One of the most delicious versions of classic Thanksgiving stuffing made in a slow cooker! Just 10 delicious ingredients cooked for a few hours while you make the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner. This is a great dish to prep in advance and take to a friendsgiving, too!
We've definitely talked about this before, but where do we fall on turkey vs sides at Thanksgiving? I am Team Side Dishes all the way - I like turkey OK, but honestly side dishes are my favorite thing about Thanksgiving, hands down.
I've worked on stuffing recipes for years, and I think for me the key is a good ratio of crusty bread to buttery drizzle - no mushy bread, no mealy texture, actual delicious, buttery bread cubes with flavorful ingredients mixed in.
This stuffing version is made in a slow cooker and includes apples and sausage for quintessential fall + Thanksgiving flavors.
I use a similar butter/stock/egg mixture that I use in my baked sausage stuffing, but with a little less liquid since things tend to stay pretty damp in the slow cooker. The ingredients are simple and can be swapped out easily, and overall this is just one of those really great stuffing recipes that you can make again and again.
I've made this a few different ways over the years, sometimes skipping the sausage for a vegetarian version, sometimes not sautéing the celery and onion, and honestly so many versions of this stuffing are absolutely delicious.
The only thing to take note of is the time: you'll want pretty stale/dry bread (I leave it out on baking sheets a few days before Thanksgiving), and the stuffing takes about 4 hours in the slow cooker to finish. That's it!
You need bread - a big loaf of crunchy bread. You also need chicken stock, butter, eggs, an apple, onion, celery, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and sausage, if you're into that kind of thing. ANY kind of sausage you like would be good!
If you'd like to make this stuffing vegetarian, leave out the sausage and sub vegetable stock.
Step By Step Instructions
The first thing to note about stuffing is that the bread needs to be dry. I cut my bread into cubes and spread it on baking sheets for 1-3 days (just uncovered on the counter) to get it nice and dry.
If you forget this step, you can bake the bread cubes at 350F for 10 minutes to toast them a bit, no biggie.
When you're ready to make the stuffing, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until it's crumbly and cooked through.
Then, add the celery and onion with the spices and cook that with the sausage for a few minutes - just to soften it slightly, the vegetables don't need to be totally cooked at this point.
When the sausage mixture is done, add it to the Crockpot with the bread cubes and apple chunks.
In a separate dish, whisk together the melted butter, stock, and eggs. Gently pour the mixture all over the bread, then stir everything together and press the stuffing kind of flat in the slow cooker.
Now we cook! 3-4 hours on low until the edges are slightly crispy and the center of the stuffing is set. This isn't a recipe that works well on high; in most slow cookers the high setting will burn the edges of the stuffing before it cooks all the way to the center.
A note on crispy edges: Certain slow cookers don't ever get super hot at the edges, some get really hot. If you find that, after 3-4 hours, the edges of your stuffing aren't crispy, you can turn the heat to HIGH for 30-60 minutes and let the stuffing cook UNCOVERED to let some moisture escape and get some crispy edge action!
And, done! This is easy, delicious, keeps a dish out of your oven, really all good things. This is a really tender, soft stuffing; not as many crispy bits as when it's baked in the oven, but the recipe is still 100% delicious and gets gobbled up every time we make it.
PS, if you're looking for a turkey recipe, I have a delicious baked turkey breast, smoked turkey breast, and foolproof roast turkey that are all really special and delicious depending on what you're looking for!
Recipe Variations and Ingredient Notes
- To prep this in advance, you can make the entire dish and store it in the slow cooker in the fridge, then just cook it 4 hours before you'd like to eat. For a little less prep, make the sausage/veggie mixture a few days in advance, then add it to the bread cubes, apple, and liquids right before cooking.
- For a vegetarian version, skip the sausage. You can add sautéed mushrooms, chopped walnuts, or simply leave it out.
- I like to use leftover bits of bread and keep them in the freezer for Thanksgiving stuffing. You can also feel free to use any kind of bread that you enjoy!
- The apple in this dish gets very soft and adds a little sweetness throughout the stuffing. If you'd like more apple flavor, wait until the last hour of cooking to add the apple, then stir the stuffing, press it down again, and let it cook for 1 more hour. You can also use 2 apples!
Enjoy this slow cooker stuffing! It is delicious, so simple, and goes perfectly on a Thanksgiving plate.
Crock Pot Stuffing with Sausage and Apples
- 1 large loaf crusty bread cut into cubes (8-10 cups when cut)
- ½ medium onion finely diced
- 2 stalks celery finely diced
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 pound sausage any kind
- 1 apple diced
- ½ stick melted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper
- A day or two in advance, let the bread cubes dry in a bowl or the slow cooker uncovered before making the stuffing.
- Preheat a large skillet to medium-high. Add the sausage and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, breaking up with a spoon, until the sausage is crumbly, browned, and cooked through.
- Add the onion and celery to the sausage with the salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning and cook for 2-3 minutes more to soften the veggies just a bit.
- Add the bread cubes, apple, and sausage mixture to the slow cooker. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, and stock. Pour the butter mixture over all the ingredients, and stir to combine.
- Press the stuffing into the slow cooker with the back of a spoon, then cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours until the edges are slightly crusty and the center of the stuffing is set.
- Taste the stuffing and add another sprinkle of salt right before serving if you'd like. Serve hot straight from the slow cooker.
This recipe was originally published in 2013 and has been updated with new instructions, more butter, and better pictures.