Upgrade your Thanksgiving stuffing recipe

Bowl of stuffing
Bowl of stuffing

Upgrade your Thanksgiving stuffing recipe

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

With the holidays right around the corner and everything in the world a little topsy-turvy, why not change up your signature Thanksgiving stuffing recipe?  There’s no better time than the present to add in a new ingredient or change up the seasonings you use. Take a look at these three takes on a holiday favorite. 

Sausage & Herb Stuffing

Start to finish: 1 hour 5 minutes

Servings: 10


  • 16 ounces (450 g) bread cut into 1-inch pieces (day old bread if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound (500 g) sage pork sausage, or sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow or brown onions, from 1 large onion or 2 small onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery, from 2-3 stalks
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine optional — (sub with 1/4 cup of broth)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 egg lightly whisked
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries optional


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until dried and toasted. Transfer the bread cubes to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the sausages over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes.

In the same pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add the wine (if using) and allow the wine to reduce down to half (about 4 minutes). 

Take off the heat and mix in the stock to combine all of the flavors. Add the beaten egg and cranberries, and pour into the bread, mixing really well with a wooden spoon until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Pour the bread stuffing into a 9x12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.


Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Sage

Start to finish: 1 hour 46 minutes 

Servings: 10 - 12 


  • 1 - 9x13 inch pan cornbread
  •  12 slices of thick-cut bacon (about 12 ounces)
  •  2 large onions, chopped
  •  4 stalks celery, including some leaves, about 2 1/2 cups
  •  1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  Pepper to taste
  •  2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  •  2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  •  1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  •  1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  •  2 and 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock, plus more**
  •  2 large eggs
  •  1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  1 teaspoon pepper
  •  4 tablespoons cold butter, chopped


Tear the cornbread into bite-sized chunks. Spread out on 2 large baking sheets. Let the cornbread sit out uncovered (I left mine in the turned-off oven) overnight or for several hours. *

Bake the two pans of cornbread at 400°F for about 10 minutes. Flip the cornbread if necessary and bake a little longer if they are not dried out. Return the cornbread to the turned-off oven so that it can keep drying out while you prepare the rest of the stuffing.

Chop the bacon into 1-inch pieces. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Don't overdo it, or the bacon will get too crunchy when you bake it later. It should be cooked but still flexible. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Leave all that bacon grease in the pan. 

Chop 2 onions and 4 stalks of celery. For extra flavor, I love to chop some of the celery leaves. (In fact, I never remove celery stalks. I just start chopping the entire head of celery from the leaf end until it looks like I have about 2 and 1/2 cups. Those leaves have tons of flavor!)

Heat the bacon grease in the pan over medium heat until it is shimmery. Add the onion and celery. Sauté for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tablespoons fresh sage and 2 teaspoons fresh thyme to the onions and sauté for another 1 minute until fragrant. Remove from heat. 

Add the dried cornbread to a very large bowl. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Scrape the onions and celery into the bowl, and return the pan to the oven (don't wash it). Add the bacon to the bowl.

Return the empty pan to medium heat and add 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Cook over medium heat, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is nearly evaporated. 

Add a stick of butter to the pan and melt completely. Pour the butter over the cornbread in the bowl, scraping the pan well (You can finally put it in the sink now).

In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 2 and 1/2 cups turkey stock** and 2 eggs. Season with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Slowly pour the stock mixture over the bowl with the cornbread, stopping to carefully and gently stir. You don't want to demolish your cornbread, try to keep it from falling apart. If it's dried out enough, it should be okay. Add more stock as necessary to make sure that the cornbread is rehydrated. 

Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Scrape the stuffing mixture into the pan and spread out evenly.

Top the stuffing with 4 tablespoons of chopped butter.

Spray a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and cover the stuffing, sealing the edges. 

Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until warmed throughout.

Raise the oven temperature to 450°F. Remove the foil from the pan. Bake at 450°F for another 20 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it because every oven is different. You want the top to get crispy but not burned. The edges of the pan should also be crispy. Serve with turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes!

Recipe Notes

*If you don't have time to let it sit out overnight before toasting, it will probably get toasty enough when you bake it in the oven. Just make sure you flip the pieces of cornbread over a couple times while you're baking, and you will probably have to go longer than 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You want each piece of cornbread to be completely dried out and crispy. 

**I always use Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base. It has an amazing flavor. Regular liquid chicken stock will also work fine. If you are using Better than Bouillon, you will need to microwave 2 and 1/2 cups water, and stir in the 2 and 1/2 teaspoons base until dissolved. Don't put the eggs in the microwave! And make sure the water (now stock) is cooled enough that it won't curdle your eggs before you whisk them in.


Quinoa Stuffing with Apple, Sweet Potato & Hazelnuts

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 5


  • 1 cup (212 g) dry quinoa, cook according to package directions
  • 2 (265 g) sweet potatoes, cut into small wedges
  • 2 large apples, cut into ½ inch pieces (I like Granny Smith)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) pure maple syrup, divided portion in 1/2
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • a few pinches ground cinnamon
  • a few pinches ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • Fresh or dried cranberries for garnish


Rinse the quinoa. Combine with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes until all of the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400°F with the rack in the middle. Be sure to coat apples with lemon juice so they don't turn brown. Toss sweet potatoes and apples with 1/4 cup of the maple syrup, coconut oil and a few pinches cinnamon, ginger and salt. Roast for about 35 - 40 minutes until tender and fragrant.

Combine the quinoa with the roasted mixture and the remainder of the maple syrup (1/4 cup) in a large bowl. Fold in thyme and hazelnuts. Season to taste with more salt and spices.


Think outside the box (literally) this Thanksgiving when considering stuffing recipes. Add in some sausage or get really crazy and forget the bread entirely! Dietary restrictions be darned on this holiday. Even if you have family members who are gluten-free, vegan or just on a certain diet, you can find a stuffing recipe for everyone! Change up your signature stuffing recipe this season and be prepared for everyone to compliment your cooking creativity.

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