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Cranberry Apple Stuffing

4.9 stars (9 ratings)

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A little sweet and a little tangy, this Cranberry Apple Stuffing is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. Bake in a casserole dish or use this dressing to stuff your turkey. Either way, this is a side dish the entire family will love!

Cranberry apple dressing in a glass casserole dish

A Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner must-haves, a good stuffing is very close to the top of my list. A perfectly cooked, moist turkey might be the priority but when it comes to side dish, I would argue that the stuffing is one of the most important.

And I’m not talking about a box of Stouffer’s either! In my house, we make the Thanksgiving dressing from scratch. Over the years, I’ve rotated through a handful of recipes but in the end, this cranberry apple dressing was the winner.

In addition to the classic herbs and aromatic, this stuffing calls for both fresh apples and dried cranberries. Yes, dried cranberries. The same ones I use in my cranberry chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies and cranberry orange poppy seed bread. They lend a tangy sweetness to the dressing, while keeping all the savory flavors you’d expect from stuffing.

This easy side dish can be baked in the oven by itself or stuffed inside the turkey (or both). My personal favorite part of the stuffing is the crispy edges, which you can’t get when baking it inside the turkey. However, not everyone agrees with me so I’ve included instructions for both below. Whichever you choose, this cranberry apple stuffing is guaranteed to be a hit!

Overhead view of ingredients needed for cranberry apple dressing

What You’ll Need

This homemade stuffing is made with stale bread, apples, cranberries, and a few traditional stuffing ingredients.

  • Salted butter – Salted butter is the only butter I keep in my kitchen and for the holidays I spring for the good stuff – Kerry Gold.
  • Diced onions & celery – Add flavor and texture to the stuffing.
  • Chopped apples – Honey crisp, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady are all good apple variety options to use here.
  • Dried cranberries – The dried cranberries add a little sweet but tart flavor to the dish.
  • Herbs – A combination of fresh sage, thyme, and parsley provide the flavor of this Thanksgiving stuffing.
  • Turkey stock – Use a low sodium or no-salt added stock. Chicken stock can also be used if you don’t have turkey.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cubed stale bread – Check the bakery section of your local grocery. You can buy loaves, cut them up, and let them dry a day or two, or look for plain bakery stuffing mix. The stuffing mix in the bakery is made from the same made-in-house loaves, but they do the work for you.
  • Eggs – Eggs act as a binder to hold all of the other ingredients together.

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How to Make Cranberry Apple Stuffing

Making homemade dressing for Thanksgiving is surprisingly easy, with just 20 minutes or so of hands-on time required!

Overhead view of chopped vegetables and ingredients for cranberry apple stuffing
  • Saute the ingredients. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and then add onions, celery, apples, cranberries, sage, and thyme. Stir often, until the veggies have softened.
  • Simmer. Add the stock and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Combine all ingredients. Beat eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper. Then add the stale bread and toss to coat. Pour the vegetable mixture over the bread mixture and mix to combine.
  • Bake. Transfer to the greased baking dish. Dot the top with pats of the remaining butter. Cover either with the lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover (key for getting those crispy edges) and bake for an additional 25 to 35 minutes.
Cranberry apple stuffing in a round baking dish ready to be baked

How to Bake Stuffing in a Turkey

If you’d prefer to bake your cranberry apple dressing directly inside your turkey, follow the preparation listed above (steps 1 to 3) and then the following.

  • Add dressing to the turkey. Transfer as much stuffing as needed to fill the turkey cavity. The amount needed will depend on the size of the turkey. Transfer any extra mixture to a smaller baking dish.
  • Bake the turkey. Bake the turkey according to the directions for a stuffed turkey. The center of the stuffing must reach 165F on an internal thermometer.
  • Bake the remaining stuffed. For any extra stuffing, bake as directed above while adjusting the pan size and cook time as needed. For example, if you’re baking just 1/2 of the full recipe, remove the lid after 20 minutes and check for doneness at 15 minutes.
Overhead view of a round casserole dish of cranberry apple stuffing on a cutting board

Tips for Success

If this is your first time making homemade stuffing, here are a few things to remember.

