Perfect for game day or any party, these Crock Pot Kielbasa Bites are a simple mix of sliced Kielbasa sausage slow-cooked to perfection in a sweet and savory seasoned BBQ sauce. They're the ultimate crock pot appetizer, quick to prepare, and irresistibly delicious!
When it comes to making easy appetizers, the crock pot is your best friend! Not only does a slow cooker infuse tons of flavor into your food, but the vessel itself is great for serving because it keeps everything warm and delicious. For special occasions, my go-to appetizer is Crock Pot Little Smokies, but this recipe gives a unique twist on a classic using Kielbasa!
Crock Pot Kielbasa Bites
Kielbasa is a type of Polish sausage known for its smoked overwood flavor and its blend of spices. Unlike cocktail franks, which are smaller and often made from a mix of meats, kielbasa is usually larger, comes in long ropes, and is typically beef-based. Polish sausage effortlessly adapts to the role of a bite-sized appetizer when sliced and slow-cooked, absorbing the rich BBQ sauce and spices, making it an excellent substitute!
The sauce's mixture of sweet and savory flavors makes this kielbasa bites extra tasty. The sauce for these kielbasa bites mixes sweet BBQ sauce and brown sugar with savory Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. This combination perfectly matches the smoky kielbasa, with the sauce's sweetness enhancing the meat's deep flavors. The sauce thickens and sticks to the sausage as it cooks, giving each bite a deliciously rich glaze!
Why You'll Love This Crock Pot Recipe For Kielbasa
- Easy prep: Slice the kielbasa, mix the sauce ingredients, and let the slow cooker do the heavy lifting.
- Sweet and savory: The rich blend of sweet and savory sauce ingredients ensures these kielbasa bites are a hit with guests of all tastes.
- Fits any occasion: Perfect for any occasion, from game day parties to easy snacks.
- Make a large batch: This recipe can be adjusted to serve a small or large group.
- Warm serving: The slow cooker keeps the kielbasa bites warm throughout your party, making the perfect bite any time.
Ingredients For Crock Pot Kielbasa
- Sliced Kielbasa - The star of the dish, this popular Polish sausage brings a smoky, rich flavor to the bites. For best results, slice the sausage ¼-inch thick for the perfect bite-size piece.
- BBQ Sauce - Adds a tangy, sweet base to the sauce, enhancing the dish's overall flavor. Feel free to use any brand you like. Sweet Baby Rays is a popular choice for its balance of sweetness and spice.
- Brown Sugar - Contributes to the sauce's depth by adding a molasses sweetness that caramelizes beautifully, giving the bites a glossy finish.
- Worcestershire Sauce - Brings a savory umami flavor to the sauce, cutting through the sweetness and balancing the smoky sausage.
- Seasonings (garlic powder, onion powder, paprika) - These spices add layers of flavor, with garlic and onion powder for aromatic depth and paprika for a mild, smoky heat.
How To Make Slow Cooker Kielbasa Bites
Prepare the kielbasa: Use a sharp knife to slice the kielbasa into ¼ inch-uniform slices. Place the sliced meat at the bottom of the slow cooker.
Whisk the sauce: In a separate bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, brown sugar, and spices with a whisk until fully incorporated. Pour the sauce over the sliced kielbasa in the crock pot.
Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top and cook on LOW for 2-3 hours or until the meat is fully warmed through and a thick glaze is created.
Warm and serve: Turn your slow cooker to WARM while serving. Serve hot alongside toothpicks. Enjoy!
Tips For The Best Kielbasa
- Cut the kielbasa into uniform slices to ensure even cooking and consistent flavor.
- Set your slow cooker to low to gently cook the kielbasa bites instead of high. This preserves their tenderness, prevents them from drying out, and keeps the sauce from burning.
- Halfway through the cooking time, gently stir the kielbasa bites to ensure all pieces are evenly coated with the sauce.
- If the sauce seems too thick, add a tablespoon of water or apple juice to thin it slightly without diluting the flavor.
- 'Keep the slow cooker on the''warm' setting once the cooking is complete to keep the kielbasa bites at the perfect temperature for serving.'Keep the slow cooker on the 'warm' setting once the cooking is complete to keep the kielbasa bites at the perfect temperature for serving.
- Serve the kielbasa bites with toothpicks or small forks to make them easy for guests to enjoy.
Flavor Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute brown sugar with honey or maple syrup for a different type of sweetness that complements the smoky kielbasa.
- Add a spicy kick by mixing in a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce to the sauce mixture.
- Swap beef kielbasa for turkey or chicken kielbasa to lighten the dish, adding less fat and calories.
- Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the sauce, adding a complementary tangy flavor.
- Stir in a half cup of pineapple chunks during the last hour of cooking for a sweet and tangy Hawaiian twist.
- Use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika to amplify the smoky flavor.
- Blend in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard into the sauce, adding depth and a mild tangy heat.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Place any cooled leftover kielbasa bites in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing: Cool the kielbasa bites completely before transferring them to a freezer-safe bag or container. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheating: Thaw the kielbasa bites in the refrigerator overnight if frozen. Warm them in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add broth, water, or apple juice to the mixture if the sauce is too thick.
The kielbasa bites are done when they are heated through and the sauce has thickened slightly, usually after 2-3 hours on low in a slow cooker. The kielbasa should be tender but not falling apart, with the sauce clinging to each slice.
Browning the kielbasa is not necessary for this recipe, as the slow cooking process will fully cook the sausage. If you prefer a slightly crispy or snappy texture, you can brown the slices in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker.
It's not recommended as it can lead to overcooked sausage. The sauce is also high in sugars, which could cause it to caramelize too quickly and burn, leaving a bitter flavor.
More Easy Crock Pot Appetizers
- Crock Pot BBQ Meatballs
- Crock Pot Taco Dip
- Crock Pot Chicken Wings
- Crock Pot Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies
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Crock Pot Kielbasa Bites
- Add sliced kielbasa sausage to the bottom of a slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until well combined. Then, pour the barbecue sauce over the kielbasa sausage.
- Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours.
*Nutrition information is an estimate. It may vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact ingredient numbers, I recommend calculating them with your preferred nutrition calculator.