This Cranberry Walnut Dressing with Sausage makes the perfect sausage cranberry stuffing side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
The sausage cranberry stuffing boasts crispy, buttery edges, a fluffy and moist center, and a generous load of fragrant herbs and aromatics.
Cranberry Walnut Stuffing with Sausage Recipe
This holiday stuffing takes traditional toasted bread-cube stuffing up a notch with dried fruits and crunchy walnuts – the perfect savory-sweet combination.
It’s a perfect stuffing with sausage and cranberry dish for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
This medley of juicy cranberries, crunchy walnuts, savory sausage, and a symphony of aromatic herbs perfectly blended into a bed of moist, fluffy bread cubes.
Whether you’re hosting a festive gathering or simply craving a hearty and comforting meal, this stuffing recipe is a must-try.
WHAT TO LOVE
- Moist dressing with buttery, crispy edges all around, giving way to a center that’s delicately tender inside.
- This recipe puts a new spin on traditional dressing with the addition of dried fruits and crunchy walnuts.
- You can assemble this dressing ahead, then bake later when it’s time to cook dinner.
Vary this recipe by using sour dough bread instead of French bread. Sour dough bread gives the dressing a bit of tangy flavor.
You can use any good quality bread (as long as it’s dense in texture) for making stuffing. This dressing is also delicious with cornbread!
Toasting the bread cubes to make dressing does two things. First, it helps the bread to absorb the broth without falling apart. Secondly, toasting the bread cubes adds flavor to the dressing.
We prefer sausage for making dressing, but you could certainly opt out of meat if you want complete vegetarian dressing.
Be sure to use vegetable broth and not chicken broth if vegetarian is the route you are going.
We have used Italian sausage instead of country sausage (or breakfast sausage even), and it adds its own special flavor to the dressing.
You could even substitute chopped ham instead of sausage, and the dressing would be delicious!
If you prefer a much drier texture dressing with very crispy edges, you can bake the dressing uncovered for the entire 40 minutes.
Bread – Bread is the backbone of dressing and you can use any type of hearty bread you prefer, truly.
I like to start with a loaf of Italian or French bread since they are easy to slice into cubes and are dense in texture. You can also use cornbread to make this dressing, if you prefer.
Ground pork sausage – I use bulk ground sausage, but if all you can find is sausage in links, use your kitchen shears to cut open the casing on the links and it will tumble right out into your skillet.
Or, you could even slice the links into coins for this recipe, if preferred.
Butter – I use unsalted butter so that I can add salt to taste as preferred.
Fresh thyme – For this dressing recipe, I prefer using fresh thyme. However, if you only have dried thyme in your spice cabinet, it will work just fine as well.
See the amount of dried thyme to substitute for the fresh thyme in the recipe card.
Fresh Italian parsley – This adds a bit of a peppery flavor to the dressing, if you don’t have fresh Italian (also called flat leaf parsley) parsley, you can just opt out of this one – no worries!
Dried crumbled sage – Another spice you’ll probably find in your spice cabinet.
Red onion – I like red onions for this recipe as they tend to be milder and sweet, but you can also use either a white or a yellow onion.
Celery – Like onions, celery is another aromatic to add to the dressing for texture and flavor.
Golden raisins – Much more mild in flavor and tender in texture than regular raisins, golden raisins are dried in a dehydrator with a bit Sulphur Dioxide so they don’t darken.
Dried sweetened cranberries – Like golden raisins, dried cranberries add a touch of sweetness to the dressing.
Walnuts – Roughly chopped walnuts add some good crunch to this dressing.
You can substitute chopped pecans if desired. Or another option would be to sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of the dressing when you are ready to bake.
Chicken or vegetable broth – Here’s where the dressing gets added moisture to steam as it bakes. I usually use chicken broth, but vegetable broth will also work fine.
Salt and pepper, to taste – Always!
How to Make Cranberry Walnut Dressing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf of bread into cubes about 1-inch in size.
Place the bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the bread cubes on the center oven rack, uncovered, until golden brown and crisped, about 15 minutes.
Place the bread cubes into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
While the skillet is heating over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the sausage until there is no pink color left and the sausage is fully cooked.
