2 types of hearty bread, browned sausage, onions, celery and fresh herbs pair up with tart bite sized apples and dried cranberries to make this stuffing our favorite Thanksgiving side dish!
Thanksgiving is never complete without some kind of stuffing either stuffed into a turkey, baked in the oven or prepared in a slow cooker. We here at Happily Unprocessed like stuffing that has a lot of flavor and this recipe is full of apples, cranberries, traditional herbs and spices, and delicious sage sausage checking all those boxes.
I know how hard wired traditional family recipes can be. Straying away from your grandmothers stuffing can be difficult, if not impossible in some families. If it reassures you in any way, I have been making this stuffing for close to 20 years now.
This stuffing recipe is a TRIED AND TRUE recipe. If you don’t give it a try on the most stressful holiday of the year I understand. But just give it a try.
TYPE OF BREAD AND PREPPING
- WHITE BREAD – forget the Wonderbread or the lower priced white breads. They will become pure mush. This recipe calls for a hearty, thicker white bread to stand up to all the chicken broth.
- WHOLE WHEAT BREAD – same idea. Skip the $1.00 bread and get something hearty.
- PREP – About 4 or 5 days before Thanksgiving I sit down on the couch with a very large roasting pan or a store bought aluminum pan and I start breaking up the bread into smaller pieces. I place the pan in a warm place, usually on top of my fridge or in the oven. Just remember it’s in there!
- Every few hours, or when you remember, give it a good stir allowing the bread to become stale. Again, every day or so continue to break the bread down into all different sized pieces.
- Do you have to do this? No. You can also bake the bread at a very low temperature until it stales.
STEPS IN ORDER:
The stuffing begins on the stove, but finishes up in the oven or your turkey, sometimes both.
- Before cooking, be sure all the ingredients are cut into SAME size pieces. This is important to ensure even cooking. Once that’s done, begin by sautéing the onions and celery in the butter in a LARGE skillet.
- Add and break up the sausage. I use fresh SAGE sausage from my butcher. If you absolutely cannot find it, then you can add dried sage at the end, but it is worth trying to find it.
- Add the fresh herbs and stir to combine. Fresh herbs make all the difference in this stuffing recipe. The ones used here can be bought in a bundle pack.
- Once the spices are evenly distributed and their oils have been released, add the apples, cranberries and more butter. To be honest I think I’ve used every apple imaginable. This stuffing recipe is super forgiving so if you hate Granny Smiths then don’t use them. Just be sure the apples are diced very small.
- Add the chicken stock and give this all a nice stir. The sausage is nice and browned, the apples have slightly soften and released their sweet juices, the spices will continue to blend through.
- Take this off the stove and pour it over the stale bread. Have a little reserved chicken broth waiting on the sidelines in case you need it. Stir – stir – stir !
If there are no dark meat lovers in your family or you’re not desperately attached to making a full 15 lb turkey this Thanksgiving, skip all the work and make a turkey breast instead. You will be blown AWAY by how moist and succulent this turkey comes out with our slow cooker recipe.
And let’s not forget the OTHER sides:
- Our green bean recipe, Not Your Mama’s Green Beans, has been a reader favorite since 2012!
- Not all Sweet Potato Casseroles need to be filled with brown sugar and marshmallows. We heathified it.
- Potato Gratin Dauphinoise sounds fancy and complicated, but it’s nothing more than thinly sliced potatoes with caramelized onions and roasted garlic.
Can I Make Modifications/Additions?
- Instead of pork sausage, try turkey sausage or Italian sausage.
- Add some nuts for texture and crunch like pecans or walnuts.
- Change it up with Sourdough bread.
- Add some mushrooms.
- Instead of onions, try leeks.
- Raisins or currants can replace the dried cranberries.
- If you are baking this, PLEASE keep a watchful eye on this.
- If you are using a store bought aluminum foil pan this can easily burn as it is very thin. Place it on a baking sheet to prevent burning.
- Take the stuffing out every so often and stir it. If it needs more liquid, add some stock. The important take away is don’t let it dry out too much or it will burn.
- 6 Cups Bread (4 Cups Whole Wheat, 2 Cup White)
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 ½ Cups Onion, diced finely
- 1 Cup Celery, diced finely
- 1 lb Ground Pork Sausage with sage (If you can’t find ground or it comes prepackaged in a casing, remove the casing first)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons Parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- Freshly ground Black pepper
- 2 Apples, cored and diced into small chunks
- 1 Cup Dried Cranberries
- 4–5 Tablespoons Butter, melted
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock
NOTE: Starting a few days before making this stuffing, break the bread up into bite sized pieces in a very large baking dish. Place in a warm place, uncovered and stir every so often to ‘stale’ the bread.
- Place the stale bread in a very large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté them for about 2 minutes just to soften them. Add the sausage. Break the sausage up as it cooks. Once the sausage is cooked and thoroughly broken up, add all the spices. Stir to combine.
- Add the apples, cranberries and melted butter. Add the chicken stock and stir until well combined.
- Pour this over the stale bread and stir using a large spoon.
- Stuff the turkey and cook according to the turkey’s directions.
TO BAKE THE STUFFING:
- Cover the stuffing with foil and bake in a preheated 350°F oven on the middle rack for 40 minutes, checking and stirring often.
- Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH STUFFING: