Cooking with Lou

Hungarian Sausage Balls: A Family Christmas Specialty

– Posted in: Pork

Growing up, my parents entertained quite a bit. It wasn’t  Christmas until my father would make a giant batch of Hungarian sausage balls.  By giant I really mean giant. The mix of ground pork, beef and lamb would fill a wash tub my mother used to bath us in when we were babies. My guess is about 30 pounds of ground meat. During the summer my mother canned a chili sauce  (recipe is included, but is actually from the Ball Blue Book first published in 1913) that would cover the sausage balls.  By New Year’s Day, they would all be gone!

I’ve made this just about every year since leaving home back in 1972. I’ve modified the mix, changed the sauce, but I’ve always had sausage balls every Christmas. This year, in honor of my father, who passed away in November, I made a huge batch of the Hungarian sausage balls and followed Dad’s recipe exactly. However, I didn’t make 30 pounds, only about 5.

Paul Leidel’s Hungarian Sausage Balls


First, it is important to buy good quality meat without a lot of fat. I use a 90/10 ground chuck or sirloin for the beef. For the ground pork, honestly, I use what ever is in stock, just make sure it is unseasoned fresh ground pork. Lamb does not contain a lot of fat anyway, so I buy what I can find. Between the low fat beef and lamb and the fat content in fresh ground pork, the fat content works out just about right.

Recipe for Hungarian Sausage Balls
  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 4 tablespoons good quality Hungarian Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard (do not substitute with wet mustard)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper.
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder (NOT garlic salt) (You can decrease the amount of garlic, if you’re not a big fan of garlic, but use at least 1 tablespoon.)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs. I used panko crumbs, because that’s what I had.

Yields 36 to 40 sausage balls.  (More or less depending on the size you make them.)

Hungarian paprika is not hot. It is a smokey sweet pepper flavor. If you want to add some kick, you could add some cayenne pepper or chipotle or red pepper flakes. Add as little or as much as you see fit.

Let the meat warm up to room temperature. This helps mixing the ingredients together easier. Beat the eggs before adding to the meat. Add all the spices and bread crumbs. Mix together with your hands. Don’t stir, just fold the meat over the spices until all the ingredients are evenly mixed together. Put the finished mix into the refrigerator for an hour or more. This allows all the seasonings to meld together.

To make the balls, simply grab approximately a tablespoon size wad of the meat mixture and using the palms of your hands, role around until you have a ball the size of a golf ball. When they cook, they will shrink to the size of a ping pong ball.  You want them to be bite size or two bite size, depending on how you serve them. I serve them with toothpicks.

on baking rackhungarian Sausage balls Place each ball on a baking tray that has a rack. Make sure you leave space between each. This helps them to drain off all of the excess fat. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.


Remove from oven and and baking rack. When completely cooled you can store in baggies, or plastic containers until you are ready to serve. I divide mine up into different size packages to match the number of people I’m going to serve at each event.hungarian sausage balls



When it’s time to serve, pour over a pint of chili sauce and warm them up. You can use the microwave, but I prefer to warm them in the oven at 250 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. You don’t want to cook the sausage any more…just warm them up. A crock pot is perfect for this task and to keep them warm through out your gathering.

For the chili sauce there are some good ones in most grocery stores, but the best chili sauce is what my mother made at the end of each summer from the peppers in our garden.

Here’s the recipe she used.





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