Sharing a last-minute herby sausage & fennel stuffing if you’re looking to try a new stuffing this year! This is my go-to stuffing, with classic flavor and lots of texture. It’s full of Italian sausage, caramelized onions & fennel, plenty of herbs, and a buttery pistachio & dried apricot topping…baked until golden and slightly crisp on top. Serve it with lots of gravy as the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.
herby italian sausage & fennel stuffing – the details
This stuffing starts off with the bread. I’m using an Italian loaf for this that I just cut up into bite-sized pieces. Sourdough, ciabatta, or any other type of fresh, crusty bread would work. You can either cut your bread on the day you buy it and then let it dry out for a couple of days on it’s own.
Or, if it’s still pretty fresh & soft, I like to just toast it in the oven for about 20 minutes to crisp up. The goal is having bread that’s dry enough to not completely turn to mush when mixing with the stock and other ingredients, but fresh enough to still retain a slightly soft bite.
While the bread toasts, you can get working on browning off your sausage. I love using mild Italian sausage for this, but spicy would be great as well. You’ll pour the sausage and all of it’s drippings, plus some stock (chicken or turkey if you have it), over the bread and toss to combine. This should sit soaking just as long as it takes to cook the vegetables.
A mix of onion, fennel, and leeks creates a well-rounded flavor and lots of caramelized texture. The key? Cooking the vegetables in butter and adding lots of herbs. Sage, parsley, and rosemary give this stuffing that classic savory Thanksgiving flavor.
Once the stuffing is all mixed, it simply gets baked off in a standard baking dish. Halfway through cooking, you’ll pull it out and top it with buttery pistachios and dried apricots. This is optional, and if you want to keep it more classic, just omit this step. But, I love the pop of chewy sweetness and rich crunch that those ingredients add.
After it’s baked, it’s ready to serve. Drizzle it with plenty of gravy and enjoy!!Print
Herby Sausage & Fennel Stuffing
classic thanksgiving stuffing with italian sausage, caramelized onions & fennel, plenty of herbs, and a buttery pistachio & dried apricot topping
- 1 ¼ lbs italian bread, cut or torn into ¾” pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb bulk mild italian sausage
- kosher salt
- 3 cups chicken (or turkey) stock
- 8 tbsp (¼ lb) butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup chopped dried turkish apricots
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the bread into an even layer on a half sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook for about 5 minutes until browned on all sides, stirring often. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Transfer the toasted bread to a large mixing bowl. Pour in 2 cups of the stock and the sausage (plus all of the olive oil and drippings from the skillet). Stir well to coat and let sit.
- Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion, fennel, and leeks. Cook for about 12 minutes until caramelized and tender, stirring often. Turn off the heat and melt in 2 more tablespoons of butter, the sage, parsley, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the vegetables to the bread bowl. Whisk the eggs with the remaining 1 cup of stock and pour it into the bowl. Mix well to combine all of the ingredients. Pour the stuffing into a buttered 9×13” baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium heat again. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Turn off the heat and stir in the apricots and pistachios. Spoon the mixture over the stuffing.
- Continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.