This rye bread, sausage and cranberry stuffing is the perfect balance of savory and sweet. I like my stuffing cooked outside the bird because crunchy crouton topping is what’s up. Plus then I can justify serving a second type of stuffing, because yes – I just love stuffing that much.
Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite eating holiday of the year and the reason is stuffing.
I. Love. Stuffing.
Sometimes in college I would make a batch of stuffing and eat it for dinner, just because I could. In fact, I am eating a bowl of leftover stuffing smothered with gravy while I write this post.
We always bake at least one extra batch of stuffing* for Thanksgiving dinner because (1) there can never be enough stuffing; (2) crunchy croutons are the bomb; (3) I love stuffing so much that sometimes I want two totally different versions. Is this what they mean by “cook smarter, not harder”? If so I’m all in.
Today’s edition is a spin off of my mom’s sausage and cranberry stuffing. Rye bread croutons pack a savory punch and bring another layer of depth to an already nearly perfect recipe. The caraway seeds from the rye are perfect companions to the fennel seeds in the Italian sausage. Cranberries bring a sweet, tart finish, and fresh herbs keep everything tasting, well, fresh.
*Stuffing…dressing….whatever. It’s all delicious.
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How to Make Sausage and Cranberry Stuffing
The very first step is obviously to get your bread nice and dry. I stick my bread in the fridge for a few hours to get it firm, which makes cubing into 1″ pieces a breeze. After that, spread the rye bread cubes onto a baking sheet (or two) in a single layer and dry ’em out in a 400* oven for 15 or so minutes.
The sausage and cranberry stuffing base starts with salty, savory mild Italian sausage. Remove the casings, crumble it up, and get it nice and brown.
Transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl with a slotted spoon, and then soften the vegetables in the sausage fat. I chop my vegetables on the smaller side so that they sort of melt into the stuffing. Then add the herbs and the cranberries and a splash of wine wine….
Then scrape it all into the mixing bowl with the sausage and croutons, and douse it with some chicken broth whisked with an egg.
Spread the stuffing into a casserole dish, cover with foil, and let those flavors soak in for a good long while in the fridge – at least an hour, but preferably overnight. You want the croutons to fully absorb all of the liquid before transferring to the oven.
When you’re ready to bake, pop the sausage and cranberry stuffing into a 375* oven with the foil still in place for about 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and let it cook an additional 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender below.
BOOM DELICIOUS. What’s you’re favorite Thanksgiving stuffing flavor combo?
More Thanksgiving Recipes
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipe inspiration? I aim to please. Check out some of my favorite recipes for the holiday season:
- Honeynut Squash Rice Pilaf
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Roasted Fennel Salad with Apple and Radicchio
- Maple Bourbon Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon
- Carrot Apple Soup with Pecans and Thyme
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Sausage and Cranberry Stuffing with Rye Bread
I always serve two versions of stuffing at Thanksgiving - one cooked outside the bird, and one cooked inside because I LOVE stuffing. This sausage and cranberry stuffing (or dressing) is my favorite outside-the-turkey recipe.
- 1 loaf rye bread diced into 1" cubes
- 2 tbsp butter divided
- 3/4 lb mild Italian sausage casings removed and crumbled
- 1 large sweet onion diced to 1/2"
- 2 medium celery ribs diced to 1/4"
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped sage
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme
- 1/2 c dried cranberries
- 1/2 c dry white wine
- 1 egg
- 2 c chicken broth
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400*. Grease a 9x13” casserole or baking dish with 1 tbsp butter.
Spread the rye bread cubes across a sheet pan and place in the oven to toast, stirring occasionally, until completely dry and lightly golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the croutons from the oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Heat a 10” cast iron skillet oven medium high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and heat until the butter foams. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is crispy and no longer pink, 7-8 minutes. Remove the sausage using a slotted spoon and add it to the mixing bowl.
Add the onions and celery to the cast iron skillet and saute in the rendered sausage fat, stirring occasionally, until soft, 7-8 mins. (Note: if you have too much fat remaining, drain all but 1 tablespoon).
Add the chopped herbs and cranberries to the skillet and cook an additional 1 minute. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine stops bubbling, 1 minute more. Scrape the vegetable/herb mixture into the mixing bowl with the sausage.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the chicken broth, salt, and a pepper. Pour the broth/egg mixture over the stuffing mixture, then toss until well combined.
Pour the stuffing into the buttered baking dish, scraping the bowl completely with a rubber spatula, and smooth into an even layer. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and refrigerate for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375. Transfer the foil covered stuffing to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
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