lean for sausage. Experiment and see what happens!

gowriter on 12/30/2011

Wow. These look good. Can you do this with Turkey and beef? I don't eat pork.

Digby_Adams on 12/30/2011

I always thought it would be harder than this to make sausage. I'll run this one past my husband. It looks the the perfect food to eat while watching the Celtics and Bruins play.

TerriRexson on 12/30/2011

I've never heard of sausage balls! But I think my kids would really like these. Packet mixes aren't so popular in the UK - I'm often surprised to see them in US recipes. It's nice to see a proper home made recipe. I'll give them a go and let you know how I get on.

Jimmie on 12/29/2011

Thanks, BusyMom and Janet.
No, I never took a photo of them cooked! It's something I have to add. We still have a few in the refrigerator. After I bake them, I need to snap a photo and edit this page. Just wanted to get this thing live. ;-)

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