What are Little Smokies?

B. Miller

Little smokies are small cocktail sausages sold in pre-packaged bags. The most well-known brand is Lit'l Smokies®, made by Hillshire Farms, though of course other brands are available inside and outside of the United States. They can sometimes be found in different flavors, including cheddar or chipotle pepper, but are generally made of beef and/or pork and have a smoked flavor. Little smokies are high in protein but are also high in sodium.

Little smokies are often served as appetizers.
Little smokies are often served as appetizers.

These sausages, essentially little hot dogs, are easy to heat up and enjoy as an appetizer or snack. To enjoy them plain, they can be boiled for two to four minutes, baked in a pan in a 350ºF (177ºC) oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or cooked in the microwave for four to five minutes. Little smokies can also be added to other recipes for flavorful appetizers.

Little smokies are in essence small size hot dogs.
Little smokies are in essence small size hot dogs.

Most people have heard of "Pigs in a Blanket," a popular recipe in which a hot dog is wrapped in biscuit dough and baked. You could make pigs in a blanket with little sausages as well. An easy trick is to use Pillsbury® crescent rolls to wrap the little smokies. Some people suggest adding cheese or even bacon to the wraps, but that is a matter of preference.

Little smokies are easy to heat up and enjoy as an appetizer or snack.
Little smokies are easy to heat up and enjoy as an appetizer or snack.

It is not difficult to add even more flavor to little smokies to serve them as appetizers. Many recipes suggest adding brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, pepper and onion to a pan and letting the mixture simmer with the smoked sausages for ten to fifteen minutes. Another option is to place the sausages in the crock pot with some barbecue sauce for a few hours.

One way to cook little smokies is to put them in a crock pot with some barbecue sauce.
One way to cook little smokies is to put them in a crock pot with some barbecue sauce.

If you want an even spicier appetizer, add a few drops of Tabasco sauce or some horseradish to the sausages. If you aren't in the mood for a spicy snack, adding lemon juice, pieces of orange or chunks of pineapple adds a sweeter taste that is quite different. You could also make kabobs out of little smokies, layering vegetables or fruit on a kabob stick and grilling or baking them. Marinating the kabobs first in a sweet or spicy marinade of your choosing would give them a great flavor.

Some people use yellow cheddar or another mild cheese to top little smokies.
Some people use yellow cheddar or another mild cheese to top little smokies.

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Discussion Comments

@stl156 - I like it when little smokies are mixed together with baked beans, but not everyone else does this, as there are people out there that like little smokies, but not baked beans.

I really think that the best thing about little smokies is they are a type of finger food that one can have a contest with if people really do not want to stuff themselves.

I know that one time I was at a friend's house and we were having an eating contests, like the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition, but we were using little smokies instead of hot dogs to mock the tournament and keep in the spirit of the silly night.

Going along with this competition I think that that people like to eat a lot of these because they tend to hold a lot of flavor the way they are cooked. That being said, I would really like to try some more flavors of little smokies, and I am unsure of what other types of flavors there are out there.

@Izzy78 - That is an interesting theory, but it wold make perfect sense because in appetizers there usually almost always needs to be one hot meat dish available and being as small and as easy to make as they are, little smokies fit the bill perfectly.

I will have to say that one of my favorite things to eat are pigs in a blanket and there are all kinds of things a person can do with the bread that is available.

Another thing that can be done is to mix the little smokies in a pot of baked beans and allow for these two to be served together.

The best thing about this dish is that if someone merely wants to eat the little smokies on their own they could easy pour the batch on their plate and pick out the little smokies with a toothpick.

This is what I usually do when I make baked beans and it has always seemed to go over well with people.


@TreeMan - That does sound like a very unique type of recipe and I may have to try it sometime at my next get together.

One thing that I think makes little smokies so popular is that besides being easy to cook they are usually the only meat dish involved in the appetizers, so that means that if someone wants to eat meat they are going to have to eat these little smokies.

I know that this is definitely not always the case, but it seems like whenever I go somewhere that has little smokies, and not a lot of food available, they seem to be the only hot meat item on the menu.

I do not know if this is done on purpose, or simply just a case of people taking advantage of the easiness it really is to create such a dish seeing they need to put meat on the menu somewhere.


I have to say that if someone is not really looking to make a lot of food for a get together, little smokies are the best things they an possibly make, because there are a lot of different recipes for them.

One recipe I had once involved putting cinnamon on the little smokies after they had been cooked and lathered in barbeque sauce.

I would have never thought that this type of combination would have went well together, but I was sure wrong as these little smokies turned out to be the most popular thing that was available to eat and it took the littlest amount of effort.

The hardest part was in fact just finding a crock pot to put them in and the smokies simply seemed to cook themselves.


@Oceana – I've never made them, but I have had them prepared that way. I just don't like sweet little smokies, though.

To me, if you are cooking little smokies, you need to honor their inherent flavor. You shouldn't go trying to change them. If you don't want to eat them for how they taste, then you should eat something else, in my opinion.

So, I only like them when they are wrapped in biscuit dough and baked. I don't like the barbecue variety, because this is also too sweet for me. When I want little smokies, I want them to taste like meat, not dessert.


Has anyone here ever cooked little smokies with grape jelly? I love doing this, because you get an appetizer that is super sweet yet salty at the same time.

The recipe I use calls for barbecue sauce, grape jelly, pineapple preserves, and apple butter. There is a ton of sweetness going on here, and only something as salty as a little smokie could balance it out.

I think that their sodium content is the reason that the recipe uses so many sweet ingredients. It's impossible to totally camouflage the salty taste, but you can balance it out if you add all this sweet stuff to it.


The barbeque little smokies are so delicious! Every year at my aunt's holiday gathering, she will have a huge pot full of little smokies coated in barbeque sauce. She keeps them hot, and they are gooey on the outside, but they pop open pleasantly when you bite into them.

I've never asked her how she makes them. I always just assumed she dumped a bottle of barbeque sauce in the pot with them, but after reading this article and seeing the mention of cooking them with brown sugar, I think that she may have added more than just the sauce. They always do have a distinct sweet flavor, and come to think of it, the taste does resemble that of brown sugar.


Just reading about little smokies is making me drool! I generally only eat these at Christmas parties, but I look forward to it all year.

At least one person at every party will use little smokies in pigs in a blanket. If I ever go to a party where no one has brought these, I will make it a point to bring them myself the following year.

I like using canned biscuit dough instead of crescent rolls as the blanket, though. I just prefer the flavor of buttermilk biscuits with the smokies over the extra buttery taste of the crescent rolls. That dough just leaves a weird coating on my tongue, but the biscuit dough is the perfect complement to a little smokie.

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