Best ever Crockpot Stuffing with apples and herbs! The slow cooker keeps the stuffing warm, frees up the oven and is great for a crowd.The edges of this stuffing become delightfully golden and crisp all the way around while cooking, so be sure to scoop the servings so that you get a bit of them with every bite. The top of the stuffing won't be *as* crisp as stuffing baked in the oven (though placing a towel under the slow cooker lid to absorb moisture as the directions suggest helps), but the stuffing's large expanse of golden edges, in my stuffing-loving opinion, make up for it.
6sprigs thymeleaves stripped off (discard the tough stems)
1crisp applesuch as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady (I left the peels on, but you can peel if you prefer), medium diced
1cupreduced-sugar dried cranberries
2large eggslightly beaten
3cupsreduced-sodium turkey broth or chicken broth
Fresh parsleyoptional for serving
Lightly coat a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on two large, rimmed baking sheets.
Bake for 12 minutes, then stir the bread cubes and sprinkle the nuts over the top. Continue baking until the nuts are toasted and crisp and the bread cubes are dry, about 5 to 8 additional minutes. Watch the nuts very carefully towards the end so that they do not burn. Remove from the oven and place immediately in the prepared slow cooker.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Once the oil is hot and the butter is melted, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking until the celery is soft and the onions are golden, about 5 to 8 additional minutes.
Stir in the sage and thyme and let cook 1 additional minute. Add to the slow cooker with the bread cubes.
Add the diced apple and cranberries to the slow cooker, then with a large spoon, very gently stir to evenly distribute. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and broth until well combined. Pour over the bread-cube mixture, then fold gently to combine. Let the mixture sit a few minutes, then fold again so that the bread is evenly moistened.
Lay a clean kitchen towel or a double layer of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker so that you have overhang on all sides. This will help absorb moisture. Cover, letting the paper towel poke out the sides of the lid, and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, until lightly crisp around the edges and set in the center. If desired, sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve warm.
TO MAKE AHEAD: You can individually prep all the stuffing components (bread and nuts, vegetables, egg-and-broth mixture), then store them separately, keeping the bread/nuts at room temperature and the rest in the refrigerator. Combine just before cooking.
I do not recommend cooking this recipe on high, as it may not cook all the way through before the edges begin to burn.