Baked Chicken Recipe
with Apple Stuffing
The Apple Stuffing in our Baked Chicken recipe really makes this dish, and it's beautiful with cranberries and parsley as the garnish
Our Baked Chicken Recipe with Apple Stuffing is a crowd pleasing, inexpensive, delicious way to treat your guests. Boneless chicken will be baked with homemade apple stuffing and served warm on your buffet.
Most of your guests will enjoy chicken, especially with a popular homemade stuffing like this one. It’s affordable and easy to prepare ahead of time.
The secret of this recipe’s success is to keep the stuffing as moist as possible. Do this by ending water or cider just before you’re ready to serve. Resist the temptation to over-season the stuffing, so that the natural flavors of the apples and vegetables can come through.
Boneless chicken will be baked with homemade apple stuffing and served warm on your buffet table. Easy and delicious, can be made well ahead of time.
This recipe will 50 people as an entree, if you are you are serving other entrees and/or appetizers. Remember that your guests are going to eat a little over a pound of food per person for dinner.
Read about Party Food Quantities and how to plan for the right amounts.
Shopping List for 50 People:
___10 pounds of boneless chicken thighs. We use thigh meat
because it is moist and flavorful, but you can use
boneless chicken breast if you want.
___salt, pepper and garlic powder
___4-6 large bags of herb cube stuffing, sold in bags
___12 large fresh apples. We use half Granny Smith apples and
half Macs apples, but use whatever is available – but not
Fugis (they break down)
___6 large cans of chicken broth, or make your own, but DON’T
use bullion cubes (they’re all salt and nasty)
___2 large onions – we like Vidalia
___1 stick of butter or margarine (1/4 pound)
___1 large lemon
___1 small can of vegetable oil spray
___4 disposable aluminum pans 10”x12¾”x2½”
___1 quart of apple cider, or apple juice. We use cider.
___1 package of fresh hearts of celery
___1 large box of Ritz crackers
___2 cans of cranberry jelly
___1 bag of frozen/fresh cranberries – try for fresh. Ask the grocer to order it for you
___ One bunch of fresh parsley
One Day Before the Party:
Peel and cut the onions into small pieces – about ¼” squares.
Wash and peel the celery, not using leaves and cut small like the onions.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter and fry the onions and celery until cooked through. Pour them into a large bowl and set aside.
In another large bowl, squeeze out the juice from the lemon and add two quarts of water, enough to cover the apples once they are prepared. Set aside.
Peel the apples, remove their stems and peels and cut into ½ inch cubes.
Don’t want to peel? Rather leave the skins on for flavor, color, nutrition? We’ve tried it both ways. Hipper crowds who are used to enjoying more modern recipes like it – traditionals don’t. Peels might make it harder for your senior guests to eat. But you know your guests. (At home, we never peel!)
Put the cubed apples into the lemon water. Make sure the liquid touches all apple surfaces. This will prevent the apples from losing their fresh color. Set aside.
Open the cans of chicken stock and pour them into the bowl with the onion. Also open half the bags of stuffing cubes and carefully add them to the stock stirring it around. Read "Drippy but not Runny" below before opening the other bags.
TIP: This calls for a good-sized bowl, or you can use one of the large full pans that you will probably be using for your chafing dishes. But, if you can’t fit all the stuffing into one pan, make it in two batches.
Check out Chafing Dishes - how to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
Open up the "sleeves" of Ritz crackers and put them into one or more Zip Lock bags.
Squeeze out about half of the air from the bag, seal it up (check it twice...!) and crush the crackers into broken pieces. It doesn't need to be small like crumbs - pieces is OK.
Add the apples and crackers to your stuffing mixture, along with the quart of apple cider. Mix well.
“Drippy but not runny.” Add some liquid from the apple/lemon mixture and also tap water to the stuffing mix, as needed. How much stock/water do you need? This depends on the kind and amount of bread/stuffing you use.
We mix it all together and let it stand for a few minutes so the bread will absorb some of the liquid. Then, pick up a handful of the mixture but don’t squeeze it. Does any liquid drip out?, because some should. Drippy but not runny – that’s how we do it.
Temporarily cover the stuffing mixture and set aside at room temperature.
Unwrap the packages of chicken thighs and wash them under running cold water. Pull off the skin and any leftover pieces of fat or bone.
Using your washable cutting board and a sharp knife, cut the chicken into pieces around 2” long by ¾” around or so. The idea here is for your guests to be able to cut each piece of chicken just once.
