This sausage stuffing recipe is filled with Italian sausage, apple, fresh herbs, and it has a lovely soft inside and crisp outside. Perfect for your Thanksgiving table!
Want a holiday breakfast idea for your family? Try this Simple Breakfast Casserole.
The best sausage stuffing recipe
Technically this is a sausage dressing since it's cooked outside the roast turkey, but I will forever refer to it as stuffing. Whatever you call it, you're gonna want to smother it with delicious homemade gravy. This rich sausage stuffing is a family favorite that stands out from the rest and will be the star of your holiday meal.
It's not hard to make stuffing with this step-by-step guide, so don't be intimidated! And oh man, the leftovers... if there are any, you could honestly eat it as a meal in itself since it's so hearty, buttery, and filling.
What you'll need for sausage stuffing
- Bread - a loaf of your favorite day-old bread works for this recipe
- Italian sausage - I use Johnsonville mild Italian sausages and take them out of their casings. You can use already ground sausage meat. Hot Italian sausage or even a different variety will work too!
- Butter - for sautéing the onions and apple mixture and adding richness
- Onion, celery, and apple - this crunchy mixture packs a punch. Choose a variety of apple you enjoy. I picked Honeycrisp.
- Fresh herbs - fresh parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary are a fragrant mix that infuse so much savory herb flavor into this stuffing
- Chicken broth - for moisture and adding in even more flavor
- Eggs - they bind the stuffing and are VERY important to getting the right texture. I would not leave them out!
What kind of bread to use?
- I used a pre-sliced loaf of brioche-style bread, but pretty much any kind of bread will work fine. Just be sure you like the taste of it! A loaf that's 1 pound or a little over will work. You can use store-bought dried bread cubes, but in my opinion the flavor isn't quite as good.
How to make sausage stuffing
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut your bread into cubes (or tear it). Either do this a few days ahead of time and let it dry out, or you can use day-old bread and bake it in the oven until it's dried out, or use the pre-bagged dried bread cubes that some grocery stores will sell around the holidays. Add the bread to a large bowl. Cook the sausage in a skillet.
Transfer the sausage to the bowl with the bread, and drain the fat from the skillet. In the same skillet, sauté the onions, celery, and apples in the butter, and then add the chopped herbs.
Transfer the skillet mixture to the bowl. Stir the salt, pepper, and half the broth into the stuffing, adding gradually, and toss.
To another bowl, whisk the eggs and the other half of the broth, then add it into the stuffing and toss. Transfer the stuffing to a 9x13 casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, covered, and then remove the foil and continue baking for another 45 minutes.
- In general, I highly recommend cooking bread stuffing outside your turkey. It gives it a chance to get tasty browned bits on top, and a stuffed turkey will often end up overcooked since you need to ensure stuffing that's cooked inside reaches 165F for food safety reasons.
- Recipe difficulty level: Making stuffing isn't complicated, but you do want to ensure you've got the bread ready to go and also leave yourself some time for chopping/prep.
- It is best to add the broth in gradually so you don't soak one section of bread while leaving another dry. The broth is added in two parts in this recipe so that it does get more of a chance to soak in, making this whole process a bit easier!
How to make stuffing ahead of time
- You can make it one day ahead of time by doing all the steps except for the final part of the baking process (the browning in step 11). The day before you want to serve it, you would complete the first 45 minutes of baking (step 10), uncover it, and let it cool. Then cover it again and refrigerate overnight. Uncover it and bake until it's hot and browned on top. You may need more than the 45 minutes suggested since it's coming out of a cold fridge, so I'd keep an eye on it, check it after 45 minutes or so, and go up to an hour if needed.
How to reheat leftover stuffing
- Bring it to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter for 30 min or so. Transfer it to a baking dish if it isn't still in its original baking dish. If it seems dry, add a splash of broth. Cover it with foil and pop it in the over at 350F for about 30 minutes, then continue baking it uncovered for about 15 minutes.
- You can also reheat it on the stove, but you'll need to watch it more carefully. Try adding it to a skillet, and you may need to add some more broth and butter.
Questions about this homemade stuffing recipe? Let me know in the comments below!
- 1 pound day old bread cut/torn into pieces to make 10 cups (see note)
- 1 pound Italian sausage crumbled
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 sticks celery chopped
- 1 medium apple (I used Honeycrisp) chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped finely
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage chopped finely
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme chopped finely
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped finely
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 2.5 cups chicken broth divided
- 2 eggs
- Prep the bread: Either cut the bread into cubes or tear it into pieces (about 1" or so). You can do this a few days ahead of time and spread it out on a baking sheet, put it somewhere out of the way, and let it dry out naturally, or I'll explain next how to bake it if you're doing this with day-old bread. For the oven method, preheat your oven to 250F and bake the bread for about an hour (toss once or twice). You want to dry it out vs. it becoming really crunchy and browned like croutons. Let the bread cool.
- Add the bread to a large bowl.
- Heat oven to 350F (position the rack in the middle).
- Crumble the sausage into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until well browned (about 8 minutes). Add the sausage to the bowl with the bread in it, then drain the fat from the skillet (but leave the browned bits in for extra flavor).
- To the skillet, add the butter (let it melt), then add in the onion, celery, and apple. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until it's nicely softened and just starting to brown.
- Stir the herbs into the skillet mixture, then add it to the bowl with the sausage and bread.
- Add the salt and pepper to the bowl. You will also be adding half the broth during this step (1 1/4 cups). Add the broth gradually and toss it once you pour in some broth so you don't end up soaking only one section of the bread (so it gets evenly moistened vs. soggy in one place). It can take a little while for the broth to soak in since the bread is quite dry. Don't let a puddle of broth collect at the bottom of the bowl... slow and steady is good.
- To another bowl, add the egg and remaining 1 1/4 cups broth. Whisk together, then add it gradually it to the stuffing as you did in the previous step.
- Transfer the stuffing to a greased 9x13 baking dish. Spread it out in an even layer.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Take the foil off and bake for another 45 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.
- Let the stuffing rest for 5 minutes or so prior to serving.
- You can use pretty much any kind of bread for this recipe... use one that you like the taste of. I used a brioche style loaf of bread that was already sliced. It weighed just over a pound. Anything around the 1 lb. mark should work. You can use the dried bread cubes that some grocery stores sell around the holidays as a shortcut if you wish. You don't have to be spot on 10 cups of bread, but try getting as close as you can.
- Either use ground sausage meat or take the sausage meat out of the casings. I used Johnsonville mild Italian. Hot will work too.
- You can make this stuffing one day ahead of time by doing all the steps except for the final part of baking (the browning step 11) the day before serving it. The day before you plan on serving it, you would complete the first 45 minutes of baking (step 10), uncover it, and let it cool. Then cover it again and refrigerate overnight. Uncover it and bake until it's hot and browned on top (you may need more than the 45 minutes suggested since it's coming out of a cold fridge, so I'd keep an eye on it, check it after 45 minutes or so, and go up to an hour if needed).
- This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.