A smaller size recipe for classic old-fashioned sausage stuffing/dressing that is easy to increase for a larger holiday feast. Or make this delicious and easy side dish for everyday meals.
This recipe is a family classic that we have used for over 40 years. I originally published this like we usually cooked it, which makes the "small army" amount. I have now cut it down to the "smaller household" amount. But it is easy to double if needed.
For many years, stuffing went in the bird. Now it is baked in a pan for safety, but still a great treat at holiday gatherings with lots of herbs, celery, sausage, and tasty crunchy bread. But it is a great Sunday dinner special treat.
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.
👨🍳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 but stuffing is the term I tend to use since I grew up using that term.
The Bread: We usually use standard white bread, but use the bread you want. You will need about 15 standard slices of bread, more if thinly sliced. This will be a little under one loaf.
If you use premade "stuffing" bread, you may need to adjust the spices since they are frequently seasoned.
The Sausage: We are a Bob Evan's sausage household but for use the sausage you love. The sausage seasoning will be a major contributor to the taste. I recommend breakfast pork sausage.
Spices: I have included measurements for both fresh and dried herbs.
Added liquid: You can add some broth for the milk if you want. We use Penzey's turkey base to make our own turkey broth.
This version is a cut down version of what we have made for years. This half-size recipe makes about six medium servings. Great for a smaller household with a turkey breast or smaller bird.
This fits in a casserole dish of about 1 ½ quart and the double size fits in a 2 ½ quart dish. The exact volume can vary due to the type of bread you use. A 9 by 9 dish will usually hold this recipe.
This recipe has eggs, so it must reach 165° to be safe to consume. But even without the egg, the turkey's cavity is a contaminated area, and the cavity and everything in it must also reach 165° 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 Cook Illustrated (CI) method of putting the 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.)
For more about holiday safety, please see Thanksgiving Food Safety and Food Help.
I prefer to just get to sausage cooked, veggies cut, and bread ready. Then mix and cook on the day.But this can be made up and refrigerated before cooking for up to a day.
After cooking, it is a good refrigerated for 3-4 days. Or frozen for 3 months.
Note: Images are for a double recipe. The discussion and the recipe card are not doubled.
Start by ripping about 15 slices of bread into small pieces (about one loaf)—dice 2 stalks of celery to make about 1 cup and one small onion.
Prepare spices if using fresh. ¾ teaspoon thyme leaves if dried or 3 times that if fresh. ¾ teaspoon ground sage, dried or double if fresh. And parsley 3 tablespoons, dry or ½ cup fresh.
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook 1 lb sausage until brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.
Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the Dutch oven. Cook the onion and celery in the Dutch oven until tender (about ten minutes), stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl, mix, two eggs-beat slightly, ¼ cups milk, the parsley, thyme, and sage, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. You can use turkey or chicken broth instead of milk if you wish.
Mix all together in a large bowl, but reserve about ⅓ 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. You may need to add a bit more milk or broth if you added too much bread and can't get it all moist.
Place in an oven-safe pan. You can refrigerate at this point. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour until well browned and 165° internal temperature.
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Editor's note: Originally Published November 29, 2011. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation. Enjoy this Thanksgiving Classic.