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This apple sausage stuffing recipe is a sensational side dish. With sweetness from the apple, spice from the Italian sausage, tons of savory flavor from the aromatics and fresh herbs, and a hint of crunch from toasted pecans, it’s a perfect stuffing recipe.
I’m going to throw this out there: This is the best stuffing that I have ever had. It has a trifecta of stuffing goodness: sausage, sage, and leeks. Apple cider adds the flavors of fall and home. And the spicy Italian sausage gives it a kick that balances the sweet, tart apples in the most delicious way.
Table of Contents
Why You Will Love Sausage and Apple Stuffing
- It’s the ideal texture. Goodbye dry stuffing. By using both apple cider and chicken stock, the stuffing is kept moist and delicious throughout the cooking process.
- It’s perfectly balanced. Every component of this apple and sausage stuffing recipe is balanced. The spicy, savory sausage balances the sweet, tart apple. Fresh herbs balance the warm spices of the apple cider, and softened bread is balanced by the crunchy pecans.
- It’s actually flavorful. I’ve built layers of flavor into every component. Lots of herbs, aromatics, proper seasoning, butter, chicken broth, and cider make for an impactful and delicious stuffing.
- Cooking the aromatics in butter releases more flavor. Rosemary and sage are woody herbs whose full flavor is only released during the cooking process. In this stuffing I’ve cooked the herbs, leeks, and onions in butter first to make them more impactful.
Professional Tips for Making Apple Sausage Stuffing:
- Use fresh herbs. You can amplify the flavor of the stuffing by taking the extra time to chop fresh herbs rather than using dried herbs.
- Before adding the egg taste for seasoning. This is the number 1 thing I learned in a professional kitchen: taste as you go! Taste for salt and also for moisture. Depending on the variety and age of bread you use, you might need to use a little more stock. Tasting before adding the egg will keep it safe.
- Use rustic bread. By choosing a bread with more texture, you’ll create more little nooks and crannies where flavorful bits can nestle while the stuffing bakes. Using regular cubed white bread will still produce tasty stuffing, but quality bread can bring this recipe to the next level.
- Bread: I recommend using day-old bread for this stuffing. Leaving the bread out for a day dries it out a bit, allowing it to absorb more moisture. This is a phenomenal way to use leftover sourdough bread.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter in this recipe, which allows you to determine the seasoning of the dish. Be sure to taste the mixture before adding the egg to see if it tastes right to you.
- Onions: Yellow onions are best for this recipe, but you can also use sweet onions. I don’t recommend using a white onion or a red onion in this recipe.
- Leeks: I recommend using small leeks in this recipe. The size of leeks can vary pretty greatly, so try to find two that are on the smaller side. If you can only find large leeks, only use 1.
- Apples: For this recipe, I used Granny Smith apples. They provide a nice tartness and bite that complements the rich flavors in the stuffing. If you prefer a sweet apple, try Honeycrisp or gala.
- Salt: I always suggest kosher salt for my savory cooking. It is less salty by volume than table salt or sea salt, making it easier to season as you go.
- Black Pepper: A bit of fresh black pepper adds a note of complexity to the stuffing.
- Thyme: You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme for this recipe.
- Rosemary: Fresh rosemary is also recommended for this recipe. You will need about 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped. Rosemary can have a very strong flavor. Chopping it not only releases some of its essential oils to make it more fragrant but also prevents any one bite from having an overwhelming flavor.
- Sage: Fresh sage leaves are a wonderful addition to this recipe. Their taste and aroma will remind you of fall.
- Sausage: I recommend using hot Italian sausage. Find a brand where you can remove the casings from the sausage. If you’re sensitive to heat, you can use sweet Italian sausage instead. Get extra, and make some Italian Sausage Soup for your next meal!
- Chicken Stock: You can use either chicken stock or turkey stock for this recipe. Bonus points if you have homemade chicken stock available, I’ve made a homemade chicken stock tutorial so you can easily make your own! If you are buying stock from the grocery store, opt for a low-sodium option.
- Apple Cider: Just a little bit of apple cider keeps the stuffing moist and adds some delicious sweetness. The warm spices in the apple cider really elevate the dish.
- Egg: You will only need 1 egg for this recipe. I recommend combining all of the ingredients first and mixing the egg in last so that you can taste the stuffing before cooking it.
