Our Christmas Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing is fresh, savory, tart, sweet and festive. It’s the perfect stuffing for the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays! Featured at the Allrecipes.com site with a 5-star rating and over 2,000 reviews. It will rock your ever-loving turkey stuffing world!
Christmas Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing
Plus: 10 Tips for Making Stuffing for the Holidays
There’s an interesting story about my original recipe for Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing and you can read more about it here on the blog. For today, I will share the abridged version. However, this post is “new and improved” as it has been enhanced to include ten (10) very important helpful tips to include food safety precautions.
“Nothing against chopped apricots…”
After I got married, my younger sister gave me three Thanksgiving recipes: a roasted turkey recipe, a turkey giblet stock recipe and a stuffing recipe. I believe she found them in the late 1980s and they were either from Bon Appétit or Gourmet magazine. The turkey recipe was for Tangerine-Glazed Turkey and the stuffing recipe was for Sausage and Apple Stuffing. What was interesting is that the stuffing recipe called for chopped apricots. (If I were a betting woman, I would wager that the recipe was authored by Betty Rosbottom as there is a recipe for a cornbread stuffing with chopped apricots in her book, Betty Rosbottom’s Cooking School Cookbook. Plus, nearly every recipe I adored from Bon Appétit magazine was authored by her. But, more on that in a future post!) Nothing against chopped apricots, mind you, but they just don’t have the same kick with tartness or color punch that sweetened dried cranberries do. Nowadays in our family, we consider dried cranberries essential for turkey stuffing.
“…I decided that we were going to give it a whirl”
As I reviewed the recipe for New England Sausage, Apple and Dried Cranberry Stuffing in my November 1994 issue of Bon Appétit, I decided that we were going to give it a whirl. And we were going to pair it with the Roast Turkey with Maple Herb Butter and Gravy from the same issue for a true New England Thanksgiving experience. The turkey was outstanding. It delivered everything promised in the way of flavor and tenderness of the meat. But, for us, nothing beats a citrus flavored turkey. No matter what roasted turkey recipe we follow and try, we keep going back to our favorite Tangerine-Glazed Roasted Turkey!
However, and not to sound arrogant, we really liked my stuffing much better. Honestly, we did not care for the eggs in the recipe because we like our stuffing chunky and loose. Also, we didn’t care for the dried poultry seasoning as we found it too strong by using the 4 teaspoons called for. Besides, fresh sage and thyme would have been better choices. For all the bread called for in the recipe (12 cups), we thought only using 4 teaspoons of fresh rosemary was not nearly enough. We also like chopping our apples coarsely and purposely leave the skin intact both for color and texture.
In our recipe, we also incorporate grated carrots and a dry white wine in a 1:1 ratio with the Golden Tangerine Turkey Giblet Stock which just enhances the flavor of the stuffing’s bread cubes—whether gluten free or not! The idea for adding wine came from an Allrecipes.com recipe reviewer. This was a terrific idea that really elevated our recipe to a new level with regard to flavor dimension.
“When I submitted my recipe to Allrecipes.com…”
When I submitted my recipe to Allrecipes.com (actually, it was ThanksgivingRecipes.com before they consolidated their specialty recipe sites) in 1998, I called for turkey sausage because, back in the 1990s, low fat dieting was all the rage and turkey sausage was viewed as being a more healthful choice over pork sausage. For those who do not eat pork, this is a sensible substitution.
Also, I called for dried herbs with the exception of fresh parsley. Why? Well, when you are writing a recipe you tend to think in aggregate terms as to what people have on hand. In fact, the recipe in the November 1994 issue of Bon Appétit for New England Sausage, Apple and Dried Cranberry Stuffing called for both dried and fresh herbs as well. Plus, I thought knowledgeable cooks would simply exchange the proper amount of fresh herbs by multiplying the dried herbs called for by 3 as is standard practice.
Finally, I decided on scaling the recipe to fill a 10-pound bird so that the recipe could easily be adapted for higher weights. For instance, for a 14- to 16-pound bird, you would simply prepare one recipe and a half. For an 18- to 20-pound bird, you would double the recipe. For a 10- to 12-pound bird, you would simply follow the recipe as is. Easy-peasy. All bases covered.
