Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing

Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing - This bread dressing is the perfect combination of sweet and savory! |

On my Thanksgiving table, it’s a tale of two stuffings. There’s my recreation attempt of Jeff’s grandma’s stuffing (read the sentimental story behind that here), which I get a little closer to perfecting each year. And then there’s a secondary stuffing. Well, I shouldn’t call it secondary, because in no way is this stuffing a second fiddle. It’s my chance to experiment. One time, I did a lentil & mushroom stuffing. Last year, I did a chorizo and cornbread stuffing. This year, I’ll be making this Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing.

Side note: in Michigan, we call it “stuffing,” whether or not it’s stuffed into the actual bird (mine never is). I know it technically should be called “dressing,” but that’s just not what we say here. Moving on . . .

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This Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing celebrates my love of the combination of sweet + savory. The salty bacon plays perfectly with the snappy, slightly sweet flavor of Michigan Gala apples (my favorite variety for cooking). The fennel adds a hint of anise (licorice) flavor, and a handful of fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme) complete this chef-inspired stuffing.

Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing - This bread dressing is the perfect combination of sweet and savory! |

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Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 13 minutes


  • 2 baguettes (12 ounces each), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 small) fennel bulb(s), chopped (reserve fennel fronds for garnish)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Gala apples, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Divide bread cubes between 2 rimmed baking pans. Transfer to oven and bake 12 minutes. Transfer bread cubes to large bowl. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Use slotted spoon to transfer bacon to bowl with bread cubes. Reserve bacon fat in skillet.
  3. Add celery, fennel and onion to skillet. Cook over medium-high heat 4 to 6 minutes or until slightly softened. Stir in apples, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes longer, then remove from heat.
  4. Spray 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add broth, milk and vegetable mixture to bowl with bread cubes. Toss until well combined.
  5. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Transfer to oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 30 minutes longer or until top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with chopped fennel fronds.

Adapted from Ina Garten.

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Disclosure: This was a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Michigan Apple Committee. Sponsored posts help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.

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  1. Your stuffing sounds wonderful, except that I can’t deal with fennel.  I’ve always called it stuffing because as I was growing up it was always stuffed into the bird and therefore was stuffing.  Somehow, for me, that’s never changed.  Besides that, everyone knows (or should know) what stuffing is.  Stuffing by any other name is still stuffing.  :[)

    • Hi Susan! I know fennel is kind of polarizing. I think you either like it or hate it, and there’s probably no in between. But this STUFFING would be great even omitting the fennel. I’m so glad I’m not the only crazy one who calls it stuffing when the only thing I’m stuffing it into is a baking dish! Ha!

  2. It was very good when i had it last week with the rest of the Epic meal!

  3. Can’t wait.What’s on the menu?

  4. While I appreciate all of your efforts to continue my grandmother’s stuffing (and you do a great job by the way), I like that there is always a second option on the table.  Do people really need two stuffings?  Probably not!  But I liked the chorizo and cornbread one.  And I am sure I will like this one if you choose to make it – sadly I was in Mexico for work at the start of this project / cooking / photo process.  

  5. This recipe sounds amazing. make ahead steps you could take for this recipe to cut down on the day of prep?

    • Hi Jessica – I’m ALL about prepping ahead. Here’s what I would do a day or two in advance: Cut and toast the bread (Step 1). Let it cool COMPLETELY, then put it in some ziploc freezer bags and keep them at room temperature. Do all of steps 2 and 3, and just transfer the mixture to a container to keep in the fridge. Then, the day of Thanksgiving, I would combine everything and bake (steps 4 and 5). You may want to microwave the vegetable mixture for a minute first, if the vegetable mixture is a bit congealed thanks to all the bacon deliciousness. Hope that helps. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  6. Making this right now! My house smells amazing. I will update with reviews from my family after.

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