- Pecans: You can either purchase pre-toasted pecans, or toast whole pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer for 10 minutes in a preheated 350° oven or until you can smell them and the light parts of the pecans have turned a light golden brown.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Cornbread Stuffing: Substitute half of the bread cubes for cubed cornbread! This savory cornbread recipe is a perfect flavorful addition to your Thanksgiving table, along with any of my list of the 30 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes!
- Vegetarian: Simply use vegetable stock in place of the chicken broth and omit the sausage or use your favorite vegetarian variety. You might want to add a dash of chili flakes to replicate that sweet-heat flavor of the original.
- Vegan: Follow the same steps as above, but omit the egg as well. The stuffing will still be cohesive.
How to Make the Best Sausage Stuffing
Use these instructions to make this stuffing perfect every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spread bread crumbs in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisped and some are tinged with gold. Set aside to cool. If you used day old bread, you can skip this step.
Step 2: In a large skillet or other saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Step 3: Add the onions, leeks, apples, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Place in a large bowl.
Step 4: While the onions are cooking, cook your sausage in a skillet or medium saucepot over medium heat until brown and cooked through. Drain and add to the onion mixture in a large bowl. Add bread to the onion mixture and toss to evenly distribute the onions and sausage.
I try to keep my sausage in larger pieces so that it won’t get lost in the stuffing.
Step 5: Pour the stock and apple cider over the top of the bread mixture and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Add the egg and toss to coat.
By using both apple cider and chicken stock, the stuffing is kept moist and delicious throughout the cooking process.
Step 6: Spread into a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Step 7: Bake in your preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until the top is browned and the stuffing is heated through.
For a stunning presentation, try frying a few extra sage leaves right before serving the stuffing and laying them over top.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
After mixing everything together except the egg, taste the stuffing. Add additional kosher salt or black pepper as needed. Chicken stock varies in saltiness, so this will ensure an incredibly flavorful stuffing that isn’t overly salty. Then mix in the beaten egg and bake!
Frequently Asked Questions
Store leftover stuffing in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Freeze stuffing in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. You can reheat the stuffing in small portions from frozen.
For the most flavorful stuffing, don’t skimp on the aromatics. Gently cooking leeks and onions mellows and develops their flavors. The extra step is worth it. I also recommend using fresh herbs rather than dried, ensuring the stuffing stays moist while cooking, and tasting for seasoning before serving.
This stuffing is an important part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but you could also serve it alongside maple mashed sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and my potato dinner rolls! It might be good to also pull in some more green veggies with roasted brussels sprouts and leeks.
The sweet-spicy flavor would also pair beautifully with my spiced pumpkin dinner rolls or their herbaceous cousin, pumpkin herb dinner rolls. Serve it with mushroom pork chops or my foolproof rosemary chicken for an easy weeknight meal!
Cover the stuffing with a layer of tin foil, then reheat in an oven-safe dish at 350° F for 20 minutes or until heated through. If the stuffing is a bit dry, you can add a small amount of broth/stock before reheating. To crisp the stuffing, remove the foil after 20 minutes and continue reheating for another 15 minutes or so.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Apple Sausage Stuffing
- 6 cups day old rustic bread cut into roughly ½ inch cubes
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup yellow onions chopped
- 2 small leeks preparation instructions below
- 1 ½ cups apples pealed, cored and chopped (I used granny smith)
- Kosher salt
- fresh black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves finely chopped
- ½ pound hot Italian sausage casings removed (you can use sweet)
- 1 cup low sodium chicken or turkey stock bonus points for homemade!
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- ¼ cup toasted pecans See Note 1
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spread bread crumbs in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisped and some are tinged with gold. Set aside to cool. If you used day old bread, you can skip this step.
- In a large skillet or other saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions, leeks, apples, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Place in a large bowl.
- While the onions are cooking, cook your sausage in a skillet or medium saucepot over medium heat until brown and cooked through. Drain and add to the onion mixture in a large bowl. Add bread to the onion mixture and toss to evenly distribute the onions and sausage.
- Pour the stock and apple cider over the top of the bread mixture and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Add the egg and toss to coat.
- Spread into a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until the top is browned and the stuffing is heated through.
Before You Go!
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef-tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed side dish recipes!