“…the recipe went viral”
Over the next couple years, the recipe went viral via the Internet. Soon newspaper food editors, grocery store chains and turkey farms alike were sharing the recipe with their readers as well. The recipe can also be found in a few of the earlier AllRecipes printed cookbooks. Of course, they were kind and sent me courtesy copies of each book, as they did for each contributor, for which I was grateful.
As of this writing, the Allrecipes.com site shows a 5-star rating with over 2,000 reviews for my original recipe (posted here). Not too shabby! In all honesty, it has been sheer joy knowing that my recipe swept across the country and has become a Thanksgiving Day holiday favorite and tradition for so many families. To everyone who thanked me in their reviews, you are very welcome. It was my pleasure to share the recipe with you.
10 Tips for Making Stuffing or Dressing for Thanksgiving
Stuffing or dressing? No matter which term your family uses, we Americans love it—especially on Thanksgiving Day. The crispy exterior, the soft interior, the subtle crunch from the veggies, fruit such as apples or nuts and savory flavor notes from herbs and spices as well as meat, such as pork sausage, make it the quintessential holiday comfort food.
In addition to our recipe for 5-Star Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing, please review the following general tips for making homemade turkey stuffing or dressing successfully. We hope you find them helpful!
- To play it especially safe, should you have food safety concerns, skip stuffing the turkey altogether and cook your “dressing” by baking it in a buttered casserole dish or using a crockpot or slow cooker (as the moist heat and even cooking simulates the inside of a turkey) if oven space is limited. When I do make stuffing or dressing outside the bird, I like to add more wet ingredients (butter and stock) to ensure moisture. I also bake it covered in the oven to further ensure a moist and soft interior. Then, during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking, I drizzle melted butter on top then continue baking uncovered to create a nicely browned and crisp top.
- To create more flavor depth if baking your dressing outside the bird, drizzle some of the pan juices from the roasted turkey over the top before serving. It makes an incredible difference everyone will enjoy.
- If your turkey was not purchased fresh but was frozen, make sure it is fully thawed before stuffing. Thawing will require 3 to 5 days, depending on the size of your bird, so plan ahead. (The general rule is that it takes 1 day per every 4 pounds to thaw.) Safely thaw in the refrigerator breast side up in unopened package on a large tray. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature.
- If stuffing your turkey, make sure your vegetables are cooked until tender and meats are cooked thoroughly (because the inside of a turkey does not get hot enough to cook them) and that the stuffing has cooled to room temperature first before stuffing the turkey.
- To prevent mushy or soggy stuffing, always use bread that is dried out or toasted (in the oven or countertop toaster) and made into croutons. Also, mix the dry and wet ingredients just before stuffing your turkey. Until then, keep the prepared dry and wet ingredients separate. If you prefer stuffing that is more compact and cake-like, and not loose, consider adding a lightly beaten egg or two. If you have concerns about using eggs and cooking the stuffing inside the bird, use an egg substitute.
- Always stuff your turkey just before roasting it to prevent bacterial contamination. For this important food safety reason, never stuff your turkey several hours in advance.
- Always stuff the body and neck cavities of your turkey loosely with stuffing. Never firmly pack or overstuff it as the stuffing will expand as it bakes and while the turkey roasts. Also, if the stuffing is packed too tightly, it will not cook through properly.
- Cook your stuffing until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F. on a meat thermometer. Should your turkey finish roasting before the stuffing is done (meaning the stuffing has not yet reached 165 degrees F.), while the turkey is resting remove the stuffing and transfer it to a buttered casserole dish then finish baking in the oven. Always remove all the stuffing before carving the turkey. Never leave stuffing inside a roasted turkey when storing in the refrigerator.
- Prepare ¾ to 1 cup of stuffing per 1 pound of turkey for ample servings. After stuffing your turkey, bake remaining stuffing in a buttered casserole dish. I like to mingle both the stuffing cooked in the bird and the stuffing cooked outside the bird into one large serving dish for the table. This way, the super-moist stuffing from the bird is enhanced with the crisp stuffing baked on the side.
- Finally, one more important food safety message: Never leave a roasted turkey and stuffing stand at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Always wrap leftovers securely and refrigerate. Turkey (if removed from the bone) and stuffing leftovers will keep refrigerated up to 2 to 3 days.
