November 6, 2013
This Gluten-Free Sausage & Apple Stuffing is baked to perfection with savory Italian sausage, tart apples, cranberries, and seasonings for a crowd-pleasing side dish to roasted turkey.
Stuffing is arguably the best part of Thanksgiving, so it’s important not to mess it up. However, if you need a gluten-free version finding a recipe worthy to serve can seem daunting until now.
The Ultimate Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
This Cranberry Apple Sausage Stuffing recipe uses store-bought gluten-free bread and poultry seasoning to achieve that golden-brown crust and soft, buttery interior we love. It’s packed with savory and sweet flavors from Italian sausage, rosemary, tart apple, and dried cranberries.
So before you reach for that gluten-free stuffing mix, give this recipe a try. It’s so simple and yields delicious results that all of your guests will be raving over.
As a Thanksgiving host, I know there can be a lot of pressure to provide a spread of dishes that satisfy everyone. Add a gluten allergy to that mix and it can be downright stressful. It’s why I created an entire gluten-free Thanksgiving menu with recipes everyone will rave over.
My Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal Plan
Everything you need for a stress-free, gluten-free holiday!
Inside this eBook, you’ll find 23 gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes. PLUS, done-for-you daily holiday prep, helpful kitchen notes, and hour-by-hour timing instructions for Thanksgiving day.
This book is like hiring a kitchen assistant to plan out an incredibly delicious menu for your family.
I also have an entire post on how to host a successful gluten-free Thanksgiving so you can enjoy the holiday right alongside the ones you love most.
Gluten-Free Stuffing Ingredients
Here’s everything you need to make this sausage apple stuffing:
- Italian sausage: you can use any sausage in casing, but Italian sausage adds the best flavor.
- chopped leeks: adds bulk and a light onion flavor
- tart apples: Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Fuji are best.
- chopped celery: an aromatic vegetable that no stuffing can be without
- poultry seasonings: another essential ingredient for stuffing
- dried rosemary: compliments the flavors of Italian sausage
- dried cranberries: the sweet component of this dish
- gluten-free bread: the denser and dryer, the better
- chicken stock or broth: use the store-bought cartons or make your own chicken broth
- salt and black pepper: for good measure
How to Make Gluten-Free Bread Cubes
To make gluten-free bread cubes, you will need 8 slices (about 12 ounces) of gluten-free white bread, cubed and toasted. Toasting the bread guarantees a good texture and flavor in the stuffing. Here’s what to do:
- Toast the bread slices in a toaster of 350F oven on a large baking sheet. No buttering is required.
- Allow the bread to sit for 10 minutes to dry out.
- Once cooled, cut or tear each slice into ½-inch cubes.
You can complete this step the night before and store the cubes in an airtight container.
Best Gluten-Free Bread for Stuffing
The good thing about using gluten-free bread is that most store-bought options have the perfect dry and dense texture for stuffing, so there is more surface area to soak up all the flavors and cooking juices.
Here are my top three picks for gluten-free stuffing:
How to Make Gluten-Free Stuffing
Making homemade stuffing is easy, but crucial steps are involved, so it bakes into Thanksgiving perfection year after year. Here’s what to do:
- Cook the sausage
Remove the sausage from its casing. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it browns.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage from the skillet and transfer it to a plate. Keep the drippings in the pan.
- Brown the veggies
Over medium-high heat, cook the leeks, apples, celery, and poultry seasoning in the sausage drippings. Cook until the leeks are tender and browned.
- Combine everything
Add the cranberries, cooked sausage, and toasted bread cubes. Season with salt and black pepper, and toss to combine before adding the chicken broth.
- Add the stock
Just enough until the mixture is sticky but not soaking wet, gluten-free bread is different, so it will absorb a different amount of liquid. Start with ¾ cup and go from there.
- Stuff the turkey
If you are making the traditional route, fill the turkey with half the stuffing (I used a 15 lb turkey). Roast as directed or until the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 175F and the breast and stuffing reach 165F. This is where a meat thermometer comes in handy.
- Bake in a baking dish
If you prefer to bake your stuffing separately from the turkey, simply add it to a greased baking dish, cover it with foil, and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Can You Make Grain-Free Stuffing?
If you want to make this savory sausage stuffing grain-free, use 1 recipe for my Grain-Free Blender Bread. It has a toasty flavor already and soaks up the liquid and flavor just like regular bread. You’ll also need to toast the bread in a toaster or oven before adding it to the recipe.
You’ll use half the loaf for the recipe below. When making grain-free stuffing be sure to pour the liquid in slowly as the grain-free bread is not as absorbent as other types of bread. You want the mixture to be sticky but not soaking wet.
This stuffing is a perfect example of how gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes can still be delicious and crowd-pleasing enough to end up on everyone’s plate.
And if you’re looking for more gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes, check out the Giving Thanks: a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu. It has 20+ recipes to choose from with a done-for-you prep guide so you can stay ahead of the game and still enjoy the classic dishes you and your family look forward to all year.
How to Make Stuffing Ahead
You can easily make this sausage and apple stuffing ahead of time! Prepare it as directed, but don’t bake it. Transfer it to a large bowl or baking dish, cover it tightly, and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
To bake, remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes before baking. Bake as directed.
More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Sides
I have no shortage of delicious sides and recipes for Thanksgiving. Below are a few of my favorite dishes and ones I’m sure will frequent your table year after year:
- Easy Fall Roasted Vegetables
- Orange Juice & Port Cranberry Sauce
- Southern Mashed Potatoes
- Deviled Eggs
- Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
- Almond Flour Biscuits
Gluten-Free Sausage Apple Stuffing
- 10 slices gluten-free bread, or 12oz gluten-free stuffing cubes (skip toasting if buying)
- 1 pound Italian sausage, out of the casing
- 6 cups coarsely chopped leeks
- 3 green apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 4 teaspoons poultry seasonings
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- ¾ to 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the gluten-free bread cubes:
- Preheat the oven to 300F. With a knife, cube 10 slices of bread into small, even, cubed-shaped pieces.
- Spread the bread cubes in an even layer onto the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden, stirring if needed. Remove from the oven and set aside.
For the stuffing:
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it browns. Remove the sausage from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate. Keep the drippings in the pan.
- To the same skillet, add the leeks, apples, celery, and poultry seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes until the leeks are softened and golden brown.
- Stir in the cranberries, cooked sausage, and bread cubes. Season with salt and black pepper, and toss to combine before adding the chicken broth. The stuffing is supposed to appear wet and soggy, but as it bakes, the moisture will evaporate, and the mixture will become more cohesive.
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Transfer the stuffing inside the pan and cover it with foil. Bake, covered for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes until the top is golden. Remove from oven and keep warm or serve.
To use as stuffing in a turkey:
- Place 4 to 6 cups of the stuffing mixture inside a 12 to 16 lb turkey, about 1 cup for every 2 to 3 lbs. Tie the legs and bake until the turkey thigh reaches an internal temperature of 175F and the breast and stuffing reach 165F.
- Any leftover stuffing can be baked in a separate casserole dish as a side serving.