The classic comfort-food appetizer gets healthy with a whole-grain add.
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

There's little wonder why sausage balls are a surefire success at any fall gathering—mix cheese and sausage together with a little biscuit mix, and voilà: savory holiday or tailgating crowd-pleasers ready in less than half an hour. They're a hostess's dream, undeniably addictive. Before you know it, one 80-calorie bite (with nearly 200mg sodium) becomes two, then three, then four … It would sure be nice if you could have two for the calorie cost of one.

We tweak a lot of things to make over a recipe, but one thing is for sure: We don't like to mess with simplicity. Maintaining a short ingredient list and 30-minute-or-less time frame was a must for this appetizer. Traditional sausage balls use a premixed boxed baking product—a combination of flour, leavening, salt, and shortening, a known source of trans fats. We turned to trusty whole-grain quinoa. When cooked, this gluten-free, salt-free grain binds our reduced-fat sausage and cheese beautifully and keeps this party app light and fluffy. A little cornstarch helps lock in the melty cheese for extra moisture. A five-ingredient make-ahead sausage and cheese–filled bite with half the calories, fat, and salt makes for a happy hostess and a healthier gathering. Party on.

122 calories per serving
3.6 grams sat fat
265 mg sodium

85 calories per serving
2.1 grams sat fat
175 mg sodium

View Recipe: Cheesy Sausage Balls