Sage Sausage Stuffing: A Staple for Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

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Sage Sausage Stuffing is a staple in our annual Thanksgiving feast. Made with homemade cornbread and challah bread cubes, sage sausage and fresh and dried fruit. I know you will love this recipe as much as we do! (updated Nov 2019)

3 trays of sage sausage stuffing

Sage Sausage Stuffing – the Cornerstone of a Great Thanksgiving Meal

In 2015 I started to document my family’s must-have Thanksgiving recipes – the ones that make the meal a tradition, at least for us. First it was the turkey stock, then the stuffing cubes, then I put it all together with this sage sausage stuffing recipe. Then of course came the turkey.

How this Cornbread Sausage Stuffing Recipe Evolved

When we started hosting Thanksgiving in the stone age a long time ago, we used The Silver Palate Cornbread Sausage stuffing recipe as our starting point. If I deviate too far from it, the natives get restless. But as with all recipes, this one has evolved. After reading a 2001 Sheila Lukins recipe in Parade Magazine, I started using dried cherries and apricots in my stuffing, in addition to fresh apples. I also started making my own bread cubes. Since then, I have tested new combinations of bread, variations on the sausage and improved my stock. This recipe’s roots are still visible, but you’ll see a very strong imprint from our family traditions in both the ingredients and techniques.

This stuffing which uses my homemade turkey stock and stuffing cubes - prep it ahead and you'll have a traditional deeply flavorful stuffing for Thanksgiving

How to Make Sage Sausage Stuffing for Turkey

  • Make your turkey stock (can be weeks in advance and frozen)
  • Prepare stuffing cubes from cornbread and challah. Can also be done the day before or even a few days before.
  • Have a very large bowl ready with bread cubes in it.
  • Sauté the onions – low and slow. Add to large bowl.
  • Sauté the apples – high heat for a quick sear and color. Add to large bowl.
  • Optionally, throw your dried fruit in that hot pan and give it a quick warm up in that leftover buttery goodness. Add to large bowl.
  • Add herbs and spices and stock to large bowl and mix it all together.
  • Place in oiled or buttered casserole pans, cover with foil and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them

Our family's Thanksgiving tradition: sage sausage, cornbread, and challah stuffing w dried fruit, nuts, apples and lots and lots of love.

Can I Prepare this Cornbread Sausage Stuffing in Advance?

I always prepare this at least one day before Thanksgiving Day. All I have to do on the actual holiday, is bake it after the turkey comes out of the oven while the turkey rests.

Can I Freeze Sage Sausage Dressing?

Shhhh …. don’t tell my family, but I have hidden away a small bit of this stuffing and frozen it for a treat at another time of the year. Occasionally, I’ll admit, I have even forgotten about it. But it’s always been delicious when defrosted and reheated – like saving a little morsel of Thanksgiving past.

Substitutions that Work in this Sage Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Over the years I have used different types of bread in this stuffing from white to whole wheat to sourdough. Always cornbread but the other types have changed. I am now pretty settled on challah (egg bread) and cornbread. But definitely switch it up to your tastes.

I wouldn’t hesitate to change the dried fruits you use or the nuts. We love the apricots and cherries but I bet cranberries would be a nice change of pace. Pecans really work but taste is in the palate of the eater – don’t be afraid to try a different nut or leave the nuts out.

Can this Sausage Dressing be Vegetarian?

So how can a sage sausage stuffing be vegetarian? Well I almost always have at least one person who either won’t eat sausage or is a vegetarian. Since I make such a large volume of this stuffing, I just mix it all together without the sausage, portion out a bit of it in a small pan, and then mix the sausage in to the rest of the mixture.

If you are feeding a vegetarian, you need to portion out the stuffing mixture before you add the turkey stock and use vegetable stock instead.

Beth’s Favorite Supplies for Making Challah Bread Stuffing

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Helpful Tips and Tricks for Sage Sausage Stuffing:

Prep Ahead

  • As mentioned above, this recipe can be completely prepared the day before so all you have to do is pop it in the oven while your turkey is resting. We are able to “run” the 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day because the only thing left to do is cook the turkey and bake the sides while the bird rests.

