Learning how to cook Little Smokies is a rite of passage. Chances are pretty good that you’ve been to a game day party or a holiday potluck where someone has brought this delicious appetizer.
I am so surprised when I get emails from readers requesting the simplest of recipes.
I forget that some of you are just starting out, just learning to cook, and looking for an easy party appetizer.
The only time I've tasted these and didn't like them was when someone just dumped barbecue sauce over them. Don't do it.
Need to know how to cook Little Smokies without BBQ sauce? I've got you.
These little sausages are sweet and tangy, with a smoky and hearty flavor. And they must be the easiest appetizer ever!
The best part is you can whip up a batch in minutes of prep time with this easy recipe.
🖤 Why We Love this Recipe
Good flavor, easy prep, and low cost are some of the great features of this delicious appetizer recipe. There’s no standing over a hot stove. Just toss them in the crockpot and let them cook.
This recipe contains chili sauce to give it a bit of tang, but it isn’t spicy. The secret to the sweetness? Grape jelly.
It may sound like a unique combination, but it makes a delicious sauce for the sausages. This gives you an easy appetizer recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser, along with these crispy smoked chicken wings!
🛒 What Goes Into This Recipe
You only need three simple ingredients to make this great appetizer!
Lil’ Smokies Sausages. These tiny sausages are fully cooked and usually made with pork, chicken, or beef. This makes them a great choice for flavor, and you don’t have to worry about getting them fully cooked.
Chili Sauce. Most bottled chili sauce is a blend of tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and chili peppers. Think of it as ketchup’s zippy cousin.
Grape Jelly. No need to get the high-end jelly or jam. Any grape jelly works just fine, as it will add sweetness and thin out the chili sauce.
See the recipe card for quantities and full directions.
How to Make Little Smokies
Step 1: Prepare the crockpot by spraying the inside with nonstick cooking spray.
Step 2: Add the little smokies.
Step 3: In a separate bowl, mix together the chili sauce and grape jelly and stir until smooth.
Step 4: Pour sauce mixture over the smokies and stir to make sure all the smokies get coated.
Step 5: Cook in the crockpot for four hours on low, and give it one more stir before serving.
Serve the Little Smokies on a plate, or just place a stack of plate near them so people can grab them while they're hot.
Crank the spicy heat up or down.
The recipe here has a mild to medium heat, but you can easily adjust the spice up or down.
To make it less spicy, substitute ketchup or a savory bbq sauce for the chili sauce. To make it more spicy, add sriracha, hot sauce, or red pepper flakes to taste.
Hawaiian Style Smokies. Instead of using grape jelly, use a can of pineapple chunks in its own juice.
Drain the juice to mix with the chili sauce, and toss the pineapple chunks directly in the crockpot.
If it tastes too sweet, add soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Cranberry Sauce Smokies. Substitute a can of cranberry sauce for the grape jelly. If it is too tart, add some dark brown sugar.
This variation is a huge hit for holiday parties.
Crockpot BBQ Meatballs. The same variations that you can use with this little smokies crock pot recipe also work great with meatballs. Just make sure that the meatballs are fully cooked before putting them in the crockpot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even though you will find them in the refrigerated meat section near the hot dogs, little smokies are a sausage more like a bratwurst than they are like a hot dog.
Whether you call them cocktail weenies, cocktail wieners, cocktail franks, or little smokies, you’re talking about these little sausages that are pre-cooked and ready for the crockpot. They are also the same kind you can use for pigs in a blanket.
The little smokies sausages are fully cooked, but they do taste much better warm than cold!
💭 Top Tips
Use crock pot liners for super quick cleanup. You can find these at your local grocery store in the aisle with storage bags and plastic wrap. Put the crock pot liner into the crock pot, add the ingredients, and cook as usual. When you are done, the liner is thrown away, leaving less mess to clean up.
Running short on time? You can cook the little smokies as an easy air fryer appetizer. For the sauce, mix the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat on the stove top over medium-low heat until warmed. Cook the little smokies in the air fryer for about 6 minutes at 350, stirring halfway through.
Have leftovers? Put the little smokies with the sauce into an airtight container and refrigerate. They will last for about a week – provided they don’t get eaten first!
More Delicious Appetizers
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Little Smokies Recipe
- 1 slow cooker
- 14 oz Little Smokies
- 18 oz grape jelly
- 12 oz chili sauce
- Prepare the crockpot by spraying the inside with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add the little smokies.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the chili sauce and grape jelly and stir until smooth.
- Pour sauce mixture over the smokies and stir to make sure all the smokies get coated.
- Cook in the crockpot for four hours on low, and give it one more stir before serving.