Apple & Sausage Stuffing Recipe - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Fall | Thanksgiving

Apple & Sausage Stuffing Recipe

By Tessa Arias
  |  
October 27th, 2022

This Apple & Sausage Stuffing recipe is filled with traditional flavors everyone at the Thanksgiving table will love! The savory sausage, celery and onion pair perfectly with the fresh sage and the sweetness of the apples. Best of all, this side dish can be made ahead of time!

Yield: 8 -10 servings

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook: 50 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: SO much more flavorful than the box mix and even other homemade recipes!
Texture: The bread on top is crusty while the bread underneath is rich and soft without being overly soggy. You can’t beat the bites of sausage and apple either!
Ease: Easy, you can chop the vegetables ahead of time or even sauté them ahead of time.
Appearance: Golden brown and mouthwatering.
Pros: This may be the stuffing on your T-day table.
Cons: Very rich! But isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about??
Would I make this again? Yes!

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. It’s actually pretty magnificent!

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.

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

Ingredients for Apple & Sausage Stuffing:

  • Bread – I recommend using sourdough or a country loaf. I like that these breads have a great crust to them! You’ll need a 1-pound loaf, cubed into ¾-inch pieces.
  • Olive oil – to cook the sausage.
  • Italian sausage – the star of the show! You could also use a sage sausage.
  • Yellow onion – diced. You could also use a white onion.
  • Celery stalks – sliced into ¼-inch pieces.
  • Fennel – This 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 below or simply omit it altogether.
  • Apple – I like Granny Smith here. Core and dice.
  • Bay leaf, dried – for flavor.
  • Garlic – because garlic, really!
  • Fresh sage – fresh is definitely best here, but I have a note below if you wish to use dried.
  • Salt & pepper – for flavor.
  • Milk – whole milk is best.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth – Make sure to buy low-sodium broth so that you can control the amount of salt used in this stuffing.
  • Butter – use unsalted butter in baking so you’re in control of the amount of salt.
  • Dijon mustard – brings such a delicious zip of flavor to your stuffing!
  • Eggs – You’ll need 3 eggs, whisked together. These help bind the stuffing together.

Instructions for How to Make Stuffing:

  1. Dry out the cubed bread. Spread the cubed bread on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven and toast for about 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. You want the bread to be toasted and crisp, but not hard. Set aside.
  2. Cook the sausage. In a large skillet, sauté the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces, until cooked through. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Cook the vegetables. Cook the diced onion, celery, fennel, apple and bay leaf together, and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, fresh sage, salt and pepper.
  4. Discard the bay leaf, and transfer veggies to the bowl with the sausage.
  5. Add the bread. Add the bread to the sausage/vegetable mixture and toss to combine.
  6. Mix the liquids. In a large measuring cup or a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken broth, melted butter, Dijon mustard and eggs together.
  7. Combine. Place the bread mixture in a 9×13-inch pan or casserole dish. Evenly pour the liquid mixture over the top.
  8. Bake. Bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on top. Serve warm.

What Is the Best Bread for 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.

What Are the Best Apples for Apple & Sausage Stuffing?

I prefer Granny Smith for this Apple & 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.

How do I Prevent Soggy Stuffing? Do You Put Eggs in 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 stuffing when baking in this recipe 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 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:

Check out ALL my Thanksgiving recipes here!

How to make
Apple & Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Yield: 8 -10 servings
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
This Apple & Sausage Stuffing recipe is filled with traditional flavors everyone at the Thanksgiving table will love! The savory sausage, celery and onion pair perfectly with the fresh sage and the sweetness of the apples. Best of all, this side dish can be made ahead of time!

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Butter a 9x13-inch glass baking dish, or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. Add the bread to the sausage and vegetables, and mix to combine.

  6. 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.

  7. Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on top.
  8. Garnish with fresh sage leaves. Serve warm.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*Substitute fresh fennel with 1 teaspoon of fennel seed if fresh fennel is hard to find (or eliminate entirely if desired).
**Substitute fresh sage with 2 teaspoons dried sage.
Course : Side Dish
Cuisine : American
Keyword : sausage stuffing recipe, stuffing recipe

This post was originally published in 2012 and updated in 2022 with new photos and recipe improvements. Photos by Joanie Simon.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Emily Larsen — November 24, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    Wonderful combination of flavors! Love the fennel and apple, they compliment the sausage so well. My husband rarely eats/likes stuffing and he had 3 helpings!

  2. #
    love cooking — December 3, 2012 at 12:11 am

    This looks so nice. I like it very much. I am thinking maybe try pineapple or mango would be really good too. 🙂

  3. #
    Karen — November 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    A Thanksgiving without stuffing is a sad one- I don’t even know if you can say Thanksgiving officially happens without it. Using apples in the stuffing is an interesting idea, I think I may try it out this year and add a third stuffing dish to our table!

  4. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — November 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    This sounds and look so good, Tessa! Love the flavor combo in here. It’s so comforting and homey!

  5. #
    Jenni — November 16, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I make a very similar stuffing and my family loves it. We sometimes just eat it as a meal by itself!!

  6. #
    Tracey — November 16, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I don’t know if I’ve ever had apples in my stuffing, but it sounds amazing!! I used to be a stuffing hater, but I finally came around a few years ago (same issues as you with soggy bread) 🙂

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