Make the Stock

  • You can absolutely cut corners and buy store-bought stock, but really, make your own turkey stock. It can be done well in advance and refrigerated or frozen and it just tastes better.

Make the Bread Cubes

  • Make your own bread cubes – this step is a must. It is not hard and they taste so good. The variety is up to you. I have used up to three kinds of bread but we always use cornbread (I make my own and just let it sit on the counter and dry out a bit.) If you use a packaged mix or find a store with prepared cornbread, it will work fine. In addition to the cornbread, I used to use white bread and whole wheat but tried challah bread a few years ago and have become a convert. Challah and cornbread are now our standard. If you are not familiar, challah is an eggy Jewish bread that is fairly easy to find year round at Trader Joe’s and generally on Friday’s at bakeries in both grocery stores and specialty stores. Or you can make mine or my friend Lonni’s recipe.

Don’t Buy the Sausage at the Last Minute

  • For the sausage – I use Jimmy Dean’s Breakfast Sausage with Sage. I have asked a meat department to make some for me or occasionally they will have it in the meat case, but Jimmy Dean’s can be purchased ahead and well, it tastes fantastic in the stuffing. But apparently we’re not the only ones that think so because stores often run out near Thanksgiving. Plan your shopping accordingly.

More Thanksgiving Recipes

Appetizers and Cocktails

Turkey, Trimmings and a Vegetarian Main Course

Homemade Stuffing Cubes -- A Simple Way to Elevate your Thanksgiving Meal

Preparing your stuffing cubes couldn't be easier and will make your stuffing taste the best ever!

How to Make Turkey Stock for your Thanksgiving Feast

Making your own turkey stock can be done weeks in advance and adds so much flavor to your gravy, stuffing and leftover turkey soup creations!

How to Dry Brine Turkey for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

We tried so many methods - dry brining is the only one that works every time. No mess - by Thanksgiving day, all you have to do is roast the turkey.

An Elegant Vegetarian Entree for your Holiday Meals

This Vegetable Wellington will wow your vegetarian guests but your meat-eating diners will love it as well.

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie with Stuffing Crust

Photo Credit: pastrychefonline.com

This super creative shepherd's pie with a stuffing crust will be your favorite way to use up leftovers or an unusual main course on Thanksgiving Day.

Side Dishes

How to Cook Green Cauliflower – Roast your Way to Success

Roasted cauliflower - green, purple, yellow or white - is a simple side dish easily accented with pomegranate seeds to brighten up the table. Can even be made a day ahead and served room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower with Pomegranate Two Ways

Make this with or without the extra yogurt sauce - pop a few pomegranate seeds on top and it will look stunning on your table!

Roasted Delicata Squash with Pomegranate Molasses and Date Syrup

Another make-ahead marvel and remember - you don't have to peel delicata squash!

Squash Soup Shooters to Toast the Arrival of Fall

Don't want to serve a soup course? Serve this in little shot glasses as an appetizer. Your guests will think you're brilliant.

Cranberry Orange Jam: A Simple Staple for the Holiday Season

This is a simple refrigerator jam you can make ahead - serve with the turkey or the day after on sandwiches.

Pomegranate-Glazed Hasselback Butternut Squash

Photo Credit: thewimpyvegetarian.com

This creative dish can serve as a side dish or a main for vegetarians and vegans.

The Best Dinner Roll Recipe for Thanksgiving (or Whenever)

Photo Credit: pastrychefonline.com

If you love to make bread, Jenni's dinner roll recipe will be a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving feast.

Crazy Good Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese

Photo Credit: www.fearlessdining.com

At our house, no matter how many carbs are on the menu, mashed potatoes are a must. This recipe uses cream cheese for an extra level of velvety goodness.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

Photo Credit: familyspice.com

And you all know my love for pomegranates, this cranberry sauce uses pomegranate juice and arils in a simple and delicious version of cranberry sauce.

