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This Apple and Sausage Stuffing Recipe is just about the furthest thing from basic boxed stuffing mix!
My family never really did stuffing for our Thanksgiving. The first time I tasted it at a friend’s house, I remember thinking, “Why would anyone want bland soggy bread?”
This Apple & Sausage Stuffing recipe is nothing like that stuffing I originally tasted, happily.
Filled with fresh apples, fresh herbs, savory sausage, and crusty bread, this is the best sausage stuffing I’ve ever had. It smells incredible while it’s cooking, too!
I mean, we can all agree that the side dishes are the best part of Thanksgiving (following dessert), right?
Check out all my tips for making the BEST easy sausage stuffing that your whole family will love.
What dish are you most looking forward to eating this Thanksgiving?
How to Make Apple & Sausage Stuffing Recipe
What Bread is Best For Apple & Sausage Stuffing?
This is really up to you and your taste preferences. I prefer a nice crusty sourdough bread, but a country loaf will do nicely. I think the slight tanginess of the sourdough plays well with the earthy aromatics of the sage in this apple sausage stuffing – and I love the crustiness. No need to remove the crust, either. You’ll need a 1-pound loaf, cubed into ¾-inch pieces.
What Are the Best Apples for Apple & Sausage Stuffing?
I prefer Granny Smith for this Apple and Sausage Stuffing recipe as I like the tartness, and they hold their shape well. Feel free to use your favorite apple – just keep in mind that sweeter apples might not go as well with the savory flavors of sausage and sage in this recipe, and they may also become very mushy while baking.
What Type of Sausage is Best for Stuffing?
I like to use Italian sausage, but sage sausage will work nicely, too. It’s the star of the show here, so pick something you like!
Do I Have to Use Fennel in This Stuffing Recipe?
Fresh fennel complements the sausage wonderfully. Slice it thinly. If you don’t want to use fresh fennel, or can’t find it, check out my note about using dried fennel in the recipe, or simply omit it altogether.
Do I Have to Use Fresh Sage? Can I Use Dried Sage Instead?
Fresh is definitely best here, but I have a note below the recipe if you wish to use dried.
How do I Prevent Soggy Stuffing?
Going through the extra step of toasting the cubed bread to dry them out further is one of the best things you can do for stuffing. It’ll help ensure the perfect texture: not too soggy, not too rubbery, with crisp bits on top and at the edges. Be sure not to underbake the stuffing, which can also create a soggy texture.
Why is My Stuffing Dry?
If you don’t use enough liquid and fat in the form of stock, melted butter, and eggs, then your stuffing will dry out quickly. Also avoid overcooking. This is easily done when you make the stuffing in advance, and then heat it again for too long when serving later. See my make-ahead prep tips below.
How to Make Stuffing Ahead of Time:
- If you’re bringing stuffing to a friend or family member’s house, cook the stuffing as directed, but shave off about 5-10 minutes from the cooking time. Then when it’s almost time to serve, just pop it back in a 350°F oven to finish it off.
- Once the wet and dry ingredients mix, the stuffing should hit the oven soon after.
- You can prep in advance by drying out the bread cubes and letting them sit uncovered at room temperature.
- You can also cook the sausage and sauté the veggies a day in advance – just refrigerate until needed.
- The day you plan to serve, proceed with mixing the bread, sausage, veggies, and wet ingredients together, and bake.
Should You Cover Stuffing When Baking?
We don’t cover the Apple & Sausage Stuffing when baking, to prevent the stuffing from getting soggy.
How do You Know When Stuffing is Done?
The stuffing should be cooked through the center (no watery bits) and golden brown on the top and at the edges. If you like your stuffing on the softer, wetter side, you may want to shave a couple of minutes off the cooking time.
How to Store Stuffing Leftovers:
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat, covered with foil, in a 300°F oven or in the microwave until warmed through. Add a little more stock if the stuffing has dried out a little.
Can I Freeze Leftover Stuffing?
I haven’t tried that myself, but I don’t see why not. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating in a 300°F oven or in the microwave until warmed through. Add a little more stock if the stuffing has dried out a little.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes:
- Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks
- Ultimate Dinner Rolls
- Crowd-Pleasing Sweet Potato Casserole
- Cheesy Green Bean Casserole
- Ultimate Macaroni & Cheese
- Easy Cornbread Recipe
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 loaf (1 pound) of crusty bread, sourdough or country loaf, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup celery, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced into 1/4-inch slices*
- 1 cup Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced into quarter rounds
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped**
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (227 grams) whole milk
- 1 cup (227 grams) low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 large eggs, lighten beaten
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to preference, to finish
- Fresh sage leaves, optional, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place bread cubes in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until toasted but not hard. Set aside to cool.
- Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch glass baking dish, or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and sauté, until browned and cooked through, breaking up into pieces, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage to a large bowl.
- In the same pan with remaining grease from sausage, add the onion, celery, fennel, apple and bay leaf to the skillet and sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, salt, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Discard the bay leaf. Remove from heat. Remove vegetable mixture to the bowl with sausage.
- Add the bread to the sausage and vegetables, and mix to combine.
- In a large measuring glass or medium bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken broth, cooled melted butter, Dijon mustard, and lightly beaten eggs. Pour wet ingredients over the sausage and vegetable mixture and mix together until well combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Lightly season with salt and pepper to preference.
- Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on top.
- Garnish with fresh sage leaves. Serve warm.
This post was originally published in 2012 and updated in 2023 with new photos and recipe improvements. Photos by Joanie Simon.