Sausage stuffing (or dressing) is a classic Thanksgiving casserole! This beloved holiday side dish is made with toasted or stale bread of your choosing, flavorful sausage, fresh sage & rosemary, and lots of aromatics for flavor.
When I was growing up, my mom would make this sausage stuffing every year, and it was the side dish I looked forward to the most on Thanksgiving!
Typically, stuffing (or dressing) is made with stale or day-old bread mixed with eggs to bind the ingredients, broth to add moisture, and aromatics and sausage to season every bite. All the ingredients are baked until golden and crispy on the top and perfectly moist in the center.
The name of this dish came from stuffing the inside of the turkey with bread and herbs. However, many cooks found this method wasn’t ideal for properly cooking the turkey or the stuffing. The turkey would typically overcook while the stuffing was undercooked. So instead, a lot of cooks began making the two separately, and that is where it found stuffing found its other name, “dressing”!
The great thing about stuffing is you can make it in the oven, slow cooker, or ahead of time. This makes your Thanksgiving day prep a little easier!
There are many things to love about stuffing. But some of our favorites are that it’s…
HERBACEOUS & FLAVORFUL. The sausage is a considerable source of flavor and richness for this stuffing, seasoning every bite of the whole dish. We also use fresh sage and rosemary (not dried) for a beautiful, bright flavor!
EASY TO MAKE AHEAD. Crowding an oven on a holiday is the last thing you need. This dish can easily be made beforehand, so it’s not taking up precious oven space when you need it most!
A HOLIDAY CLASSIC. Stuffing is a must-have for Thanksgiving (and even Christmas). It’s a beloved dish that everyone devours!
For the ingredients, you’ll find every ingredient has its purpose for adding flavor, texture, or moisture to the dish. Below, you’ll find the key ingredients needed for this recipe.
Bread: use any bread you like for this recipe! Italian, french banquettes, or sandwich bread (even gluten-free bread). But make sure it’s stale by leaving it out overnight, or use the oven to dry it out completely. This helps the bread not become mush when baked with the broth and eggs.
Sausage: You can use bulk sausage (already removed from the casing) or sausage links and remove it from the casing yourself. We like to use mild or a half pound each of sweet & spicy Italian sausage.
For flavor: For a great-tasting stuffing, we use a lot of yellow onion, celery, and fresh sage & rosemary. Each one of these aromatic ingredients will pack essential flavor into each bite of the stuffing!
For moisture: to add moisture to the dish, this recipe uses homemade chicken stock and eggs to help bind the ingredients together and make a fluffier stuffing. Butter is also used for richness and moisture.
How to Make Sausage Stuffing
Dry the bread (two ways). To air dry the bread, place the cubes on a tray and let them sit for 2-3 days (uncovered). If you don’t have time to air dry them, bake the cubed bread at 250F until most of the moisture is removed, about 15 minutes. Flip them half way through to get an even bake.
Cook the onion and the celery. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and then cook the diced onions and celery in it with a pinch of salt until soft (about 5-7 minutes). When finished, transfer them to very large pot or mixing bowl.
Cook the sausage. In the same pan, cook the sausage and use a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until every piece is browned. Then transfer the sausage into the same bowl as the cooked celery and onions.
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl. In the same large bowl the sausage and cooked celery and onions are in, add the dried bread, chopped sage & rosemary, eggs, chicken stock, and salt & pepper.
Mix together. Use your hands or a large spoon to completely mix everything together, making sure the eggs specifically have been mixed in thoroughly.
Bake. Transfer the stuffing to a lightly greased baking dish (I used a 9×13). Then bake uncovered at 350F for 75-90 minutes. Every oven is different, so check at 75 minutes and if it’s still too wet in the center, bake for another 15 minutes. The end result should be crispy on the outside with a moist (not wet) filling on the inside. Serve warm and enjoy!
Trouble Shooting Tips
If you run into some issues with stuffing, it’s a very forgiving dish to recover. Here’s our tips below if it comes out too dry or too wet!
If it’s too dry – if the stuffing comes out dry or you accidentally overbake it, it’s an easy fix. Add several splashes of broth to rehydrate the bread, along with 1-2 Tablespoons of melted butter over the top, and mix it in the best you can. Then cover with foil and bake for a little longer.
If it’s too wet – it’s also easy to fix. Keep baking until the top is perfectly crispy and the inside is moist but not wet.