The Finishing Touch

Pie Dough for Dummies -- Top Tips for the Doughaphobic

Once you master pie crust, you can make any kind of pie you want from pumpkin to pecan to apple. And if I can do it, anyone can.

The Now Famous Key Lime Pie Recipe -- Perfect Addition to your Holiday Menu

Sometimes it's nice to make a new tradition. This key lime pie is now a must every year, even though it's not rooted in traditional Thanksgiving fare - it's our family tradition.

Cranberry Orange Rugelach for Aunt Marilyn

I created this recipe the year that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapped - it's a great way to use that cranberry jam or get ready for holiday cookie parties.

James Beard's Persimmon Bread: A Perfect Way to Use Hachiya Persimmons

This persimmon bread came about because I had a plethora of hachiya persimmons. It's a wonderful addition to fall and Thanksgiving flavors. Give it a try!

Sage sausage, cornbread, and challah stuffing - our family's Thanksgiving tradition: with dried fruit, nuts, apples and lots and lots of love.
5 from 8 votes
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Sage Sausage Stuffing

This stuffing/dressing is layered with flavor starting with the homemade stuffing cubes which are enhanced with sage sausage, dried cherries and apricots, fresh seared apples, and toasted pecans. A mouthful of Thanksgiving flavor in every single bite.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword DIY Stuffing Cubes, sage sausage, Thanksgiving
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 14
Calories 367 kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 cups bread cubes
  • 1 ½ pounds breakfast sausage with sage either Jimmy Dean's which will sell out close to Thanksgiving or get your butcher to make it
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 ½ cups pecans coarsely chopped and toasted
  • 2 onions chopped, about 2.5 cups
  • 3 tart apples chopped and not peeled
  • 4 tablespoons butter 1/2 stick
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons dried thyme or about double if fresh
  • 1 -2 teaspoons dried sage or about double if fresh
  • ½ cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 - 2 cups turkey stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Have a giant bowl ready for mixing it all up and to put the ingredients in as you saute them. I keep the sausage separate in case I have to make a small pan of stuffing without sausage in it.
  2. Also prep your stuffing pans - probably not necessary but a little greasing couldn't hurt.
  3. Brown sausage and drain. I leave a bit of drippings in the pans for flavor to kickstart the onions in the next step. (unless you are making a pan of stuffing vegetarian)
  4. Saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of the butter - low and slow - I like to add some salt and pepper and thyme here to again layer the flavors. You want the onions translucent but not brown. They'll take a while - you can prep other stuff while they are working - just stir occasionally and make sure they are not browning.
  5. Remove the onions from the pan and add the other 2 tablespoons of butter for sautéing the apple. Turn heat up to high or at least medium high. You want to sear the outside of the apples without turning them to mush. I add a pinch of thyme and sage to the apples.
  6. Remove the apples to your bowl and now, totally optional, saute the dried fruit in the remains of the apple pan just to soften them up and use the flavor in the pan.
  7. Mix everything together in the large bowl including adding the chopped parsley, sage, thyme, and salt and pepper. After thoroughly mixed, add about 1.5 cups of broth and mix again.
  8. Put the stuffing in your stuffing pans, cover with foil and refrigerate. I always do this the day before. I usually bake them after the turkey has come out - at 375 for about 30 minutes. Check once for moistness. Can always add some stock. Also, if you like crisp edges, take foil off near the end and let it finish cooking "topless".

Recipe Notes

A loaf of Semifreddo's challah purchased at Trader Joe's will yield about 10 cups of bread cubes. 6 slices of store-bought sourdough bread will yield about 4 cups of bread cubes. One 8X8 pan of cornbread will yield 9 - 12 cups of bread cubes.

 

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19 Responses to Sage Sausage Stuffing: A Staple for Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

  1. Alli November 9, 2019 at 10:55 pm #

    Love the ingredients and flavors in this stuffing!

    • Beth Lee November 10, 2019 at 9:40 am #

      Thank you! And thanks for stopping by to let me know!

  2. Beth November 9, 2019 at 9:35 pm #

    5 stars
    Thanksgiving was made for stuffing like this one! Love, love the addition of sausage and dried cherries – delicious!

