Air Fryer Little Smokies for Ultimate Game Day Snacking!

One of my favorite easy appetizers are little smokies. They’re tiny, cocktail sausages that are perfect for parties, game day, and just as a snack. These air fryer little smokies are the perfect preparation, offering a sweet and savory combination and the perfect snap!

how to cook little smokies in the air fryer dinners done quick

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Little smokies sausages are a crowd pleaser, meaning that they’re perfect any time you’re entertaining. Not only are they tasty, but they’re also filling!

Instead of taking up a crockpot or oven space, you can make them in the air fryer instead. They come out juicy, caramelized, and with the perfect casing snap you’ll love.

holding up an air fried little smokie on a toothpick

I like to make my version with barbecue seasoning instead of barbecue sauce. This keeps them from dripping all over with sauce! The great part, though, is that you can easily adapt the recipe to anything you like, so if you love that saucy stuff, go for it!

What You’ll Need: Ingredients

ingredients to make air fryer little smokies
  • 14-ounce package cocktail sausages (such as Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies)
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp barbecue seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • Any brand of cocktail sausages works fine. Hillshire Farms is pretty common, but Eckrich is another popular brand. These are not the same as cocktail wieners, which are small hot dogs. Check out my recipe for Air Fryer Cocktail Franks if that’s what you’re looking for
  • The brown sugar may be swapped for honey, maple syrup, or apricot, peach, or grape jam if preferred
  • Any dry barbecue seasoning or rub works great. I’m using McCormick Grill Mates Barbecue Rub. You can also use ¼ cup liquid barbecue sauce if you prefer

How to Cook Little Smokies in an Air Fryer

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the little smokies with the olive oil so they’re evenly coated
toss lil smokies in olive oil
  1. Add the brown sugar, barbecue seasoning, and garlic powder, and stir to distribute
mix and stir little smokies in sugar and seasonings
  1. Place the seasoned little smokies into the preheated air fryer basket in a single layer
place lil smokies in air fryer basket
  1. Cook on the air fry setting for 10 minutes at 350°F, pausing halfway to flip or shake the basket 
  2. Add additional time if you’d like them to be a deeper brown (but not too much as the sugar can burn)
  3. Serve with toothpicks for easy snacking
overhead view of air fryer lil smokies on a plate

What to Serve With Little Smokies

  • Cocktail meatballs
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Potato salad
  • Cucumber salad
  • Potato chips
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Root vegetables
  • Baked beans
  • Coleslaw
  • Panzanella salad
  • French toast
  • Cornbread
  • Crescent rolls
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit salad
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Barbecue sauce

There are lots of great sides, snacks, and dippers to serve with little smokies!

Try your air fryer little smokies with my easy Air Fryer Pillsbury Cornbread Swirls, creamy Air Fryer French Toast Casserole for brunch, or with a side of crispy Ninja Air Fryer Potato Chips.

Recipe FAQs

Can You Cook Smokies in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can cook smokies in an air fryer. The air fryer does a great job of delivering a crisp, browned exterior and a juicy, hot interior.

They may be cooked plain, or with the addition of seasonings or sauces.

How Do You Cook Hillshire Farms Little Smokies?

Hillshire Farms little smokies can be cooked in the microwave, oven, air fryer, crockpot, or on the stovetop.

The microwave is the fastest method, while the crockpot takes the longest.

Are Hillshire Little Smokies Fully Cooked?

Yes, Hillshire little smokies are fully cooked. The cooking process is actually just reheating them.

While they should technically be safe to eat cold, the texture isn’t desirable. For that, and for general food safety, it is recommended that you heat them before eating.

How Long to Cook Cocktail Sausages in an Air Fryer?

Generally, you cook cocktail sausages for 10-15 minutes in an air fryer. The specific time depends on your air fryer, your desired level of browning, and if you’ve added any other ingredients.

Reheated foods are recommended to reach 165°F internally for food safety, and any additional time beyond that is personal preference for caramelization.

