This sausage stuffing recipe makes a mouthwatering, perfectly moist, savory dressing for Thanksgiving dinner, or any other holiday. Use our no-fuss, make-ahead instructions and you’ll have this classic holiday side dish ready to bake and serve!
Every holiday table needs at least one traditional side dish and that’s exactly what this sausage stuffing recipe makes. A classic, holiday stuffing… or is it called dressing?
What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing?
Aside from the name, there isn’t much difference between stuffing and dressing. They look identical and the ingredients are basically the same. The cooking method is what sets them apart.
According to the dictionary, stuffing is a filling of one or more food ingredients that are placed and cooked inside of something else.
For example, in this sausage stuffing recipe, the ingredients might be stuffed inside of a chicken or turkey carcass. For a stuffed bell peppers recipe, the “stuffing” could be rice, beef, and other filling ingredients.
In contrast, dressing describes similar ingredients to stuffing, but rather than stuffing it in a turkey, the ingredients are baked in a casserole dish.
To make matters a little confusing, the terms are interchangeable, dependent on what part of the United States you live in.
People living in the southern states are likely to say they are making sausage dressing for Thanksgiving. Northerners tend to call it sausage stuffing, even when it’s not stuffed inside of anything!
Sausage Stuffing Recipe Notes
There are a few basic ingredients that you will see in just about every stuffing recipe. They are:
- Dried bread or bread cubes – White bread is what most recipes call for, but you can make stuffing with any type of bread you like, as long as it is dry. Cornbread stuffing is a popular choice for Thanksgiving.
- Finely chopped onion, celery, and carrots (also known as mirepoix)
- Chicken broth or stock, or if you’re making vegetarian stuffing, vegetable stock
- Fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and poultry seasoning
- Oil and/or butter
For this sausage stuffing recipe with apples, the following ingredients are also used:
- Ground pork sausage – I love to use a preservative-free sage sausage for this recipe. The added sage is great if you don’t have the sage herb on hand and it adds that classic holiday flavor to the dressing.
- Chopped apples – You can use any apples you like for this recipe. I prefer a tart Ambrosia apple myself.
- Chopped walnuts – these are totally optional, but highly recommended! They add unexpected, delicious flavor and texture to your Thanksgiving side dish. Who doesn’t love apples and walnuts together?
How do you make bread stale for stuffing?
You have several options to dry the bread for stuffing. The first reason is the most obvious – just allow the bread to turn stale by leaving it in an unsealed container at room temperature. After a couple of days, the bread will dry out and become stale.
A quicker option is to use the hot, dry air of an oven to dry the bread. This is a much quicker option than allowing the bread to stale naturally; it typically takes several minutes.
Why do you put eggs in stuffing?
Although not every version calls for eggs, this sausage stuffing recipe does. The eggs are used for two reasons; as a binder and for moisture.
- Binder – If you have ever made homemade meatballs or meatloaf, you probably know that eggs are in the mixture to help bind the ingredients together. We’re using eggs in the stuffing for the same reason.
- Moisture – Very few people, if any, like dry stuffing. You can keep stuffing moist by adding broth, stock, or even water. However, too much liquid can make the stuffing loose and watery. I add eggs to the stuffing to keep it from drying out as it bakes in the oven.
Can I make the stuffing ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare this dish up to five days before you want to serve it. You have two options to make the stuffing ahead of time.
- Completely prepare the sausage stuffing according to the recipe below, including baking it. Then, allow the dish to cool to room temperature and cover the pan with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or a lid. Refrigerate for up to five days and then simply reheat the dish in the oven before serving.
- Prepare the recipe but do not bake the sausage stuffing. Instead, cover the pan well and refrigerate for up to three days. Then, when you are ready to serve the dish, follow the recipe instructions below to bake it.
Recommended Tools for this stuffing recipe
- chef knife and cutting board
- baking sheet (if drying bread in the oven)
- 12″ oven-safe skillet (dressing will go from stove to oven)
- silicone spatula or another stirring utensil
Other Holiday Side Dishes
If you want to make a few more classic dishes for the holidays, give these a go!
Cooking turkey for a smaller crowd? Check out this SUPER scrumptious Herb Roasted Turkey Breast. It’s a hassle-free way to cook turkey!
Sausage Stuffing or Dressing for Thanksgiving
- 6 cups cubed plain Bread or unseasoned croutons
- 1 pound Sage Pork Sausage
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Apples any kind, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/2 Onion diced
- 2 Celery Stalks diced
- 1 1/2 cups Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
- 2 Eggs
- 4-6 Sage Leaves (optional) chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh Parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup Walnuts chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°
Dry the bread
- Spread the CUBED BREAD on a large baking sheet.
- Place in the preheated oven; bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cubes are dried and somewhat toasty, tossing as needed. Set aside.
Make sausage stuffing
- Preheat a 12” *oven-safe skillet on medium-high heat; add SAUSAGE, break into small pieces, and cook until browned; transfer cooked sausage to a mixing bowl (drain grease, if desired); set aside.
- In the same skillet on med-high heat, melt BUTTER; then sauté ONION, APPLES, and CELERY until tender, stirring as needed.
- Add BREAD CUBES and SAUSAGE to the skillet, folding into the vegetables.
- Whisk together CHICKEN BROTH, EGGS, and (optional) SAGE LEAVES until eggs are fully beaten; pour over the entire mixture, gently folding ingredients together to coat the bread cubes.
- Top the stuffing with (optional) WALNUTS and FRESH PARSLEY.
- Bake the stuffing for 35-45 minutes. The top should be golden brown and lightly crispy; allow to rest for 10 minutes; serve warm.Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days.
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