Then, add the butter, thyme, sage, onions, and celery to the skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables have softened a bit- about 10 minutes. Then add the golden raisins, cranberries, and walnuts to the pan.
Combine all the ingredients and cook for an additional 5 minutes over medium heat.
Spread the contents of the skillet over the toasted bread cubes. Slowly add 3 cups of broth, gently incorporating it until everything is combined.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan with foil.
Bake the dressing in a preheated 350 degree F. oven on the center rack for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
If the dressing seems to have dried out during baking, warm some broth and pour a bit of it over the dressing, tossing to combine.
DRESSING VS STUFFING – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Technically, stuffing and dressing are the same dish, made from the same ingredients. However, they are cooked differently.
Stuffing is stuffed (yep, literally) into the inside of a turkey (the cavity) and cooked right within.
On the other hand, dressing is baked in a casserole dish, completely separate from the turkey.
IS COOKING STUFFING INSIDE THE TURKEY SAFE?
Sometimes home cooks feel like cooking stuffing inside a turkey is a bit overwhelming and question its safety.
When cooking stuffing inside a turkey, cook it to 165 degrees F. at the center to be hot and safe to serve.
My grandmothers cooked the stuffing inside their turkeys, and it was delicious!
IS MAKING DRESSING EASIER THAN MAKING STUFFING?
I think stuffing baked inside the turkey IS more flavorful, but because making dressing in a casserole dish is easier and faster, that’s what I choose to do most of the time.
CAN DRESSING BE Made AHEAD OF TIME AND BAKED LATER?
You sure can, and it works great. About an hour before you want to bake the dressing, remove it from the fridge and uncover it.
Let the dressing rest on the counter to remove some chill from refrigeration.
Bake the dressing as the recipe directs.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DRESSING IS TOO DRY?
If you bake the dressing and realize it’s not as moist as you’d prefer, warm some chicken or vegetable broth and stir it into the dressing, a little at a time, until it is the desired texture.
CAN YOU FREEZE DRESSING?
Yes. Dressing freezes well. Just thaw and reheat in the microwave or oven.
CAN YOU DOUBLE THIS RECIPE?
You can easily double this recipe to make two pans of dressing at once.
HOW DO YOU MAKE DRESSING AHEAD OF TIME?
You can prep dressing up to two days before your dinner.
Store it in the fridge covered and increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes.
Or, let the dressing rest, uncovered, on the counter to remove the chill and bake as the recipe directs.
What to serve with this recipe:
Turkey in a Roaster – This recipe post answers all your questions about cooking a picture-perfect golden brown turkey in your electric roaster every single time.
MORE FAVORITE SIDE DISH RECIPES TO ENJOY –
- Instant Pot Creamy Smashed Potatoes
- Crispy Bacon and Sweet Potato Hash
- Cheddar and Green Chili Sausage Cornbread
- Cajun Sweet Corn Medley
- Creamy Au Gratin Sweet Potatoes
- Baked Pull-Apart Stuffing Ring
- Air Fryer Roasted Broccoli Parmesan
- Mashed Potatoes Supreme with French Fried Onions and Bacon
- Sweet Potato Crumble
Cranberry-Walnut Dressing with Sausage
- 1 lb. French or Italian bread (or cornbread) cut into 1-inch cubes, toasted until golden brown
- 1 lb. ground pork sausage
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs. fresh chopped thyme leaves, or substitute 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 4 ribs celery diced
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 3 cups warm chicken or vegetable broth
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf of bread into cubes about 1-inch in size. Place the bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the bread cubes on the center oven rack, uncovered, until golden brown and crisped, about 15 minutes.
- Place the bread cubes into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the sausage until no pink remains and the juices run clear; add the butter, thyme, sage, onion, and celery, cooking until the vegetables are softened and the spices are very fragrant, approx. 10 minutes.
- Stir in the golden raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and parsley; continue to cook an additional 10 minutes.
- Spread the prepared sausage mixture over the toasted bread cubes in the casserole dish. Add 2-3 cups of the broth, a little at a time, gently stirring until the ingredients are combined and the dressing is a nice, moist consistency; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Bake the dressing, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil cover and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes.
- Garnish with additional chopped parsley, as desired. Serve warm.