Stuffing with sausage is a family favorite! Fresh bread, sausage, hints of sage, chunks of apple and dried cranberries make this the best stuffing recipe! The best part? The ease at which it comes together. Learn the inside tips on how to make this fantastic Thanksgiving side dish, and what makes it a winter comfort meal year round! See why you should ditch the box and make easy homemade stuffing on your own. The versatility of the recipe will make it your favorite easy stuffing recipe!
How To Make Stuffing With Sausage
As a kid, I can remember stuffing being one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. There is just something about all those flavors soaked into pieces of bread that sang to my taste buds. My kiddos feel the same way. But I also have a child that never wants to eat things like turkey, but who absolutely loves sausage. This recipe was actually developed to get more protein into his diet. And now it's turned into a family favorite comfort food dish! I love when things like that happen.
Growing up in the midwest, we had the apple and pork festival. So in my mind, pork and apples go hand and hand. Pork chops and applesauce, anyone? We also decided that a little fruit in my son's diet would be a good thing, so the chunks of apples were included. I added the dried cranberries for the extra pop of color, but if you are not a fan, they are easy enough to leave out.
One of the things that makes this dish stand out is how the bread is prepped. Most stuffings call for bread crumbs, but this one calls for bread cubes. By using ciabatta bread with a nice thick outside, I've eliminated having to toast any of the bread pieces which cuts down on precious time.
The bits of bread on the top will get nice and crispy while cooking, and the bread pieces on the bottom will soak in all the juices and will be moist. Combined together, it makes the quintessential herb stuffing taste you've grown up with.
I used about 5 oversized ciabatta rolls sliced to about ¾ inch pieces. Now, if you are a die hard cornbread stuffing kinda person, by all means, use what is your favorite! You can even do a mix of both!
The rolls will have more crust than a loaf, which is why I picked those. It's all about the surface area of crust, to give that nice bit of crunch vs mushy bread.
I sliced up the rolls and placed them in a large bowl. And by a large bowl, I mean large. 7 cups of bread is a lot, and you'll be adding the sausage mixture as well as the liquid, and you'll want to mix well, so be mindful of the room in the bowl you're using.
I actually sliced the bread while the sausage was cooking over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan on the stove top. I also hate doing a lot of dishes, so I tried to keep them to the minimum. You'll use the large bowl, the skillet and your casserole dish.
Cook the sausage first, allowing it to brown. Once the outside bits are browning, and the meat inside is still a bit pink, add in your onions, apples, cranberries, and celery to sweat them down. You'll also add in the poultry seasoning, and at that point, your kitchen will smell of all the classic Thanksgiving herbs.
Once the sausage mixture has cooked down, you'll add it to your big bowl of bread cubes. Mix well. You'll finish by pouring the egg, milk and apple juice over. I like to do ½, mix well, and then add the other half. And I always give up on the spoon and end up using my hands, because sometimes that is the best way to make sure everything is mixed well.
Place the sausage and herb stuffing mixture into a baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or buttered. I've used a 9x13 pan and the stuffing will heap over the top. Some of it breaks down when cooking. But it's a plentiful dish, so if you're having a lot of Thanksgiving guests, as a side dish it will give at least 12 portions. If it's as the main winter meal, the same size feeds my family of 6 with few no leftovers.
I did cook the seasoned stuffing mix in the casserole dish for 2 reasons. One, my kiddos hate if things are touching, so I didn't want to stuff any birds. But this recipe is perfect for stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey or individual cornish hens, or a chicken to be roasted in the oven. I prepared the stuffing recipe while my cornish hens were cooking in the oven, so I simply placed the dish in the oven and allowed it to bake alongside them on the last half hour of cooking.
You could also put it in the oven once you've pulled your turkey out and it's resting (20 mins). It will probably take you 10 minutes to carve the turkey, so the stuffing will be done around that time. Win-win! If you do stuff your turkey with the stuffing, be sure to follow all food safety guidelines and make sure it has also been cooked to the safe temperature.
What is the best sausage for stuffing?
For this recipe, I really like using breakfast sausage. The mild flavor and the texture of the meat go really well. Italian sausage would be just as good, but I would go for the mild sausage vs the hot. Hot will have more red pepper flakes and fennel, and mild or sweet will have more of the classic Thanksgiving seasonings like sage. We want the pork sausage to mesh well with the flavors of stuffing, and not overpower it. If you do use Italian sausage, be sure to remove it from the casing. Crumbled sausage is key to this recipe.
