If you’re looking for a beautiful and delicious stuffing that you can use with turkey, chicken, pork, or just throw in the oven and bake on its own, this medley of apples, bacon, cranberries, and toasted challah is the perfect thing!
The original recipe was published on a previous version of this blog in November 2015. I’ve updated the recipe and the photos and am republishing it for your Thanksgiving enjoyment!
Not a lot has changed around my house from the Thanksgiving dinners we had when I was growing up to the ones I host now. Ingredients, maybe. Amount of wine consumed, sure. But otherwise, they’re very much as I remember them.
Thanksgiving dinner always hit the table around 2pm. Perfectly timed to make sure all the sharks lurking around the kitchen didn’t make off with bits of the stuffing and sides they’d been smelling cooking all day, and to give everyone enough time to nap off the tryptophans.
My dad had us all help with the prep, but when it was cooking time, it was his show and his alone. He started roasting the turkey early in the morning and would send my sisters and cousins and me out to play, and my mom and the rest of the adult relatives out onto the patio with coffee and later with wine while he worked. By the time everyone was called in, we smelled wonderful scents, and we’d had a full morning of fresh air, and we were absolutely crazy for food. Then we’d stuff ourselves and promptly pass out on any horizontal surface we could find.
These days, we host as often as we go home to visit for Thanksgiving. But no matter who’s house we’re dining at, there’s usually a family hike or some outdoor activity going on, there’s lots of fresh air, and then there’s a midday feast, much stuffing of selves, and passing out.
This year is a little bit different. We won’t have the packed table we usually have. Since gatherings are limited and travel is lessened, we’ll have a much more intimate gathering. But if anything, that’s just an invitation to pull out all the stops and make some amazing food.
I’ve been waffling about whether this year’s menu should include our family favorite cornbread and sausage stuffing, or this apple bacon cranberry stuffing recipe I’ve been playing with. Our menu this year is heavily favoring traditional fall maple and apple flavors, so I’m thinking that this one will be our stuffing contender this year.
It has so many great flavors, with the buttery challah and sautéed veggies and fresh apples and sweet and tart cranberries. It’s pretty easy to make ahead, too – just mix everything together except the eggs, cover, and set in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Then whip up the eggs, fold them in, and bake. All too easy! And Lord knows, we owe ourselves some easy recipes this year!
Apple Bacon Cranberry Stuffing
- Baking sheet
- Casserole dish
- 8" skillet
- Large bowl
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 ea yellow onion diced
- 2 ea stalks celery chopped
- 8 cups bread cubes (one challah loaf)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 ea apples cored and chopped
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 4 slices bacon cooked and chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 ea eggs well-beaten
- Heat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cube the bread and scatter over the lined baking sheet. Bake the cubes for about 10 minutes, then flip and toast another 5 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a skillet. Sauté the onions and celery in the butter until the onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- In a very large bowl, mix the bread cubes with the salt, pepper, and thyme until well coated. Pour the butter, onions, and celery over the bread cubes and mix.
- Add the chicken stock, cranberries, chopped apples, and bacon to the bread cubes and mix until coated. Fold in the beaten eggs.
- If you’re baking this by itself, place it in a lightly buttered casserole dish and drizzle with about 1/2 cup additional chicken stock. Cover with foil and bake covered at 350F for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
If you’re not baking it by itself, stuff the turkey, chicken, or pork loin of your choice and roast away! This recipe goes great with all of those – we’ve tried it with each a few times!
One of these days I’m going to learn how to braid challah so I can make my own for this recipe, and for the other recipes I love using it in. But in the meantime, the bakery in our local Giant store makes an absolutely delicious loaf that goes great in this stuffing, as croutons, or in French toast – or just by itself! Let’s not think about carbs right now. Thanksgiving is not the time to count carbs.