Sausage Stuffing

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Our Southern spin on the classic Thanksgiving side delivers rich, smoky flavor from a favorite regional ingredient.

Sausage Stuffing
Photo:

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
Servings:
8 servings

There are a few iconic dishes that we tend to enjoy only on Thanksgiving, rarely seeing or making them on other days of the year. Roast turkey is one, cranberry sauce is another, and stuffing—arguably the best dish of the day—is the third.

Think about it: Gravy, green beans, Brussels sprouts, mac and cheese, and dinner rolls all come across your plate throughout the year. But these other dishes? They are more rare, and thus more special.

Since everyone waits all year for these beloved dishes, you should make the most of them. Our recipe here for Sausage Stuffing helps you do so. You don’t have to spend a ton of time and effort making it, and the flavor and texture are hands-down worlds above anything you’d find in a box or bag. 

Sausage Stuffing Ingredients

You don’t need an arsenal of ingredients to make this tasty side, just a few well chosen ones. Soft French bread (more on that below) is the base and bulk of the dish. Smoked sausage (more on that below, too) offers loads of meaty goodness in every bite. Butter lends richness, and onion and celery create a savory backbone.

You don’t need the whole “Scarborough Fair” litany of herbs for the classic flavor you want; parsley and sage will do the trick. Chicken stock and eggs moisten the dish and bind it together.

Sausage Stuffing ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How to Make Sausage Stuffing

A few simple steps will ensure success. First, you cube the bread and toast it; this works wonders for the final texture of the dish, allowing the bread to dry out enough to soak up all the flavors without turning gummy.

Next, you brown the sausage to render some of its fat (which you keep) and add browned, caramelized edges. Then you cook onions and celery in the sausage drippings and butter until they’re soft; you don’t want to bite into crunchy bits in the finished stuffing.

The final steps are to whisk together chicken stock, eggs, and seasonings with the bread, sausage, and onion mixture, pour into a casserole dish, and bake for just 30 minutes.

What’s the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

The answer to this question is more complicated (and pricklier) than you might think.

Traditionally, stuffing refers to a mixture that’s used to stuff something—and in the case of Thanksgiving, that would be a turkey—whereas dressing gets cooked outside the bird.

But stuffing the bird has fallen out of favor, for reasons involving food safety and turkey quality, and the same bready mixture is often called stuffing even when it’s baked in a casserole dish.

Regional differences seem to dictate what you call this classic Thanksgiving side: If you’re from the South, you tend to call it dressing; if you’re from other parts of the country, you probably call it stuffing (even if it isn’t stuffed into anything).

I also know many Southerners who argue that dressing is made from cornbread, while stuffing is made from bread. And it’s in that spirit that we present to you this stuffing recipe—made with bread, baked in a casserole dish, and great with your Thanksgiving feast.

Can I Substitute a Different Kind of Sausage?

Yes, you absolutely can. We love Conecuh for its Southern roots (it’s a family-owned and operated company in Alabama) and its superior quality. The original variety we suggest is milder than its hickory version, with more pronounced notes of sage that feel appropriate for the holiday. But you could use a different brand of smoked sausage if you’d like, or use crumbled, sautéed breakfast sausage. Either way you go, the sausage will provide most of this stuffing’s robust flavor.

Can I Substitute a Different Kind of Bread?

You can, with a caveat. We call for soft French bread here, and that’s definitely what you need—not anything dense or hearty like baguette, ciabatta, or artisanal sourdough. You want soft bread with an open, tender crumb; it’ll toast well and soak up the liquid better than those heartier styles. So you could also try soft Italian bread, Cuban bread, or (if you can find it) a soft sourdough.

Sausage Stuffing

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Can I Make Sausage Stuffing Ahead?

Sort of… This recipe is best when it’s mixed and baked shortly before serving, when the interior of the stuffing will be moist and flavorful and the top will have an irresistible crunch.

You can get a head start by toasting the bread a couple of days in advance and storing it in an airtight container. You can also brown the sausage and cook the onion-celery mixture a day or two ahead. Then you can simply stir everything together shortly before the feast and pop it in the oven.

We don’t recommend stirring everything together, like you would a strata, and storing it in the casserole dish a day or so ahead; doing so will give you more of a bread pudding texture than a stuffing texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. soft French bread, cubed

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, divided

  • 10 oz. Conecuh original sausage or other smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moons

  • 2 cups chopped onion

  • 1 cup chopped celery

  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage

  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 large eggs

  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Arrange 1 oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and another oven rack in the top third. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Bake at 400°F until toasted, 16 to 18 minutes, stirring and rotating pans after 8 minutes. Remove pans from oven and carefully move top oven rack to the middle. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

    bread cubes on sheet pan

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  3. While bread toasts, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage to pan; sauté until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

    Conecuh sausage in skillet

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, reserving drippings in pan. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to drippings and stir until melted. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and celery; cook until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

    onion and celery in skillet

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Remove pan from heat; stir in parsley and sage.

    onion and celery with herbs in skillet

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  4. Whisk together chicken stock, salt, pepper, and eggs in a very large bowl.

    whisking eggs and stock

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Add toasted bread, sausage, and onion mixture. Stir until well combined.

    sausage stuffing in a bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake on middle oven rack at 350°F until crisp on top, about 30 minutes.

    Sausage Stuffing

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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