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Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

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The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe, that’s a big claim, I know! Let me tell you why! A delicious, savory sausage, apple, walnut stuffing, fragrant fresh herbs; made with fresh pumpernickel, sourdough and brown bread, making a crispy rich buttery crust on top, that’s why!

Whether you stuff your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, make it as a side dish, or a bit of a both; this will become your new favorite stuffing or dressing.

While we are talking Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes, you may want to check out our other family favorites: Praline Sweet Potatoes, Instant Pot or Stovetop Mashed Potatoes, Giblet Gravy and let’s not forget the bird itself! Two options: roasted herb butter turkey and this smaller Instant Pot Turkey Breast.

Image of casserole dish filled with the best stuffing ever, a variety of bread types are used with chunks of sausage, nuts, apples and more

What’s the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

It’s really quite simple, a stuffing get’s STUFFED into the cavity of a turkey or chicken and a DRESSING is made as a side dish!

Large spoonful of the best Thanksgiving stuffing with the casserole in the background.

5 SECRETS TO THE BEST STUFFING RECIPE

  1. Butter, the real thing, no blends or margarine!
  2. Simple bulk breakfast sausage is an extreme flavor enhancer!
  3. Fresh herbs rock the best stuffing, you can use dried, but for this, the flavors will shine through with fresh.
  4. The only veggies you need are onions and celery (and maybe a touch of garlic).
  5. A combination of bread is best! I used pumpernickel, sourdough and sweet brown bread.

WHAT KIND OF BREAD IS BEST FOR DRESSING?

  • I love using a variety of breads, it’s like a trip around the bread world in every bite!
  • Sturdier, porous breads will work the best.
  • Pumpernickel, Sourdough, Challah, Country White, Sweet Brown Breads are all delicious!
image of best thanksgiving stuffing on wooden board with ruffled red napkin and fresh herbs in corner.

DO YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE BREAD OUT FOR STUFFING?

I have done it both ways, but what I do suggest is tear or cut your bread up first, tossing onto a large cookie sheet, spread out to allow the bread cubes to do a little drying while you assemble the rest of the stuffing.

HOW DOES IT TASTE?

It tastes like Thanksgiving or Christmas itself, filling your home with the smells of the holidays! This stuffing (err dressing) has a crispy rich buttery crust on top, tossed with fragrant fresh herbs, sausage, apples shining through.

Image of ingredients for Thanksgiving Stuffing. L-R Bread, chicken stock, apples, walnuts, salt, sausage, garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, fresh parsley, chopped onions and celery.

TRADITIONAL SAUSAGE STUFFING INGREDIENTS

  • Breakfast sausage, bulk (I used a mild all natural pork sausage)
  • Sweet onion
  • Granny Smith apples
  • Celery
  • Garlic cloves
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf)
  • Rosemary, fresh
  • Thyme, fresh
  • Sage, fresh (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Assorted bread cubes
  • Turkey or chicken broth
  • Butter

HOW TO MAKE SAUSAGE DRESSING

  1. Cube or tear bread into smaller pieces, set aside on a cookie sheet to dry out a bit while you assemble the rest of the stuffing and if desired toast the walnuts (325 degrees F for 10 minutes)
  2. Sauté sausage and onion in a large skillet (my most favorite skillet!) over medium heat, until sausage is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Toss in apples, celery and garlic, sauté another 5 minutes until apples are tender.
  4. Stir in walnuts, fresh parsley, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool 10 minutes.
Process shots for stuffing recipe, 1. browning sausage and onions, 2. adding apples, 3. adding celery and garlic. 4. Adding walnuts and herbs.
  1. Place bread cubes in a large bowl (I have this gigantic one) and add sausage and veggie mixture, folding together. Pour chicken stock and continue to fold until well blended.
  2. Spoon into well buttered 3 quart or 9×13 inch baking dish (these clean up so easily!).
  3. Brush the top with melted butter, generously.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and crusty. Garnish with a little fresh parsley if desired.
Process shots for stuffing. 5. Pouring chicken stock over cubed bread. 6. Placing mixed stuffing in buttered baking dish. 7. Brushing tops with butter. 8. baked and ready stuffing

MAKE AHEAD & FREEZING STUFFING INSTRUCTIONS

You have a couple of options to make this dressing ahead of time.

