You do not want to miss this Cranberry Sausage Stuffing recipe. It is special… a delicious and (healthier) classic side dish perfect for your Thanksgiving and Holiday table. Major bonus that it can be made ahead!
I originally shared this recipe on November 19, 2011. I have updated the images and some of the text today.
The Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing
I’m going to call this recipe “Stuffing” even though it is not. Technically it is “Dressing.” But because I am from the Northeastern part of the states, I always think of dressing as the stuff you drizzle over salad. The two are not really that different, except stuffing is cooked inside the turkey and dressing is cooked in a baking dish.
As a food-safety fanatic, I can’t in good conscience recommend cooking something inside the turkey. Here’s why: In order to get the stuffing up to a safe temperature you would have to completely overcook the turkey. Plus I love the crusty browned bits of stuffing you get when you bake it in a dish uncovered.
I don’t really buy into the idea that the turkey’s juices will flavor the stuffing to any noticeable extent. As long as you use flavorful ingredients in the stuffing itself, you don’t need the turkey’s juices.
Have you ever made home-made stock? If not, now is the time to start. It’s so easy… make sure and check out the recipe notes for more information. You can totally use store-bought broth, but home-made stock will take this Cranberry Sausage Stuffing to the next level and you will never feel the need to stuff that turkey again.
Boost The Flavor Of Stuffing With Cranberries and Sausage
I have boosted the flavor even further with toasted chopped pecans, dried cranberries and sausage. Since it’s the holidays I’ll leave it up to you which kind of sausage you want to use. It works with lean pre-cooked chicken sausage (look for one that is breakfast style) or you can use cooked and crumbled Italian pork sausage. Or cooked turkey sausage works too.
I didn’t use any butter, but I was generous with the heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil. I also added a ton of fresh herbs (sage, can’t forget the sage) and celery which gives it that totally classic holiday stuffing/dressing flavor.
How To Make Cranberry Sausage Stuffing
- Dry out that bread. Taking a few extra minutes to toast the cubed bread will ensure that your stuffing has that awesome moist texture inside and gets those awesome crispy bits on the top. The bread will absorb more stock and become more flavorful. It has just the right balance of crispy and moist.
- Toast those nuts. Taking a few moments to toast the pecans brings out their nutty flavor, and makes a little bit go a long way. It makes such a huge difference in the flavor.
- Sauté the veggies. Stuffing wouldn’t be stuffing without celery. I also love the subtle flavor that the softened shallots add, as well.
- Amp up the flavor. Cooked lean sausage (your choice pork, chicken or turkey) adds amazing flavor and a little goes a long way. I also decided to throw in some sweet and tart dried cranberries, parsley and sage for freshness and you know how I feel about those toasted pecans. They add such great flavor and texture.
- Add the liquids. Whisk the stock or broth with the eggs, which will help to bind it all together, transfer it to the baking dish and cover with foil.
- Bake until set up and steaming. The stuffing will expand slightly as it bakes. Then removing the foil for 10 minutes at the end of baking will crisp up that top perfectly.
- If you want to make this stuffing in advance, no problem! Here is how: Prepare it all the way through the part where you cover it in foil in step 3. Then refrigerate the stuffing overnight. Continue with step 4, but add another 5 to 10 minutes of baking before you remove the foil. (Make sure it is steaming hot before you remove the foil.)
More Stuffing Recipes To Consider For Your Thanksgiving
And all of my Thanksgiving recipes can be found here!
Do you call it stuffing or dressing?
Do you think the turkey juices flavor the stuffing?
Do you make your own stock?
For Thanksgiving would you use chicken sausage or pork sausage?
Thanks so much for reading! If you make this recipe please come back and give it a star rating and review!
- 1 pound of whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed and cubed (about 8 cups)
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 stalks of celery with leaves, finely chopped
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 8-ounces cooked crumbled italian or breakfast sausage or fully-cooked chicken breakfast sausage, diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (see ingredient note*)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups unsalted chicken or turkey stock (see ingredient note*)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread bread cubes out on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Spread pecans out on another baking sheet. Bake both until the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes and the bread is dry and toasted, about 20 minutes and.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery and shallots, and cook, stirring often until the celery is softened and the shallots are starting to brown, 6 to 9 minutes. Stir in sausage, cranberries, ¼ cup parsley, sage, salt and pepper and remove from heat. Chop pecans and stir in.
- Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch (or similar sized) baking dish with cooking spray. Whisk eggs and stock in a large bowl. Stir in bread cubes and celery mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until the center of the dish is set up and the stuffing is steaming hot, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is browned and the stuffing is piping hot all the way through, about 10 minutes longer. Garnish with parsley if desired.
To Make Ahead: Can be prepared through step 3, refrigerate up to 1 day ahead. Before removing foil, bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the stuffing is steaming hot.
Ingredient note*: Here is how to make home-made stock. If you don’t have time to do that, you can substitute full sodium store-bought broth. If you do, decrease the kosher salt to ½ teaspoon total.
- Serving Size: 3/4 cup each
- Calories: 208
- Sugar: 5.6 g
- Fat: 13 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 16 g
- Fiber: 2.7 g
- Protein: 7.5 g
Keywords: thanksgiving,stuffing,dressing,sausage,pecans,cranberries,healthy,whole wheat,side dish