Smoked Sausage with Kale & Quinoa Skillet


We’re just a little over a week and a half away from Thanksgiving and I’m this excited about it! My brother and his family are flying in to Iowa for the week (whom we haven’t seen since April (!!)), so we’re making the most out of the trip and having a Thanksgiving/Christmas/Birthday celebration jammed into a short 3 days while we’re at my parents’ house. I literally can’t wait.

Since we’re doubling the weekend with Thanksgiving and Christmas (Thanksmas?), Philip’s and my annual candy making has commensed so my side of the family doesn’t miss out on some of our favorites. :) This past weekend Philip and I took advantage of our free weekend and broke out our Hoerr Family Confectionary tub to get started for the year. It’s been so much fun making new traditions with each other and this one is definitely one of our tastiest traditions. ;) The day went even more smoothly since we had success making caramels on our first try this year…this for sure put a better mood on the day. :)


While the desserts are fun to make (and eat!), I also love the food that actually goes on the table for the Thanksgiving meal. Last year Philip and I hosted Thanksgiving and had a great time prepping everything, but this year we just get to enjoy our time with family, help where needed, and bring a side dish (and only because I couldn’t let the holiday slip by without making something).


I have a few ideas on what to bring as a side, but haven’t narrowed it down completely yet. If you’re in a similar situation and are trying to think of some meal ideas for next week when you need a festive and seasonal, yet quick, meal to pull together when family is around, this Smoked Sausage with Kale & Quinoa Skillet has you covered. This skillet is hearty enough to be a main entrée, but you could even make it into a side dish to accompany the turkey for something a little different.


This skillet has all the flavors of fall in it with apple cider, kale, sausage, and sage (and you all know how I feel about sage this year…can’t get enough!). Since it’s a skillet dish, it’s all made in one (!) pan. Can we get an amen for that?! Around the holidays I feel like we’re always pressed for time and having fewer dishes to clean up can make a world of difference. Plus, this meal can be ready in about 30 minutes, so you can get back to having fun with family in no time.


What I really love about this dish, though, is how good I can feel about eating it because of the whole grain quinoa and hearty kale packed in it. For those of you who are skeptical, don’t fear, it is definitely not short on flavor! The smoked turkey sausage is leaner than traditional smoked sausage, but it certainly doesn’t skimp on flavor. This may be the perfect skillet dinner following Thanksgiving when you’ve eaten one too many servings of potatoes, but still want a hearty and satisfying meal.

Whenever you prepare this meal, it’s going to be a favorite by all…especially the dishwasher of your family. :)

Smoked Sausage with Kale & Quinoa Skillet

Serves 4


  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz smoked turkey sausage link, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider (apple juice will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup water, plus more for cooking
  • 1 cup quinoa (I have also used a quinoa and rice blend, but this will need more liquid and possibly longer cooking time)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Shredded cheese like asiago for topping (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add sliced sausage, kale, onion, and sage. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until sausage begins to turn golden brown and kale is tender, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add cider and water then turn heat up to bring to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa, place a lid on top, then turn heat down to medium and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and is tender, 20-25 minutes. If liquid is all absorbed before quinoa is tender, add additional water until quinoa is completely cooked.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in cranberries. Let sit with the lid on for 5 minutes before serving with shredded asiago cheese, if desired.

Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats