Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing (Dressing) Recipe

Our traditional sausage and sage Thanksgiving stuffing owes its perfect texture to oven-dried bread, which soaks up a rich base of eggs, broth, and butter.

20161109-stuffing-video-thanksgiving-1.jpg
Photograph and video: J. Kenji López-Alt
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Why It Works

  • Using finer-holed white bread instead of a more open-structured artisanal loaf means better flavor absorption and retention.
  • Bread that's been dried out in a low oven is more absorbent than stale bread.
  • A mixture of sage, sausage, onion, garlic, and celery lends this stuffing classic flavor.

This tried-and-true stuffing recipe, featuring aromatic sage and hearty sausage, is an easy crowd-pleaser. We use oven-dried bread (not stale bread!) to help it better soak up the broth, eggs, and butter. The finished product is a savory, sausage-studded bread pudding with crisp edges and burnished exterior.

How to Scale Down This Recipe to Feed a Smaller Crowd

This recipe can be scaled down by half. To do it: Divide all ingredients by two; use 2 eggs instead of 3; use 1 rimmed baking sheet instead of two to dry the bread; bake stuffing in a 10-inch cast iron or carbon steel skillet instead of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Recipe Facts

4.5

(27)

Active: 45 mins
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 10 to 14 servings

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds (1.25kg) high-quality sandwich bread or soft Italian or French bread (about 2 loaves), cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 5 quarts)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick; 4 ounces; 115g)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680g) sage sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 12 ounces; 350g)
  • 4 large ribs celery, finely chopped (about 12 ounces; 350g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane grater
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh sage leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed (see note)
  • 1 quart low-sodium homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or turkey stock (4 cups; 1L), divided
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley leaves, divided

Directions

  1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions. Preheat oven to 275°F (135°C). Spread bread evenly over 2 rimmed baking sheets. Stagger trays on oven racks and bake until completely dried, about 50 minutes total, rotating trays and stirring bread cubes several times during baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Increase oven heat to 350°F (180°C).

  2. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming subsides (do not allow butter to brown), about 2 minutes. Add sausage and mash with a stiff whisk or potato masher to break up into fine pieces (largest pieces should be no bigger than 1/4 inch). Cook, stirring frequently, until only a few bits of pink remain, about 8 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic, and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add half of chicken stock.

  3. Whisk remaining chicken stock, eggs, and 3 tablespoons parsley in a medium bowl until homogeneous. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, slowly pour egg mixture into sausage mixture. Add bread cubes and fold gently until evenly mixed.

  4. Use part of stuffing to stuff turkey, if desired (see note). To cook remaining stuffing, transfer to a buttered 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking dish (or 10- by 14-inch oval dish), cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer reads 150°F (66°C) when inserted into center of dish, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and crisp on top, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

    20161109-stuffing-video-thanksgiving-1.jpg
    Photograph and video: J. Kenji López-Alt

Special equipment

Rimmed baking sheets, Dutch oven, 9- by 13-inch baking dish or 10- by 14-inch oval dish, instant-read thermometer

Notes

If desired, dried or fresh fruits and nuts can be folded into the stuffing along with the bread cubes in step 3.

The stuffing can be prepared through step 3 and placed in a greased baking dish a day in advance. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the stuffing to come to room temperature for at least 1 hour before baking the next day.

This recipe makes an excellent bird stuffing, producing enough to stuff several small birds or two to three 18- to 22-pound birds.

If using homemade or low-sodium stock, season to taste with salt and pepper before adding.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The stuffing can be prepared through step 3 and placed in a greased baking dish a day in advance. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the stuffing to come to room temperature for at least 1 hour before baking the next day.

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