Tennessee Pride sausage balls are a popular pre-made frozen appetizer item found in many grocery store freezer sections across the United States. They are small bite-sized meatballs made from Tennessee Pride pork breakfast sausage that are coated in a southern-style biscuit dough.
Sausage balls are a quintessential southern finger food often served at potlucks,tailgates, holidays, or other gatherings. They are easy to prepare, transport, and serve to a crowd. Some key questions surrounding Tennessee Pride sausage balls are whether they are already pre-cooked and ready to heat and serve or if they require a full cooking in the oven from frozen. This article will dive into those questions in detail.
About Tennessee Pride Sausage Company
Tennessee Pride Sausage is a brand of pre-cooked breakfast sausage products owned by Sara Lee Foods. The company was founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1941 by Will Horne. The company expanded into a large manufacturing and distribution facility in Nashville and then grew to over 500 employees by the 1960s under leadership of Roy Horne, Will’s son.
In 1989, the Tennessee Pride company was acquired by the Consolidated Foods Company, which later changed its name to Sara Lee Foods. Under Sara Lee’s leadership, Tennessee Pride continued expanding distribution and became one of the most popular pre-cooked sausage brands in America.
While Tennessee Pride originated in Tennessee, their products expanded nationwide and the sausages are now produced in facilities in Iowa and Kentucky to distribute to all areas of the U.S. Their sausage biscuit and sandwich products are staples that can be found in many diners and fast food restaurants. They also produce a number of popular pre-packaged, pre-cooked sausage products for consumers like links, patties, bacon, and sausage balls.
Tennessee Pride’s Pre-Cooked Sausage Process
All Tennessee Pride sausage products, including their sausage balls, start with raw pork and spices. The raw sausage mixture is fed into industrial food processing equipment to be cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 160°F. This high internal temperature ensures any harmful bacteria is killed and the sausage becomes fully cooked.
Once cooked, the sausages are immediately chilled to below 40°F then packaged into various retail products while still cold. This pre-cooked chilling and packaging process allows the sausages to be shelf-stable and safe without requiring refrigeration. It also enables a significantly longer shelf life compared to raw fresh sausages.
Are Tennessee Pride Sausage Balls Fully Pre-Cooked?
The Short Answer
Yes, Tennessee Pride sausage balls are fully pre-cooked during manufacturing and safe to eat without any additional cooking. However, for best flavor and texture results, the sausage balls still benefit from a brief baking, frying, or heating step before serving.
While Tennessee Pride sausage balls contain pre-cooked sausage, they actually have two main components:
– Pre-cooked pork sausage
– Uncooked biscuit dough surrounding the sausage
The pork sausage balls are already fully cooked to a safe internal temperature by Tennessee Pride before being encased in raw biscuit dough and freezing. However, the biscuit dough itself does require baking for food safety reasons, to set the dough, and to achieve the intended texture.
Most of the cooking instructions for Tennessee Pride sausage balls direct you to bake them directly from frozen. This finishes cooking the biscuit dough, crisping up the exterior to golden brown, and heating the interior sausage through. But the interior sausage was already fully pre-cooked during manufacturing.
So in summary:
– The pork sausage is 100% pre-cooked.
– The biscuit dough is uncooked and raw.
– Baking is required to cook and set the dough, as well as to heat and crisp the sausage balls before eating. The baking process essentially “reheats” the pre-cooked sausage.
For food safety, follow the heating instructions on the Tennessee Pride sausage balls package. This will fully bake the biscuit dough and heat the interior sausage through to steaming hot.
However, for best texture and flavor results, here are some tips:
– Oven – Bake frozen sausage balls at 375°F for 18-22 minutes
– Deep fry – Fry frozen sausage balls at 350°F for 2-3 minutes
– Griddle – Heat frozen sausage balls on a greased griddle for 4-6 minutes per side until heated through
Microwaving is not recommended, as it produces a dough texture that is dense and rubbery compared to the light, flaky results from baking or frying.
Here are the nutrition facts for Tennessee Pride sausage balls according to the package labeling:
|Per 1 sausage ball (28g)
As you can see, a single sausage ball contains 90 calories and 5g of protein. The sodium content is a bit high at 230mg per ball due to the seasoned sausage.
A serving size is typically 4-5 sausage balls. So a full serving would contain 360-450 calories and 20-25g protein. These make a filling and protein packed appetizer or light meal.
Tennessee Pride sausage balls contain the following ingredients:
– Corn syrup solids
– Sodium nitrite
– Enriched bleached wheat flour
– Vegetable shortening
– Baking powder
– Leavening (sodium aluminum phosphate, baking soda)
The sausage itself contains pork that is pre-cooked along with curing agents like sodium nitrite for preservation. The biscuit dough relies on chemical leaveners like baking powder and baking soda to rise when baked.
