Grandma's Italian Sausage Stuffing


We are traditionalists. We really are. We grew up on a lot of foods that do not fit our current dietary (and moral) compass. The fact of the matter is that we like these foods. We like the taste, texture and memories associated with them. We love our family and our family loves food! As with most people, this includes meat, which creates a bit of a quandary for many vegans. Making the choice to not use any animal products is not equivalent to giving up everything delicious. It means eating the foods you love in a cruelty free and compassionate way. It is also almost always MUCH healthier than the dairy/meat/egg counterpart.

Vegans who eat meat-like foods will, without a doubt, be criticized for this decision at one point or another by a self-righteous “I don’t eat animals, why would I eat something that looks and tastes like animal flesh” vegan, or an indignant omnivore who wants to make you feel like a hypocrite for eating things resembling chicken fingers or deli slices.

Our opinion on the matter: we eat what we like, we eat what tastes good, and we eat what is familiar. If no animals lost their lives for our meal, then there is no harm in us eating it. It is unfortunate that there is so much negativity surrounding these products, when they should be viewed as a wonderful alternative for those of us who, at one point, actually ENJOYED eating meat!

When we were putting together our menu for Thanksgiving, we had to make some decisions about our dinner. Were we going to go a completely different route than the meal we grew up on? Are we going to keep it as familiar as we could? There were a few things that we were ok with changing, and a few others that we wanted to be the same.

We have chosen to veganize our family recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing, which has been passed down from our great-grandmother Ida. The original recipe features about 3.5 lbs of hamburger and pork sausage, 10 eggs, parmesan cheese and a few other ingredients that needed changing. It also made enough to go into a 20lb turkey, so we had to tone down the volume as well.

The sausage is what makes this stuffing delicious. There is almost equal parts meat to bread, so it really is a main ingredient. We thought of our favorite sausage alternative that cooks into large crumbles very well, which is Gimme Lean Breakfast Sausage. We doctored it up to turn it into an Italian sausage, and it worked out perfectly as our meat! If “meaty” dishes are not something you are a fan of, this may not be the stuffing recipe for you, but it really is delicious and filling..just like grandma used to make!


Grandma’s Italian Sausage Stuffing {recipe}

This is a big recipe -  2 9x13 casserole dishes, one for dinner, one for leftovers =)



  • Sausage

    • 2 14oz pkg Gimme Lean Breakfast sausage

    • 3 TB red wine vinegar

    • 2 TB olive oil

    • 1 TB granulated garlic

    • 1TB granulated onion

    • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

    • 1 tsp dried basil

    • 1 tsp dried oregano

    • ½ tsp dried thyme

    • 1 tsp ground sage

    • 1 TB coconut sugar

    • ½ tsp salt

    • 1 TB paprika

  • 1 ½ large onions, diced

  • 5 stalks celery, diced

  • 1 can chopped water chestnuts

  • 1 6oz. bag baby spinach

  • ½ c fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 TB poultry seasoning

  • 2 TB olive oil

  • 2 c vegan “chicken” broth

  • 2 bags seasoned stuffing croutons

  • 1 tsp vegan butter



  1. Preheat oven to 350º (unless baking the next day).

  2. Prepare sausage by combining all dry sausage seasonings, and adding them along with the red wine vinegar to the meat. Use hands to combine thoroughly. Will be sticky!

  3. In a large non-stick soup pot heat 2 TB olive oil over med-high heat. Saute the sausage mixture until browned, breaking up into smaller pieces, about the size of marbles.

  4. Once browned remove to a bowl and using the same pot, heat 2 more TB olive oil and saute onions, celery and garlic over medium heat until veggies start to turn translucent, 5-10 minutes.

  5. Add parsley and chopped spinach and cook for 1-2 more minutes until greens are wilted.

  6. Add meat back in and stir to combine.

  7. In an extra large mixing bowl (this makes enough for 2 9x13 dishes) add one bag of croutons and half the meat mixture. Stir to combine.

  8. Add second bag of croutons and rest of mixture, stir to combine.

  9. Then add broth slowly to soften croutons, continuously mixing. We found it easiest to use clean hands.

  10. Let sit for 30 min to an hour.

  11. Butter 2 9x13 casserole dishes with ½ tsp butter in each. Pack in stuffing and Bake for 30 minutes, until top is crunchy.


NOTE: This is best if made the night before and rests overnight in the fridge to completely soften all the croutons. Can even be made up to 3 days in advance for convenience and stored in ziploc bags until ready to bake.


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