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Cranberry stuffing

December 22, 2016
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Serves 10

Total Time:

Two big holiday favorites are cranberry sauce and stuffing. Unfortunately, these are two of the least healthy ‘savory’ dishes on the table. Cranberry sauce is made with a ton of sugar, to downplay the bitterness of the fruit, and stuffing is usually just a bunch of spiced white bread. This alternative uses a protein-rich, whole grain bulgur wheat, enough cranberries for flavor, and no added sugar.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped onions (approximately 2 large onions)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (approximately 2-3 stalks)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 2 cups bulgur, rinsed
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ⅔ cup chopped peanuts, unsalted and roasted
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. In a large, heavy pot, heat oil to medium, then add onions and celery. Stir frequently and cook until softened, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon, and allspice, continue stirring for one minute.
  2. Stir in bulgur to combine with vegetables and spices. Add stock, bayleaf, and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and leave for 15-20 minutes. Bulgur is done when all liquid has been absorbed and it is tender.
  3. In a small pan, combine cranberries and orange juice. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and allow to sit. The cranberries will plump up.
  4. Remove bayleaf from cooked bulgur. Add cranberries, peanuts, parsley, and pepper. Fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Safety tip: Do not cook poultry with stuffing inside of it. Putting a densely packed grain or bread in the interior of a raw bird is an invitation for salmonella and other food-borne illnesses to set up shop. To flavor your bird, cook it in a flavorful liquid with aromatic vegetables and herbs. (Throw the vegetables and herbs away after cooking.) To flavor your stuffing, use a high quality bone broth instead of stock.

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Bulgur stuffing with cranberries and hazelnuts

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