Grilled Little Smokies - Sausage on the Grill

I know, I know. I’ve eaten thousands of little smokies in my time, so how can I say they suck? If you think they are a fantastic appetizer then by all means click the back button and continue living in bliss. They’re consistent, easy and edible, but by no means anywhere near a great appetizer. Mini hot dogs simmering in a crock pot of brown, molten goo.  Every single little smokey I’ve ever had tasted exactly the same, yet I am compelled to spear a few of those globs meat with a toothpick anytime I pass the crock pot, despite the fact that they look very similar to terrier turds.

I decided to tackle this tragedy plaguing Super Bowl Parties all around the country. From sea to shining sea, these boring mini dogs would grace plates next to the Mexican seven layer dip, guacamole, bowls of chili, bratwursts, and such. It’s crime that we feel compelled to eat these things year in and year out. Well, I’ve had enough. The following write up is what I brought to the Thomas Family Super Bowl party this year.

I will be grilling the meat, but it will all still go into a crock pot full of oozing goodness. You didn’t think I would go with some simple BBQ sauce did you? I’ll be kicking the sauce up as well.

Little Smokies Sauce Ingredients:

3 cups BBQ sauce
2 cups cider vinegar
4 tbsp of apricot preserves
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp chipotle Tobasco sauce
1 tsp chipotle powder
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp granulated garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp paprika
10 turns each of black and white pepper

Grilled Little Smokies - Sauce Ingredients
Sauce Ingredients

Nothing to this. Combine all the sauce ingredients in the crock pot, turn up to high and stir thoroughly once it gets warm. When it simmers, turn it down and you have a somewhat thin BBQ sauce with a nice combination of heat and sweet.

Now to the meat.

Grilled Little Smokies Meat Ingredients:

26 ounces of smoked beef sausage (two 13 ounces packages)
36 ounces of turkey hotdogs (three 12 ounce packages)
Your favorite rub (pictured is Riley’s Cajun Seasoning)

Yield: Plenty for an appetizer at a Super Bowl Party

Grilled Little Smokies - Meat Ingredients
M E A T ! ! !

You didn’t think I was going to use those little terrier turds for my Super Bowl party appetizer, did you? But wait. One of the only good things about little smokies is that they are finger food (with the help of a toothpick). Nobody’s scooping a foot long beef sausage out of the sauce and plopping that bad boy onto a paper plate. Hang with me, here. I’ll get to that part.

One note, that’s actually 48 ounces of turkey dogs in the picture. I made four packages, but it was a little too much for the sauce to submerge it all so the ingredients only list 36 ounces. If you go with four packages of dogs, I would add maybe a hearty beer to the sauce like a stout or even better, chocolate stout.  Also, all natural beef dogs are an excellent substitute, if not better than turkey dogs. But these are pretty healthy and were on sale!

Take all the hotdogs and slice them lengthwise and place sliced side up on a cutting board and then dust with the rub on the flat side:

Grilled Little Smokies - 19
Sliced Dogs
Grilled Little Smokies - 22
Rubbed Dogs

I didn’t bother rubbing the rounded sides with the casing as I felt most of the rub would slide off. Now repeat with the smoked beef sausage:

Grilled Little Smokies - 25
Rubbed Sausage

But wait, that’s still not toothpick size. Not yet it isn’t. I said to hang with me.

Now prepare the grill. I set up my Char-Griller Akorn for two zone grilling (one side with coals and one without) simply because that’s the way it was configured the last time I grilled. It would’ve served me better had I been able to use the whole grill surface. So I suggest using the entire grill instead of half as this part will take the longest with only half a grill. I also tossed a chunk of hickory into the grill to add some smoke.

Place the beef sausage rubbed/flat side down on the grill right over the hot fire. The meat is already cooked. All we’re looking to do is get some sear marks to caramelize both the proteins and the rub (AKA flavor town). This will also release some of the fat and make this dish healthier:

Grilled Little Smokies - Sausage on the Grill
Is there anything better than sizzling sausage?

This only takes a couple minutes for the meat to get sear marks. I rotated them 45 degrees after a couple minutes so I could get wonderful cross hatch grill marks:

Grilled Little Smokies - Grilled Sausage
Sizzled Sausage
Grilled Little Smokies - Cross hatched
Some more Cross Hatch Goodness

Remove the grilled sausage from the heat, slice into bite size chunks and put into the sauce. Then go to work on the hotdogs, although trying for cross hatch grill marks is asking a little much with small hot dogs. Just get some browning action on the rubbed side. Again, these are already cooked when they come out of the package.

As you can see in this pic, I have one batch grilled and nicely browned (left), one on the heat (middle) and another batch waiting on the cutting board (right):

Grilled Little Smokies - Hot dogs on the grill
Dogs on the Grill

When all the grilled hot dogs are browned on the rubbed side, remove from the heat, slice in half to get to finger food size and slide into the BBQ sauce concoction:

Grilled Little Smokies - In the crock pot
In the Crock Pot

One of the great things about this grilling recipe is that I made the sauce, prepped the meat, grilled everything, and had it all in the BBQ sauce in the crock pot well before I had to be at the Super Bowl party. I was able to let all the flavors meld while I got ready for the party. And boy did they meld. Plenty of smoky seared goodness with a nice amount of sweet and a little heat.

If you have any questions about the above appetizer and please feel free to comment below or email me.

If you liked my little smokies that do not suck and would like to see other grilling recipes of side dishes and appetizers, click here.

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Little Smokies that do not Suck
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
Instead of little smokies, I grilled beef sausage and turkey dogs to make some little smokies you'd be proud to serve
  • 3 cups BBQ sauce
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of apricot preserves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp chipotle Tobasco sauce
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 10 turns each of black and white pepper
  • 26 ounces of smoked beef sausage (two 13 ounces packages)
  • 36 ounces of turkey hotdogs (three 12 ounce packages)
  • Riley’s Cajun Seasoning
Sauce Instructions
  1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a crock pot and turn to high
  2. Stir till blended and reduce to a slow simmer
Meat Preparation
  1. Slice the sausage and hot dogs lengthwise down the middle and place on a cutting board cut, or flat, side up.
  2. Cover the flat side with the rub
  3. Prepare the grill for medium high to high heat grilling
  4. Sear the sausage first, flat side down until meat is browned
  5. Remove from heat, cut into bite size chunks and insert into the sauce
  6. Repeat for the hotdogs
  7. After browned, cut the halves into quarters and place into the sauce
  8. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes so the flavors meld in the sauce
  9. Serve

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool - #GrillPorn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
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