Each Thanksgiving, the dressing steals the show at our gathering. Many dressing recipes have journeyed to our table, but this one remains the most often requested. The spicy sausage perks up the bland turkey and the leeks are pleasantly mild and play nicely with the apples and cranberries. Doubling and even tripling the amount of dressing is necessary to ensure leftovers for panini sandwiches late the same night or the next day. 

Nota bene: It is safer to cook the dressing apart from the bird. This stuffing may be made two days ahead and baked off when the turkey comes out of the oven and is resting. For a change of pace, substitute Michigan dried cherries, or apricots for the dried cranberries.

Crusty Leek & Sausage Dressing with Apples & Herbs


  • 3/4 pound bulk pork sausage, or 2 mild Italian sausages, casings removed

  • 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1 Honey Crisp apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice

  • 3 stalks celery, cut into small dice

  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced

  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes

  • 14 ounces of dried bread cubes

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, warmed

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


1. Crumble the sausage into a skillet and fry over medium low heat. 

2. Add the leeks, onion, apple and celery and cook until softened. 

3. Add the herbs, the chili flakes, and the bread cubes to the cooking sausage and then pour the stock in all at once. Mix to combine, making certain that the dish is completely moistened, but not soaked. Add a bit more stock if necessary. 

4. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries.

5. Spoon the dressing into a buttered casserole dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.

6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. and bake the dressing until the top is golden and crusty and the interior is piping hot, usually 30 minutes. If the top browns before the inside is hot, tent with foil and continue cooking until the dressing is ready inside and out.