Can I make stuffing ahead of time?
Since my most popular recipe is how to make cranberry sauce ahead of time, I know how valuable making ahead is to you! The good news is, yes, there is a lot you can do to make this dish ahead of time. You have two options. You can make the whole dish from start to finish the day before and simply reheat the day of. Another thing you can do, which is my preferred method, is to do most of the steps beforehand and then simply assemble the day of. That would involve slicing your bread into the cubes and placing in a sealed baggie. You'd cook the sausage, spices, veggies, and fruit on the stovetop the day before as directed and then keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the stuffing dish. You'd simply mix those components the next day when you're ready to cook it. Easy peasy.
Can I freeze sausage stuffing?
Technically, yes, after cooking you could freeze for about a month, thaw and reheat. But honestly. This is just one of those dishes that tastes so much better when it's fresh. If you're in a time crunch I'd simply go with the steps above on how to make it in advance to save you some time.
What other items can be substituted into the stuffing with sausage recipe?
I mentioned corn bread above, but the possibilities really are endless. Take inspiration from your favorite old-fashioned stuffing recipes!
- Corn bread, french bread, buttery rolls - any type of bread can be subbed out
- Other fruits - besides apples and cranberries, think of other fall produce - pears, raisins, sour cherries, apricots
- To add nuts or not to? Totally up to you. Nuts add a lot of flavor and bulk to the recipe. Some of the best options are pecans and walnuts.
- Liquid - for this recipe I used a mixture of milk and apple juice. You can also use a broth or stock like chicken broth or vegetable stock. Mix them up however you want, just make sure the liquid amount stays the same.
Looking for other side dishes to go with your sausage stuffing and cranberry sauce? One of my favorites is this recipe for Instant Pot Glazed Carrots because it is such a fast an easy recipe. Not only that, but using the instant pot doesn't require another burner on the stove. If you are looking for main dishes to pair with the stuffing with sausage, Cornish Hens with pears, bacon, and chestnuts , Cornish Game Hens with Cranberry Glaze, chile rubbed grilled turkey tenderloins fit that bill and will leave all your guests happy with a full tummy. Making it a big party? 20+ Cranberry Drinks and Cranberry Appetizers should give you lots of inspiration! Finish off with a dessert of pumpkin pie spice loaf cake, or Molasses Pumpkin Pie with Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting!
Stuffing with Sausage
Ingredients for Stuffing with Sausage:
- 1 lb breakfast sausage
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- ¼ cup onion, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large gala apples, chopped
- ¼ cup cranberries, dried
- ½ tsp poultry seasoning
- 2 eggs
- 7 cups ciabatta bread, sliced to ¾ inch cubes (about 5 rolls)
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup apple juice
How to Make Sausage Stuffing:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Spray a non-stick skillet with non-stick spray and warm over medium heat. Once warm, add in the breakfast sausage, and begin to cook, using a spatula to break it into small pieces.
- Slice your celery into the size you prefer, and dice your onion. Chop the gala apples to remove the core, and make into chunks about ¾ inches. No need to peel, but it is up to your personal preference. Set aside.
- Slice the ciabatta bread rolls into bread cubes, about ¾ inch in size. Place in an oversized bowl.
- Once the sausage has browned on the outside and is just a bit pink on the inside, add in the celery, onion, apples and dried cranberries. Saute for about 2-3 minutes, sweating down the onion and the celery.
- Next, sprinkle the poultry seasoning over the sausage mixture. Mix well, and allow it to cook about a minute. It will become nice and fragrant.
- Place the sausage mixture into the bowl with the bread cubes, and mix well.
- Beat together the eggs, apple juice, and milk.
- Pour ½ of the egg and milk mixture over the bread and sausage mixture and mix really well. Finish by pouring over the rest and making sure everything is incorporated and that all pieces of bread have been saturated by the egg mixture. You may need to use your hands for this!
- Place the sausage stuffing mixture into a casserole dish or other shallow baking dish and cook for approximately 30 minutes.
- The stuffing is cooked when it reaches 165 degrees. If you notice it's becoming too crispy on top, you can simply cover it with aluminum foil to prevent burning.