Can You Cook Frozen Little Smokies in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can cook frozen little smokies in an air fryer. Add about 5 minutes to cooking time to account for the frozen state.

You’ll also want to pause after 3 minutes to shake the basket and break apart the frozen block of sausages so that they heat more evenly.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • This little smokies recipe is designed without barbecue sauce. If you use sauce, you’ll want to either baste the sausages or use a cake or loaf pan to prevent the sauce from getting all over the air fryer
  • Don’t worry if your sausages seem misshapen when you remove them from the package. They’ll plump up and return to a normal shape as they cook
  • The glaze will thicken slightly after a minute or two after you stop cooking them, but they will still be tacky (just not saucy)
plate full of lil smokies perfectly cooked in the air fryer

Storage and Reheating

  • Store leftover little smokies in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They should not be frozen after cooking
  • To reheat cocktail sausages, microwave on high for 3 seconds, warm in a pan on the stove, or air fry for 3-5 minutes at 350°F, until warmed through

More Air Fryer Sausage Recipes to Check Out

Final Thoughts

These air fryer little smokies without barbecue sauce are a tasty way to enjoy a less sticky version of this favorite party food.

Your air fryer does a great job of delivering caramelized, juicy sausages that are the perfect bite-sized snack or appetizer.

They’re easy to throw together and are ready in about 15 minutes, making it easy to feed your hungry crew!

how to cook little smokies in the air fryer dinners done quick featured image

Air Fryer Little Smokies Recipe (Without BBQ Sauce)

This easy air fryer little smokies recipe without barbecue sauce is a less messy version of a popular party food. They’re juicy, caramelized, and delicious!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 190 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 14 Ounce package cocktail sausages (such as Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies)
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp barbecue seasoning
  • ½ Tsp garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your air fryer to 350°F
  • In a medium bowl, toss the little smokies with the olive oil so they’re evenly coated
    14 Ounce package cocktail sausages, ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • Add the brown sugar, barbecue seasoning, and garlic powder, and stir to distribute
    2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp barbecue seasoning, ½ Tsp garlic powder
  • Place the seasoned little smokies into the preheated air fryer basket in a single layer
  • Cook on the air fry setting for 10 minutes at 350°F, pausing halfway to flip or shake the basket
  • Add additional time if you’d like them to be a deeper brown (but not too much as the sugar can burn)
  • Serve with toothpicks for easy snacking

Notes

  • Any brand of cocktail sausages works fine. Hillshire Farms is pretty common, but Eckrich is another popular brand. Note that these are not the same as cocktail wieners, which are small hot dogs
  • The brown sugar may be swapped for honey, maple syrup, or apricot, peach, or grape jam if preferred
  • Any dry barbecue seasoning or rub works great. You can also use ¼ cup liquid barbecue sauce if you prefer
  • This little smokies recipe is designed without barbecue sauce. If you use sauce, you’ll want to either baste the sausages or use a cake or loaf pan to prevent the sauce from getting all over the air fryer
  • Don’t worry if your sausages seem misshapen when you remove them from the package. They’ll plump up and return to a normal shape as they cook
  • The glaze will thicken slightly after a minute or two after you stop cooking them, but they will still be tacky (just not saucy)
  • They’re delicious on their own, but I often serve ketchup or barbecue sauce as dippers for my lil smokies
  • Store leftover little smokies in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They should not be frozen after cooking
  • To reheat cocktail sausages, microwave on high for 3 seconds, warm in a pan on the stove, or air fry for 3-5 minutes at 350°F, until warmed through
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand and flavor of ingredients, any sauces or sides added, and quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 56gCalories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 6gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4.6gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 588mgPotassium: 24000mgSugar: 5.8gVitamin C: 1.2mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1.3mg
Keyword air fryer cocktail sausages, air fryer little smokies, beef little smokies recipes, cooking lil smokies, lil smokies, lil smokies air fryer recipe, little smokies, little smokies recipe without bbq sauce, ninja air fryer little smokies
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how to cook little smokies in the air fryer dinners done quick pinterest
Katie Vine