My cranberry stuffing brings a delectably sweet and savory twist to this classic side dish fit for the holiday season. Prepared with buttery cubes of challah bread, sweet dried cranberries, fresh sage and thyme, roasted hazelnuts and a sprinkle of creamy Gouda cheese, this cranberry stuffing recipe is brimming with many of our favorite Thanksgiving Day flavors!
Holiday Stuffing Filled with Sweet and Tangy Cranberries
Each year as the holiday season makes its way in, I begin putting together my little menu for what I'd like to serve for our family meal.
I think about those tasty staples that I know we simply can't seem to do without, those dishes that we really adore, and in our family it's homemade stuffing.
Stuffing is always firmly on the list of dishes to prepare, because it's such a warm and cozy side, and it's scrumptious doused with homemade gravy, of course!
One of my most requested recipes is this classic stuffing recipe, filled with those traditional Turkey Day flavors like Italian sausage and herbs.
But this year, I wanted to come up with a fresh new stuffing recipe, one with both a sweet and savory twist, brimming with ingredients we love to indulge in on Thanksgiving Day...
My cranberry stuffing recipe is prepared with cubes of buttery challah bread, sweet and tangy dried cranberries, a small drizzle of real maple syrup, a touch of crunchy roasted hazelnuts, fresh sage, thyme and parsley, plus a creamy and nutty sprinkle of creamy Gouda cheese.
Flavored with rich, melted butter, moistened with chicken stock and a couple of eggs, this pillowy cranberry stuffing is not only deliciously colorful, but bakes up all golden-brown and gently puffed with those scrumptious crisp edges!
My Recipe for Cranberry Stuffing
Preparing stuffing from scratch is really quite easy, and one of my favorite sides to prepare for our holiday spread.
It's simply about mixing together cubed bread with some aromatic ingredients that provide texture, color and flavor, as well as a few that help the stuffing to bind and bake up nice and puffed.
For my cranberry stuffing, I've opted for tender challah bread, as this has an innate sweetness and richness to it from the honey, eggs and butter used to prepare it. So, I just cube up a challah loaf to use as my stuffing base.
Then, to the challah bread I add some sauteed celery and leeks for savory flavor and texture, some fresh sage, thyme and parsley for a taste of earthy herbs, those dried cranberries for sweetness and tartness, a touch of roasted hazelnuts for crunch, plus a sprinkle of Gouda cheese for creaminess.
And to bind the cranberry stuffing mixture together, I use unsalted, organic melted butter, some chicken stock, and a couple of whisked eggs.
Here's a glance at my cranberry stuffing recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I saute my aromatic veggies until softened, and then allow them to cool slightly.
- Next, I add my cubed bread to a large bowl, then the cooled aromatic veggies along with the rest of my stuffing ingredients, and use my clean hands to gently mix everything together until well combined.
- Then, I spoon my cranberry stuffing into a prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with a touch more Gouda cheese.
- I cover the stuffing and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the cranberry stuffing is puffed and deeply golden-brown on top, with crisp edges.
by Ingrid Beer
This sweet-savory cranberry stuffing is prepared with buttery challah bread, fresh herbs, roasted hazelnuts and a sprinkle of Gouda!
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 468 calories per serving
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 57 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 17 minutes
- 2 ribs celery, finely diced
- 2 small leeks (white part only), sliced and finely chopped
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- Black pepper
- 1 (16 ounce) loaf challah bread, cut into ¾” to 1” cubes
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus a little extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus a little extra for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 ¼ cups grated Gouda cheese
- 1 cup (slightly heaping) dried cranberries
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat your oven to 375°, and lightly mist a 2 ½ quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place a skillet over medium-high heat, and add in 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter. Once melted and the skillet is hot, add the diced celery and chopped leeks, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Set aside for a moment to ever so slightly cool.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter to a small pan and gently heat until melted.
- Add cubed challah bread into a large bowl. Then, spoon into that the celery/leek mixture, the Italian seasoning, the white pepper, the chopped parsley and sage, plus the thyme leaves.
- Then, pour in the melted butter, the whisked eggs, the chicken stock, and the maple syrup. Add a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper. Then, using clean hands, very gently toss the challah cubes to combine them with these ingredients, just until well coated. (Take care not to break up the challah bread cubes too much.)
- Add in the hazelnuts and 1 cup of the grated Gruyere cheese, and once again gently mix to combine.
- Spoon ⅓ of the stuffing mixture into the baking dish, and sprinkle over ⅓ of the dried cranberries. Add another ⅓ of the stuffing mixture, topping with another ⅓ of the cranberries, repeating this process once more with the remaining stuffing and cranberries.
- Top the cranberry stuffing with the remaining ¼ cup of Gouda cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover, and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until golden-brown and puffed. Allow the stuffing to cool for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with a little sprinkle of chopped parsley and thyme leaves, and serve.
Tips & Tidbits for my Cranberry Stuffing recipe:
- Challah bread for richness, or other options: Challah bread is enriched with eggs, a little sweetener and a bit of fat, so it has a denser texture with a slightly sweet flavor. It works really well with the flavor profile of this cranberry stuffing, which is both sweet and savory. Brioche would work here as well, or even a crusty French bread.
- Unflavored, dried cranberries: When choosing your cranberries, opt for plain, dried (organic, if possible) cranberries. Fresh cranberries will be too hard and too bitter here, but the dried have a little sweetness to them and a nice little bite. You can even rehydrate them by covering them in boiled water and allowing them to steep and plump for 5 minutes. Then, drain and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Gouda cheese for creamy nuttiness, or your favorite kind: The flavor of the Gouda pairs nicely with sweet-savory morsels found in this cranberry stuffing. However, you could easily substitute mozzarella or Italian blend, if you prefer. Even asiago or fontina are nice here.
- Preparing your cranberry stuffing ahead: If you'd like to prep this stuffing a day or two ahead of baking and serving, then follow the steps all the through the combining of the ingredients, and spooning them into a prepared baking dish. Allow things to completely cool before covering, then wrap in plastic wrap or cover with foil, and place into the fridge. Allow the stuffing to come to room temp before baking it off (roughly 2 hours), then proceed with baking instructions.