Italian Sausage Thanksgiving Dressing

 

In the years that we’ve been doing this blog, we’ve learned a lot about others’ family tradition when it comes to Thanksgiving. One thing we’ve learned is everyone is scared of making the turkey (don’t be...our recipe is a lot of work, but it’s hard to mess up!) Another thing we’ve learned is people don’t like you messing with their Thanksgiving dressing (or stuffing, depending on what you actually did with it and where you live.) Luckily, I’ve been making this Italian Sausage Thanksgiving Dressing for so long that now it wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without it. But it wasn’t always this way.

history of this recipe

My dad is a meddler. A tinkerer. Someone who just can’t leave simple things alone. He’ll take your average can of Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup and start adding condiments, herbs, and spices until you can hardly call it Bean with Bacon anymore. And one year when I was in college, he took good old simple Thanksgiving dressing and…mutated it. I’ll admit, I was so mad the first year–he was messing with things near and dear to my heart. But over the years, I came to love it.

Since I can’t get the man to write down the recipe, I went ahead and tinkered around with it myself, which ended with a surprising (and delicious) addition of dried cranberries. One thing I love is that this dressing has it all–the savory of the dressing, onions, and garlic, sweet and sour from the apples and cranberries, bitter from the nuts, and spicy from the sausage.. The beauty is that you can tweak here and there what you like and don’t like AND that you can make a portion of it ahead of time to cut down on your T-Day work load.

how to make it

 
You’re going to need a package of Italian sausage (unless you know you like it spicy, start with mild/sweet and then add spice to taste near the end so it’s not too hot.) You’ll also need an onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, a Granny Smith apple, a 16-ounce package of cubed stuffing, chicken broth, toasted pecans (optional), and dried cranberries (optional).
 
Italian Sausage Thanksgiving Dressing Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Chop your onion, garlic, and celery.

chopped onion and celery for Italian Sausage Thanksgiving Dressing

Heat a very large skillet to medium heat, remove casings on the Italian sausage (if they have casings), and crumble the sausage in the pan. As it starts to brown, stir in onions, celery, and garlic. As the sausage cooks, break up larger pieces–part of the awesomeness of this dressing are the little sausage bits in every bite.
 
While this is cooking, chop the mushrooms and grate the apple (a food processor is handy with the apples but not necessary.)
 
grated apples and chopped mushrooms for Italian sausage thanksgiving dressing from our best bites
 
As the onions begin to turn translucent, stir in mushrooms and apple. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, then sprinkle dressing mix over the sausage mix and then add chicken broth. Continue stirring as the dressing mix absorbs the liquid. Add in pecans and cranberries (if desired). When the liquid has been incorporated and the mixture is fully mixed, transfer to the prepared dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
 
Italian sausage thanksgiving dressing from Our Best Bites
If you’d like to make this 1-2 days ahead of time, cover it after you place it in the 9×13 pan, and then bake it straight from the fridge.
Italian sausage thanksgiving dressing from Our Best Bites
If you’re looking for another rockstar Thanksgiving side dish, check out these candied coconut sweet potatoes!
 
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Italian Sausage Thanksgiving Dressing


Description

This loaded Italian Sausage Thanksgiving dressing (or stuffing) is definitely not Stove Top! This will become a Thanksgiving staple for years to come!


Ingredients

1 pound Italian sausage (I recommend mild/sweet and then adding additional heat if desired)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 grated Granny Smith apple (a food processor is handy but not necessary)
1 16-oz. package cubed stuffing or dressing (I like Pepperidge Farms; for this recipe, I try to stay away from Stove Top because the flavor is so overwhelming)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
1/2+ cup dried cranberries (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Heat a very large skillet or Dutch oven to medium heat and add a light drizzle of olive oil. If necessary, remove sausage casings and crumble the sausage in the pan. As it starts to brown, stir in onions, celery, and garlic. As the sausage cooks, break up larger pieces.
 
As the onions begin to turn translucent, stir in mushrooms and apple and cook until the mushrooms are tender.
 
Sprinkle dressing mix over the sausage mix and then add chicken broth. Continue stirring as the dressing mix absorbs the liquid. Add in pecans and cranberries (if desired). When the liquid has been incorporated and the mixture is fully mixed, taste and add hot sauce (like Tabasco) to taste.
 
Transfer to a 9×13 dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. 

Notes

make ahead instructions

If you’d like to make this 1-2 days ahead of time, cover it after you place it in the 9×13 pan, and then bake it straight from the fridge.

37 comments

  1. I have a silly question 🙂 It's my first Thanksgiving ever, just moved to US this year and I was wondering about difference between stuffing and dressing. I have gathered that stuffing goes in the turkey and dressing is made like this one but.. I found couple yummy sounding dressing recipes like yours with sausage and I would like to use the as stuffing. Can I do that? Thanks so much if you find time to answer 🙂

  2. My family also makes cornbread dressing with sausage. It is so good, and Thanksgiving would not be the same without it!
    I love Heather's comment because I had a similar conversation last week! I kept describing my favorite thanksgiving dish, and my friend was completely confused–salad dressing with sausage?

  3. I know it is time for Thanksgiving food, but I have been looking everywhere for a good southern red velvet cupcake recipe. I had these cupcakes that were a little dense and had a little bit of a different texture then an airy cake. It was so yummy. I trust your guys recipes, so I thought I would check to see if you had one :o) Pre Christmas red cake!

  4. That looks really yummy Kate. It's so totally different than the stuffing we make at our house that I'm intrigued! I love the idea of the sweet and savory, soft and crunchy, all together. Sounds delish!

  5. Your dad sounds exactly like my dad- mix a little of this with a little of that and no recipe to follow. Looks amazing. I love apple and sausage stuffing, although when it comes to Thanksgiving I like traditional. Maybe I'll branch out this year.

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