Meanwhile, be adventuresome. Play around with the ingredients for your stuffing or dressing. Change things up from year to year with different breads, herbs, spices, fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, nuts, potatoes, rice, seafood such as oysters and shrimp, sausages, other meats such as bacon or ham, and spirits like liqueurs or wine to reflect regional or world cuisines such as French or Italian. If you have concerns, consider a dry run and taste test well in advance of the holiday by preparing a portion of the recipe and cooking it inside a roasting chicken. Keep playing around with ingredients until you find your new favorite!
What makes our 5-Star Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing wicked good?
Quite simply, the fresh savory and tart-sweet flavors, as well as the beautiful festive colors, are so appealing and ideal for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. No other stuffing recipe we have tasted compares! And, if you prefer sweet cornbread in your stuffing, just try our recipe variation below for Sausage Apple and Cranberry with Sweet Cornbread Stuffing. It will rock your ever-loving turkey stuffing world.
Let me tell you…when that Brandy and Tangerine-Glazed Roasted Turkey starts roasting, with the stuffing inside, an amazing and very fragrant aroma will float throughout your house! It is just not Thanksgiving for us if we don’t make a tangerine-glazed bird with our 5-Star Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing. After the bird has roasted and rested just a tad bit, we remove the very moist stuffing baked inside the cavity and then mix it into the batch that we baked in a covered casserole. For a crunchy top, we remove the casserole lid and bake it an additional 10 minutes or so. You can also drizzle on a little melted butter before baking it uncovered for some added crunch and buttery flavor.
Thanksgiving Day or the Christmas holiday just doesn’t get better than this.
To learn more about making turkey stuffing or dressing, please see our Turkey Stuffing 101 tutorial complete with step-by-step photos and instructions.
More Fabulous Thanksgiving Recipes
Meanwhile, below are links to all of my Thanksgiving recipes to date here on the blog (to include component recipes) for Brandy and Tangerine-Glazed Roasted Turkey.
Brandy and Tangerine-Glazed Roasted Turkey
Includes article and links to all of my Thanksgiving recipes here on the blog as well as including the recipe for Golden Thanksgiving Pan Gravy. In addition, a list of roasting times based on the weight of the bird, and whether you will be roasting your turkey stuffed or unstuffed, is included.
Also, you will find oodles of tips for each component recipe listed below that can be found all in one handy place—in the Notes section of the recipe for Brandy and Tangerine-Glazed Roasted Turkey .
- Herbed Tangerine Compound Butter
- Roasting Pan Juices
- Cider, Citrus & Herb Aromatics
- Apple Cider, Brandy & Tangerine Glaze
- Golden Thanksgiving Pan Gravy
Each recipe contributes phenomenal depth of flavor for an exceptional roasted holiday turkey.
Cider and Citrus Turkey Brine with Herbs & Spices
Includes the article, General Brining Tips for a Tender & Juicy Bird. This recipe is one of the most popular here on Wicked Good Kitchen! Everyone loves it as it produces a flavorful, tender and juicy holiday turkey.
Golden Tangerine Turkey Giblet Stock
Includes the article 10 Tips for Making Turkey Giblet Stock and a recipe for Day-After Turkey Stock. This is one special turkey stock you will not want to miss. It’s a favorite at our house and it just isn’t Thanksgiving without it!
Gingered Butternut Squash and Carrot Bisque
Switch up your autumn soup game and treat yourself, family and friends to this extraordinary twist on classic Butternut Squash Soup. The bright flavor notes of carrot, citrus and ginger, with a whisper of warm coriander, shine through for a new favorite Thanksgiving soup course or even a special everyday warming winter soup.
Brandied Apple and Orange Cranberry Sauce
There is nothing quite like homemade Cranberry Sauce made with whole spices, an apple cider reduction, chopped tart apple, fresh navel orange juice and zest, and sweetened just right, with a splash of Grand Marnier® orange brandy liqueur. Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving Day doesn’t get better than this!
