Our family's holiday favorite, Sausage Cranberry Stuffing Dressing, is made with fresh crusty bread and has the perfect sweet-savory balance that is to die for. It's time to leave the boring stuffings behind!
This recipe is one part of our family's simple homemade Thanksgiving - you can see the other recipes (and decor) we use on AOC's All Thing Thanksgiving page.
You know those recipes that are probably not the best for you, but are so delicious they take a place of honor at every holiday meal? That is this recipe for sausage cranberry stuffing dressing.
We eat healthy the majority of the time in order to have special dishes like this. Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without it - and I'm hoping by sharing this, you'll join us, too, since this recipe really is incredible.
Notice how I'm calling it "stuffing dressing?" I never know whether to call this recipe a stuffing or dressing. I've always called it a stuffing, but because I don't ever actually stuff a turkey with it, I know I should be calling it dressing. But then will people think I'm talking about salad dressing? I gave up and just started calling it both.
Mostly we just call this our family's favorite holiday side dish - one we look forward to all year, obviously. I never stuff the turkey because it's a pain, frankly. It also takes longer to cook a turkey when stuffed and the stuffing is then really too moist and clumpy for me (here's the turkey recipe I make the most - it produces an amazing gravy!).
Baking this sausage cranberry stuffing dressing in a shallow pan produces a lovely crisp, crunchy top that is perfectly contrasted with the moist interior. Each bite is full of savory onion, sausage and homemade bread with just a touch of sweet from cranberries and a non-traditional ingredient.
Sausage Cranberry Stuffing Dressing
My recipe for sausage cranberry stuffing dressing is based on a much more decadent version that Brian's cousin is known for in our extended family (it seriously is the thing we all talk about every year at the holidays, it's so good). And while I don't have it in me to use the same amount of fat and sugar that he does, I certainly enjoy eating it when he serves it!
My version is a little less indulgent, but I think keeps the great flavor balance between sweet and savory.
The key ingredient, I believe, is using a quality bread - no dried, old packaged little cubes here. It's perfect with Easy Artisan Bread and also really good with Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread. But you don't have to use homemade bread, any good crusty bread will work.
And I don't bake it or leave it out for hours to dry, either - just a bit of airing while I make the other ingredients. I think fresher is better.
The ingredients include stuffing basics like onion & celery, plus sausage (we like it hot - it adds a nice spice), garlic, cranberries - and a very untraditional ingredient, a bit of brown sugar.
Wait - don't leave! Trust me, I know it's super odd to be adding sugar to stuffing, especially when we're trying to cut down on sugar.
But I promise it makes this dish so much better that the normal stuffing - and again, it's a once or twice a year thing, so this is the place it's okay to splurge a bit.
This is definitely a case of all the parts coming together to make something so much more than bread, onions, and celery would make. Just a few extra, sort of non-traditional ingredients is what elevates this to something people talk about.
I hear things like from people who've tried this stuffing:
"This is the best stuffing ever!"
"This is so good - and I don't even like stuffing!"
"This is so much better than regular stuffing."
"Are you making your dressing again?"
And so on - it's not just me, this really is the best stuffing and I'll never go back to regular old stuffing! Please give it a try - it just might become your family's favorite, too!
What readers are saying:
"I just have to say I made that sausage cranberry stuffing last year. I will never make any other kind of stuffing. By far the best I've ever experienced."
"I made this for Thanksgiving and as with every recipe I make from your site, it was spectacular and we loved it."
Incredible Sausage Cranberry Stuffing Dressing Recipe
- 1 loaf artisan bread* homemade Easy Artisan Bread is great
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage mild or hot (hot adds a nice spice)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil or use all butter
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or thyme - your choice chopped
- 1 teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper or to taste
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 to 1 ½ cups chicken broth**
- Cut bread into cubes (about 1/2-inch or smaller in size) and lay out on a large (13x18") baking sheet to dry while proceeding with recipe. Generously butter a 13x9-inch pan.
- Brown sausage in a large skillet and remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl that is big enough to toss all the ingredients together.
- In the same skillet, heat butter and oil. Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
- Scrape the contents of the skillet into the bowl with the sausage and then add bread cubes, seasonings, cranberry and sugar. Toss to mix and pour the broth over all the ingredients, stirring as you do to evenly distribute the broth. Mix well, making sure al the bread is moist, but not too soggy.
- Spoon the stuffing evenly into the prepared pan (at this point you can refrigerate the dish for up to two days, covered tightly).
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the stuffing for 35-45 minutes, or until nicely browned and crisp on top.
Other Holiday Recipes To Try:
White Wine Roasted Turkey-with Delicious Gravy
Easy Soft 100% Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
Make Ahead Crumb-Topped Apple Pie (freeze & bake from frozen!)
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published December 2013.
I made this stuffing last year and plan to make it again this year. YUM! I have NEVER had a recipe from your site fail, ever. Several are favorites. Your turkey recipe is delicious and makes the BEST gravy ever. Those two will be featured in the next week! It actually looks like I commented virtually the same thing last year. LOL Totally worth saying again.
Thank you SO much, Mary - it's always nice to hear it again. 🙂
I made this for Thanksgiving and as with every recipe I make from your site, it was spectacular and we loved it.
Oh, gosh, Mary, I'm so glad to know this - thank you for making my day. 🙂
Can you make this in advance and freeze it? I thought I remembered a recent post about the items for Thanksgiving that are good candidates for preparing ahead of time and freezing, with directions for cooking it later, but I can't seem to find the post. Thanks!
You must be on the email list, Anne - I sent a make-ahead letter to you all a week ago. 🙂 Here are the freezing/thawing instructions for stuffing:
TO MAKE AHEAD: Make the dressing/stuffing (don't bake), let it cool and freeze in pan wrapped in plastic or spoon into freezer baggies. Thaw overnight. For a drier, fluffier stuffing, stir, place it in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake until it's done (remove foil for browning if desired). For a more moist stuffing, thaw, add a bit of extra broth, cover with foil and bake, remove the foil, and dot it with butter and place back in the oven to brown the top.
Perfect - thank you! I must have hit the delete button too quickly... 🙁
I made this for our family's Christmas dinner. It had rave reviews! The only complaint I have is that my daughters took home the leftovers and didn't leave any behind for us. Sigh.
Thank you SO much for letting me know, Diane! I'm so happy to know that your family enjoyed it as much as ours does. 🙂
Sounds delicious to me. I LOVE cranberries in stuffing. And apples. I have to have apples. And nuts. 🙂 I've never made it with meat, though, so I'll have to try yours. I made some last month with King's Hawaiian bread. Holy moly, it was beyond delicious. I like real bread, too. None of that cubed crap. Ha!
We're of a same mind, Mindy! Oh, and this is really good with chopped apples, too - our cousin always puts it in his - but our kids really don't care for it, so I leave it out. 🙂