Ina's Sausage and Herb stuffing is absolutely amazing. It's made with sausage, parsley, apples, cranberries, bread, and chicken stock. A great stuffing to make when you don't want to cook it inside the turkey.
Believe it or not, there are was point not too long ago where I could say that I have never made stuffing before.
It was one of those foods from my childhood that I figured I did not like at all for whatever reason.
As I am breaking down what I like and don't like over the last couple years, it's time to put stuffing under the microscope.
I decided to try a recipe by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), mainly because it contains sausage, so how can you go wrong?
Choosing and Preparing the Bread
For the best stuffing it starts with great bread. No Stove Top stuffing mix needed here.
What I like to do is buy a loaf from the grocery store that is day old or reduced price. You want the bread to be dry in the first place so that it can absorb liquid.
Sourdough bread is a great choice that I have used on several occasions. The one in the picture also had sesame seeds and black pepper on top, which adds even more flavor.
I cut up the bread into cubes the night before I am going to cook the stuffing so that it can dry out. Then place the cubes into a 300 degrees oven for about 7 minutes.
Even if you don't dry out the cubes overnight, placing them in the oven before adding them to the stuffing will help.
I use a small food processor that my wife picked up at a thrift store for a buck to finely chop my celery and onions. I like a fine chop for stuffing but if you want bigger chunks, then do it by hand.
Then cut up any tart apple. You don't need to peel the skin. I used Rhode Island Greening, an old heirloom variety. You can use Granny Smith or whatever tart apple you like. I don't like using sweet apples for this.
While not as tart, you could use Honeycrisp if you like as they aren't too sweet.
In a saute or frying pan I cook the apples, celery, onions, and chopped parsley, until softened. About 10 minutes or so depending on the size of your veggies and apples.
Throw them in with the bread cubes, then cook up the sausage until browned. If you wanted to save some time, you could get two pans going and do both at the same time. The pan gets too crowded to go everything together, plus you want to be sure to get that sausage nice and brown.
I saved some time by buying bulk Italian sausage instead of sausage already in a casing. Find a store with a good meat counter and you should be able to find sausage prepared just like ground beef. Not only did it save me time, but it was cheaper as well.
Then it's matter of combining everything together in a large bowl and mixing it all up. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the chicken stock and dried cranberries.
You will know that it's done when it's browning on top and hot in the middle. Should take about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Here are some potential ingredients swaps you could do that would be work. I haven't not tested all of these but I am confident you could use them all.
Yellow onion --> Red or white onion
Flat Leaf Parsley --> Curly Parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage
Italian sausage --> any type of sausage like spicy Chorizo, ground pork, ground turkey, ground chicken, vegan sausage
Chicken stock --> Vegetable broth, beef broth, turkey stock or broth
Dried cranberries --> Dried tart cherries, raisins, dried blueberries, dried & diced really small apricots
My Thoughts on the First Stuffing I Ever Made
The stuffing (although really if it's not in the bird, it's called dressing) was a winner! My wife loves sausage stuffing, so she had no problem polishing it off.
The apples and dried cranberries added a nice sweet/tart element to go along with the saltiness of the sausage and chicken broth. Would be even better with homemade turkey stock.
Other Side Dishes to Make This Thanksgiving
Ina Garten's Sausage & Herb Stuffing
- ¾ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
- 1 ½ lb loaf of bread like sourdough
- 1 stick butter
- 2 cups diced yellow or sweet onions
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 tart apples cored, diced, unpeeled
- 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Slice the bread into cubes. Allow to dry overnight. If you don't have time you can skip this step.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Place the cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Remove and place the cubes into a large mixing bowl.
- Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- In a saute or frying pan over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted add in the onions celery, parsley, and apples. Cook until softened about 10 minutes. Dump all the ingredients on top of the bread cubes in the mixing bowl.
- Place the pan back over medium heat and add in the sausage. Break it apart as it cooks into smaller pieces. Once browned remove from the heat and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients.
- Add the dried cranberries and chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. The recommended amount of salt is a tablespoon. Mix well to combine.
- Dump the contents of the bowl into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Smooth out to create an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is starting to brown and it's warm in the center.
- Serve warm
This post includes affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. These are products and services I recommend because I use or trust them. Cookies will be used to track the affiliate links you click.