This rustic Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples is a classic choice for your Thanksgiving menu. Sage sausage, apples and herbs add flavor and substance to this cornbread dressing.
My family can depend on me for a variety of things. You know, the usual mom stuff like reminding them of appointments and birthdays and saying things like “Text me when you get there” and “You were planning on ironing that shirt before you go out, right?”.
But on Thanksgiving, they depend on me for something of the utmost importance. Something that no one in this house takes lightly. Stuffing. The most crucial component of our Thanksgiving menu, as far as my boys are concerned. Since they are so seriously enamored with my classic bread Crock-Pot Stuffing, I wasn’t sure how they’d feel about a cornbread-based stuffing with sausage and apples. I’m happy to say that this recipe has created a new group of cornbread stuffing fans!
I did quite a bit of testing to create this recipe and learned some surprising things along the way. I’m sharing all of it here with you so you can create the perfect cornbread stuffing for your Thanksgiving menu.
Table of contents
- Cornbread – A box of Jiffy corn muffin mix, prepared according to the package directions.
- Sandwich bread – I recommend using a potato or buttermilk sandwich bread, like from Oroweat. They have yummy flavor and great texture.
- Sausage – Ground pork sage sausage, like from Jimmy Dean.
- Yellow onion
- Apple – Go with a crisp sweet variety like Gala or Envy.
- Minced garlic
- Fresh parsley – Either Italian or curly parsley will work just fine.
- Dried sage
- Poultry seasoning
- Dried thyme
- Dried marjoram
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Broth – Low sodium chicken broth
The Best Cornbread for Stuffing
I’ve made stuffing with both made from scratch cornbread and a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix and surprisingly, we all liked the Jiffy version better. The stuff seems to be made for recipes like this. Not only is it delicious, it is easier to make which is a huge bonus at such a busy time of year.
Make the cornbread a day or two in advance, cover, and store it at room temperature until you’re ready to make the stuffing.
How to Make Cornbread Stuffing
Prep the Bread and Sausage
- Slice the cornbread and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Cut the slices of bread into 1-inch pieces. Spread the cornbread (including any crumbles) and sandwich bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes, tossing with a spatula after 10 minutes, until lightly toasted.
- Meanwhile, add the sausage to a large skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring to crumble it, and continue to cook until no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off any grease from the skillet and wipe it down with a paper towel.
Cook the Vegetables and Apples
- Return the skillet to medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the onion, apples, celery and carrot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 8 minutes or until veggies and apple are fork tender. Don’t allow them to brown, you just want them tender (reduce heat, if necessary).
- Add the garlic and parsley and cook and stir for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the sage, poultry seasoning, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper.
- Mix well to combine. Remove from the heat.
Assemble and Bake the Stuffing
- Transfer the toasted cornbread and sandwich bread cubes to a large mixing bowl. Spoon the vegetable and apple mixture and the cooked sausage over the bread and mix well.
- Add the beaten egg and toss lightly to combine.
- Drizzle 1 cup of chicken broth over the top and toss again, being careful not to break up the cornbread too much. Add additional chicken broth, a little at a time, until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Stuffing will dry out a little bit as it cooks but you don’t want it to be too wet going into the oven. I don’t recommend adding more than a total of 1 ½ to 2 cups of broth.
- Transfer stuffing to a baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray and cover with foil. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. For a crispier topping, set the oven to broil without raising the oven rack and continue to cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes or until browned to your liking.
FAQ and Valerie’s Tips
Dry cornbread will absorb the buttery-herb mixture and hold up better to baking than fresh, moist cornbread. You can accomplish this by allowing the cubes of cornbread to sit out overnight, uncovered. But, I prefer the shortcut method of baking it in the oven until lightly toasted.
This depends on personal preference. If you want a looser, fall apart stuffing, start with 1 cup of broth and add additional broth in small increments, adding only as much as you need to reach the desired consistency. For a moist, cooked in the bird consistency, you may find you need to add the entire amount.
A lot of people will say that if it’s cooked inside the turkey it should be called “stuffing” and if it is baked outside the turkey cavity in a baking dish it is “dressing”. However, our family has and will forever refer to every version of this irresistible Thanksgiving side dish as stuffing, regardless of how it is cooked. We may not stuff it in the bird, but we do stuff it in our mouths, right? I believe it boils down to where you were born and raised. Most Southerners call it dressing while the rest of the country can be divided between the two.
