I have a confession to make. I grew up with a fear of stuffing. It is mostly had to deal with the fact that once someone at Thanksgiving dinner deemed it “unhealthy.” I can see where stuffing got a bad reputation. After all, the good stuff is made with bread and pork sausage, and we all know those aren’t necessarily the most macro-friendly options. So, I spent many years avoiding it (read: missing out!).
But, one of the treasures I learned about macro-counting was that no food is off-limits. Sure, some have more carbs and fat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them! And this year, you better believe I am going to enjoy some stuffing.
Stuffing is one of those things that many people swear their Grandma has the best recipe. It might be true, and if you have one you LOVE, definitely make that for Thanksgiving. But if you’re searching for a little something different, I have a couple of ideas below.
- Cornbread Dressing (The Pioneer Woman): If anything is made by the Pioneer Woman, you know it is going to be good. This recipe intrigues me because it uses two different types of bread (french bread and skillet cornbread). I think the mixture of textures and flavors from two types of bread would be incredible.
- Pecan and Apricot Stuffing (AllRecipes): Last year, my friend told me about a stuffing that her family makes which included dried apricots. I thought this sweet and savory combo sounded delicious, so I tagged a recipe that was similar.
- Herbed Sausage, Cranberry, and Apple Stuffing (Sally’s Bake Blog): If I were going to bring a stuffing somewhere for Thanksgiving, it would be this one! I made it last year for my family, and I loved the sweet elements in the dish. In fact, this is the recipe that inspired the more macro-friendly one below.
Apple, Cranberry, and Chicken Sausage Stuffing
As I said above, I made the Herbed Sausage, Cranberry, and Apple Stuffing from Sally’s Bake Blog last year, and my husband and I loved it. It was different than any stuffing I’d ever had before, thanks to the sweet additions of apples and cranberries.
I knew I wanted to share this recipe on the blog and was originally just going to share a link to the original recipe. However, when I searched for “sausage” in my shopping app, a chicken apple variety I have ordered before popped up. I began to think that would actually be a great substitution for fattier pork sausage, and I have to say the chicken apple sausage paired perfectly in this recipe. The sausage already has sweet and savory notes, so it fit right in AND saved some major fat grams.
- Whole grain bread. Or choose your favorite bread as a substitution. A loaf of crusty french bread would be great! I used the Great Value 100% whole wheat, which has great macros at 1F/12C/3P, 60 calories per slice. I used 17 slices, for reference.
- Chicken Apple Sausage. I purchased mine from Wal-Mart, and it has great macros at 3F/3C/15P, or 100 calories per link. I used a whole package in this recipe (4 sausages).
- Veggies. Celery and onion really give the stuffing its traditional flavor base.
- Butter. Of course, right? It is Thanksgiving, after all!
- Spices. Salt, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, and freshly cracked pepper. All of these spices together give the stuffing so much flavor.
- Fruit. Crisp Granny Smith Apples and dried cranberries. Essential to get that sweet and savory combo!
The Prep Work
This recipe is easily one that could be broken into steps or prepared all at once. If you’re prepping it for Thanksgiving, I would start with some of the recipe beforehand to save some time in the kitchen on the big day.
- Crisping the bread: After your bread is cubed, you’re going to dry it out in two sheet pans in the oven for 15 minutes. This helps give the bread a crisp texture and allows it not to be a soggy mess once it gets tossed with chicken stock. If you choose to do this step ahead of time, place cooled bread into an airtight container and store it on your counter until ready to use.
- Sauteeing the sausage and veggies: This step is wonderful to do ahead of time because this allows the flavors to develop. We all know more flavor yields better food! Sautee your onions, celery, sausage, apples, and spices. Allow to cool and then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to assemble the stuffing.
- Mixing the stuffing: In a large bowl, you’ll dump in your bread cubes, meat mixture, and cranberries. Then you’ll slowly add in chicken stock. You want your bread to be moist, but not sopping wet. Give everything a good stir so the chicken stock is evenly incorporated and then pour it into a prepared baking pan.
- Bake: Bake your stuffing at 350 for 40-45 minutes. The stuffing should be heated through and the top should be beginning to crisp.
- Serve: And enjoy every sweet and savory bite!
Apple, Cranberry, and Chicken Sausage Stuffing
- 9 cups bread of choice, diced into cubes (I used Great Value 100% whole wheat bread) (~442 g. Please note: your choice of bread may vary the macros!)
- 14 g butter (1 tablespoon)
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced (160 g)
- 1 onion, finely diced (248 g)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 4 chicken apple sausage, finely diced (I purchased mine from Wal-Mart.
- 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and finely diced (259 g)
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp sage
- 2 tsp parsley
- 50 g dried cranberries
- 2- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (I used chicken granules to make mine and the macros reflect that)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place bread cubes evenly into two sheet pans. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the bread has become crisp. This is a great time to begin chopping your other ingredients. Set aside to cool a bit.
- In a large skillet, melt the tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Then add the celery, onions, salt, and pepper. Cook the vegetables until they become tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add in the diced chicken sausage, apples, thyme, sage, and parsley. Allow this mixture to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the apples are crisp-tender.
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken sausage mixture, bread cubes, and cranberries. Pour in the chicken broth, starting with a cup and then stir to combine. Gradually add in additional chicken stock, stirring after each addition, until all the bread crumbs are moist. I used just 2 cups, but you may need more depending on your bread.
- Spread into a 2 and 1/2 quart Corningware dish sprayed with cooking spray. Then bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until the top begins to brown and is crisp.