  1. Cook your sausage, onions, celery, apples and all of the herbs ahead of time and place in fridge overnight, assembling the next day.
  2. Assemble the entire stuffing and bake it, cooling completely. Store in fridge up to 3 days covered, when ready to reheat, place in 325 degree oven covered for about 15-20 minutes, removing the foil the last few minutes.
  3. Assemble the entire stuffing, cool and freeze in smaller portions (especially if you are going to stuff your turkey with it). Allow enough time for the stuffing to come to room temperature before stuffing a turkey or placing in casserole dish.
  4. You can actually freeze baked stuffing! YES! Make it a few weeks ahead, wrap well with buttered foil and freeze (once completely cooled). To reheat place in 325 degree F oven covered for 15-20 minutes, removing the foil the last 5 minutes.

SUBSTITUTIONS & TIPS

  • Instead of breakfast sausage, swap out with chorizo, Italian sausage or turkey or chicken sausage.
  • Omit or replace the walnuts with pecans, hazelnuts or even chestnuts
  • Use different fresh herbs, I am not a huge sage fan, so I left that out, but add it in if you’d like (1-2 tablespoons chopped)
  • GLUTEN FREE? I think so! Swap out equal amounts of cubed gluten free bread
  • Add a splash of maple syrup to the sausage mixture just before tossing, maybe 2 tablespoons

Pair this fabulous stuffing with this simple Cheesy Asparagus Bake and Wild Rice Bake.

Sharing this week on Weekend Potluck!

Happy Thanksgiving or Christmas prep to you! I hope you enjoy this amazing recipe, you may want to peruse all of these Thanksgiving Sides, most of them make ahead-able!

Monday Holiday Side Dish Recipes:

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Flat lay image of thanksgiving stuffing with napkin in back ground and fresh herbs
Yield: 8-10 servings

The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

An easy Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe that is the best, savory sausage, apple, walnut stuffing made with fresh pumpernickel, sourdough and brown bread, a new holiday tradition!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breakfast sausage, bulk
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 1 cup (about 2-3 stalks) celery, diced
  • 2-3 Garlic cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted if desired (325 degrees for 10 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sage, fresh (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Fresh Ground pepper
  • 12 cups assorted bread cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups turkey broth
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions

Cube or tear bread into smaller pieces, set aside on a cookie sheet to dry out a bit while you assemble the rest of the stuffing. And if desired, toast walnuts; 325 degrees for 10 minutes.

Sauté sausage and onion in a large skillet (my most favorite skillet!) over medium heat, until sausage is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes. Toss in apples, celery and garlic, sauté another 5 minutes until apples are tender.

Stir in walnuts, fresh parsley, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool 10 minutes.

Place bread cubes in a large bowl (I have this gigantic one) and add sausage and veggie mixture, folding together. Pour chicken stock and continue to fold until well blended.

Spoon into well buttered 3 quart or 9x13 inch baking dish (these clean up so easily!). Brush the top with melted butter, generously. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and crusty. Garnish with a little fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions

  1. Cook your sausage, onions, celery, apples and all of the herbs ahead of time and place in fridge overnight, assembling the next day.
  2. Assemble the entire stuffing and bake it, cooling completely. Store in fridge up to 3 days covered, when ready to reheat, place in 325 degree oven covered for about 15-20 minutes, removing the foil the last few minutes.
  3. Assemble the entire stuffing, cool and freeze in smaller portions (especially if you are going to stuff your turkey with it). Allow enough time for the stuffing to come to room temperature before stuffing a turkey or placing in casserole dish.
  4. You can actually freeze baked stuffing! YES! Make it a few weeks ahead, wrap well with buttered foil and freeze (once completely cooled). To reheat place in 325 degree F oven covered for 15-20 minutes, removing the foil the last 5 minutes.

SUBSTITUTIONS & TIPS

  • Instead of breakfast sausage, swap out with chorizo, Italian sausage or turkey or chicken sausage.
  • Omit or replace the walnuts with pecans, hazelnuts or even chestnuts
  • Use different fresh herbs, I am not a huge sage fan, so I left that out, but add it in if you'd like (1-2 tablespoons chopped)
  • GLUTEN FREE? I think so! Swap out equal amounts of cubed gluten free bread
  • Add a splash of maple syrup to the sausage mixture just before tossing, maybe 2 tablespoons

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 1088mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 15g

The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc. Nutritional information will change based on used ingredients, quantities used, etc.

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