This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

A flavorful medley of herbs, sweet apples, dried cranberries, browned sausage and mushrooms, and whole grain bread. No Thanksgiving dish compares to this herbed sausage, cranberry, and apple stuffing!

herbed sausage and apple stuffing in a white baking dish with a serving spoon

What do we have here?! A big plate of Thanksgiving hugs, that’s what. But not just Thanksgiving. A cold-weather staple, full of herby comforting flavors, contrasting textures, and oodles of meaty mushrooms, whole grain bread, sweet dried cranberries, peppery sausage, and warm apples. All of this baked together in your most favorite casserole dish, then finished with a sprinkling fresh rosemary.

serving of herbed sausage and apple stuffing on a white plate with meat

This is the stuffing I enjoyed every year at every Thanksgiving holiday that I can remember. Mom prepped it the night before, stuffed some into the turkey, and served the rest as dressing alongside candied sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. This herbed sausage, cranberry, and apple stuffing stole the show each and every year to the point where mom just began making it on the regular. Kevin’s become even a bigger fan than I am– if that’s even possible at this point. With just two of us, this dish makes a ton of leftovers and practically nothing can outshine its flavor, texture, and comfort-food-level. 1 million heart eyed smileys.

And I know you and your family will love it just as much.

2 images of italian sausage links and cubed bread in a purple bowl

Let me walk you through the recipe real quick so you know exactly what’s about to happen in your kitchen. It all starts with bread. Now you can use white bread, which is what mom used growing up. These days, we’ve all switched over to whole grain bread. Really, you can use whatever bread your family loves. You can even use cornbread for cornbread stuffing! The ONLY thing about the bread that is a must? It has to be somewhat stale. Day-old bread makes the most wonderful stuffing because it has texture. Fresh bread will become soggy in the baked stuffing– and we certainly don’t want that! Grab a loaf of bread, cut it up into cubes, then leave it out on the counter for a day. I usually cover it with paper towels. Then, I toast it for 15 minutes in the oven. Easy easy easy.

Now it’s time to get things started on the stove. The stuffing begins on the stove, but finishes up in the oven. Into a large skillet will go butter, onion, and celery. This is the flavorful base of the stuffing and will make your entire kitchen smell magical. In fact, your kitchen will smell amazing for the next few hours. Then add mushrooms and some herbs: thyme, sage, and parsley. A trio of Thanksgiving musts, right? Now add the sausage. I like to use sweet Italian sausage– same I usually use for sausage stuffed peppers— but spicy Italian sausage works just as well. Then a couple diced apples. I usually 1 Granny Smith and 1 Honeycrisp, Piñata, or Fuji. A red and green, two reds, two greens, whatever is easiest for you. This stuffing recipe is super forgiving.

Get all this nice and heated together in the skillet. The sausage will lightly brown, the apples will slightly soften and release their sweet juices. Then mix all of this together with the cubed bread, some chicken broth to bind it all in the oven, and dried cranberries for a pop of tartness. (And color, of course!)

sausage with herbs and apples in a skillet with a wood spoon

Scoop into a casserole dish and bake if serving as dressing alongside the turkey. Stuffing it into the Thanksgiving turkey? Allow the prepared mixture to cool before stuffing into the turkey.

Save time and maximize flavor by making it ahead!

The most wonderful part about this Thanksgiving stuffing recipe is that, like an easy breakfast casserole, it’s BEST prepared ahead of time. By that I mean, all the savory herbs, browed sausage, and sweet apples soak together overnight to maximize flavor. We’re talking extreme flavor. Make sure you read the make-ahead instructions in the recipe for details.

herbed sausage and apple stuffing in a white baking dish with a serving spoon

Thanksgiving done right. A pan of savory herbs, sweet apples and cranberries, browned sausage and mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Nothing compares!

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

  1. From-scratch Green Bean Casserole includes homemade crispy onions on top!
  2. Simple Sweet Potato Casserole with brown sugar cinnamon pecan topping.
  3. This flavorful Cranberry Sauce takes only 15 minutes on the stove.
  4. This perfect Cornbread Stuffing is perfect for making ahead.
  5. These Biscuits are ultra flaky and ready in 35 minutes.
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
zoomed image of herbed sausage and apple stuffing with a serving spoon

Herbed Sausage, Cranberry, and Apple Stuffing

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This herbed sausage, cranberry, and apple stuffing is my family’s Thanksgiving favorite. It tastes best prepared ahead, so save yourself time on the big day!


  • 10 cups cubed whole grain day-old bread (or your favorite bread)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or leaves from about 3 stalks fresh thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage (or about 2 Tbsp chopped fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or about 23 Tbsp chopped fresh)
  • 1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage
  • 2 cups diced apples (about 2 medium)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • optional: fresh herbs to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Spread bread cubes out on two large baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes until browned and crisp. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Place butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Sauté for about 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add mushrooms, thyme, sage, and parsley. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into the skillet. Break up with spoon, then add the apples. Cook for about 4 minutes, until sausage meat is just about cooked through. 
  3. Remove from heat and stir the sausage/apple mixture in with the toasted bread. Pour the broth on top, then the cranberries. Give everything a stir.
  4. If using to stuff a turkey, allow to cool completely before stuffing. If baking the stuffing separately like I did in these photos, heat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a casserole dish (I use an 11×7-inch– use a similar size) or spray with nonstick spray. Spoon stuffing into the dish, then bake for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp on top. Garnish with fresh herbs before serving, if desired. Serve warm. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: If you make this stuffing ahead of time, be prepared for maximum flavor! The stuffing is actually BEST made ahead and here’s how to do it. The bread loses a lot of texture if you make the stuffing completely ahead of time. Instead, prepare the recipe through step 2. Store the cooked veggies/apples/sausage in the refrigerator overnight and store the crisp bread cubes at room temperature. Continue with step 3 the next morning. For long storage, freeze the baked stuffing up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, allow to come to room temperature, then reheat it in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 20-25 minutes, or until warmed through, before serving.

