Stuffing with Bacon, Apples, and Onions

This stuffing with bacon, apples, sage, and onions is classic Thanksgiving fare and can be cooked inside or outside the turkey.

A black bowl of bread stuffing with herbs and bacon, alongside is a green apple.

This bacon stuffing recipe turns out the stuffing of our dreams. Or at least the stuffing our daydreams, seeing as it’s the bread stuffing that we’d always imagined making in our Rockwell-ian musings about what Thanksgiving could be like. The pound of bacon may have something to do with it. But don’t make yourself wait for this storied stuffing. Try it tonight.–David Leite


Why our testers loved this

Our testers are calling this stuffing recipe with apples and bacon “a truly well-rounded dish that would be a great side dish to any number of main courses, not just the Thanksgiving turkey.” They all loved the balance of smoky bacon, tart apple, and sweet caramelized onions.

Notes on ingredients

  • Onions–If you are using larger onions, you won’t need as many as 6. Just aim for a total of 7 cups of sliced onion. Any onion will work here.
  • Granny Smith apples–We recommend Granny Smith apples because of their crisp texture and tart flavor. If you need to substitute a different type of apple, choose one that is tart and firm and avoid overly sweet apples.
  • White sandwich bread–French bread, Italian bread, or sourdough would all be excellent alternatives and would work in this recipe.

How to make this recipe

  1. Cook the bacon. Transfer the crisp cooked bacon to paper towels and pour off all but 3 tablespoons of drippings.
  2. Caramelize the onions. Cook the sliced onions in bacon fat until deeply golden. Stir in the apples and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix the stuffing. Combine the onions, apples, parsley, sage, and seasoning, and mix to combine. Stir in the bread. Whisk the broth and eggs together and pour over the stuffing. Stir in the bacon and toss everything well.
  4. Bake the stuffing. Cook the stuffing in a casserole dish or inside your turkey.

FAQs

How should I dry the bread for this stuffing?

To make this stuffing, you’ll need to first dry the bread. Spread the bread cubes out onto 2 large baking sheets and dry in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 30 to 60 minutes. Let the bread cool before using it in the stuffing.

Can I make this bacon stuffing in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the unbaked stuffing up to 1 day in advance. Store in a covered baking dish in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. If you are planning to stuff your turkey, add the stuffing to the turkey cavity just before baking. Never stuff a turkey in advance.

What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing?

Stuffing is generally cooked inside a turkey, while dressing is baked separately in a baking dish. This stuffing with bacon, apples, and onions could also be called a dressing since you can cook it in a baking dish.

Helpful tips

  • If you are serving a smaller crowd, or want a small batch of stuffing to serve with your roast chicken, you can scale this recipe to half or 1/3 of the original.
  • If you are baking the stuffing in a casserole dish, cut into it after removing the foil. If it seems dry, add a little more chicken stock or heavy cream and continue to bake for 15 minutes more.

More great stuffing recipes

☞ If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Stuffing with Bacon, Apples, and Onions

A black bowl of bread stuffing with herbs and bacon, alongside is a green apple.
This stuffing with bacon, apples, sage, and onions is classic Thanksgiving fare and can be cooked inside or outside the turkey.

Prep 25 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 1 hr
Sides
American
12 cups
869 kcal
4.84 / 6 votes
Print RecipeBuy the The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound bacon cut crosswise into 1/4-inch (6-mm) strips
  • 6 small onions peeled and thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups high-quality white sandwich bread cut or torn into 3/4-inch (18-mm) cubes and dried
  • 1 to 1 3/4 cups turkey or homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten

Directions
 

  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp and browned, about 12 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer it to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons bacon drippings.
  • Increase the heat under the skillet to medium-high and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions are golden in color, making sure to occasionally stir and scrape the sides and bottom of the pan, about 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring more often to prevent burning, until the onions are deep golden brown, another 5 minutes. Add the apples and continue to cook another 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the contents of the pan to a large bowl and add the parsley, sage, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and mix to combine. Add the bread and gently stir again.
  • Whisk 1 cup broth and the eggs together in a small bowl.
    If baking the stuffing outside the turkey in a baking dish, add another 1/2 cup broth to the egg mixture. Pour the mixture over the bread, add the bacon, and gently toss until thoroughly combined. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in any temperature oven until warmed through, at least 30 minutes. If a crisp surface is desired, uncover the stuffing and bake for at least 15 minutes more.
    If baking the stuffing inside the turkey, pour the broth and egg mixture over the bread, add the bacon, and toss until thoroughly combined. Cram the stuffing into your hen and roast according to whatever recipe you're using for the turkey.
Print RecipeBuy the The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Notes