Grandma’s Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread
Truly, this is one special recipe for Homemade Sweet Cornbread as it is made with an all-natural Homemade Cornbread Mix to avoid food additives found in commercially made cornbread mixes. The recipe itself, for Grandmas’ Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread, was adapted from my own grandmother’s recipe and includes a gluten-free option. Everyone loves this recipe as well as the variations for Buttery Sweet Cornbread Cake and Buttery Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread Cake—inspired by the world famous cornbread at Bonge’s Tavern in Perkinsville, Indiana.
Cranberry Spice Jam
Inspired by our family’s Spiced Orange-Cranberry Sauce recipe, this jam is ruby-red gorgeous. The perfect amount of fresh orange juice or apple cider is added for adequate acidity and tartness while balanced with just the right amount of sweetness. And, all it needs is a tiny whisper of spices, such as cinnamon and cloves, to enhance the citrus flavor notes and make it taste just like Christmas.
Best wishes for a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving holiday with your families!
Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!
Quite simply, the fresh savory and tart-sweet flavors, as well as the beautiful festive colors, are so appealing and ideal for either Christmas or Thanksgiving. No other stuffing we have tasted compares. It will rock your ever-loving turkey stuffing world!
- 5½ cups cubed white European style or sourdough bread, see Notes for Gluten Free Options
- 2½ cups cubed whole grain wheat bread, see Notes for Gluten Free Options
- 1½ pounds ground pork sausage
- 1½ cups chopped yellow onion
- 1½ cups grated carrot (2 to 3 large carrots)
- 1¼ cups chopped celery
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 large Honeycrisp apple, cored & coarsely chopped
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored & coarsely chopped
- 1¼ cups dried cranberries
- ½ cup minced fresh parsley
- ¾ cup Golden Tangerine Turkey Giblet Stock
- ¾ cup fine-quality Chardonnay or dry white wine
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Bake the white or sourdough and whole wheat bread cubes in one layer on prepared baking sheets until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a bowl and let them cool.
- In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Add the carrots, celery and herbs; cook for 2 minutes while stirring to blend flavors. Pour sausage mixture over bread in bowl. Stir in chopped apples cranberries and parsley. Drizzle the stock, wine and melted butter over stuffing mixture; toss well. Allow stuffing to cool completely before stuffing turkey. Spoon loosely into turkey cavities to fill.
- To bake stuffing separately outside the bird, bake in a generously buttered casserole dish in a preheated 350ºF oven for 30 to 40 minutes, covered. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the lid. Drizzle desired amount of butter over the top. (Two tablespoons will do.) Return to oven and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes for a crisp, golden brown top.
If you will be ordering the bread from your local bakery, order the loaves unsliced. This way, you can slice the bread into thick slices for the ideal 1-inch cubes. For traditional bread (not gluten free), we prefer sourdough bread over other white breads (French, etc.) and prefer 7-Grain or Whole Grain Wheat bread from the bakery.
If desired, you can “plump” or rehydrate the dried cranberries by pouring boiling water over them, in a heatproof Pyrex® bowl or measuring cup, and allow them to stand for 10 to 15 minutes just like you would raisins. You can also “plump” them by using apple cider, apple juice, orange juice, brandy or wine, etc. (After “plumping”, drain well before using in recipes.) We just skip this step for the stuffing and like the texture as is when baked inside the bird, but everyone is different.
Advance Prep Tips:
Stuffing can be assembled, but not baked, one (1) day ahead. Once cool, keep covered and chilled in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature (about 1 hour) before stuffing turkey or baking in a separate casserole dish. See below for Slow-Cooker Directions.
Slow-Cooker Directions: Once stuffing reaches room temperature, spoon into buttered slow-cooker and cover. On low setting, cook stuffing for 3 to 4 hours until heated through and apples are softened and fork-tender. Transfer to serving dish for the holiday table.
IMPORTANT: If baking stuffing inside the turkey, after roasting make certain that the temperature of the stuffing reads at least 165ºF.
Recipe Variation & Gluten Free Options:
Variation: For Sausage Apple and Cranberry with Sweet Cornbread Stuffing, use 4 cups white European style or sourdough bread, cubed, and 4 cups of your favorite sweet cornbread, cubed.
For the Homemade Gluten Free Crouton Options: Consider the following homemade gluten free bread recipe options below to make gluten free croutons for stuffing:
Original Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com
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