Today I’m making a rew recipe, “Cajun Boudin Balls.” It is one of the newest trends in Cajun cuisine. This tasty appetizer is made by breading and frying Cajun boudin sausage. They are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Typically, some sort of dipping sauce is served wtih the appetizer. Boudin Balls have become a craze over the past several years and now the appetizer has a place on about every restaurant menu featuring Cajun food. It is easy to make “Boudin Balls” at home. You just need to find boudin sausage!
If you take a driving trip across Louisiana on Interstate 10 through the Cajun part of the state, numerous billboards pop up along the route with messages to exit and get your boudin sausage here. So, take a road trip! Boudin sausage can be mail ordered as well as made at home for folks who are not planning to trek across Louisiana. However, I wouldn’t substitute another style of sausage — this one is totally different. I am enjoying these savory, little treats — it is worth the effort — and I see why they have become so popular.
About Boudin Sausage
Boudin sausage is truly unique to the Cajun part of Louisiana. The sausage is made of ground pork, pork or chicken livers, rice and Cajun seasonings. A defining feature is that the ingredients are cooked prior to being stuffed into the sausage casings. When making this appetizer, no need to worry about cooking the pork thoroughly as the sausage filling is already cooked. Another interesting feature of this sausage is that it contains rice in the filling. For boudin ball appetizers, simply remove the casing, shape into balls, roll in breading and fry till crispy.
Over the years – in the 1980’s and 1990’s — boudin evolved. Boudin means “blood sausage” in French (actually, boudin noir). Originally, boudin was made by individual Cajun families when hogs were slaughterd. No part of the hogs were left to waste. This sausage was made using the blood of the hogs in addition to ground meat and the pork livers. Today, because of health concerns, it is deemed too risky to use blood in the sausage. Boudin is still largely made by individual Cajun families with their own, unique recipes. But, rest assured, blood of the hog is no longer an ingredient. However, it is not uncommon to find historical references to this style of sausage, so I add this trivia as a point of reference. Typically, chicken livers are substituted for pork livers in boudin or this ingredient is omitted entirely.
The town of Scott, Louisiana, is deemed the “Boudin Capital of the World.” (This is a designation given by the legistature in 2012.) Recently, the town had a “Boudin Festival” where you could taste many types and styles of boudin. According to our Advocate newspaper, one manufacturer reports that he produces 15,000 pounds of boudin a week!
Introduction to “Boudin Balls”
I first learned about “Boudin Balls” five years ago when I worked for a home health agency. The patient/clients were scattered throughout a 50 mile radius of Baton Rouge. So, we made home visits to clients south of Baton Rouge, deep in the swamps and bayous. We also drove north to the very rural pine forest terrain close to the Mississippi State border. There was very limited cell phone service and GPS out here! I loved my weekly drives through the countryside of Louisiana. Here a land owner planted a pine tree grove in rows, spacing them four feet apart. This served as my que that the client’s home was coming up. (No GPS service at this home–we used paper maps!). Hey, we’re in Louisiana.
One of my wonderful co-workers discovered a smokehouse in the St. Francisville area which is in the most northern part of our territory. After making his home visits, he’d stop for lunch. Soon he began to bring “Boudin Balls” back with him to staff meetings. We had never heard of these savory treats but quickly learned to enjoy the appetizer. And that was how I was introduced to “Boudin Balls” five years ago. Now, they are everywhere.
Making Boudin Balls
The flavor of the Boudin Balls really depends upon the brand of sausage used. You just have to experiment to find one you like! If you don’t have access to boudin sausage, it can be made at home by simmering chunks of pork shoulder in seasonings and liquid until tender. Add in chicken livers, if desired, and balsamic rice at the end of cooking. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Grind the cooked pork. Mix back in with the cooked rice and enough of the reserved liquid to bind the sausage filling. Exact proportions can be found in recipes on the internet.
Boudin Balls are found in all sizes and they can contain different flavor profiles. I’ve seen small ones — the size of a walnut — to very large ones — close (not quite) to the size of a tennis ball. Some are stuffed with cheese for a variation. The boudin balls are always breaded and fried. That is what makes this appetizer tasty — a crispy outer crust and soft, flavorful filling. It is much easier to handle the sausage filling if the boudin balls are small. I’ll keep these to about two packed tablespoons per ball which is 1-3/4″ to 2″ in diameter.
For my boudin balls, I’m using Savoie’s Classic Boudin. The Savoie’s Cajun Company is located in Opelousas, Louisiana, and this meat packer has been around for 60 years. It has retail business throughout Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi and farther with national retail chains such as Walmart. It is still operated by the Savoie family.
