No winter season is complete without it. Sometimes it's the star, and sometimes it's something to forget. Let's make stuffing memorable with this classic sausage stuffing recipe. We mix sausage, sage, onions, celery, and throw in some apples and cranberries for contrast in taste, color and texture.
When it comes to stuffing, for me it's all about the sausage: rich, meaty and spicy; vegetarians can use plant-based sausages to good effect. Add some sweet, tart and subtly crunchy fruit to balance everything out. And of course, finish it with a crispy golden top and a perfect buttery texture.
It's all about easy! We use a pre-made bread mix, which saves a lot of time. About 15 minutes over the stove, and then it's into the oven and your work is done.
Stuffing vs Dressing
While stuffing is technically for actually stuffing inside the bird (which I haven't done for years), it's actually "dressing" when it is baked on its own. But most people just say stuffing, so that's what we're doing, as dressing usually refers to what we put on salads.
Ingredients You Will Need
- Stuffing Mix (or bread) - My favorite stuffing mix: Boudine Organic Sourdough. The size of the bread cubes is a little larger than some, which makes for a great texture. It is available online and often at Costco. Also good is the Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix.
- Sausage - Go with sweet Italian, and try to find bulk sausage without the casings, as this will save you a step. You can ask your butcher for some. Breakfast sausage also works great. To go vegetarian, you can also use a plant-based Italian sausage. Just dice it up as the texture is different.
- Onions & Celery - Adds the savory.
- Apples - Go with Granny Smith for their tart flavor.
- Herbs - Fresh sage and thyme.
- Dried Cranberries - Optional, but adds a little sweet/tart and a lovely pop of color to the mix. Just soak them in some hot water before adding to the mix.
- Turkey or Chicken Stock - Homemade stock is best, but quality low-sodium store-bought works, too.
Boxed Stuffing Mix vs Homemade
I always use a pre-made stuffing bread mix, as it's easier and usually tastier than doing it yourself. There is quite a bit of extra work that goes into stuffing when you go the homemade route for the bread. The bread needs to be cubed and dried in the oven.
If you choose to use bread rather than a package, go with white or sourdough bread that is more of a sandwich bread rather than an artisan loaf. Sandwich bread is softer and more absorbent. Artisanal sourdough bread will not only be difficult to cube, but it will have a somewhat tough texture that can overpower the delicate stuffing.
Stale bread vs oven-dried bread? Dry bread is key since we're adding liquid that needs to be absorbed. Old stale bread that seems dry actually isn't as dry as it is when you dry it in the oven, so it won't taste or feel right. Whether using fresh or stale bread, dry it out in a 225° F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Tools & Equipment Used
- Large 12" skillet or sautee pan
- 9x13" baking dish
- Baking sheet pan for drying the bread (if not using stuffing mix)
- Aluminum foil
How to Make It - Step by Step
Tips for Success
- Use store-bought stuffing mix. It is as good, and in many ways better than slicing and drying bread yourself.
- If using a loaf instead, dry cubed bread out in a low oven as opposed to leaving it out to get stale.
- Don't actually "stuff" your turkey with stuffing. Why?
- A stuffed turkey takes much longer to cook.
- The interior of the stuffing has to reach 165° F to be safe, which can often lead to an overcooked, dry bird.
- The stuffing itself will likely absorb too much liquid from the turkey, and end up gummy and gross.
- Instead of stuffing, you can (and should) put aromatics like onions, lemon and bay leaf into the turkey cavity to give it a flavor pop.
- Be sure to brown the sausage, as this will add a lot of extra flavor to the stuffing
- Can be made in advance and reheated in the oven to crisp up the top. Pour about ¼ cup of stock over the stuffing to keep it from drying out, and put it in a 350° F oven until the internal temp reaches 165° F.
More Delicious Holiday Recipes
- Green Beans
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Pumpkin-Pecan Bread Pudding
Sausage Stuffing Recipe
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 24 oz sweet Italian sausage removed from casings
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 cups diced celery ¼" dice
- ¼ teaspoon Diamond kosher salt plus more as needed
- 2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples
- 1 cup dried cranberries soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
- 4 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs such as sage and thyme
- 3 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock
- 24 oz (8 cups) bread stuffing mix such as Boudin or Pepperidge Farm
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, breaking it apart with the back of a wooden spoon until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the diced onions and celery with Kosher salt and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until the onions are softened and translucent.
- Add the apples, soaked cranberries and chopped herbs. Stir to combine then add the stock, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat, stir in bread stuffing mix. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. If the stuffing is too dry, add more stock.
- Transfer to a buttered 9x13" baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until internal temp reaches 165° F. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Enjoy!
- If you make this in advance and need to reheat, pour about ¼ cup of stock over the stuffing to keep it from drying out, and put it in a 350° F oven until the internal temp reaches 165° F.
- Homemade stock is best, but quality low-sodium store-bought works, too.
- To go vegetarian, you can use a plant-based Italian sausage (dice it up as the texture is different) and veggie stock.