Top Stuffing Tips
The bread needs to be hard and stale for it to work. Since stuffing is made with a lot of liquid and eggs, the bread must be dry and hard to hold up to the moisture, so it’s not immediately mushy. The hard bread will absorb the broth and eggs and be able to cook properly. You can use stale bread or bake fresh bread in the oven to completely dry out.
Ditch the dried herbs and use fresh ones. Stuffing needs bright flavor from fresh herbs, so we recommend only using fresh ones for this recipe! It will add a much more complex flavor than dried herbs, which are much more muted in flavor.
There should never be extra liquid on the bottom. When combining the bread and the chicken stock, a good rule of thumb for knowing you are using too much liquid is if there is a pool of stock at the bottom of the mixing bowl or baking dish. This is a sign there is too much stock in the recipe, and it will need to be baked longer to absorb the extra liquid.
Use homemade stock/broth for better flavor. I use my homemade chicken stock to add more flavor to this stuffing. It’s naturally infused with tons of aromatic and herb flavor, which adds to the stuffing even more. Homemade stock always flavors recipes better than store-bought!
Make it ahead. Stuffing is a great side dish to make in advance to save precious oven space for the day of your holiday meal! You can bake this dish halfway the day before, then finish it in the oven the day of. Or you can fully cook it, then reheat it the next day in the oven until the center is hot. Just be sure to add a splash of broth before you bake it, and keep it covered with foil so it doesn’t dry out.
There are many different ways you could make stuffing. You can use different bread or add flavorful add-ins to make it unique and festive!
Use different bread. You can add almost any type of bread for stuffing. But to add more flavor, you can use cornbread or sourdough!
Delicious add-ins. For pops of flavor, you can add diced apples (sauteed with the onion and celery), dried cranberries or cherries, nuts, roasted seasonal vegetables, or fresh pomegranate seeds to the final stuffing.
Make it gluten-free. If you need this recipe to be gluten-free friendly, you can use your favorite GF bread.
Change up the herbs. I recommend always using sage in any stuffing recipe, but instead of rosemary, you can also use fresh parsley!
Slow Cooker Method
My mom often made stuffing in her slow cooker due to a lack of oven space. If this is the case for you, this stuffing can easily be made in a slow cooker. Although it won’t have the crispy top that’s achieved in the oven, it will still be perfectly moist and flavorful!
How to: Follow steps 1-4 in the recipe card, then add all the ingredients to a slow cooker. Set the slow cooker to high for 30 minutes, then set on low for 3-4 hours. The internal temperature should reach 165F and be perfectly moist, not wet. Keep the slow cooker on warm until ready to serve.
Our Favorite Recipes to Serve Stuffing With
Stuffing is mainly served during the holidays – either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Our favorite things to serve it with are cranberry orange sauce, turkey gravy, turkey, roasted Brussels sprouts, or our herb-roasted chicken!
Sage Sausage Stuffing
- 1 bread loaf cut into cubes (1 lb of soft bread or 9-10 cups of stale bread cubes)
- 1 lb bulk sausage I use mild sausage, half lb of sweet and half lb of spicy italian sausage.
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced small
- 3 celery stalks, diced small
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Dry the bread (two ways): To air dry the bread, place the cubes on a tray and let them sit for 2-3 days (uncovered). If you don’t have time to air dry them, bake the cubed bread at 250F until most of the moisture is removed, about 15 minutes. Flip them halfway through to get an even bake.
- Cook the onion and the celery: In a large pan, melt the butter and then cook the diced onions and celery with a pinch of salt until soft (about 5-7 minutes). When finished, transfer them to a very large pot or mixing bowl.
- Cook the sausage: In the same pan, cook the sausage and use a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until every piece is browned. Then, transfer the sausage into the same bowl as the cooked celery and onions.
- Mix all the ingredients: In the same large bowl the sausage, cooked celery, and onions are in, add the dried cubed bread, chopped sage and rosemary, eggs, chicken stock, and salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients until completely combined.
- Bake: Transfer the stuffing to a lightly greased baking dish (I used a 9×13). Then bake uncovered at 350F for 75-90 minutes. Every oven is different, so check at 75 minutes, and if the center is still too wet, bake for another 15 minutes or until it's cooked (internal temperature should be 165F). The end result should be crispy on the outside with a moist filling on the inside. Serve warm and enjoy!