The stuffing has always been my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I look forward to it every single year–so much so, that I could probably just have stuffing for dinner and pies for dessert and be a happy camper. No need to make a fuss over the turkey–I’m just here for the stuffing!
For years now, I’ve been making the same stuffing recipe that was passed down to me from my great aunt. With this new apple stuffing recipe made with delicious Harry & David apples, I made sure to follow her traditions of plenty of butter and seasonings.
The first step to making great stuffing is crisping the bread in your oven. This is a step you don’t want to miss. Don’t worry about it taking too much time on Thanksgiving day, though–you can crisp the bread 1-2 days in advance if necessary.
When you’re ready to start cooking, you’ll need to get out the biggest pot you have and sauté the diced celery, onion, fennel, and apples until they are soft. This is where all the butter comes in! Along with the butter, I also mixed in the seasonal herbs I had on hand, including parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. That may seem kind of like overkill, but for Thanksgiving, it’s worth going the extra mile. The herbs really bring a lot of freshness to this stuffing. Plus, your house will smell amazing as it bakes!
Finally, you’ll combine the cooked vegetables and herbs with the crisped bread, broth, and a couple eggs to help bind everything together. The stuffing will go into a 9×13 inch baking dish, where you’ll lightly pat it down so it fits snuggly in the pan. But be sure not to compress it too hard, or the stuffing will bake up super dense.
I decided to keep this stuffing recipe vegetarian, so I used vegetable broth in the recipe. This is great if you’re having a mixed crowd over for dinner during the holidays. But if you’re not concerned, you can certainly replace the vegetable broth with chicken broth. You can even use a few drippings from the turkey pan during basting (be mindful of any added salt). Or you can check out these other easy no-stress Thanksgiving stuffings and appetizers. Enjoy your apple stuffing–and happy Thanksgiving!
The holidays are all about family, and nothing brings all the generations together like food! In Homespun Holidays we explore recipes perfect for new family traditions, shareable plates for your next holiday get-together, and small-batch desserts and sides for more intimate gatherings.
Apple and Fennel Stuffing with Fresh Herbs
- 2 lb loaf country-style bread (torn into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces)
- 1 cup 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 celery stalks (diced)
- 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
- 1 large fennel bulb (trimmed and diced)
- 2 Harry & David Premium Apples (cored and diced)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 cup fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (roughly chopped)
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 eggs
- Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread the torn pieces of bread out between two rimmed baking sheets.
- Bake the bread in your pre-heated oven, tossing occasionally, until it’s dry and crisp, usually 50-60 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheets from your oven and set them aside to cool.
- Once cooled, transfer the bread to a very large bowl.
- The bread can also be baked 1-2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature until you’re ready to make the stuffing.
- Increase your oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Lightly spray a 9 X 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.
- In a large heavy-bottom pot over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup of the butter (not of it!) with the olive oil.
- Add the celery, onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the apple, salt, pepper and the remaining 1/2 cup of butter and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in all the herbs. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth and eggs.
- Slowly pour this mixture over the bread in the bowl.
- Then scrape the cooked vegetables/herbs (and any accumulated liquid in the pot) on top. Gently fold/toss everything together, making sure all the bread is moistened and the ingredients are well combined.
- Transfer the stuffing to your prepared baking dish, packing it down lightly. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and transfer to your pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.
- Carefully remove the aluminum foil and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Continue baking the stuffing uncovered for 25 minutes.
- The top should be golden brown and crisp. Remove it from the oven and set it aside to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 2-3 days.