  1. Make in advance–Prepare the stuffing up to 1 day in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Do not stuff a turkey until immediately before baking.
  2. Drying the bread–To dry your bread cubes, let them sit out overnight, or spread them on rimmed baking sheets and cook in a 300°F oven for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Scale the recipe–This recipe can be cut in half or thirds if serving a smaller crowd.
  4. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for a dairy-free diet.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 869kcal (43%)Carbohydrates: 122g (41%)Protein: 33g (66%)Fat: 28g (43%)Saturated Fat: 7g (44%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 72mg (24%)Sodium: 1634mg (71%)Potassium: 567mg (16%)Fiber: 11g (46%)Sugar: 19g (21%)Vitamin A: 315IU (6%)Vitamin C: 8mg (10%)Calcium: 329mg (33%)Iron: 9mg (50%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Bacon, apples, AND caramelized onions! I am total smitten with this bread stuffing. We enjoy bread stuffing throughout the cooler months, not just for the holidays, often with a roast chicken supper or pork chops. So I thought I would try the apple stuffing recipe scaled back to yield only 4 cups, which is 1/3 the recipe.

I found no issues by reducing the yield, and in fact, 4 cups seemed like it would stuff a good-size turkey without having any leftovers to bake off on the side. Since some readers may shy away from preparing stuffing inside a bird, I also tested the recipe in a casserole dish. It became apparent that the amount of liquid in the original recipe accounts for how much more the liquid will be absorbed from the meat during roasting.

If you choose to prepare the dressing on the side and not stuffed inside the bird, add 3/4 cup more broth during the last step for the full 12-cup recipe yield. I baked it, covered, in a 325°F oven for 20 minutes, then another 10 uncovered until golden brown. Super delicious!

This bread stuffing with apples awakens memories of home and family. It’s easy to prepare, perfumed the house, and was even better to eat.

I found that 2 loaves of bakery bread gave me the 12 cups bread cubes, plus a little extra. I used only the 12 cups called for in the recipe. I did have to search for fresh sage but was finally able to find it. I think a suggestion for the use of dried sage would be helpful if fresh was not available.

The apples added a nice sweetness to the stuffing and the bacon added a delicate smokiness. We baked this in the oven as we were smoking our turkey outside. I baked the stuffing with 4 turkey thighs on top to add that “stuffed turkey” flavor we all wanted.

The end result was a stuffing that was moist, delicious, and brought back memories of past family gatherings. This recipe is a real keeper for the holidays.

This bread stuffing recipe with apples had all of the flavors of Thanksgiving rolled into one dish—all that was missing was the turkey. I have to admit, however, that I’m not a big fan of cooking stuffing inside of a turkey.

So what I did was bake this in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (rubbed with unsalted butter) as a dressing instead. I used day old French bread which was already good and hard. Since it was just the of us eating, I halved the recipe. I used about 3/4 cup chicken broth as opposed to the recommended 1/2 cup in the halved recipe version, and I used 2 eggs.

I liked the sweetness of the caramelized onions, the saltiness of the bacon, the tart bite of the apple, and the earthy flavor only sage can impart to a fall dish like this.

The only other thing I would recommend is that if you serve this as a dressing as opposed to a stuffing, for the liquid that you add to the bread mixture, maybe use half chicken stock and half heavy cream. I think that would give it an additional richness to hold it all together! I baked this as a dressing at 375°F for 50 minutes.

I loved the mix of flavors in this bread stuffing. Salty and smoky from the bacon, sweet from the apples, and savory from the onions. A truly well-rounded dish that would be a great side dish to any number of main courses, not just the Thanksgiving turkey.

I baked the stuffing in a dish, not inside the turkey. I covered my dish with foil to retain moisture and removed the foil in the last few minutes to promote browning. Also, I added a bit more broth than called for since I thought it looked a little dry prior to finishing in the oven.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Straight from Cooks Illustrated, exactly what I was looking for! It’s wild because you also skip the step that actually puts the bacon back into the stuffing.

    1. Matt, actually the recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen, which you can see we clearly state under the photo, in the cookbook photo in the ingredients list, and in the copyright line. We were given permission to post it.

      And if you look carefully at step 5, you’ll see the instructions do indeed mention placing the bacon back into the stuffing. You must have missed it.

  2. 5 stars
    This was my “something new” for our Thanksgiving table this year. I really liked it. The sweetness of the apples and the smokiness of the bacon were perfect together. The only change I will make next time I make this is putting it in a wider dish. I used a small rectangular dish to save on oven space so I did not get the crispy texture I wanted. It was still really good. This one is a keeper!

  3. can you prepare this stuffing in a baking dish a day in advance and then cook when the turkey comes out of the oven and is resting before carving?

  4. 5 stars
    Last year was my second time making turkey with stuffing, and I have to say that I love this recipe, everyone loved it including my mother-in-law.

    1. Gbariela, first, congrats on jumping in and making the turkey! We need more courageous cooks like you. And, second, if this stuffing is MIL-approved, well, that’s certainly saying a lot!

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious! First attempt for Thanksgiving and I did half quantity recipe. Well received-bowl was cleaned out! Will be making again for Christmas!

      1. Thanks, David! It was a great day! Just checking back in again on the website in readiness for more Christmas stuffing! …..I think full quantity recipe cook up is a must for Christmas! Merry Christmas everyone! X

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