The classic Thanksgiving side dish of Sausage Stuffing is only a few steps away with these easy to follow step by step photo instructions. Make it ahead and pop it in the oven while you cook the turkey,
Editor’s note: Originally Published November 29, 2011. The discussion has been improved to answer most of your questions and the photos re-edited. Enjoy this Thanksgiving Classic.
This recipe is a family classic that we have used for over 40 years. While I’m publishing this like we usually cook it, that makes the “small army” amount. You can easily scale it down to 1/4 or 1/2 of the amount.
For many years it went in the bird. Now it is baked in a pan for safety but still a great treat at holiday gatherings.
I initially called this Turkey Sausage Stuffing, but it did not require any turkey components so it seemed misleading and I have changed the name.
This is a 5 for the entire family. I’m not a dressing person so that I will give a 4.5.
Pro Tips: Recipe Notes for Sausage Stuffing
Dressing vs. Stuffing
I grew up using the term stuffing. That was over 50 years ago. It was always cooked in the cavity of the turkey.
Over the years, many have differentiated the two terms by using “stuffing” for cooked in the bird and “dressing” for cooked outside the bird.
But over the years, as we have developed a better understanding of food safety, the two terms have merged and now used interchangeably even by the National Turkey Federation.
So use the term you want. I seem to go back and forth frequently.
The Bread: We usually use white sandwich bread but use the bread you want. It will be fine.
The Sausage: We are a Bob Evan’s sausage household but use the sausage you love. The sausage seasoning will be a major contributor to the taste.
Other Thing: You can add some turkey broth for the milk and also add the meat from the giblets if you cook it ahead of time.
The Safety Discussion
This recipe has eggs so it must reach 165 degrees to be safe to consume. But even without the egg, the cavity of the turkey is a contaminated area and the cavity and everything in it must also reach 165 degrees to be safe to eat.
So you have four choices
- If you stuff the cavity and cook to the 165 temperature for the center of the dressing. But the meat will be way overcooked and dry. (Not good)
- Stuff the turkey and cook the turkey to the correct endpoint of 165 in the breast and the dressing will never reach a safe temperature to consume. (Not good and very dangerous)
- Use the Cooks Illustrated (CI) method of put stuffing in the cavity in cheesecloth then remove it halfway through the cooking. Put it in a baking dish and finish cooking to a safe temperature. (Very CI, very fussy.)
- Or cook the turkey and the stuffing/dressing separately and safely. (Great all around)
Make Now and Cook Later?
I prefer to just get to sausage cooked, veggies cut and bread ready. Then mix and cook on the day.
Officially this can be made up and refrigerated before cooking for 2-3 days.
After cooking, it is good refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Start by ripping about 30 slices of bread into small pieces (about two loaves). Dice 4 stalks of celery to make about 2 cups and one large onion.
Prepare spices if using fresh. 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves if dried or 3 times that if fresh. 1 1/2 teaspoon ground sage dried or double if fresh. And parsley 1/3 cup dry or 1 cup fresh.
In a Dutch oven over medium heat cook 2 lbs sausage (Bob Evans preferred) until brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.
Pour all but 1/4 cup of the drippings from the Dutch oven. Cook the onion and celery in the Dutch oven until tender (about ten mins) stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl mix, four eggs beat slightly, 1/2 cup milk, the parsley, thyme and sage, one teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Mix all together in a large bowl but reserve about a 1/3 of the bread and add it in slowly at the end of mixing to get a completely covered but very dry mix. You may not need all the bread.
Place in an oven safe pan. You can refrigerate at this point. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour until well browned.
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Originally published November 29, 2011