Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
This basic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe will be your go-to year after year. Perfect with turkey dinner, it’s got the traditional flavor your family craves.
Ok, I don’t know what just happened.
Last week at this time it was sunny and in the high 50’s, and now all of a sudden??? The temps have dropped by about 20 degrees, practically overnight! Not to mention it’s dark by like 4:30.
That winter vibe is really creeping in.
At least we have the holidays to look forward to!
And I’m sorry, but it’s just not Thanksgiving without this classic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe!
WHAT IS THANKSGIVING STUFFING?
Thanksgiving stuffing is that glorious, bready goodness that gets served alongside the traditional dinner of turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Honestly, for me I don’t even need anything else but those three things. (Except maybe mashed potatoes!)
Technically, it’s only called “stuffing” when it’s baked inside the bird. When it’s baked in a casserole dish like you see here, you’re supposed to call it “dressing.” Does anybody really do that though?
Everything you read will discourage you from cooking your stuffing inside the turkey, mainly because it will take a lot longer for the heat to get in there and cook everything to a safe temperature. This can really dry out the white meat.
As tempting as it is to put stuffing in the cavity of your bird, it’s really better just to bake your Thanksgiving dressing separately. Everything comes out way better if you do it this way, trust me!
My family likes their stuffing to taste very traditional. In the past I’ve tried to get fancy and gourmet, but they just aren’t having it.
I get it. Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and so when it does, of course you want nothing but the real deal Thanksgiving stuffing like your grandma made.
So this recipe is very basic. It’s the classic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe that everyone is craving. All the important players are there, like onion and celery, and of course lots of sage. Sage is the quintessential Thanksgiving herb.
HOW TO MAKE THANKSGIVING STUFFING FROM SCRATCH
It’s really easy to make Thanksgiving stuffing from scratch. The most time-consuming thing is just chopping everything up. Other than that, it’s just about mixing a bunch of yummy things together and then baking it.
To make this Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, start with the bread. Cube it up into lots of little bits and then dry it in the oven. This way it will soak up lots of flavor.
You can read more about why I like to do it this way here: How to Oven-Dry Bread for Faster, More Flavorful Thanksgiving Stuffing.
While the bread is doing its thing, saute your veg. Plenty of onion and celery will give your stuffing a classic, traditional flavor, and help to keep it nice and moist.
Once the onions and celery are tender, add them to a big bowl along with the bread, melted butter, stock, and seasonings.
My favorite is Bell’s poultry seasoning. It’s a blend of all the most perfect holiday herbs and spices, and it has the best, most Thanksgiving-y flavor!
I buy it at my regular grocery store, in the spice aisle. If you can’t find it, you can order it here: Bell’s Poultry Seasoning. Or just use whatever brand of poultry seasoning you have on hand.
We’re also putting in lots of fresh sage, because sage just screams “Thanksgiving!”
Toss everything together until it’s well blended, then pop it all into a casserole dish and bake.
You’ll know it’s ready when your whole house smells amazing. Also, it will be hot all the way through and things will start to look kinda toasty and crisp around the edges and on top.
WHAT KIND OF BREAD TO USE
You can use any kind of bread you like for this.
Potato bread is another great choice, and sourdough gives a unique flavor that can really compliment the rest of the meal.
This recipe would work very well with cornbread as well.
Sometimes, around this time of year, you can find big bags of already cubed and dried bread. This is a great timesaver! I’ve gone this route many times, and the stuffing comes out tasting every bit as good, so don’t be afraid to take the shortcut if you can get it!
WHAT TO ADD TO THANKSGIVING STUFFING
I’ll take Thanksgiving stuffing any way I can get it, but I do like to add a few extras added in sometimes. It can be a subtle difference, but I will often add these favorites to jazz things up, just a little:
- Peeled, cored, and diced granny Smith apples (you don’t have to pre-cook them).
- Roasted and peeled chestnuts.
- Crumbled cooked sausage (buy the bulk sausage rather than the links, and look for sage-flavored if you can).
And I’ve never done it myself, but I know a lot of families enjoy oysters in their stuffing as well!
IS THANSGIVING STUFFING VEGAN?
This recipe contains butter and chicken stock, so it is not vegan or vegetarian.
However, you can make a vegan version by substituting margarine for butter and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
This could also be a gluten-free Thanksgiving stuffing. Just use gluten-free bread and you’re good to go.
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME?
You can definitely get a head start on making the Thanksgiving stuffing. When there are so many dishes to be made, that’s always a plus if you can do some of them ahead, and this is a great recipe for that.
You can make it 2 to 3 days before the holiday, and just keep it in the fridge (covered).
On Thanksgiving day, take it out an hour or so before you plan to serve dinner and let it come up to room temperature.
Then, throw it in the oven just as the turkey is coming out. Your turkey will probably need to rest for about an hour before you carve it, and that’s just enough time to heat up the stuffing and other side dishes.
CAN YOU FREEZE THANKSGIVING STUFFING?
If you have a lot of leftovers, they’ll keep in the refrigerator for several days. Or you could definitely freeze them!
This stuffing will last in the freezer for a couple of months at least.
Just be sure to wrap it up tightly so it doesn’t dry out or pick up any funny freezer odors.
Thaw it in the fridge the night before and warm it gently in a 170 degree F oven until it’s heated through, or for a few minutes in the microwave.
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This basic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe will be your go-to year after year. Perfect with turkey dinner, it's got the traditional flavor your family craves.
- 2 loaves bread, cubed (approx. 18 cups or 29 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 6 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock (one 32-ounce box)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh sage (from one .75-ounce pack)
- 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Arrange the cubed bread in an even layer on baking sheets, and dry in the oven for 30 minutes or until crisp.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion, celery, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Cook the onions and celery (stirring) until slightly softened and translucent (about 5 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly mist a 3.5-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.
Transfer the dry bread cubes to a large mixing bowl.
Add the cooked vegetables, stock, melted butter, sage, poultry seasoning, remaining salt, and pepper, and toss everything together until well-combined.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until heated through and slightly browned and crisp around the edges.