Other side dishes may come and go, but no holiday meal is complete without stuffing. Sausage Stuffing is the savory (with just a hint of sweet) companion your turkey has been waiting for. This traditional cubed-style dressing bakes on its own (for those literally not stuffing it into a bird) and is a total make-ahead time saver for those with a lot of meal prep.
This is a safe space, right? Good. Because I have a confession. I didn’t need to create a new stuffing recipe this year. I’ve been eating the same Thanksgiving stuffing for years. I adore my mom’s recipe (and also love the spinoff I created), but honestly, I just really want to eat a literal metric ton of stuffing this holiday season.
So, I figured, what the heck. We have a million variations on ice cream, cookies, and chips, why not have that for everyone’s favorite side dish, stuffing?
The Most Flavorful Sausage Stuffing Recipe
Confession number two: I am always surprised by how many… boring stuffing recipes are out there. I’m not hating on the classic, but we can go beyond white bread, celery, onion, broth, butter, seasoning.
While yes, those are all the basest basic of base ingredients for stuffing, my heart is absolutely breaking for people who may have never experienced the magic of add-ins. Clearly this is a first world problem, but I feel strongly that we need to ramp it up and, as the saying goes, “Treat Yo Self!”
If you haven’t yet veered from the classic bread stuffing, take this opportunity to indulge. The additions of apples, sweet italian sausage, and fresh sage make for a welcoming twist to an old favorite with a sweet-savory flavor combo that will absolutely have you reaching for seconds.
- Stuffing Cubes: we make our own using sourdough, but feel free to use Italian bread, French bread, or your favorite. Day-old is best, but you’ll dry it out in the oven no matter how fresh it is, so don’t worry too much on that point.
- Italian Sausage: sweet italian pork sausage works best for this recipe. Bulk sausage is easier to work with, but if you can only find links, simply snip away the casings using kitchen shears and crumble by hand before adding to the skillet.
- Butter: opt for unsalted butter so that you can season to taste
- Onion: use a sweet (vidalia) or yellow onion
- Apple: use any variety you like! We like fuji or honeycrisp, but really any good crisp apple is fine.
- Fresh Sage: fresh really is best for this recipe; if fresh is unavailable, substitute 1 tsp dried sage.
- Dried Parsley
- Eggs: eggs act at the binder that keeps the sausage together.
- Chicken Broth: or stock; boxed is perfectly fine. Use low or no sodium so that you can easily adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Salt and Pepper
How to Make Sausage Stuffing
If you’re a stuffing pro, there aren’t too many deviations from the classic methodology. I do prefer to make my own bread cubes, but if you’re a store-bought kind of gal or guy, do your thing.
- Dry the bread cubes. Slice the bread into cubes of preference (chunky or small) then spread evenly over a baking sheet. Bake until the cubes are dry and lightly golden brown.
- Cook the sausage in a large pan, breaking into small pieces with a wood spoon. Remove the sausage using a slotted spoon and add to a large bowl with the bread cubes.
- Saute onions and celery. Melt the butter in the rendered sausage fat; add the onions and celery, and saute until soft.
- Add apples and garlic. Saute briefly, just 2 minutes.
- Add herbs and seasonings – fresh sage, dried parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Add the vegetables to the sausage and bread cubes and toss until well combined.
- Whisk eggs with broth and pour into the stuffing. Add more broth as needed until the bread cubes are soft and evenly moist.
- Transfer the stuffing into a greased casserole dish.
- Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes, then uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Must Know Tips
- Use a large skillet – at least 12″ – to brown the sausage and saute the vegetables.
- Sweet italian sausage is the goldilocks ingredient in this recipe. Spicy italian sausage doesn’t quite blend with the sweet flavors in the rest of the dish, and breakfast sausage is (in my opinion) simply too sweet.
- Thinly slice the apples. This will give you the best texture for the rest of the dish.
- Feel free to use store-bought stuffing cubes, just avoid the pre-seasoned stuff.
- Chunky or small, it’s up to you! I like chunky stuffing. If you prefer a finer texture, cut the bread cubes smaller.
What’s the Best Sausage to Use?
Stick with mild or sweet Italian sausage. Definitely go bulk if you can get it to save some hassle, but you can certainly get links and use a pair of kitchen shears to remove the casing. You just want to make sure it’s crumbled by the end of cooking.
Can I Make Stuffing Ahead of Time?
Yes! Prepare your stuffing through Step #7 and let it come down to room temperature in the mixing bowl. Once it’s cooled, cover/seal tightly (to avoid moisture loss) and store in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours until you’re ready to bake.
How Much Chicken Broth Do I Need for Stuffing?
*drags out soap box* Ahem… In my humble opinion, the number one mistake you can make with stuffing is adding too little or too much broth. Too much and you’ve got a soggy mess. Too little, and you’ve got dry stuffing.
If you look at most recipes for stuffing (or dressing), the amount of chicken broth listed is typically a range, and that’s because it’s a pretty flexible measurement based on the bread base you’ll use.
Oven dried bread cubes, especially store-bought ones, will require more broth than stale, air-dried bread cubes you make at home.
Start with 3 cups of broth and add more as needed. You’ll want to add the broth then give the stuffing a really good toss. The bread should be evenly moistened and should absorb all of the liquid. If the bread is still dry in places, add more chicken broth.
Once you’ve added more and tossed well, if there is still some liquid left in the bottom of the bowl, you’ve added enough. If the cubes are soaking wet, you’ve added too much. The key is to start small, then add a little bit more until you’ve reached the right balance – remember, you can always add more.
Make It Your Way
- Replace the apples with ½ cup dried cranberries for a tarter stuffing.
- For more intense apple flavor, add ⅓ c chopped dried apples in addition to the fresh apples.
- Swap the sourdough with cornbread, rye bread, or your favorite bread. Just be aware you may need to dry denser or cakier breads for longer.
- Don’t have fresh sage? Sad, but totally fine. Try an equal amount of fresh chopped parsley, or swap for 1 tsp dried sage.
More Classic Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Green Beans Almondine
- Honey Cornbread
- Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- Easy Glazed Carrots
- Honey Roasted Carrots
- Maple Roasted Root Vegetables
- Green Beans with Bacon
Did you make this Sausage Stuffing with Apples and Sage? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 1 loaf sourdough bread, or 8 cups unseasoned stuffing cubes
- 1 lb bulk italian sausage, or links, casings removed
- 6 tbsp butter, plus more for greasing
- 1 large sweet onion, diced to ½”
- 2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium apple, cut into eighths and thinly slices
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 3-4 c chicken broth
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish with butter.
- Cut or tear the bread into 1” (or smaller) pieces and spread evenly over a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through, or until the bread is dry and lightly golden brown. Transfer the bread cubes to a very large mixing bowl.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and break into pieces with a wood spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, 8-10 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer the mixing bowl with the bread cubes.
- Add the butter and heat until it melts then foams. Add the onion and celery and toss to coat in the fat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 7-8 minutes.
- Add the apples and garlic; saute, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the sage, parsley, salt, and pepper and saute, stirring frequently, 1 minute more.
- Scrape the vegetable mixture into the mixing bowl, then toss with the sausage and bread cubes until well combined.
- Whisk the eggs with 3 cups chicken broth until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the bread mixture and toss. Add more broth as needed, a quarter cup at a time, until the bread cubes are evenly moistened and soft and very little liquid remains at the bottom of the bowl.
- Transfer the stuffing to the greased casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10-15 minutes more, until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
- Make-ahead: prepare the stuffing through step 7. Transfer to the casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil. Place in the fridge for up to 24 hours, then bake as directed.