To made boudin balls, split the sausage links lengthwise and remove the casing. Slice and then crumble the sausage. Press into balls, using your damp hands. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight. Chilling the balls helps them stick together.
The difficult step — as always — is achieving a breading that adheres to the sausage filling when they are fried. I use three breadings “stations” for my recipe. Here are the ingredients for my breadings. I add salt, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper to flour for the first breading station. The second “station” is an egg wash (egg mixed with water). For the third “station”, I combined plain bread crumbs and panko crumbs, mixing in more garlic powder, onion powder, salt and cayenne powder. Actually, the spices can be omitted from the last bread crumb “station.” The spices here just give a little more “zip” to the boudin balls. I like panko bread crumbs because they give “crunch” to the boudin balls.
When ready to fry, remove the chilled balls from the refrigerator. First, roll the boudin balls in the seasoned flour, next in the egg wash and lastly, roll the balls in the mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs. Press the bread crumbs/panko crumbs into the balls with your hands. If a ball crumbles, just press it into a ball again. The boudin balls may be either refrigerated for a second time or fried immediately.
Fry at 350 degrees until the breading is crispy and brown. I added about one inch of peanut oil to a 7″ diameter heavy, cast iron skillet for frying. My prefered type of oil is peanut oil, but canola oil and vegetable oil work, too. If desired, use a deep fat fryer when frying a large batch of boudin balls. The balls only have to fry for one or two minutes to brown the bread crumbs. (The filling is already cooked.)
Serve the Boudin Balls with a Spicy Mustard Dip. I made a simple dip by mxing mayonnaise and Spicy Creole Mustard. Ranch Dressing Dip or Remoulade Sauce will complement the boudin balls, too.
This tasty little appetizer is really quite simple to make. Getting the boudin balls to stick together is tricky, but refrigerating them prior to breading and frying helps. “Boudin Balls” are still somewhat of a novelty here in Louisiana. So, for a special occasion — impress your family and friends — by making these treats yourself! Enjoy.
Note: I made these little appetizers earlier in the day, refrigerated them and then re-heated several minutes in my air fyer until hot. Go air fryer!
Cajun Boudin Balls with Spicy Mustard Dip
- 14 oz package Boudin sausage (may increase to 16 oz)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1 tsp garlic powder, divided
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp cayene pepper, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs, more if needed
- peanut oil or vegetable oil for deep frying (about 3 to 4 cups or more if using deep fat fryer)
- Spicy Mustard Dip or other dip, for serving
- parsley, garnish, if desired
Method and Steps:
- Make a long, narrow cut in the sausage lengthwise and remove the sausage casings. Discard casings. On cutting board, slice sausage. Use a fork to crumble filling Transfer the filling to a large bowl.
- Working in batches, scoop out heaping 2 Tbsp of the sausage filling and press and shape into a ball using your wet hands. Press firmly, especially if the filling is dry and crumbly. If the filling is sticky, you may need to rinse your hands after every several balls. Transfer boudins to a tray and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes to overnight.
- If a shallow bowl, mix the flour, and half of the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and cayene pepper. In a second shallow bowl, whisk the egg and water together. In a third shallow bowl, mix the remainder of the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and caynene pepper with the plain bread crumbs. Then add in the panko bread crumbs. Transfer about half the panko/bread crumb mixture to a plate. (Refill plate as needed during the breading step.)
- Remove the boudin balls from the refrigerator. Dredge the boudin balls in the flour mixture, gently toss until fully coated. Then dip in egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Place in panko/bread cumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere. (If any of the boudin balls fall apart, simply press back into a ball.) At this point, boudin balls may be refrigerated again for 30 minutes to overnight, or continue to frying.
- When ready to fry, pour oil into a 7″ diameter heavy cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven to the depth of 1 inch and heat to 350 degrees. Use a thermometer to adjust temperature of oil and keep constant.. Alternatively, add oil to deep fat fryer to depth recommended in manufacturer’s instructions and heat to 350 degrees.
- Slide some of the boudin balls gently into the heated oil and fry until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn over, and fry on second side. Remove from the oil with slotted spoon and transfer to tray lined with paper towls. Continue until all are fried. Cool briefly.
- Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve warm with Spicy Mustard Dip or other dip.
Spicy Mustard Dip
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp Creole mustard or spicy brown mustard
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
Method and Steps:
- In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise Creole or spicy brown mustard and cayenne pepper (optional) and crushed garlic clove (optional).
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.