Stuffing is one of the traditional side dishes that are a must at every Thanksgiving table. But we have to admit, we start making this dish as soon as the weather cools down each fall. This sausage stuffing makes a wonderful meal on its own–filled with veggies, sausage, and bread–we’ll even call it a healthy balanced meal. Shhh… don’t tell anyone about the stick of butter!
But seriously, this is our favorite go-to stuffing. It’s savory with herby notes and bursts of fresh flavors from parsley and cranberries. When baked in a pan, the edges become golden and crunchy while the inside stays soft. When cooked inside a turkey, it absorbs the turkey juices making it just that much more delicious!
No more boxed stuffing!
Stuffing vs Dressing. Is There Actually a Difference?
The dictionary tells us that dressing is cooked in a pan in the oven while stuffing is actually stuffed and cooked in something else. We think the dictionary is wrong. Dressing is toasted bread cubes flavored with vegetables cooked below the Mason-Dixon line. Stuffing is toasted bread cubes flavored with vegetables cooked above the Mason-Dixon line! Let us know in the comments if we’re wrong! What do you call this pan of deliciousness?
This easy stuffing recipe serves 6 - 8. If leftover stuffing is your thing, then this Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe is easily doubled. When doubling the recipe, we suggest you make it in two pans.
And if you have leftover stuffing, may we suggest these delicious options?
Stuffing Waffles. Add stuffing to your waffle iron to create a crispy stuffing waffle. Serve with savory gravy or mix together maple syrup and cranberry sauce for a sweet treat.
Stuffed Bell Peppers. Place stuffing inside a bell pepper. Top with grated cheese. Bake for a lovely main or side dish.
Thanksgiving Quesadilla. Spread leftover stuffing over half a flour tortilla. Add turkey and a bit of cranberry sauce on top of the stuffing. Pile on shredded cheese–we love a sharp cheddar. Fold in half and fry in a bit of oil until golden brown.
Potato Stuffing Cakes. Combine even amounts of leftover mashed potatoes, stuffing, and a splash of chicken broth. Form into potato cakes. Roll in breadcrumbs and fry in a bit of oil until browned.
Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwich. The traditional Thanksgiving Sandwich–layer any and all leftovers you want between two pieces of bread. Enjoy!
Bread cubes. This recipe calls for 16 cups (about 1 ½ loaves) of bread. Any type of bread can be used. We enjoy half sourdough and half cornbread. But when making this on the fly, we often use whatever leftover bread odds and ends are in the freezer.
Keep in mind when making this for Thanksgiving, you can toast the bread one or two days ahead of time.
Butter. Yup, this recipe calls for lots of butter! It’s a dish for a feast, so no apologies!
Onion. 1 cup of onion is about 1 medium onion diced. Use any white or yellow onion.
Apples. Apples may seem a bit unusual in a savory dish like stuffing. We feel they add a bit of sweetness, tartness, and crunch.
Seasonings. Poultry Seasoning brings all the classic Thanksgiving flavors of sage, thyme, and marjoram to this dish. We also use fresh parsley and Dried Lemon Peel as it brightens up this heavier dish. If you don’t have parsley, chives or fresh thyme will also work. – Or skip the fresh herbs and double the Poultry Seasoning!
Sausage. We grew up with sausage in our stuffing, and so we make our stuffing with sausage, and so it is with most traditional holiday dishes. If you feel sausage makes this too heavy, it is equally good without it. When making this dish without sausage, we add a tablespoon of Sausage Breakfast Seasoning with our Poultry Seasoning.
Cranberries. We aren’t sure why or when we started adding dried cranberries to our stuffing, but at some point we did! And it’s pretty darn tasty! And it adds much-needed color to this dish.
Chicken Stock. We’ve debated long and hard about keeping the chicken stock in this recipe. Adding chicken stock to many recipes is simply a marketing ploy to sell more chicken stock or broth. Most recipes that call for it can be made simply with water. This is a recipe where we suggest you use any chicken or turkey drippings you might have in addition to a cup of water. If you don’t have drippings, then broth or stock is actually needed to add a bit more flavor. But if you decide to use water instead–we won’t be mad!
Vegetarian Stuffing or Vegan Stuffing Options.
For a vegetarian version of this stuffing, don’t add the sausage. Instead, add a tablespoon of Sausage Breakfast Seasoning with the Poultry Seasoning.
For a vegan stuffing version of this stuffing recipe, you’ll need to skip the sausage (see above), use a vegan version of butter (we like WildBrine or Miyokos), and use water instead of chicken broth.
Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
This recipe easily becomes gluten-free by using gluten-free bread. That’s all–easy peasy.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white, cornbread, wheat, sourdough, or a combination of the above
1 tsp oil
12 ounces bulk breakfast sausage
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup onion, diced
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon Poultry Seasoning
1 teaspoon Lemon Peel
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon Pacific Flake Sea Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Tellicherry Black Pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup of dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Toast bread cubes in a single layer on 2 sheet pans for 7 - 10 minutes or until bread is toasty and crunchy,
Remove bread from the oven and place in a large mixing bowl.
Raise the oven temperature to 350° F.
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add oil to the pan. In the pan, saute sausage breaking up sausage as it cooks.
After sausage is cooked through and is no longer pink, add butter and heat until the butter has melted.
Add the onion and apples to the pan. Add ½ teaspoon salt and 5 to 6 grinds of Tellicherry Pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.
Add lemon peel and poultry seasoning to the pan. Stir well.
Stir sausage mixture into the bread cubes.
Stir in parsley, dried cranberries, and chicken stock.
Put stuffing into a 9” x 12” baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes or until browned on top and hot all the way through.
Enjoy it as a Thanksgiving side dish or as a fall meal on its own!