Cranberry Apple Cider Stuffing

Pumpkin on table cloth

I come from a big Irish Catholic family that is many things.  Loud and opinionated.  Funny storytellers. Enthusiastic drinkers (some of us maybe too much . .).  But by and large we’re not the best cooks and most aren’t even all that interested in cooking.  I’m the exception that proves the rule.

Growing up, there were no recipes handed down through the generations.  Grandma never brought over her blue ribbon side dish.  On the contrary, when you went to her house for dinner it was best to eat beforehand.

And my mother is amazing — she’s charismatic, driven, a force to be reckoned with — but she has always viewed cooking as a chore not a source of enjoyment.

Relish Tray and plastic pumpkin
Thanksgiving dinner requires a relish tray — anyone else or are we the only ones still eating like we live in the 1950s?

One of the few recipes that I consider a family tradition is this one.  We make it every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So it’s something I look forward to every year as the leaves fall and the weather turns cold.

This cranberry apple cider stuffing is super tasty.  If you took the flavors of fall and mixed them into a stuffing, this is what it would taste like.  It’s not fussy or complicated.  The add-ins are deceptively simple — onion, celery, cranberries, apple cider and sausage.  That’s it.

Chopped Sausage

First, cook the sausage and cut it into bite size pieces.  Dice an onion and some celery, then cook it in the fat from the sausage.

Chopped Onions and Celery

Combine the stuffing with a can of cranberry juice and some apple cider.

Can of Cranberry Jelly and Apple Cider
The can label is upside. I know how to open a can right side up. Promise. Also? I don’t care what people say -forget homemade cranberry relish.  I love canned cranberry sauce with my whole heart.  Always and forever, baby.

Then add in the celery/onion mixture, sausage and dried cranberries.  And voila – a side dish that is sweet from cider, tart from cranberries, crunchy on top and moist within, and umm, yummy from the sausage?  Mmmm, sausage.  Though it’s still delish without it – that’s how I make it for my vegetarian husband.

Pan of Stuffing
Ready for the oven and lookin’ a lit-tle suspect. But have faith, my friends. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

There you go.  That’s it.  The sum total of my family’s holiday cooking traditions in a baking dish.  Be thankful I didn’t give you my grandmother’s recipe for Irish Soda bread.  It’s basically a rock masquerading as a quick bread.  I still have nightmares.  For real.

Plate of thanksgiving dinner

pan of stuffing

Cranberry Apple Cider Stuffing

  • Author: closeenoughcook
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


A family tradition — no idea where it came from or who made it first — that combines some of the best flavors fall has to offer in one tasty side dish.  It’s sweet, tart, and savory all at once.  It’s the perfect compliment to save any dry turkey or hum-drum holiday meal.  Tastes excellent by itself or topped with turkey gravy,



14 oz. bag of stuffing (I use Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing but any will work)

4 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

6 breakfast sausage links (I use Johnsonville Vermont Maple Syrup Breakfast Sausage)

14 oz. can cranberry sauce

1 1/5 cups apple cider

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Olive oil as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook sausage in a medium size skillet as directed on package.  Let sausage cool and dice.
  3. Cook onion and celery in skillet used for the sausage.  If there is not enough grease remains from the sausage, add 1 tbsp or so of olive oil and saute vegetables until tender-crisp.
  4. Pour stuffing into a large bowl with apple cider and cranberry sauce. Stir until cider and sauce are fully incorporated into the stuffing.
  5. Add sausage, celery, onions and cranberries to stuffing mixture and stir to incorporate.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, removing foil for the last 15 minutes.

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