    • Beth Lee November 10, 2019 at 9:39 am #

      So glad you like it – we look forward to it every year!

  3. Sandra Shaffer November 4, 2018 at 6:20 pm #

    5 stars
    I never have enough oven space on the day of Thanksgiving so this recipe is going to be a time saver making it in advance. Love all those delicious flavors, especially the sausage!

    • Beth Lee November 4, 2018 at 7:17 pm #

      Exactly! Just throwing it in while the turkey rests but having it all ready to go is the best!

  4. Claire October 6, 2018 at 6:07 pm #

    5 stars
    What a delicious stuffing.
    I made this for our Christmas in July (I’m in Australia) and it was perfect.
    Came back to find the link so I can send it to some friends for their Christmas feast this year.
    It had such a great mix of sweet and savory

    • Beth Lee October 6, 2018 at 8:07 pm #

      Yay! I am so glad to know you are enjoying it all the way in Australia and sharing it with friends. This really puts a smile on my face and we needed that today in the US!

  5. Linda July 13, 2018 at 7:07 am #

    5 stars
    Looks delicious!
    https://coolkitchenutensils.com

  6. Linda July 13, 2018 at 7:07 am #

    5 stars
    Your site looks great – the food looks delicious! Thank you for sharing the resource.
    Cool Kitchen Utensil

  7. Little Cooking Tips December 11, 2017 at 12:37 am #

    5 stars
    Hi Beth!
    It’s been so long since our last visit, it’s embarrassing. So glad to be back here to read your new post! Gorgeous stuffing.
    We hope everything is better, we just read your reply to our comment 2 posts back (in April), it didn’t reach our mailbox for some reason:/ We understand that you didn’t want to comment publicly of course. And honestly wish things are now better, from the bottom of our hearts.
    It’s been crazy here as well, and it has been a tough, difficult year. We managed to post recipes every now and then though, and share the positive things in life, like we always try to do.
    Sending you lots (and lots) of greetings from Athens!
    Mirella and Panos

    • Beth Lee December 13, 2017 at 7:55 am #

      Always a bright spot in my day when I see your comments Mirella and Panos. I am sorry to hear that your year was/is so difficult. Though I am still unable to write at great length about our situation, I have been speaking about it I guess through food and cooking – on Instagram more than on my blog. You can see how infrequent my posting has been. We tragically lost our son on March 3. My husband, my daughter, and I struggle every day but also choose to live life and find joy as we know that is exactly what he would want us to do. My heart is broken, sometimes I think literally — he was also my companion in food with his incredible taste buds, eye behind the camera and marketing genius all at the young age of 22. He had a brain and personality that just lit up the room and energized everyone he met. If you want to get to know him, I can send you his memory web site. I know this is hard to read almost as much as it is hard for me to write. But it is my reality now and we try every single day to somehow form our life around this giant hole that is in our hearts. With love and hope from San Jose — Beth

      • Little Cooking Tips December 15, 2017 at 1:45 am #

        5 stars
        Sometimes words are not enough to express one’s feelings… These are devasting news and we are literally out of words. We are so so so sorry to hear about this tragedy Beth… You have our sincere, deepest sympathy for this profound loss…we really mean it.
        He will still live in your beautiful memories…! Try to think that he is with God now dear Beth. Of course, this offers little comfort for you and your family, we know, and please don’t get this the wrong way. It’s one of the thoughts we have ourselves, for good people that we loved and lost.
        Please, do send us the link for the site in his memory.
        And you are right: living life and finding joy is indeed what he would want you to do.
        Such horrible news, literally brought tears in our eyes.
        Sending you our love, our deepest sympathies, and a huge hug…!

  8. Rita November 22, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    5 stars
    This is quite like my husband’s traditional turkey stuffing, minus the dried fruit. He’s Italian, so of course sausage!

    • Beth Lee December 13, 2017 at 7:33 am #

      I hope we get a chance to cook and share a meal together soon. I am just so pleased to have met you through SFPFS Rita.

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