How To Make the Best Sausage and Herb Stuffing

updated Oct 13, 2022
How To Make the Best Sausage and Herb Stuffing

Savory sausage, toasted sourdough bread, and fresh herbs make this stuffing is the best part of the holiday meal.

Serves8 to 10

Prep30 minutes

Cook1 hour 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

A browned and burnished turkey may be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, but the true star of the meal sits over to the side. Thanksgiving stuffing is the dish I look forward to all year long, and this year I’m making mine with toasty torn sourdough bread; browned sausage; crisp apples; and an abundance of fresh sage, thyme, and parsley. And since this stuffing doesn’t require being “stuffed” in the turkey, there’s no reason not to enjoy this custardy, crouton-crisped dressing throughout the fall and winter.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Best Way to Prep Bread for Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing is a savory bread pudding, made by soaking bits of bread in an eggy liquid and baking until the center is tender and moist under a crunchy, browned crust. Start with an unsliced loaf of sourdough or Italian bread from the bakery, or if your sourdough starter is still going strong, make a homemade loaf.

While cutting the bread into cubes is a faster way to prep, the better option (in my humble opinion) is to tear the bread. The irregular pieces have more surface area to absorb the seasoned eggs and broth, ensuring each serving is both tender and toasted. Pressed for time? Give this task to family members — especially kids — since there’s truly no wrong way to tear the bread.

This stuffing is at its best when the bread stales before baking. If you’re assembling the stuffing all at once, bake the torn bread in the oven until it’s dry but not yet browned. You can also leave the bread out at room temperature for a day or two until it is dry; it’s the perfect way to get a head start on holiday meal prep.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Sausage is Exactly What Your Stuffing Is Missing

Sausage gives this stuffing rich and savory flavor. Reach for either pork or turkey sausage in bulk packages or links, and make sure to remove the casing from the links before you begin. Cook one pound of sausage, breaking it up into crumbles as it browns after sautéing the aromatics. Fat will render as the sausage cooks, so there’s no need to add extra oil to the pan.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Don’t Skimp on Hearty Fall Herbs for Flavor

After our gardens have gone dormant for the fall, it’s tempting to rely on dried herbs alone. Thankfully, the herbs that make Thanksgiving smell like Thanksgiving — parsley, sage, and thyme — are hearty enough to keep by the window even as the cold weather rolls in, and can be chopped and measured a day in advance without browning. Use any extra sprigs to garnish the top of the stuffing and the turkey platter after all of the cooking is done.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
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Here's how to make the best sausage and herb stuffing.

How To Make the Best Sausage and Herb Stuffing

Savory sausage, toasted sourdough bread, and fresh herbs make this stuffing is the best part of the holiday meal.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 1 (1-pound) loaf

    sourdough or Italian bread

  • 2

    medium yellow onions

  • 3 stalks


  • 1

    medium or large sweet-crisp apple, such as Honeycrisp

  • 4 cloves


  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon

    fresh sage leaves

  • 1 tablespoon

    fresh thyme leaves

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    uncooked mild or sweet Italian sausage

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth, divided

  • 2

    large eggs


  • Chef's and serrated knives

  • Cutting board

  • Mixing bowl

  • Wooden spoon

  • Large skillet

  • Colander or strainer

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • 9x13-inch or 3-quart baking dish

  • Rimmed baking sheet


  1. Heat the oven to 275°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 275°F. Coat a 9x13-inch or 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

  2. Tear the bread into small pieces. Tear or cut 1 loaf bread into small, 1/2-inch pieces (about 10 cups).

  3. Bake the bread. Arrange the bread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the bread is dry, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the aromatics and herbs.

  4. Prepare the aromatics and herbs. Dice 2 medium yellow onions (about 2 cups) and 3 celery stalks (about 1 cup). Peel and dice 1 apple (about 1 cup). Mince 4 garlic cloves. Finely chop the following and place in a large bowl: 1/4 cup parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon sage leaves, and 1 tablespoon thyme leaves.

  5. Sauté the aromatics. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, apple, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and sauté until softened and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl with the herbs.

  6. Toss the bread, herbs, and aromatics together. When the bread is ready, transfer to the bowl with the herbs and toss to combine.

  7. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

  8. Brown the sausage. Return the pan to medium-high heat and remove the casings from 1 pound Italian sausage. Add the sausage to the pan and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes.

  9. Deglaze the pan with chicken broth. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to the pan and scrape with the wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the sausage and any remaining liquid to the bowl of bread and toss to combine.

  10. Add the eggs and remaining broth. Whisk 2 large eggs and the remaining 2 1/2 cups chicken broth together in a medium bowl, then pour over the stuffing mixture. Stir until evenly moistened.

  11. Bake the stuffing. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until browned on top and heated through, about 15 minutes more.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The stuffing can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Transfer the stuffing to the baking dish and let cool to room temperature. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 2 days. When ready to bake, remove the stuffing from the refrigerator while the oven heats, about 20 minutes. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned and heated through, about 15 minutes more. 

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Stale bread variation: Instead of baking the bread, let the torn bread sit uncovered on a baking sheet at room temperature until dry, 1 to 2 days.