Best Ever Sausage & Apple Stuffing

Okay, people – let’s talk stuffing.  Specifically, my every Thanksgiving go-to, best ever, sausage & apple stuffing.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that stuffing is my favorite dish in the entire Thanksgiving meal.  Get that boxed stuff out of here.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing

There are a few key things that make this sausage and apple stuffing better than all other stuffing I’ve made:

  • Good Quality Bread – the base of the stuffing is important, and seeking out artisan bread that has flavor on its own is key.  Think parmesan rosemary loaves or really tangy sourdough
  • Apples & Dried Fruit – a lot of stuffing is savory and nothing else, the fruit in this dish adds much needed sweetness and acidity to balance
  • Lots of Fresh Herbs – sage, rosemary, and thyme all come together to liven up the dense bread
  • Eggs – there is a debate as to whether to include eggs or not in stuffing recipes, and I am all for it.  It makes your stuffing fluffy and light

The base of this Sausage and Apple Stuffing is great bread

Best Ever Sausage & Apple Stuffing

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 14 cups cubed bread
    • About 2 loaves (minus some for eating)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, combination of sweet and spicy
  • 1 ½ bunches celery, thinly sliced
    • About 4 cups in total
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
    • About 3 cups in total
  • 2 cups chopped Honeycrisp apples
  • 2 oz mixed herbs
    • Sage, rosemary, thyme
  • ½ cup dried fruit
    • Cranberries, raisins, etc.
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tbsp butter, divided

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing

To start the sausage & apple stuffing, you first need to dry out the bread.  I’ve tried leaving bread out overnight to harden and become stale, but ultimately have found that oven drying produces the best textured bread for stuffing.

Cube the bread into bite sized pieces and bake on baking sheets at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring the cubed bread halfway through cooking.  I turn the oven off after 20 minutes and let the bread hang out in the oven while I cook the rest of the ingredients.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing

While the bread dries out, heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the hot and sweet Italian sausage.  Brown the sausage and break it up into bite size pieces, cooking for 5-7 minutes in total.  Once browned, remove the sausage from the pan and set aside on a paper towel.  Retain the rendered grease in the pan – you’ll use that cook the onions and celery in later.

Rinse the celery and cut off the ends.  I save these and the hearts in the middle to add to make a stock with the leftover turkey.  Just place the scraps in a zip loc freezer bag and keep in the freezer until you’re ready to make the stock.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Chop the celery and add it to the dutch oven with the sausage drippings over medium heat.  While the celery sautes for a few minutes, dice the onions.  Add them to the pan as well along with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and saute everything for 15 minutes or until the onions and celery have both become soft and tender.

As the onions and celery saute, scrape the browned sausage bits from the bottom of the pan to incorporate.  After the vegetables are soft, add 4 tbsp of butter to the pan to deglaze completely.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing - celery and onions

While the vegetables soften, continue prepping the rest of the ingredients.  Chop the apples into bite sized pieces, finely chop the herbs, and beat the eggs.  I like to use a mix of rosemary, sage, and thyme.  You can sometimes find this labeled as “poultry seasoning” around the holidays for exactly recipes like this.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing - honeycrisp apples

After everything cooks, get your biggest bowl to mix everything together.  This recipe makes enough for one 13×9 pan of sausage and apple stuffing plus enough to stuff a medium sized turkey, so you’ll need a big vehicle for mixing.

Add the bread, sausage, celery & onions, apples, dried fruit, and herbs to the large bowl and stir gently to incorporate.  I find it’s easiest to thoroughly wash my hands before starting and mixing by hand instead of using a spoon.  You can feel when the bread has soaked up the liquid this way, and you have more control.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing Ingredients

After mixing the dry ingredients, add half of the chicken stock the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add the other half of the chicken stock and mix again.  Make sure to throughly, making sure there’s no liquid remaining at the bottom of the bowl.

Taste now for seasoning before you add the raw eggs.  Add some salt and pepper if desired.  The saltiness of your chicken stock will dictate whether or not you need to season any extra here.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing with mixed herbs

Finally, add the beaten eggs to the stuffing and mix well again.  Grease a 13×9 pan with butter and add the stuffing.  Dot the stuffing with 2 tbsp butter and cover the pan with aluminum foil.

At this point, you can refrigerate the stuffing and keep it for up to two days prior to cooking.  Simply add 10 minutes to the overall cooking time.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing Ready to go in the Oven

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 and bake covered for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until slightly crispy on top but cooked through in the middle.

Serve hot, with lots of turkey and gravy.  And don’t just make this recipe for Thanksgiving!  I love to have this throughout the winter with some rotisserie chicken.  It always feels like a special and cozy occasion.

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing

   Bon appétit!

Best Ever Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Whether for Thanksgiving or just for a cozy, winter meal, this sausage and apple stuffing is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 14 cups cubed bread
  • 1 lb Italian sausage  combination of sweet and spicy
  • 1 ½ bunches celery thinly sliced
  • 2 large yellow onions diced
  • 2 cups chopped Honeycrisp apples
  • 2 oz mixed herbs
  • ½ cup dried fruit
  • Cranberries raisins, etc.
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp butter divided

Instructions

  1. Cube the bread and dry in the oven by baking at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through

  2. Brown the sausage in a large dutch oven over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.  After browning, remove the sausage and keep the drippings in the pan

  3. Slice the celery and add it to the sausage drippings over medium heat

  4. Dice the onions and add to the celery along with 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Saute for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, stirring frequently.  Add 4 tbsp butter to the pan at the end to deglaze.  

  5. Chop the apples, finely chop the herbs, and beat the eggs

  6. In a very large mixing bowl combine the bread, sausage, vegetables, apples, dried fruit, and herbs.  

  7. Add half the chicken stock and mix thoroughly.  Add the other half of the chicken stock and mix again, making sure all the liquid is absorbed

  8. Taste and adjust for any seasoning needed, particularly salt

  9. Add the eggs and stir to combine.  Grease a 13x9 pan with butter, add the stuffing and dot with 2 tbsp butter.  Cover with aluminum foil

  10. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes covered, then remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes enough for one 13x9 pan of stuffing plus enough to stuff a medium turkey.  If you're not cooking a turkey, either reduce all the ingredients slightly or bake another small baking dish alongside the 13x9 pan.  



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