Tennessee Pride sausage balls contain the following major food allergens:
– Wheat – from the enriched bleached wheat flour in the biscuit dough
– Milk – from the milk in the biscuit dough
They do not contain any soy, eggs, shellfish, fish, peanuts, or tree nuts. The sausage balls do contain pork. So those with pork allergies or following religious dietary laws restricting pork should not consume Tennessee Pride sausage balls.
Overall, the main allergen is wheat from the biscuit dough surrounding the pork sausage balls. Anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should avoid Tennessee Pride sausage balls due to the wheat-based biscuit dough. Those with dairy allergies should also exercise caution due to the milk ingredients.
Cost and Availability
Tennessee Pride sausage balls can be found in the frozen appetizer or breakfast sections at most major grocery stores in the United States. They are produced by a large national manufacturer, making them widely available at retailers where Tennessee Pride sausage products are sold.
A typical package contains 12-16 frozen pre-made sausage balls for around $3-4. Sometimes they are sold in larger bulk packages for big family packs or special sales promotions.
Here are some typical places Tennessee Pride sausage balls can be purchased and average prices:
|$8.98 for pack of 32
As you can see, prices are fairly consistent among major national retail chains, usually averaging about $3-4 for a package of 12-16 sausage balls. Even the bulk pack prices at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club break down to a similar per-unit price. So Tennessee Pride sausage balls provide an affordable appetizer or breakfast option at around $0.25-0.30 per sausage ball.
Storage and Shelf Life
Tennessee Pride sausage balls are shipped and sold frozen. For peak freshness and shelf life, they should remain frozen until ready to use.
If left continuously frozen at 0°F, the sausage balls will maintain quality for approximately 6-9 months past the production date printed on the package.
Once thawed, Tennessee Pride sausage balls should be eaten within 1-2 days and not re-frozen. Refrigeration can help extend the shelf life for 3-5 days after thawing.
Here are some freezer storage tips:
– Keep frozen until ready to use
– Do not store at temperatures above 0°F
– Use within 6-9 months for highest quality
– Thaw overnight in refrigerator before cooking
And refrigeration guidelines:
– Refrigerate thawed sausage balls covered up to 3-5 days
– Eat within 1-2 days for best texture and flavor
– Do not re-freeze after thawing
Proper frozen and refrigerated storage will help maintain the safety, taste, and texture of Tennessee Pride sausage balls. Thawing too slowly or re-freezing can cause a loss of quality.
How to Make From Scratch
While the convenience of pre-made Tennessee Pride sausage balls is appealing, some people may want to make them completely from scratch.
Here is an easy sausage ball recipe to prepare your own at home:
– 1 lb Tennessee Pride or other raw pork breakfast sausage
– 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
– 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
– 1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine Bisquick, shredded cheese (if using), milk, and sausage. Mix by hand until a dough forms.
3. Roll mixture into 1-2 inch balls using a small cookie scoop or spoon. Place on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
This easy from-scratch version allows customizing flavors with different sausages, spices, cheeses, etc. Homemade also avoids any preservatives or stabilizers from the pre-made commercial version.
The benefit of Tennessee Pride sausage balls is the convenience – no mixing, scooping, or baking required. But homemade can be more economical while allowing flavor creativity.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Tennessee Pride sausage balls:
Are there any vegetarian Tennessee Pride sausage balls?
No, Tennessee Pride does not make any vegetarian version of sausage balls. Their products are made from pork and would not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, it’s possible to make homemade vegetarian “sausage” balls using meat substitutes like soy protein crumbles.
Are Tennessee Pride sausage balls gluten-free?
No, they contain wheat flour in the biscuit dough surrounding the sausage. So they are not gluten-free.
Can you cook Tennessee Pride sausage balls in an air fryer?
Yes, air fryers can produce nice crispy sausage balls without the need for oil. Cook at 370°F for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway. This gives a similar result to deep frying.
Do Tennessee Pride sausage balls need to be refrigerated?
They do not require refrigeration while frozen. But once thawed, they should be eaten within 1-2 days and kept refrigerated no more than 3-5 days. Do not re-freeze after thawing.
Are there any coupon codes or discounts for Tennessee Pride sausage balls?
Tennessee Pride does not offer any coupons specific to the sausage balls. However, you can sometimes find discounts at retail stores through weekly circular sales, loyalty programs, or mobile apps. Walmart and Food Lion routinely discount frozen appetizers including sausage balls.
Tennessee Pride sausage balls provide a convenient pre-made finger food option for any occasion. While the pork sausage interior is fully cooked, the biscuit dough does require baking before eating. With just a few minutes of preparation, you can enjoy hot, crispy, fluffy sausage balls without all the work of making them from scratch. Just be sure to follow storage guidelines to keep them fresh and use by the best by date on the package. Grab a bag of Tennessee Pride sausage balls from your grocer’s freezer section next time you need an easy appetizer for a crowd.