These irresistible BBQ little smokies are an easy appetizer that is family-friendly and made with almost zero prep. Whether you’re making this recipe for a party, a cozy dinner, or a fun family night these sweet and saucy little smokies are guaranteed to disappear from the slow cooker in no time.
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Table of Contents
Why We Love Slow Cooker BBQ Little Smokies
- Delicious Classic Recipe – My mom would make this easy BBQ little smokies recipe when I was a kid, usually at Christmas or New Year’s Eve, or while we played board games as a family. These sausages are a crowd pleaser for sure, and are perfect for any occasion. They are especially great for a game day table for tailgating!
- Quick To Prep Recipe – This slow cooker BBQ little smokies recipe is so quick to pull together. This is pretty much a set it and forget recipe, which is perfect when you are short on time.
- Kid Friendly – Once my kid ate one of these mini sausages, she kept coming back for more! This appetizer is pretty kid-friendly, and the whole family will love this recipe.
Ingredients For Crock Pot Little Smokies
- 14-ounces miniature smoked sausages – Several brands make mini sausages called little smokies (also called lil smokies,) but any smoked sausage can work in this recipe as long as it’s about 12-14 ounces. Sometimes they are also called cocktail sausages, and they are the same sausages often used for pigs in a blanket. See further down the article for more substitution ideas for the sausage.
- ¾ cup BBQ sauce I used Sweet Baby Ray’s but you can use your favorite BBQ sauce or use a BBQ sauce you have on hand.
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard – this gives a bit if a tangy flavor, and is a lot tastier than using yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
How To Make Little Smokies
- Add the little smokies (or smoked sausage) into the bottom of your slow cooker. Place BBQ sauce, honey, dijon mustard and brown sugar on top. Stir and close the slow cooker.
- Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours or cook on high heat for 1-2 hours. Then flip the crockpot to warm, stir to combine the sausage with the sauce, then serve and enjoy. You can serve this quick and easy appetizer recipe with toothpicks or just eat them with forks. It’s also fun and easy to eat them with tiny cocktail swords, at least that’s how I remember my mom always serving them to feed a crowd!
Meat Variation Recipe Tips
If you can’t find the mini smoked cocktail smokies you can use any smoked sausage. This includes beef or pork, smoked kielbasa, polish sausage, smoked chicken sausage (try chicken apple sausage!), smoked turkey sausage, or even a spicy smoked andouille sausage. If using a large sausage just cut up the links into rounds that are about a half-inch thick.
I have not tried recipe variations with the meat alternative sausages for vegetarians, so let me know if you try it. It should work as long as the sausage is smoked and already cooked.
Sauce Variation Recipe Tips
You can also use the same sauce I use for my slow cooker cranberry meatballs recipe over the sausages which gives them a fun flavor twist at the holidays. It’s also a great way to use up some cranberry sauce, and BBQ sauce can be swapped for the sweet chili sauce. You can also make this recipe with the sauce for grape jelly meatballs.
If you like a little bit of a kick you can some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. I’d start with 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Sriatcha is also delicious in this recipe.
A 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce can add a bit more savory flavor to the little smokies sauce if you have it.
Garlic powder or minced garlic can be added to the sauce. I typically still with a clove or two, which is about 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, or half a teaspoon of minced garlic. This gives some good garlic flavor without overpowering everything with garlic.
Can I Make These Sausages On The Stove Top?
Sure you can make these sausages a little faster if you heat on the stove than in the crockpot. Add all of the ingredients to a pot over medium heat. Cover and cook until everything is warmed through and the sausages are warm in the middle, about 15-20 minutes. I sometimes do this if I am making the sausages last minute.
Often I will still transfer the sausages to the slow cooker even if I make them on the stovetop. This allows the sausages to stay warm while we enjoy them.
I will usually start heating the slow cooker on high heat when I start cooking the sausages. By the time I add the sausages the machine is already warm. I’ll then flip the slow cooker to warm once the machine is warm enough to keep the sausages warm. Then everyone can grab a toothpick to enjoy a little smokie from the crockpot.
What To Serve With Little Smokies
If you are serving these as an appetizer, they go great with cheesy appetizers. Try the cheesy baked spinach dip, homemade pepperoni rolls, or even a side of crock pot queso. For a cold appetizer that goes together well, try these little smokies with creamy ranch cold veggie pizza or seven layer dip cups.
To make these little smokies for dinner you can pair them with rice, mashed potatoes or crispy baked potato wedges. Round out the dinner with some honey roasted baby carrots which goes with little smokies well.
Can I Make These Sausages Ahead?
Yes you can put the ingredients in the crockpot, then keep in the fridge until you are ready to warm them up.
How Long Will BBQ Lil’ Smokies Last?
You can leave the sausages on the warm heat setting in the slow cooker for 3-4 hours. When serving these crockpot BBQ little smokies, make sure to keep the heat set to at least warm, and to cover them with the lid. This keeps the heat to a food-safe temperature.
When a slow cooker is more full with liquid, like with a slow cooker chicken noodle soup you can leave the machine on warm for 4-6 hours as long as it stays covered most of the time. Since these little smokies don’t fill the slow cooker though 3-4 hours is a better rule of thumb for food safety.
Expect leftovers of these smokies last in the fridge for 4-5 days if stored in a covered airtight container. Leftovers also freeze well. You can reheat the leftover cocktail sausages in the microwave easily.
Slow Cooker BBQ Little Smokies
- 1 slow cooker You can use a 4 or 6 quart slow cooker for this recipe. I don't recommend using an 8 quart slow cooker unless you are doubling or tripling the recipe.
- 14 ounces miniature smoked sausages
- ¾ cup BBQ sauce I used Sweet Baby Ray’s
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Add the little smokies (or smoked sausage) into the slow cooker. Place BBQ sauce, honey, dijon mustard and brown sugar on top. Stir and close the slow cooker.
- Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours or on high heat for 1-2 hours. Then flip to warm to serve and enjoy.