Some call it stuffing, some call it dressing, but all who have tried it agree that this sausage & herb stuffing is an essential part of a Thanksgiving meal. I originally published this recipe in 2014, but it’s been a favorite for decades. You’ll love the comforting medley of herbs, sausage, mushrooms, apples, and bread. So many textures and flavors in one dish!
One reader, Carla, commented: “A staple Thanksgiving stuffing for our family! Absolutely outstanding. No holiday would be complete without it. ★★★★★“
This sausage & herb stuffing is the very same one I’ve enjoyed every year at every Thanksgiving holiday for as long as 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 humble Thanksgiving side dish stole the show each and every year, to the point where we just began making it regularly for dinner.
While this sausage & herb stuffing is an absolute must-have side dish on my family’s Thanksgiving table, who says you have to limit this comforting casserole to Thanksgiving? Or even to the side dish category, for that matter. With its combination of sausage, vegetables, and bread, this stuffing recipe makes a great all-in-one meal, no turkey required!
One reader, Danielle, commented: “I made this tonight—it was AMAZING! I could eat a whole plate of just this. ★★★★★”
Why You’ll Love This Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
- Soft in the middle with crisp toasted edges
- So many flavors and textures all in one dish
- Customizable—swap mushrooms for butternut squash, or make it vegetarian
- As delicious all on its own as it is as a side dish
- Easily double or halve to scale it up or down
- Egg-free stuffing recipe—simply not needed
- You can make it ahead of time! And that is gold when it comes to holiday meals.
Use These Ingredients for Sausage & Herb Stuffing:
- Bread:I usually use whole grain bread here, but you can really use any kind of bread in this stuffing recipe. From standard sliced sandwich bread or whole wheat bread, to crusty sourdough or artisan homemade bread… or try cornbread stuffing!
- Herbs: Thyme, sage, and parsley brighten up the stuffing and add heaps of fragrant flavor. You can use dried or fresh or a mix of both.
- Sausage: This adds savory richness to the dish. I like to use sweet Italian sausage—same I usually use for sausage stuffed peppers—but spicy Italian sausage works just as well. For a vegetarian option, replace the sausage with more mushrooms or diced butternut squash. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Mushrooms: For hearty flavor and texture.
- Apples: The fruit’s sweetness adds a nice contrast to the rich sausage and even more texture. I usually use 1 Granny Smith and 1 Honeycrisp apple, for a mix of tart and sweet, but you can use whichever apples you have on hand.
You also need some chicken (or turkey, or vegetable) broth, a little butter, onion, celery, and salt & pepper. Dried cranberries are optional, but I love the sweetness and color they add.
Let Me Show You How to Make This Sausage & Herb Stuffing
For BEST texture, toast the bread cubes: Spread bread cubes out on baking sheets, and bake for 15 minutes. Lightly toasting the bread helps it absorb some of the liquid ingredients, which prevents your stuffing from tasting soggy. I do the same thing when I forget to leave the bread out to get stale for pumpkin French toast casserole.
Cook the vegetables, herbs, & sausage: Now it’s time to get things cooking on the stove in a large skillet. Start by softening the onion and celery in some butter. This is the flavorful base of the stuffing. Then add the mushrooms and herbs, followed by the sausage and apples.
The sausage will lightly brown, the apples will slightly soften, and all the incredible flavors will blend together in perfect harmony:
Combine everything: Mix the cooked ingredients together with the lightly toasted bread (everything can still be warm at this point), and pour over some chicken broth. The broth serves to bind the stuffing ingredients together, and to keep the stuffing from drying out.
Bake. Bake the stuffing in a large baking dish, or stuff it into an unbaked turkey. If you’re stuffing the turkey, cool completely before using.
Yes, absolutely. You can turn this into a vegetarian stuffing recipe by replacing the sausage with more mushrooms, or some diced butternut squash. The cooking instructions remain the same. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
How to Make Stuffing Ahead of Time
You can save time (and precious oven space) the day of the big meal by making this sausage & herb stuffing in advance.
The most wonderful part about this Thanksgiving stuffing recipe is that, like an easy breakfast casserole, it’s actually BEST prepared ahead of time. All the savory herbs, browned sausage, and sweet apples soak together overnight to maximize flavor. However, the bread loses a lot of texture if you make the stuffing completely ahead of time, so I recommend you wait to combine the bread, sausage mixture, and broth until the day you plan to bake and serve it.
Here’s what I do: Store the cooked sausage/apple mixture in the refrigerator overnight, and store the toasted bread cubes at room temperature. Combine and bake the following day.
Some call it stuffing, some call it dressing, but all who have tried it agree that this sausage & herb stuffing is an essential part of a Thanksgiving meal. You’ll love the comforting medley of herbs, sausage, mushrooms, apples, and bread. It tastes best if it’s partially prepared ahead of time, so save yourself time on the big day.
- 10 cups (400g) cubed bread (any bread works; I usually use whole wheat)
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced (about 150g)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (about 100g) 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 2–3 Tbsp chopped fresh)
- 1 pound (454g) sweet or spicy Italian sausage
- 2 cups (240g) diced apples (about 2 medium apples)
- 2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) low-sodium chicken broth
- optional: 2/3 cup (80g) dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Spread bread cubes out on two large baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Transfer to a large bowl.
- 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.
- Remove from heat and stir the sausage/apple mixture in with the toasted bread. Pour the broth on top, then the cranberries, if using. Stir to combine everything.
- 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 9×13-inch or any 3- to 4-quart baking dish (pictured). 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.
- 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 lightly covered 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Baking Sheets | Glass Mixing Bowl | 9×13-inch Baking Pan or any 3- to 4-quart Baking Dish (pictured)
- Can I Make This Vegetarian? Yes, absolutely. You can turn this into a vegetarian stuffing recipe by replacing the sausage with more mushrooms, or some diced butternut squash. The cooking instructions remain the same. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Keywords: sausage Thanksgiving stuffing