According to the USDA, it is safe to cook stuffing inside the turkey as long as you pack it loosely and cook the turkey until the stuffing and turkey both reach at least 165 degrees F. It’s generally safer to stuff small to medium turkeys and only use about ¾ cup stuffing per pound of turkey weight. Once stuffed, it should be cooked immediately. Never stuff a raw turkey and refrigerate it for any length of time.
Make Ahead Instructions
The USDA recommends cooking stuffing immediately once the wet and dry ingredients have been combined. To err on the side of caution, I usually make my stuffing and cook it the same day. To save time, you can prep all the veggies and toast the bread cubes the day before. Then it will just be a matter of cooking the veggies and mixing it all together before you pop it in the oven (or in the bird).
It is safe to freeze uncooked stuffing but I believe the quality might be affected, especially with cornbread stuffing. Frozen stuffing should be cooked from the frozen state until it reaches 165 degrees F.
Leftover stuffing should be refrigerated within 2 hours. This Cornbread Stuffing reheats beautifully and should be consumed within 3 to 4 days.
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Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples
For the Cornbread
- 8.5 ounce package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
- 1 egg
- ⅓ milk
For the Rest
- 4 slices potato or buttermilk sandwich bread, like Oroweat
- 8 ounces ground pork sage sausage, like Jimmy Dean
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ cup peeled diced crisp sweet apple, like Gala or Envy
- ⅓ cup diced carrot
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, Italian or curly
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 ½ to 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided, as needed (I use 1 ½ cups)
- Prepare the cornbread with the egg and milk according to the package directions for cornbread in an 8- x 8-inch baking dish. Allow to cool and then proceed with the recipe. The cornbread can be prepared a day or two in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Slice the cornbread and then cut it into 1-inch cubes. Don’t be concerned if some of it crumbles. Cut the slices of bread into 1-inch pieces. You should have 4 to 5 cups each of the cornbread cubes and French bread pieces or 8 to 10 cups total, give or take.
- Spread the cornbread (including any crumbles) and bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, tossing with a spatula after 10 minutes, until lightly toasted (cornbread will be very golden brown and sandwich bread will be toasted and light golden).
- Meanwhile, add sausage to a large skillet and place over MEDIUM heat. Cook, stirring to crumble it, and continue to cook until no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off any grease from the skillet and wipe it down with a paper towel.
- Return the skillet to MEDIUM-LOW heat and add the butter. When melted, add the onion, apples, celery and carrot. Turn the heat up to MEDIUM-HIGH and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 8 minutes or until veggies and apple are fork tender. Don’t allow them to brown, you just want them tender (reduce heat, if necessary). Add the garlic and parsley and cook and stir for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sage, poultry seasoning, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Remove from the heat.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set an oven rack to the center position. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Transfer the toasted cornbread and sandwich bread cubes to a large mixing bowl. Spoon the vegetable and apple mixture and the cooked sausage over the bread and mix well. Add the beaten egg and toss lightly to combine. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and toss again, being careful not to break up the cornbread too much. Add additional chicken broth, a little at a time, until you've reached the desired consistency. Stuffing will dry out a little bit as it cooks but you don't want it to be too wet going into the oven. I don't recommend adding more than a total of 1 ½ to 2 cups of broth.
- Transfer stuffing to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. For a crispier topping, set the oven to BROIL (don’t raise the oven rack) and continue to cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes or until browned to your liking.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published November 5, 2016. It has been updated with new images and text.
Questions and Reviews
are you sure you meant NOT TO REFRIGERATE???
“The USDA does not recommend refrigerating uncooked stuffing once the wet and dry ingredients have been combined.”
The recommendation is that the stuffing should be cooked right away once the wet and dry ingredients are combined. It shouldn’t be refrigerated overnight. I changed the wording a bit to hopefully avoid any confusion. Hope this helps!
hi, wondering if it is a mistake that in step 1 of your third section you mention French bread? I plan on making this but am confused regarding that bread when the list of ingredients and the pictures are not French bread. ty
Hi Ali. Thanks for the catch! There is no French bread in the recipe, just cornbread and sliced sandwich bread. The text has been corrected and I appreciate your keen eye!