Herbed Sausage, Cranberry, and Apple Thanksgiving Stuffing

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!

The BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! With apples, sausage, savory herbs, mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Hello hello! 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. Hi Fall, I love you.

Is your mouth watering yet?!

The BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! With apples, sausage, savory herbs, mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sweet potato 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.

Easy Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

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. Literally 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, 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!)

How to prepare the BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 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.

The BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! With apples, sausage, savory herbs, mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Print

Herbed Sausage, Cranberry, and Apple Stuffing

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

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the Thanksgiving recipes you make. And try these three other Thanksgiving musts:

  1. From-scratch creamy green bean casserole including garlic, fresh green beans, homemade crispy onions on top!
  2. Simple sweet potato casserole with the crunchiest, toastiest brown sugar cinnamon pecan topping.
  3. And slow cooker apple cider to sip on! Made from real apples and spices.

The BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! With apples, sausage, savory herbs, mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! With apples, sausage, savory herbs, mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The BEST Thanksgiving dressing recipe! With apples, sausage, savory herbs, mushrooms, and whole grain bread. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

68 Comments

  1. As soon as I saw the recipe for today I immediately made my grocery list in my head and will be making this as soon as possible. And I will then proceed to eat the entire dish. Thank you for posting these Thanksgiving side dishes! I had been on the lookout for a great sweet potato dish too and it is like you read my mind 🙂

  2. From a gal who’s never experienced anything but boxed stuffing…..I’m super excited about this recipe today. It’s all the herbs you’ve put in here that make it so enthralling….will definitely garish with fresh herbs on top though! Glad it has Kevin’s stamp of approval. Honestly, when my husband likes something……I know it’s good! He is SOOOOO picky. 

    1. Thanks Taylor! I had a hard time shooting this recipe. Stuffing wasn’t looking too pretty the first few times I tried to photograph it!

  3. Somehow you nail it EVERY time. From apple cider to pumpkin cookies to stuffing. You’re so talented Sally! I make a dressing like this each year, but have never added dried cranberries to it. I can’t wait to try your recipe this year. 

  4. Holy Moley I think I can smell its wonderfulness from here!!! Sally, this looks absolutely incredible and I love the addition of sausage! There is NOTHING – seriously nothing – better than the smell of stuffing being prepared. So yummy!!!

  5. Oh my good gracious. Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving side dish (funny, because I used to hate it) and this looks MAGICAL. Officially pinned and ready to go for the holidays. Thank you for sharing this! 😀

  6. Silly question. For the bread, do you use sliced bread or a whole loaf that needs to be cut? My brain isn’t fully engaged this morning!
    Thanks,
    ShaNae

  7. I am having such a hard time limiting myself. We’re doing potluck style Thanksgiving and it’s a small group so we’re doing chicken instead of turkey and it’s at my house so we’re in charge of the chicken but I keep seeing such wonderful recipes that I want to make stuffing and dessert and soup for a starter and I need to tell myself STOP, there will be enough food. People are bringing baked ham and green been casserole and rice and beans and enchiladas (Honduran style from mom, so good, so appropriate for ANYTIME). There will be enough food I don’t need to make more but I want to. Gah. This looks and sounds so delicious Sally, I really want to make it. Maybe I can make it on a regular Tuesday or something.

    1. I feel your pain! I am having a hard time choosing what to make because there is SO much inspiration floating around the internet, in magazines, etc this year!

      PS: This is totally a regular Tuesday night meal. 😉

  8. Stuffing is my favourite part of Thanksgiving! Most of my family would agree – that’s why we always have TWO different types of stuffing at Thanksgiving; one just isn’t enough to feed everyone. 

    Oh, and I totally feel that “stuffing is too good to only make for Thanksgiving” thing. In my opinion, it’s a-Winter-long-dish. 

  9. Oh, man Sally! They just keep comin’! Amazingly, gorgeous, scrumptious Thanksgiving goodness! I’m contemplating adding this to my Friendsgiving menu even though it’s packed… If not, it’s DEFINITELY making it to our Thanksgiving table!!

  10. Sally you did an amazing job with these photos. One year can u share with us a Soft dinner roll recipe pls?  U deserve a great holiday after all your nonstop flying and hard work.

  11. Wow this looks so beautiful – really delicious and perfect for this season – so thank you for the inspiration!! I just recently did a post about how to make Breadcrumbs by yourself! This would really suit this dish!

    Love Katie

    For my Gluten Free Tabbouleh Salad please visit my Website I would be thrilled 🙂

  12. I saw a similar recipe on Tia Mowry’s cooking show on The Cooking
    Channel yesterday. I thought it looked amazing even though I’m not a fan of stuffing! Yours look super amazing too. Maybe this is a sign for me to go ahead and make it. Who knows, I may be a new stuffing lover 🙂

  13. Hi Sally!! I absolutely loved meeting you in NYC last week. You are so sweet, genuine, and down to earth. I also love ALL of your recipes, from cookies and cakes, to breads and quiches (my friends and I made the Cheesy Spinach Quiche over the summer and absolutely LOVED it). This recipe looks incredible too, and I only wish I had time to make it (college is crazy). But, I have a question for you. I don’t know if you received it or not, but I sent you an email a couple of days ago regarding a possible email interview for a research paper on your blog that I am writing. If you can get back to me sooner than later, I need to know if an interview would be a possibility, as that would be a large part of my paper! Thank you in advance for everything! You are extraordinary. 

    1. Louise– just responded! It’s challenging getting back to emails right away with all my travel. Thanks for sending! Loved loved loved meeting you.

  14. I have TOTALLY been feeling a sausage stuffing this year, but Matt is firmly in the “traditional” camp, and we are hosting for the first time this year. So no funny business– I’ve been instructed! Perhaps I’ll just have to whip this up later when the weather is chilly and I’d like a plate full of stuffing. Please and thank you! Also, I have that orange plate. I also have it in blue. Love Target!!

  15. 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? 

  16. I love this recipe, my mom has made it since I was a kid and I made it for the first time last year but it wasn’t quite right.  I will have to try this out.  How do you think stuffing would do in a crock pot?  

  17. 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 

  18. This looks amazing!!! I love, love, love stuffing! It’s one of my favorite sides and in my family there are usually a couple different kinds of stuffing brought to the table. 

  19. 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? 

    Thanks
    Sheri 

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