Keywords: thanksgiving stuffing, sausage apple stuffing

serving of herbed sausage and apple stuffing on a white plate with meat

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I’m vegetarian and LOVE stuffing. This looks delicious but do you think it would taste good without the sausage? 

    1. You can certainly leave out the sausage. I’d add more mushrooms in its place.

  2. Sally the Italian sausage and apples are such nummy additions to this recipe!  I have a question, I would like to make this recipe stretch a little bit but do not want to double meat/veggie portions.  If I added more bread would I need to add more broth as well? 

    1. Yes, you’d need more broth. Unsure how much exactly though since it’s not a clean double of the recipe.

  3. Hi. I have been looking for a sausage stuffing recipe.  It is my husbands favorite thanksgiving dish.  But he absolutely doesn’t want apples or cranberries in it.  Is there a substitution?  Will it taste good if I leave those two items out?  Thanks 

  4. Hi! Love your recipes! 
    I’m wondering how many loafs are needed for the 10 cups. 
    Thank you, and keep those recipes coming. you’re an inspiration. 
    also, if you made it in the crockpot, how many hours do you think it would take – would it be too mushy? 


    1. About 1 loaf. I’m unsure about how long in a crockpot. Set it at low and keep it warmed for a few hours is my best guess.

  5. Hey Sally, do you think this would work with cornbread? Thanks 🙂

  6. Wow, this is a lovely dressing recipe. We’re having it at today’s Thanksgiving family get together. I increased the recipe to suit the crowd, and I used a combination of both bread and cornbread, which is a family tradition in our family. Other than that, the recipe is the same, and I can’t wait to dig into it. In addition, I’ll be adding walnut pieces as a topping in the last few minutes of baking, just something I felt like I wanted to include, along with a simple parsley garnish before serving..

    I love your site and will be back to use some of your other delightful recipes. I adore Key Lime pie, but have never made it!! Was afraid to try, but I definitely want to try your Key Lime Pie bars. 🙂 

    Wishing a great Thanksgiving to you and your family, Sally. Thanks!

  7. I made this for Thanksgiving and everyone loved it! I will definitely be making this every year ! Thanks for all the fantastic recipes, you are absolutely my go to website .

  8. I made this tonight – it was AMAZING! 

    I could eat a whole plate of just this 😀 

  9. Sally, I’ve never made homemade stuffing but I’m determined to try this year. I’ve looked all over and as usual your recipe looks the best to me (I’ve made dozens over the years!) My one problem, however, is that my husband hates mushrooms. Weird, I know. Would omitting them ruin the consistency, or is there something I can substitute? Thanks so much for any advice you can offer and for being the best foodie on the interwebs!

    1. You can do it! So happy you chose my recipe out of millions, thank you so much. You can leave out the mushrooms or replace with a different vegetable. Maybe cube a butternut squash and use that? Or a chopped up bell pepper maybe?

  10. This looks amazing!! Do you think it would be ok to replace the sausage with turkey or chicken sausage? 

  11. Hi Sally. By whole grain bread, do you mean sliced bread or loaf? 


  12. Hi!

    We plan on making this recipe this year, but one of our guests is a vegan. Is there a way to substitute or omit the sausage from this recipe but still achieve great flavor??

  13. Do you think it would be ok to make the vegetable/sausage mixture 2 days ahead?

  14. This is my favorite stuffing recipe. I didn’t make it last year, but I’m making it this year. I’m going to follow your day ahead instructions and will make in the crockpot on low for a couple hours. Thanks for your recipe and notes.

  15. hi can i use cornbread in this recipe? i know you have a cornbread stuffing/dressing, but i love the ingredients in this particular recipe. thank you 😉

  16. Hi there ! Looking to make this for thanksgiving and bought the bread two days prior. Can I still make through the make ahead instructions and then combine everything on Thursday? Or is two days going to make the bread too stale ?

    1. Hi Monica, you can follow the make ahead instructions and directed. Hope it’s a hit!

  17. Hi Sally,

    Excited to try this recipe!! Can I use brioche bread for this? Still recommend letting it get stale overnight and toasting beforehand?

    Also how long will it take before dressing gets soggy, just wondering if I can make it earlier in the day while the bird cooks.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jamie, That should work and you definitely want to still let it go a little “stale” overnight (or toast). It’s actually best to make this one day ahead and assemble it the day of – see the recipe notes for details. The texture should still be fine if finishing it off earlier in the day. Enjoy!

  18. Hi Sally, I plan to make this for Thanksgiving. Can one use croutons instead of bread? If so, do you still recommend 10 cups.