This Italian Sausage Apple Stuffing has the most delicious combination of sweet and savory flavors. As an added bonus, this recipe can be made ahead of time!
What Italian Sausage Apple Stuffing Tastes Like
The Sweet – The sweetness in this recipe comes from the apples and raisins. The apples are mildly sweet and slightly softened after being cooked. The raisins pack more of a sweet punch and have a delicious chewy texture.
The Savory – The remaining ingredients are savory but much of the rich savory flavor comes from the Italian sausage, garlic, onion and … you guessed it! Butter! If you want to add a little extra va-va-voom to your stuffing, try using spicy Italian sausage!
The Combination – The subtle sweetness in this recipe balances and enhances the savory flavors. So, the combination of sweet and savory makes every bite a mouthful of magic. This isn’t only true for this recipe but across countless recipes!
That Texture Though – Often the flavor of food is the only thing people focus on… or they THINK that is the only thing they focus on. Texture adds way more to a dish than many realize. Recipes that have a combination of textures enhance the flavor and overall experience.
This recipe has a little bit of everything. The bread cubes are crispy on top but soft on the bottom. Pecans add crunch while the raisins are deliciously chewy (which is my favorite thing about this recipe). The apples are soft but still have a bit of freshness to them and the sausage is hearty. Combining all these textures into a single bite is nothing short of pure crispy, crunchy, chewy happiness.
Make Ahead Stuffing
This stuffing is a great recipe to make ahead of time. I actually recommend it! Prep and assemble the entire recipe the day before. So, all you have to do is pop it in the oven for 40 minutes the day of!
Make the recipe up until it comes time to bake it in the oven (step 5). Stop here! Cover the stuffing with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Then take the stuffing out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before putting it in the oven to allow it to come to room temperature.
Remove the plastic wrap and cover the stuffing with foil. Then proceed with Step 5 of the recipe. It is as easy as that!
How to Make Italian Sausage Apple Stuffing
Other Make Ahead Thanksgiving Sides
Looking for other make-ahead recipes for Thanksgiving? You are in luck! Make up a batch of my delicious green beans with tons of toppings. Then throw together this easy 5-minute gravy to pour over slow cooker mashed potatoes or turkey… or everything on your plate! Wanna know the best part? None of these recipes take up any oven space! Talk about Thanksgiving success!
Loving the thought of an easy stress-free Thanksgiving? Checkout my free ultimate guide to a make-ahead Thanksgiving!
Dressing vs Stuffing
By definition stuffing is a mixture that is stuffed inside something, like a turkey, before it is cooked. Dressing is a mixture cooked in a pan outside of the turkey.
Here’s the kicker though! Most people use the terms stuffing and dressing interchangeably. This recipe is an example of that. So, although this recipe is labeled as stuffing, it is not stuffed inside a turkey. It is cooked in a baking dish like a casserole!
I grew up in Minnesota and I almost always use the term stuffing for everything. However, I noticed recently my mom uses the term dressing. So, I have no idea where I picked up my terminology since my mom was the one who taught me to cook as a kid!
What kind of bread to use for stuffing?
You can use pretty much any type of bread. The kind of bread isn’t all that important. However, it is important the bread be cut into cubes and entirely dried out. The cubes should be crunchy almost like croutons. If the bread isn’t dried out, your stuffing could turn out too soggy and mushy. Follow the steps below!
How to make bread cubes for stuffing.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Cut bread into 1/2″-1″ cubes. I usually use a loaf of ciabatta bread. It is easy to cut up and usually the exact amount needed for this recipe. However, any kind of bread will do!
- Spread the bread cubes over a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread cubes and toss them with your hands to coat.
- Put the bread cubes in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until dried and crunchy. Keep in mind different cube sizes and different varieties of bread my require more or less cooking time to dry out. So, keep a close on them!
- Remove the bread cubes from the oven and allow them to cool. Either use immediately in the recipe or store in a sealed baggie until needed!
Italian Sausage Apple Stuffing
For the Dried Bread Cubes:
- 1 lb. bread*, 6-7 cups cubed
- olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb. Italian Sausage
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 apples, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1-1 1/2 c raisins
- 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- dried bread cubes, from above
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
To Make Dried Bread Cubes:
- Cut bread into 1/2"-1" cubes. Spread cubes over cookie sheet in a single layer and toss with a Tablespoon of olive oil. Put the cookie sheet in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
- To Make Stuffing:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Add 1 Tablespoon of butter and the onion to a large skillet over medium to medium/high heat. Cook for a minute or two and then add the Italian sausage to the skillet. While stirring, cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Then add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30-60 seconds while stirring. Turn off the heat.
- Add the pecans, raisins, apples, dried bread cubes, thyme, salt and pepper to the sausage mixture. Stir until well combined and pour the stuffing mixture into a 9x13 baking dish.
- Whisk together the eggs, chicken stock and melted butter until well combined and pour over stuffing mixture. If making this recipe ahead stop here! Cover the stuffing with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until 30 minutes before you are ready to bake it.**
- Cover the baking dish with foil and let the stuffing sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soak up the chicken stock and various flavors. Then put the stuffing in the preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.