An easy vegetarian apple cranberry stuffing made from scratch. It’s a delicious sweet and savory twist on traditional stuffing. Made with whole grain bread, Honeycrisp apples, dried cranberries, herbs, and ghee or olive oil. Easily gluten-free and vegan.
Stuffing has always been my favorite Thanksgiving side. It easily became the main focus of my Thanksgiving plate, with significantly smaller portions of green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and turkey. Growing up the buttery homemade stuffing was what I looked forward to each year. That being said, homemade or store-bought I didn’t complain. I loved stuffing so much I’d beg my mom to make the boxed stuffing mix with dinner every so often. The soft, buttery bread was such a comfort food.
Nowadays, I still appreciate homemade stuffing. It takes less of the center stage of my Thanksgiving dinner plate, but I still look forward to it. This vegetarian stuffing is a healthier spin on the classic Thanksgiving stuffing.
Vegetarian Apple Cranberry Stuffing
This apple cranberry stuffing is a healthy vegetarian version of your classic Thanksgiving stuffing. It uses fresh whole grain bread, onions, and celery for the base. The flavor comes from the medley of herbs, chopped apples and cranberries. Classic stuffing is known for its rich buttery taste. In place of butter, this stuffing uses ghee (or olive oil for a vegan version). Ghee has a much more concentrated flavor. This allows you to use less of it while still giving a rich taste. This also helps keep it soft and moist in the middle, with a crisp top.
This healthy stuffing is vegetarian because it uses eggs and ghee. You can easily make gluten-free stuffing or vegan stuffing by using your favorite gluten-free bread and swapping the eggs for flax eggs. There are instructions on how to do this in the notes section of the recipe.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Tips:
- Switch up the bread. I prefer sprouted whole grain bread since it’s higher in nutrients and easier to digest. My favorite is One Degree Organic Sprouted Bread. That being said, you can use your favorite bread. Sourdough (like CocoBakes), or a crusty bread like a French baguette would be delicious. If you need gluten-free stuffing, use your favorite gluten-free bread. I recommend Canyon Bakehouse or Little Northern Bakery.
- Use stale bread. The key to flavorful, moist (but not soggy!) stuffing is making sure your bread is completely dried out. This allows the bread to soak up the liquid and holds in the flavor. If your bread is soft, it tends to sit in the liquid rather than soak it up causing soggy stuffing. You can dry out your bread by leaving the bread out on the counter, uncovered for 12-24 hours. If you’re short on time, you can dry the bread out in the oven. Both versions are included in the recipe.
- Switch up the flavor. Bread, onions and celery make up the base of this stuffing. Feel free to change up the flavor by swapping out the apples for pears or even butternut squash, and the cranberries for golden raisins or dried cherries. Add in more veggies like mushrooms, leeks or kale for a hearty veggie-packed stuffing.
- Make it vegan. While I haven’t tried a vegan version, after doing some research I’m confident replacing the eggs with 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax + 5 tablespoons of warm water) will work great. You stuffing may not hold together quite as much much it will still be moist, and delicious.
- Make it in advance. Stuffing is one of those dishes that can be made in advance. This comes in handy when planning your Thanksgiving menu and need more oven space. To reheat it, drizzle the top of the stuffing with about 1/4 cup of stock and bake at 350 until it’s warmed through.
NOURISHED BY NUTRITION FACTS:
Sprouted bread – I love using bread made from sprouted whole grains because it is easier to digest and also more nutritious. The sprouting process breaks down phytic acid allowing for better absorption of some nutrients like iron, calcium, and zinc. It also makes the bread easier to digest. I love One Degree Organics sprouted flax and spelt bread and have been using their product of years.
Spelt is an ancient strain of wheat that hasn’t been hybridized like modern wheat. While it isn’t gluten-free, it doesn’t have as much gluten as regular wheat flour, making it more easily digestible for some individuals.
Ghee – also known as clarified butter. This cooking fat has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic nutrition and medicine practice. It’s very prevalent in Indian cooking and has recently become a popular alternative to butter. Shee is made by heating butter to separate the milk solids from the fat. The milk solids are then skimmed from the top and removed. This leaves a concentrated fat that’s a rich-golden color.
In terms of nutrition, ghee is more concentrated making for a slightly higher concentration of fat and other nutrients. It’s a good source of butyric acid and other short-chain saturated fats that may reduce inflammation and promote gut health. Since it is more concentrated, it also has a more concentrated flavor. This allows you to use less of it than you would butter, while still making an impact with flavor.
IF YOU LOVE THIS Apple Cranberry Stuffing, YOU’LL ALSO ENJOY THESe Thanksgiving Recipes:
- Maple Cornbread Muffins
- Pumpkin Pie with Almond Flour Crust
- Shaved Brussels Sprout and Apple Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing
- Garlic Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes – Ambitious Kitchen
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole – Hummusapian
Apple Cranberry Stuffing
An easy vegetarian apple cranberry stuffing made from scratch. It’s a delicious sweet and savory twist on traditional stuffing. I used sprouted whole grain bread. Feel free to use any bread of choice. This stuffing can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free bread.
- Prep Time: 40
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Yield: 10-12 1x
12 ounces sprouted whole grain bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used One Degree Organic)*
1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 small Honeycrisp apple, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
¼ cup melted ghee or olive oil
2 large eggs
To dry out the bread the day before, let the bread sit out on the counter uncovered for 24 hours or more. It needs to be complete stale to prevent soggy stuffing.
If using fresh bread, preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the bread after 10 minutes. Once dried out, place bread in a large bowl.
Turn the oven to 350F and lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil or ghee. Place the dried cranberries or golden raisins in a small bowl with hot water. Let soak for 10 minutes then drain and discard the water.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion and celery to the pan and sauté for 6 minutes, or until tender. Add the apple and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add the garlic, drained cranberries, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir till evenly combined and cook for another minute fragrant. Add apple mixture to bread and toss.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add in the vegetable stock, melted ghee or olive oil and whisk to combine. Drizzle half over the bread mixture. Let the bread soak up the liquid and slowly. Add the rest of the liquid a little at a time. The bread should be wet but not soggy. If you find your bread is completely wet without using all of the liquid, that’s okay. Let stand 5-10 minutes.
Place the stuffing mixture in the baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to crisp up the top.
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. To reheat, bring the baked stuffing to room temperature so that it will re-heat evenly; about 30 minutes. To reheat it, drizzle the top of the stuffing with about 1/4 cup of stock and bake at 350 until it’s warmed through.
Gluten-free option: Use any gluten-free bread of choice. I recommend Canyon Bakehouse. Make sure to add the liquid slowly, as the bread can absorb liquid more quickly. You want the bread to be wet but not soggy or sitting in liquid.
Vegan option: I have not made this recipe vegan but have had success using flax eggs in other recipes. I recommend increasing the olive oil to 1/3 cup to make up for the richness from the eggs.