Grilled Bread Dressing with Cranberries and Leeks – Thanksgiving on the Grill

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we want to inspire you to use your grill and not only rely on the conventional oven to cook the big meal. Whether it's moving a whole dish to the grill or just grilling a few important ingredients to add mesquite flavor, the Thanksgiving on the Grill series is here with tips and tricks to elevate the menu. Grilled Bread Dressing with Cranberries and Leeks is one such option. The grill marks infuse a smoky, rustic flavor that irresistible and addicting by grilling the rustic bread over the fire. Sauteed leeks, apples, cranberries, and bacon bring the taste of the season to this one of a kind stuffing.

Begin with sliced day-old rustic bread, like sourdough for a Californian vibe. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat for just a minute or two until grill marks appear.  Tear these into pieces to become the base of the stuffing.  Render bacon in a large skillet until crisp, and then saute leeks, celery, and apples with the bacon until tender. This mixture is combined with the grilled bread pieces, fresh herbs, plumped cranberries, two beaten eggs, and homemade stock. Just finish in the oven for 20 minutes, the best stuffing you've ever had will be ready for the big day. With beautiful smoky texture and crunch, you're always going to want to grill the bread. So get outside with the Thanksgiving on the Grill series to find exciting ways to kick up your Thanksgiving Day feast.

Serves 8-10

Grilled Bread Dressing with Cranberries and Leeks Ingredients

  • 1 (16- to 18-ounce) day-old loaf rustic bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 4 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 3 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Honeycrisp or another firm apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade, warmed
  • 2 packed cups bitter greens, such as baby kale or torn mustard greens

Grilled Bread Dressing with Cranberries and Leeks Directions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Butter or lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish; set aside.
  2. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Slice the bread in 8 to 10 thick slices and brush both sides of each piece lightly with the oil. Grill the bread on an outdoor grill until it's lightly toasted and has distinct grill marks, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool.
  3. Use your hands to tear the bread into rough 1 1/2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
  4. Stir together the cranberries and vinegar in a small bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or until the vinegar bubbles; let stand until the cranberries plump. Do not drain.
  5. Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until very crisp, often stirring, about 15 minutes. Add the leeks and celery and stir to coat; cook until tender, frequently stirring, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the apple and cook until almost tender, about 3 minutes more.
  6. Stir in the thyme, sage, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Add to the torn bread and stir to combine. Stir in the cranberries.
  7. Add the beaten eggs to the bowl and mix well. Pour 1 cup of the stock over the top and toss well. The mixture should be evenly moist, but not wet. Add more stock if the mixture is dry. Spoon into the prepared dish.
  8. Make ahead: At this point, the dressing can be covered and refrigerated overnight. To bake, let come to room temperature for about 30 minutes and then proceed with baking.
  9. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is browned and a little crunchy, about 20 minutes more.
  10. Immediately add the greens and stir them into the hot dressing. They will wilt down quite a bit. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes:

  • Vegetarian version: To keep this meatless, replace the bacon and drippings with 4 tablespoons butter. Use light-colored vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.
  • Make ahead: The dressing can be prepared and assembled up to 1 day in advance, then covered and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Set at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to baking.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Taken from