My philosophy on Thanksgiving is to keep it simple. Simple is elegant, simple is cost-effective, and simple is easy (because hey, the cook wants to enjoy the day, too). I like to take super simple recipes and add just a little somethin-somethin’ to make them special, without making them overly complicated or expensive. For this Roasted Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, I’ve transformed a simple box of cornbread stuffing mix into a vibrant and flavorful Thanksgiving side dish with just a few fresh and affordable ingredients.
This post is sponsored by ALDI—my “secret weapon” for keeping this year’s Thanksgiving feast easy and super affordable, without sacrificing quality or flavor.
Keep Your Costs in Check
While sticking to simple recipes with basic ingredients helps keep my Thanksgiving budget in check, sometimes I still want to include a few special ingredients, like pecans, that could easily spoil my budget. This is where shopping at ALDI really saves the day. In just 4-5 aisles, they have all the basics I needed for my Thanksgiving dinner, plus some fancier fun ingredients at seriously reasonable prices (have you seen their wine and cheese selection??).
I don’t know how ALDI works their magic, but their prices always come in substantially lower than the other national chains, without sacrificing quality or standards (tons of organic options!). Their cornbread stuffing mix alone was 70% less than the generic brand at the national chain grocery store across the street. Savings like that add up fast, especially when you’re cooking an enormous feast. And that is how I can afford to add the little luxury ingredients, like pecans. :)
So if you haven’t yet, click here to find your nearest ALDI store, and do a little cost comparison before you begin planning your Thanksgiving menu. You might be able to add a few more goodies to the lineup this year! And let me know how it turned out! I love hearing and sharing ALDI #wins with fellow ALDI fans. :)
It’s Okay to Take Shortcuts
It’s 100% okay to not make everything from scratch on Thanksgiving. It’s practically impossible to do, unless you have six sets of helping hands and multiple ovens, luxuries I do not have. Boxed stuffing mix is a shortcut that I like to use to my full advantage. It’s nothing more than dried bread, seasoning, and bouillon, all of which I would have added to my stuffing anyway, so I’m all about having done and ready to go. But I still want it to be special, so…
How to Fancy Up Your Stuffing Mix
There are a lot of ways that you can make a 69 cent boxed stuffing mix look and taste like a million bucks, but here is what I did today:
- Use fresh onion and celery. Two super inexpensive ingredients that will add a LOT of flavor to the “broth” in your stuffing, not to mention color and texture throughout.
- Roasted apples and cranberries. Nothing says fall like apples and cranberries. Roasting them in the oven first softens the cranberries and sweetens up their naturally pucker-inducing tart flavor, with a little help from the sweet apples and brown sugar.
- Pecans. Pecans are the little bit of luxury that take this Roasted Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing over the top.
Can I Make This Cornbread Stuffing Ahead?
Absolutely! Since it’s nearly impossible to cook everything for Thanksgiving dinner on the day of, this Roasted Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing can be made entirely or in part the day before. Here are a couple of options:
- Roast the Apples and Cranberries, and chop the celery and onion the day before. The day of, just sauté the celery and onion, and assemble the rest of the recipe (5-10 minutes).
- Make the entire recipe the day before, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Reheat in the oven the next day in a covered casserole dish, at 350ºF for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165ºF.
Roasted Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing
- 12 oz. fresh cranberries ($1.09)
- 2 apples* ($0.50)
- 2 Tbsp Baker's Corner Brown Sugar ($0.08)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.01)
- 4 Tbsp Countryside Creamery Salted Butter ($0.39)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.28)
- 3 ribs celery ($0.37)
- 3 cups water ($0.00)
- 2 6 oz. boxes Chef's Cupboard Cornbread Stuffing Mix ($1.38)
- 1/2 cup Southern Grove Pecan Halves ($1.76**)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Core and dice the apples. Add the apples, cranberries, brown sugar, and salt to a large baking dish. Stir until the apples and cranberries are evenly coated in sugar. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Stir the apples and cranberries, return them to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cranberries have burst and appear wrinkled.
- Meanwhile, dice the celery and onion. Add the butter, celery and onion to a large pot. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Chop the pecans.
- Add 3 cups water to the pot with the celery and onion, place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and bring the water up to a boil. Once boiling, add the cornbread stuffing mix and stir briefly to combine. Turn off the heat, place the lid on top and let the stuffing rest for 5 minutes to absorb the liquid.
- After the stuffing has rested, add the roasted apples and cranberries and chopped pecans. Fold them into the stuffing. Serve immediately, or transfer to a baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes at 350ºF to make the top crispy.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Roasted Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Core and dice two apples. Add the apples, 12 oz. cranberries, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt to a large baking dish. Stir until the apples and cranberries are evenly coated in sugar.
Roast the apples and cranberries in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then stir. Return the apples and cranberries to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until all of the cranberries have burst and they look shriveled.
Meanwhile, dice three ribs of celery and one yellow onion.
Chop 1/2 cup pecans.
Add the diced onion and celery to a large pot with 4 Tbsp butter. Sauté for about five minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add 3 cups water to the pot. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high and bring the water to a boil.
Once boiling, add two 6 oz. boxes of cornbread stuffing mix. Stir briefly to combine, then turn off the heat, place the lid on top and let it rest for about 5 minutes so the bread can absorb the liquid.
Fold the roasted apples and cranberries and chopped pecans into the cornbread stuffing.
Either serve the Roasted Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing as is, or transfer to a casserole dish and bake for about 15 minutes at 350ºF to make the top crispy!
That whole pot of fancy Thanksgiving goodness for only $5.86! With ALDI, you can totally SLAY Thanksgiving dinner without killing your budget. :)
Can I use dried cranberries?
Nope, unfortunately you need the juice that is in the fresh cranberries for this one.
Okay I just saw my mistake…I didn’t add 2 boxes of stuffing..it pays to read instructions thoroughly. You can delete my comment.
Good to know Sher! :)
Can’t wait to make this, it’s perfect
I’ve made a variation of this with dried cranberries and pepitas to stuff in roasted acorn squash! It’s one of my favorite dishes at the holiday table, and I sometimes make it with ground sausage for a main dish later in the winter too! Delish!
This stuffing came out way too tart for me. Do you think my cranberries weren’t ripe enough? Had me wishing I just added the apples and none of the cranberries.
It definitely is more of a tart dressing, but it’s hard to say without tasting if yours may have been more tart than usual due to underripe cranberries. :(
Hi, can you suggest me the quantity for serving of around 7 people.
Hi Vivian! You can use the servings box in the recipe card to adjust the servings to your needs.
Is it even Thanksgiving if you’re not watching the Macy’s parade and smelling the celery and onion for the stuffing sauteeing in the kitchen? This looks amazing, Beth!
So true! Thank you Marissa!
I’m allergic to pecans (but not other tree nuts). Would you just leave them out, or would you substitute another nut, maybe walnuts?
I think walnuts would be a great swap!
I’ve made this with toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and it’s wonderful!
Thanks for letting us know Laura!
Instead of water, could I use chicken stock?
Most definitely! I think that would be a delicious swap.
Oh, this looks amazing. I wish we had ALDI in my city! I’m going to try this with leftover cornmeal muffins (cube and dry out in oven) plus sage, savory etc… wish me luck! ALDI’s prices are SO reasonable.
I bought regular stuffing mix but love the look of this recipe – do you think I can sub for the cornbread stuffing?
Yes, you sure can. :)