This is the classic traditional stuffing recipe that everyone loves! It’s so simple, easy, and delicious – a must on everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner table. You will love the flavors of this buttery, custardy, and herby stuffing that is never dry nor soggy. The crispy edges are my favorite thing about this recipe!
This is our go-to Thanksgiving side dish, that always goes first!
If you’re scaling down your celebration this year, this recipe can be cut in half EASILY! And if you’re feeding a crowd, you can easily double it. Fancy adding a little more flavor to this stuffing? Try my sausage and herb stuffing recipe.
What is Stuffing?
Stuffing, dressing, or filling is a mixture of cut-up dried/toasted pieces of bread, often made with herbs and seasonings. Served as a side dish, and cooked either on its own or inside a bird cavity as it’s being roasted (usually chicken or turkey).
Stuffing can be made vegetarian, with sausage or other types of meat, and can also be made using different types of bread such as cornbread. The classic version does not include any chestnuts or dried fruits, but you will often see British stuffing recipes that include all of the extras!
Stuffing vs Dressing
If you’re wondering what the difference is between stuffing and dressing, it’s pretty much the same thing. Stuffing usually goes inside a bird, while dressing is cooked separately in a baking dish in the oven. But generally, people call it stuffing either way.
What Does Stuffing Taste Like
This stuffing has it all! It’s custardy moist with crunchy corners, buttery, savory, and herby. The fresh herbs add so much flavor, but they’re not overpowering, use sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley if you have it.
To Cook Separately or Inside a Bird?
According to the USDA, cooking poultry with stuffing inside the cavity can be unsafe to eat. The reason behind this is that when the meat reaches a safe temperature to eat, the stuffing can still be raw and soaked in raw poultry juices, so it’s unsafe to consume. If you cook it for longer, whilst the stuffing can be properly cooked and safe, the meat will be overdone.
So it’s recommended that each is cooked separately. And for this reason, I always cook a roast turkey without any stuffing inside it and cook the stuffing separately like I’m showing you in this recipe.
If you think that overcooked turkey might be ok, don’t! It will be too dry and tough because turkey is lean meat. Plus, cooking the stuffing inside the bird means that it will never get crispy.
I also wrote a complete Thanksgiving turkey guide for you, so make sure to check it out! I’m sure that you will find it very useful.
What Goes in Stuffing
Here’s what you’ll need to make traditional stuffing:
The best bread that you can use for stuffing is plain and firm white sandwich bread. Simple and easy to find! You can also use a French baguette, Italian bread, or a loaf that isn’t chewy.
You might think that using an artisan bread or a loaf of sourdough will result in delicious stuffing, but truth is, it’s too hard and chewy for stuffing. So it’s better to stick to simple sandwich bread that you can either tear or cut into cubes.
How to Make Stuffing
Super simple! Here’s what you need to do:
- Tear or cube the bread, and lightly toast in the oven just to dry it out and help it keep its form so that it doesn’t turn into mush when it’s cooked. I do 210°F (100°C) for 90 minutes, flipping every 30 minutes.
- Melt plenty of butter, and saute onion, celery, and garlic. You don’t want color, just to soften the vegetables.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the toasted bread with herbs, butter-veg mixture, and stock or broth. Best to use your hands and decide how much stock can be used (not too much as you don’t want soggy stuffing!).
- Add beaten eggs with more stock so that the bread is completely soaked through. Then in a baking pan, bake until golden and crispy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The eggs work as a binder, and they also give that lovely custardy texture to your stuffing.
You can use 2 teaspoons of homemade poultry seasoning. You may also find it in the supermarket, but it usually sells out around Thanksgiving, so make your own! It’s so simple.
Yes! Use about 1 pound of sausage. Squeeze the meat out of casings, melt 1 teaspoon of butter and cook the sausage breaking it up as you cook. Pour it over the bread with the fat, and continue as instructed in the recipe below.
You can make the stuffing one day ahead, bake it uncovered without browning the top, let it cool down, and place it in the refrigerator. Or you can prepare it, and store it in the fridge without baking.
On the next day, take it out of the fridge and let it hang out for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Then bake it for 30 minutes or until it’s warmed through if it was previously baked. If it wasn’t baked, then bake it according to the recipe instructions.
If you have leftovers, they freeze very well for up to 6 months. To reheat, just pop it in the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes with a splash of water to keep it from drying out.
For more Thanksgiving recipes, check out my Thanksgiving recipe collection.
More Thanksgiving Sides
- 1 pound firm white sandwich, French, or Italian bread cut into ½-¾ inch cubes, about 10 cups
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth divided
- 2 eggs beaten
- 13 x 9 inch baking pan
- To lightly toast the bread, place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 210°F (100°C) for 90 minutes, flipping every 30 minutes. This can be done a few days ahead.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a medium skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onion and celery until tender (not brown). Add the garlic, and cook for a minute or until it's fragrant then remove from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the toasted bread with the butter-veg mixture, and chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add a cup of stock, and mix everything with a spatula or your hands.
- Combine beaten eggs with the remaining stock or broth, and add it gradually to the bread. Keep mixing and make sure that the bread is soaked all the way through but not mushy.
- Transfer to a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, cover with foil, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 160°F in the center of the stuffing. Uncover the brown the top for 10 minutes or until it's golden and crispy.
- You can make the stuffing one day ahead, bake it uncovered without browning the top, let it cool down, and place it in the refrigerator.
- On the next day, take it out of the fridge and let it hang out for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Then bake it for 30 minutes or until it’s warmed through.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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