  • Dried herbs vs Fresh herbs. Dried and fresh can be used interchangeably. The standard rule of thumb is to use 1/3 the amount of dried instead of fresh. For example, four teaspoons of dried parsley equals 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, and one teaspoon of dried sage or dried thyme equals one tablespoon of fresh sage or thyme.
  • Don’t add too much salt. The amount of salt needed in the final product greatly depends on the stock used. I use homemade turkey stock with no salt added. I recommend a low-sodium or no salt added stock, but if yours does have salt, you may not need any more salt in the dish.
  • Be sure the veggies soften when cooking. It’s important to cook the onions and celery until softened, as they won’t soften much more during baking.
  • Always use stale bread. Stale bread chunks are a key part of making homemade stuffing. Fresh bread will absorb liquid too quickly and turn to mushy.
Cranberry apple dressing in a circular baking dish

Serving Suggestions

This cranberry apple stuffing is obviously perfect at your Thanksgiving table next to an herb-infused buttermilk-brined turkey, which was my inspiration for creating it. The cranberries and apples perfectly complement other Thanksgiving staples, and it never fails to impress guests who are expecting basic stuffing with their meal.

Of course, this cranberry apple dressing doesn’t have to be JUST for Thanskgiving! You can enjoy it anytime with roast chicken (rotisserie chicken to make it super easy!) and vegetables.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover stuffing should be covered tightly and place in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven until just warmed through. It will last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

My favorite way to repurpose this leftover stuffing is to reheat it in a waffle iron and serve it with sausage links and eggs.

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Cranberry apple dressing in a glass casserole dish

Cranberry Apple Stuffing

A little sweet and a little tangy, this Cranberry Apple Stuffing is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. Bake in a casserole dish or use this dressing to stuff your turkey. Either way, this is a side dish the entire family will love!
4.9 stars (9 ratings)
prep: 30 minutes
cook: 1 hour
total: 1 hour 30 minutes
servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup 6 ounces salted butter – divided
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme*
  • 3 cups low sodium or no-salt added turkey or chicken stock*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley*
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 cups cubed stale bread or plain bakery stuffing mix

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375º and prepare a 3-quart casserole by greasing with butter or cooking spray.
  • In a large skillet, melt 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery, apples, and cranberries, sage, and thyme. Cook, stirring often, until the veggies have softened, about 10 – 15 minutes. Add stock, bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the stale bread and toss to coat. Pour vegetable and stock mixture over bread and mix to combine.
  • To Bake in a Baking Dish
  • Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish. Chop the remaining 2 ounces of butter into squares or slice it into thin pats then dot it around the top of the stuffing.
  • Cover with an oven safe lid or aluminum foil and bake at 375º for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until golden brown, approximately 25 – 35 minutes more.
  • To Bake in a Stuffed Turkey
  • Transfer as much as needed to fill the turkey cavity. Transfer any remaining mixture into a smaller baking dish, adjusted for size as needed.
  • Bake turkey according to the instructions for a stuffed turkey, checking that the center of the stuffing reaches a 165º internal temperature to ensure food safety.
  • Bake the remaining stuffing mixture as indicated above, reducing the amount of butter dotted on top and reducing the cooking time as needed. If baking 1/2 of the full recipe size, remove lid after 20 minutes and check for doneness after 10 – 15 minutes of baking uncovered. Time will vary based on the volume of stuffing and the size and shape of the pan.

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Notes

*If you prefer dried herbs, use 1/3 the amount dried in place of the fresh – 4 teaspoons of dried parsley instead of 1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon of sage and thyme instead of 1 tablespoon.
*I use homemade turkey stock, with no salt added. If your stock contains salt you may not need any additional salt in the final dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Calories: 409kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 15gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 43264mgFiber: 5gSugar: 26g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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2 Comments on “Cranberry Apple Stuffing”

  1. 5 stars
    Cranberries and apples together – my favorites! A great comfort-style home cooked stuffing recipe that all of my kids and grandkids love. Perfect for large family gatherings so I’m adding to my go-to recipe list!

    Reply
4.89 from 9 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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