Italian Sausage, Cranberry and Wild Rice Stuffing | Cooking for Keeps #thanksgiving #sides #stuffing

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I’m sitting here becoming conscious of the fact that I’ve hardly posted any Thanksgiving related recipes. Sure there’s been this festive little number, and this refreshing, fall-worthy salad, but other than that – nada. I was hesitant to go forward with sharing the few recipes I have stored away as we’re teetering so close to the big day, because if America is anything remotely like me, they’ve already planned their menus days ago. BUT because I do love Thanksgiving and because I know there are thousands of procrastinators out there, I’ll be sharing a few recipe ideas with you over the next week.

Since the blogosphere is completely saturated with traditional Thanksgiving recipes, I thought I’d go off the beaten path a little bit, and down a healthier, more nutritious route. So today I’m partnering up with Grains Food Foundation to bring you my healthier spin on a classic stuffing – Wild Rice Stuffing with Turkey Italian Sausage, Cranberries and Hazelnuts.

Italian Sausage, Cranberry and Wild Rice Stuffing | Cooking for Keeps #thanksgiving #sides #stuffing

Stuffing has always been one of my favorite components of the Thanksgiving spread, and typically each year, we have my Grandmother’s version, what we call “dressing”, which is a simple makeup of dried white sandwich bread, raw celery, onion, poultry seasoning, egg and copious amounts of butter and chicken stock. It’s a rather wet, casserole version of stuffing that I adore, but not everyone in the family embraces it as much as my Mother and I do. Because half of our family prefers a more traditional version, we also have a stuffing tailored more towards my Dad and brother. Their preferred stuffing is a drier, more crumbly variation made up of rustic ciabatta and cornbread and then chocked full of Italian sausage, cranberries and fresh sage.

While today’s stuffing encompasses the Italian Sausage, cranberries from our dry variation, and the onion and celery from the wet variation, the health factor is taken up a few notches with the addition of whole-grain bread crumbs and nutty wild rice. With today’s society so focused on staying lean, those that are “watching their weight” often forget that grains are an essential part of our diets. Our bodies need them to survive, and just because we’re in the midst of the holidays, doesn’t mean you have to skimp on getting your fair share.

Italian Sausage, Cranberry and Wild Rice Stuffing | Cooking for Keeps #thanksgiving #sides #stuffing

What I love most about this dish? Only the stove is required, leaving you plenty of room in the oven for birds, green bean casserole and some of these puff pastry sausage rolls (trust me you need these in your life). It’s also something that can be prepared the day before, or even a few days ahead, stored in the fridge and then reheated on the stove quickly before dinner.

The nutty wild rice, toasted bread crumbs, cranberries and turkey sausage all pair wonderfully together, giving this side dish the perfect counterbalance of sweet, salty and savory. Plus, it’s pretty gorgeous too…

Italian Sausage, Cranberry and Wild Rice Stuffing | Cooking for Keeps #thanksgiving #sides #stuffing

Wild Rice Stuffing with Turkey Italian Sausage, Cranberries and Hazelnuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 6
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon
  • 3 links turkey Italian sausage
  • 3 ounces dry wild rice
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 pieces whole-wheat sandwich bread
  1. Cook rice according to package, it should take about 60 minutes to cook.
  2. Toast slices of bread, and then pulse in a food processor until they resemble coarse bread crumbs.
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter over a medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery, garlic and salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. In the same skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high and brown turkey sausage, crumbling as it browns. If needed, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to help the process along.
  5. Add veggies back into turkey along with cooked rice, cranberries, toasted hazelnuts and breadcrumbs. Cook for another, 2-3 minutes. Serve warm

A big thank you to the Grains Food Foundation for partnering up with Cooking for Keeps on this post. All opinions, as always are my own.


Healthy Wild Rice Stuffing with Turkey Italian Sausage, Cranberries and Pecans

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