I love Thanksgiving – in Canada, it’s when fall really gets into swing! The leaves are changing colour, there’s a crispness in the air and all of the harvest flavours are in season. What’s not to love?
But honestly, I didn’t used to love stuffing. My entire childhood, no turkey or stuffing were allowed on my plate. I thought they were dry and gross and I certainly didn’t want to waste valuable real estate on my plate with them.
Once I started hosting Thanksgiving, however, I knew I needed to serve stuffing for my guests. The obvious solution was to invent my own stuffing recipe so that I could finally find one I liked.
And boy, did this work out! If you’ve seen my Thanksgiving Menu, you know this is one of our favourite recipes of all time. It’s now such a beloved recipe, not only for myself but for my whole family, that I serve it for Thanksgiving, Christmas AND Easter. It’s so moist and flavourful – I look forward to it at every holiday!
Creating My Stuffing Recipe
There were certain things that I knew for sure I wanted from my stuffing recipe:
- It needed to be cooked in the slow cooker. I don’t like turkey – we opt for this beef roast – so I often have nothing to stuff. I also didn’t want to sacrifice the valuable but limited oven space.
- The stuffing needed to be very moist, because there would be no way I could get ever learn to love a dry stuffing recipe. In planning this dish, I took advantage of the sausage drippings, plus added apple cider and chicken broth to really cover my bases (and add flavour).
- I wanted an earthy, savoury, fall flavour. The addition of apples, apple cider, herbs and nutmeg did the trick!
- The flavours needed to build and work with each other, so the dish didn’t taste like just “okay, it’s stuffing.”
Sausage & Apple Stuffing Recipe
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- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp + 1/3 cup butter
- 1 medium or large onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, trimmed and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, casing removed
- 2-3 Granny Smith apples, chopped
- 1 Red Delicious apple, chopped
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or to taste)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage (or to taste)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or to taste)
- 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or to taste)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup apple cider (plus more if too dry)
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (plus more if too dry)
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
- 3 cups (1 box) stove-top stuffing mix or cubed stuffing bread
- 3 cups (1 box) cornbread stuffing mix (or just more stove-top stuffing/cubed stuffing bread if you can’t find cornbread)
- 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
Heat olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery and garlic until they just start to soften.
Crumble sausage into pan, breaking apart into small pieces with a spoon. Cook until no longer pink.
Reduce heat to medium. Add apples, parley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves to skillet; mix ingredients together.
Add in the apple cider, broth, nutmeg, 1/3 cup butter, salt and pepper. Heat through, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a large slow cooker (ours is 6-quart). We use these slow cooker liners to nearly eliminate clean-up after cooking. Best invention ever! In the slow cooker, combine the two stuffing mixes.
Discard bay leaves. Carefully pour the apple and sausage mixture over the stuffing and stir gently to moisten. Mix eggs in well.
Cook on low for about 4-5 hours. Stir a few times to ensure even cooking (I didn’t stir the first year I made this, and some of the bread pieces were very soft and others were crisp).