Don’t let a lot of cut chicken accumulate in your work area. Refrigerate it as soon as it’s cut. When the chicken is all cut and refrigerated, it’s time to assemble the entrée. "Assemble the entree." Wow! You're really cooking now!!
Lay out the four aluminum pans and spray each one with lots of vegetable spray, bottom and sides. Carefully lift the stuffing mix into each pan, dividing it evenly between the four pans.
TIP: You want each pan to be slightly less than ½ full with stuffing, leaving enough room for chicken. Keep reading to see about extra stuffing.
Spread the stuffing evenly and gently into the pans.
TIP: Don’t press the stuffing down into the pans. Try to keep it light and fluffy.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Equally divide the chicken over the four pans.
TIP: Try not to pile the chicken on top of itself. It should be only one layer thick.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cover each pan tightly with aluminum foil – shiny side of aluminum foil down. Refrigerate.
NOTE: You can bake these now, well ahead of time, refrigerate and warm up in your party kitchen for service the next day. If so, bake in an oven prerheated to 450^F for 45 minutes. Keep covered with aluminum foil.
NOTE: This dish can also be pre-baked and frozen for use days or weeks later. If so, after baking, remove aluminum foil and cover tightly with film, pressing the film directly down to the surface of the chicken and stuffing. Then, recover the dish with the aluminum foil over the top, then place in freezer. For best results, use within 30 days. Place the frozen chicken into the refrigerator two days before your party and allow to thaw.
But for best results, bake the chicken just before the party, keeping the pans refrigerated until it’s time to bake.
Have some leftover stuffing that won’t fit into the pan? Bake this off in a separate pan, allow it to cool, portion and wrap with film. This delicious leftover will brighten a few meals down the road.
If you were able to get fresh cranberries or quality frozen ones, drop them into a pan of boiling water that you have seasoned with a little salt and a lot of sugar. Cook for three to five minutes, lift one out and give it a squeeze to see if it is soft and tender. If so, drain off the hot water and cover with cold water.
On the day of the party:
Transport the chicken, cranberry sauce, fresh cranberries to your party kitchen, or prepare to cook at home. Baking the chicken for the first time? Preheat your oven to 350^F, keep covered with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and place in chafing dish to keep warm.
Has the chicken already been baked, and you are warming it up? Remove from refrigerator, take off the foil/film covers, and lift the pieces of baked chicken off the top of the stuffing and set aside. Then carefully stir up the stuffing with a spoon, or use your washed hands. Do this cautiously, being sure not to poke a hole in the aluminum foil pan.
TIP: The idea here is to brake up the stiff stuffing, making it light and fluffy again. Do this by braking the stuffing apart, using your (very clean) hands, if you like. Also, add a little hot water to the stuffing, making it easier to mix.
Now place the pieces of cooked chicken back on top of the stuffing and add another ½ cup or so of hot water to each pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated 350^F oven for 45 minutes. Check a piece of chicken with a piercing thermometer; it should read 165^F.
Only the Thermometer knows. Check out our section on Food Thermometers and Food Safety.
Keep the pans of chicken covered with foil and place into the chafing dishes to keep warm.
Presentation: Your Eyes Eat First
Cooking tends to dry the stuffing out. Compensate for this by stirring the warm stuffing and by adding hot water, if needed. Careful not to bury the chicken in the stuffing.
TIP: Keep some hot cider/water on the kitchen stove so you can moisten the stuffing. You can continue to keep the stuffing moist during the party.
Place one or two pans of chicken in your chafing dish, remove the aluminum foil cover and fluff up the stuffing with a spoon and adding hot water if needed.
Note this photo of an inexpensive, frame style chafing dish available at most Party Stores.
TIP: Cover the warm chicken and stuffing with film, removing just before guests arrive at the buffet.
Keep the remaining chicken warm in the kitchen.
In a small bowl near the chafing dish, put some cranberry jelly with a serving spoon. Use the fresh cranberries to spread around the stuffing in a decorative way. Plant some of the parsley in and around the stuffing.
This dish freezes very well, just be sure to push film right down onto the surface of the chicken and stuffing, then cover again with aluminum foil. Reheat completely when serving.
Check out some more Dinner ideas?
How about some Salads?
Find an Appetizer for this Chicken and Stuffing!
Questions about the Chicken with Apple Stuffing Recipe? Need an idea for your party? Use the form below to ask us about quantities, substitutions, whatever. We're here to help. Ask a Caterer is free:
Take Me Home to Party Recipes and Ideas!