Stuffing is one of those hit or miss dishes at the Thanksgiving table. Sometimes it’s fluffy and delicious and other times it’s a soggy stuffing that's meh. This Stuffing Without Celery is the fluffy delicious kind! With sweet cranberries and crispy apples, what’s not to love about this family favorite?!
I think I am in the minority when I say that I need stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner or the Christmas table. I always look forward to the crisp bread on top, soft bread underneath, spice filled sausage, all with a side of cranberry sauce. But, you know what I don’t like? Celery.
Ok, first off, why even cook celery? It just results in the inside becoming squishy and the fibrous exterior staying fibrous and tough. Some people call this crunch, I do not.
That’s why I made this stuffing without celery recipe with all of my favorite things! Dried cranberries, spiced pork, French bread, and the best part - apples! So, let’s get ready for the holidays and start making this homemade stuffing recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
All substitutions are a 1:1 substitute unless otherwise noted.
French Bread: We need stale bread! You can leave out the bread cubes overnight or toast them to make sure the bread is sturdy enough to hold up to the added liquids.
Substitutions: Any type of bread similar to French bread can be used. This could be sourdough bread, brioche, or artisan.
Seasoned Sausage: This is critical! It packs a flavor punch with no extra work. I like to use mild sausage or breakfast sausage.
Substitutions: You can use any type of seasoned sausage you like.
Apples: I like to use honey crispy or granny smith apples to have a little bite to the stuffing. They also are harder varieties, meaning they will not soften as much when baked.
Substitutions: Any tougher apple can be used. When I say tougher, I consider an apple like a Macintosh as soft because they have an almost foam like texture while an apple like Granny Smith is tough and requires a solid bite to enjoy.
Cranberries: Cranberries add a layer of tart flavor while still keeping the sweetness!
Substitutions: Fresh or dried cranberries can be used. If using dried, look for no sugar added ones.
Chicken Broth or Chicken Stock: Stuffing relies on a liquid and egg mixture to set the stuffing. Hence, the chicken broth.
Substitutions: Any broth or stock can be used in place of chicken broth. This could be beef broth, turkey broth, or vegetable broth.
Butter: Lots and lots of butta!
Substitutions: Ghee or margarine can be used in place of butter. Salted or unsalted butter is fine. Olive oil can be used for sautéing but not for the liquid mixture.
Yellow Onion: Classic recipes usually rely on either onion or garlic as their base of flavor and this dish is no different.
Substitutions: White or yellow onion can be used. Shallots can also be used.
Egg: The egg I mentioned above! This helps set the casserole by acting as the stabilizer.
Substitutions: Any egg substitute may be able to be used, but it hasn’t been tested.
Seasonings: For this stuffing without celery, we use the three heavy hitters of seasonings - sage, rosemary, and thyme. We prefer to use dried and ground spices to make life easier.
Substitutions: Fresh herbs can be used. You can also try using poultry seasoning but it has not been tested.
Parsley: Parsley adds a great freshness to this stuffing!
Substitutions: Sorry, no substitute for this but it can be omitted in a pinch.
How to Make this - Step by Step
Step one: Make sure your bread is stale and preheat the oven to 400 degrees f. If the bread is not stale or day-old bread, tear it up into 1” cubes and toast at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
Step two: Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet and let melt over medium-high heat. Add onions and spices and sauté until onions have softened.
Step three: Add the sausage to the pan to brown it and break it up into bite size pieces.
Step four: While the sausage cooks, melt the remaining butter and add the egg and chicken broth to the melted butter and mix.
Step five: After the sausage is mostly cooked, add the diced apples, cranberries, and parsley and mix together. You can also do this in a large bowl if the pan isn't big enough.
Step six: Pour this sausage mixture into an 8x11 or larger casserole dish or baking dish. Top with stale bread pieces and liquid mixture. Mix until thoroughly coated. Try to spread out into a single layer to ensure the top gets evenly golden brown. You can also use a larger pan or even a sheet tray to spread out the mixture more. This will result in all crispy stuffing. I prefer my stuffing soft underneath and crispy on the top, hence the 8x11 size pan.
Step seven: Cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove aluminum foil after 25 minutes and bake for 35 more minutes until golden brown.
Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
Can’t find seasoned sausage in ground form? No worries! Any uncooked breakfast sausage will work, even if it is in casings. You can simply squeeze out the sausage from the casing into the pan and cook normally.
Facts and Common Questions
Can you omit celery in stuffing?
Yes you can omit celery in stuffing. Celery adds flavor and crunch but as this recipe can attest to, you do not need either of those as there are plenty of other tasty flavors to add to stuffing.
What makes stuffing taste better?
What a silly question! Apples and cranberries - duh! Apples and cranberries add sweetness and tang for delicious tasting stuffing.
Why do you put eggs in stuffing?
Eggs are a protein that provides structure. In stuffing, eggs help to stabilize and bind the stuffing while it bakes.
Want to Save it for Later? Here’s how!
Stuffing is a hard meal to keep very long because it's best fresh.
Fridge: If you have any leftovers, store in the fridge in a sealed or airtight container for up to 4 days.
To reheat: Stuffing is best reheated in a toaster oven to retain the crisp. But, it can be heated in a microwave until heated through.
Stuffing history dates back a long time but it is hard to pinpoint exactly how far. Sometimes it is referred to as dressing and other times as stuffing. There are some reports that note an early stuffing recipe dating back to 1st century AD. This version had vegetables, herbs, nuts, liver, and brain. So - a little different than today’s version that can often be made from stuffing mix. (source)
More Thanksgiving Recipes & Inspiration!
Try these other recipes to pair with this scrumptious stuffing!
Did you try this and love it? Leave us a review, we would love to hear from you!
- 6 cups french bread stale & cut into 1"-2" cubes
- 1 lb breakfast sausage
- 3 cups apples about 4 medium apples - honey crisp or granny smith, diced
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon sage dried & powdered form
- 1 tablespoon rosemary dried & powdered form
- 1.5 teaspoon thyme dried & powdered form
- 1 cup chicken broth low sodium
- 5 tablespoon butter unsalted
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 egg
- 1.5 cups parsley finely chopped, fresh
- See above for substitution options
- If your bread is not stale, you can toast the cubed bread for 10 minutes at 200 degrees. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
- Saute onions and spices in a skillet over medium heat until soft with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
- Add the sausage to the pan to brown and break it up as it cooks. Cook until browned.
- In a bowl, melt the remaining butter and then whisk in the egg and chicken broth.
- Once the sausage is done, add the cranberries, apples, and parsley and mix. For the apples - I like to use honey crisp because they are sweet with a slight tang and a harder variety meaning they hold up better when baked.
- Pour this mixture into a greased 8x11 pan. You can also do a larger pan or even a sheet pan which will result in more crispy bread because it is spread thinner. I prefer the bottom of the stuffing soft and top crispy, hence the 8x11 pan. Add the bread on top, then the liquid mixture. Mix together until thoroughly coated.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Then remove the foil and continue to bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.