Slow Cooker Cranberry Sausage Wild Rice Stuffing is a delicious, hands off side dish for all the big fall dinners you have planned. This stuffing is a great substitution for mashed potatoes and complements poultry dishes beautifully!
Before this, we have always had traditional stuffing with cubed bread which is so, so good! This year we are mixing it up a bit as we wanted to make the holiday a bit more chilled and relaxed. This allowed me to prep most of this dish ahead of time. I was just left making the main dish and the vegetables.
Hands free cooking can become a thing for me this time of year! I need as much help as I can get! The water chestnuts have been used in my husband’s family’s stuffing for as long as he remembers, so they go into every stuffing we make…no matter what! They offer a great crunch that is needed in a super soft dish.
How to Make Slow Cooker Cranberry Sausage Wild Rice Stuffing
Making this is super simple and is a great addition for a hearty side dish when you want something different than mashed potatoes.
Step one: Caramelize the onions. Start off with a 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a hot saucepan or cast iron skillet (my preference, as I love how the pan stays heated!) and pour in the onions. Cook on medium high heat.
Note: The key to caramelizing onions is to put them in the pan and don’t constantly touch them. It’s a great time to do dishes or cut other vegetables. You are there to monitor, but you don’t need to be touching them. Watch them get golden brown but not burnt. When they are pretty brown and toasty, stir them and leave them alone again. Think 5-7 minutes each time. This will always vary on people stovetops and skillets. I wish there was a true one-size-fits-all answer to this, but there isn’t! 😁
Step two: Remove and set aside the onions. Cook and crumble the sausage.
Step three: Combine the onions, sausage, and other ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for five hours. At 4.5 hours or so, add the Craisins, apple chunks and fresh herbs. Stir and make sure it is well blended. Cook only about 30 more minutes.
***The biggest suggestion I have is to NOT leave this in the slow cooker longer than the five hours as the rice becomes mushy.***
What Substitutions to Make
I love to make substitutions for recipes to jazz them up a bit. Here’s a few tips if you are looking for some ideas!
- Add in bacon instead of sausage (you can never go wrong with bacon!)
- Add in celery towards the end for a bit more crunch.
- Slices of almonds will also work well for extra crunch.
- Add in other fruits instead of the Craisins and Apples.
Can I Use Brown Rice or White Rice
You can, but it won’t be the same. Wild rice really gives a nice earthy taste that won’t be achieved when you use brown or white rice.
NOTE: You could use a combo of the brown or white rice with wild rice though. So, mixing the two together will make it a bit more mellow. All of this is a personal choice. I make a cheesy chicken rice casserole (this exact recipe we have been making for YEARS and is my son’s favorite!!!) and love how she combines the white rice with wild rice! It works great!
Meal Prep Options
The best part of this recipe is how hands off it can be.
- Caramelize the onions early and put in the refrigerator.
- Cook and crumble the sausage.
- Measure out the remaining ingredients so you can dump and go.
If you like this rice recipe, check out:
Harvest Wild Rice – This is an excellent side dish for pork chops, chicken and turkey dishes. You can substitute the kale for spinach. Add water chestnuts here as well.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Sausage Wild Rice Stuffing
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 8 oz sausage cooked
- 10 oz baby mushrooms
- 1 can water chestnuts
- 2 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
- 5 cups chicken broth Kettle and Fire
- 3/4 cup Craisins
- 1 tbsp sage chopped
- 1 tbsp rosemary chopped
- 1 tsp thyme chopped
- 1/2 apple chopped
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium to medium high heat and add the onions. You are looking to carmelize them so let them brown for a good long time but not burn.
- In a 4 qt slow cooker, stir in the wild rice, cooked sausage, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Pour the chicken broth over it all and stir. Cover and allow to cook for about five hours.
- At 4.5 hours or so, stir the rice and make sure it is about done. Add in the chopped fresh herbs, apples and Craisins. Heat another 20-30 minutes and serve.