My favorite Thanksgiving side is homemade stuffing also referred to as a dressing if its not going directly into the bird. Either way, its delicious and this Apple Cranberry Stuffing Recipe will be a great addition to your holiday meal. Fresh apples, cranberries, celery, onions, herbs and french baguettes are a winning combo. Bake on its own as a side dish or go ahead and stuff that holiday turkey.
To bring you this wonderful apple stuffing recipe, I partnered with Starr Ranch Growers, a group of multi-generational farming families who raise premium, wholesome conventional and organic fruit. I’m so excited to showcase their sweet and delightfully tart JUICI apple. The JUICI apple is a versatile vibrant red variety with a thinner skin, great crunch, and long shelf life. All wins for an apple that can be used in a multitude of recipes.
Supporting farmers who give back to the community, use sustainable farming practices, and deliver consistent quality products is why I love Starr Ranch Growers. Their JUICI apples come lovingly packaged with each piece of fruit nestled in protective padding. You can rest assured the apples you order will come in fresh pristine condition.
Homemade Stuffing Ingredients
Traditional stuffing recipes are pretty basic with just bread, celery and onions. Obviously that just won’t do, so fresh apples and cranberries have been added.
Here are the main ingredients you will need for this cranberry apple stuffing recipe:
- JUICI apples
- Yellow Onion
- French Baguettes
- Fresh Cranberries
- Chicken Stock
- High quality unsalted butter
For this recipe I chose to keep the apple skin intact. It holds up nicely when baked and the color makes a beautiful final presentation. Pairing the apples with fresh cranberries creates a lovely sweet tartness in contrast to the celery onion mixture.
I’m not a huge fan of raw celery. However, when you cook it with lots of butter, rosemary, sage, and thyme I’m all in. The key here is fresh herbs and lots of quality butter.
Next, the bread used for this holiday stuffing must be french baguettes. I’ve used plain bread and sourdough is some versions with great success. Though I always come back to baguettes for their texture and taste. Make your own or grab a couple loaves from your local bakery.
The seasoning I love to use is simply fresh herbs with a bit of salt and black pepper.
- Sea Salt
- Black pepper
How to Dry Bread for Stuffing
Fresh bread is soft and contains a bit of moisture. Since we will be adding butter and chicken stock to the mixture, the bread needs to be toasted prior.
Prepare bread for stuffing in the oven, by cutting the french baguette into ¾-1 inch cubes and evenly spreading out onto a lined baking sheet. Bake the bread in the oven at 350 F (180 C) for about 15 minutes or until dried.
How to Make Stuffing or Dressing
I can’t emphasize the use of fresh ingredients enough. They truly add to the depth of flavor in your homemade stuffing.
Start by preparing all the ingredients ahead of time. While you’re bread is toasting, cut your apples, onions, and celery. Have the herbs chopped and cranberries diced. I prefer to cut my cranberries in half to better distribute them in the casserole dish.
To start, simply melt the butter in a medium skillet, add in the chopped onion and celery, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cook until softened. Add the apple pieces and cook for a few minutes to soften. Next, pour in the chicken stock, mixing in the herbs. Heat the mixture a few minutes longer.
Place dried bread cubes into a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour the skillet mixture into the bread. Gently mix together and fold in the cranberries. Transfer the stuffing either inside the turkey or in a baking dish to bake.
Best Way to Bake Apple Stuffing
Stuffing cooked outside the bird in a casserole dish. Place ingredients in a lightly buttered casserole dish. Bake covered with aluminum foil and remove the last 10 minute so baking to add some crispy golden color to the the top.
Stuffing cooked inside the bird: Depending on your personal preference, stuffing cooked in the bird soaked with drippings adds incredible flavor and moisture. Make sure the internal temperature of the middle of the stuffing hits 165 F (75 C) before removing from heat for health safety purposes.
Keep Your Stuffing Warm
Let’s be honest during the holidays we are making multiple dishes at once and then waiting to eat them together. The bread causes stuffing to cool down quicker than your potato casserole. And cold stuffing is not gonna fly at the dinner table.
To keep this apple stuffing warm until ready to serve, cover it tightly with foil. You can place it on a warming tray, or in a 200 F (90 C) oven.
Reheat Leftover Thanksgiving Stuffing
If your stuffing isn’t devoured in one sitting, don’t worry you can easily reheat it later. Simply place in an oven safe container, cover with aluminum foil and heat at 350 F (180 C) until warm.
Store the stuffing in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days of freshness.
More Thanksgiving Recipes to Try
Apple Cranberry Stuffing
- 10 Cups French Baguette Cubes (about 2 baguettes) ¾ – 1 inch cubes
- 7 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 2 cups Fresh Celery chopped (about 4-5 stalks)
- 2 cups Yellow Onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground Pepper
- 2.5 cups JUICI Apples stems removes, cored, chopped
- 1 ¼ cups Chicken Stock
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary minced
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme minced
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Sage minced
- ½ cup Fresh Cranberries halved
- Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut french baguettes into ¾-1 inch cubes and evenly spread onto baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until dried but not browned. Remove from oven to cool.
- Place bread crumbs into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Increase oven temperature tp 350 F (180 C) and lightly butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or similar size.
- Place butter, celery, and onions in a large skillet and heat on medium-high for about 7 minutes to tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper once butter is melted.
- Add chopped apples to skillet and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Pour chicken stock into skillet and add fresh herbs. Heat an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour skillet mixture into the bowl with dried breadcrumbs. Gently fold to mix with a rubber spatula. Toss in sliced cranberries and mix to incorporate.
- Transfer stuffing mixture into prepared baking dish. Loosely cover dish with aluminum foil, place on center of middle rack in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove foil to bake for additional 10-15 minutes until top is lightly golden.
- Remove stuffing from oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm before serving.