This stuffing recipe (dressing recipe) is arguably the best side to any Thanksgiving feast and will become a cherished family tradition! It’s made with simple ingredients to please even the pickiest eaters but is flavorful enough to devour on its own and can be adapted with any add-ins you like. It boasts a crisp golden exterior, a creamy interior, and it’s make ahead friendly up to one month in advance!
Watch How to Make Stuffing
Stuffing Recipe FAQs
Stuffing mix and dressing are closely related made with similar ingredients, but stuffing is cooked inside the bird, while dressing is cooked in a casserole dish outside of it. Today, however, the FDA advises cooking stuffing to a minimal temperature of 165 degrees F, which is difficult to do without overcooking the turkey, so it is rarely done. As such, stuffing and dressing have virtually become synonymous.
1. Cooking Location:
-Stuffing is cooked inside the turkey or another main dish, allowing it to absorb the flavorful juices from the bird.
–Dressing is cooked separately, usually in a casserole dish, and relies on added liquids and seasonings for flavor.
2. Flavor Absorption:
–Stuffing benefits from the juices of the bird, making it uniquely savory and moist.
–Dressing requires extra liquid and seasonings to achieve its flavor since it’s not cooked within a main dish.
3. Cooking Method:
–Stuffing is subject to the cooking time and temperature of the main dish it’s stuffed into.
–Dressing has a more flexible cooking method, often baked or broiled, allowing for precise control over its doneness.
–Stuffing is typically presented and served directly from the bird.
–Dressing is served in its own dish, making it easier to portion and serve separately.
Using stale bread for stuffing is preferable to fresh because the drier texture of stale bread allows it to absorb flavorful liquids and seasonings without becoming overly mushy during cooking, maintaining a better structure and texture in the finished dish.
Stuffing benefits from the addition of eggs for a few reasons. Eggs act as a binding agent, helping to hold the stuffing ingredients together during the cooking process. This results in a more cohesive and satisfying texture, preventing the stuffing from falling apart. Additionally, eggs contribute to a pleasant moistness and richness in the stuffing, enhancing its overall flavor and providing a balance to the dryness of some ingredients like bread or breadcrumbs.
The best bread for stuffing is sturdy bread with a tight crumb, that’s been cubed then dried out or toasted. Bakery Italian bread, French bread, Challah, and Sourdough, or even a mix of these varieties, are great choices.
There are two options for drying bread cubes for stuffing:
1. Air Drying: Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on baking sheets or trays. Leave them uncovered at room temperature for about 1-2 days, depending on the humidity in your kitchen. Stir or toss them occasionally to ensure even drying. This method allows the bread to naturally lose moisture.
2. Oven Drying: Separate the bread cubes onto two baking sheets an an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until dried out.
Cooking stuffing inside a turkey is discouraged due to food safety concerns and the risk of uneven cooking. When stuffing is placed inside the turkey cavity, it takes longer to reach a safe temperature for consumption. As a result, the turkey’s outer meat may overcook and become dry before the stuffing reaches a safe temperature, creating a potential health hazard. Furthermore, the moist environment inside the turkey can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the stuffing, posing a food safety risk.
It’s safer to cook stuffing separately in a baking dish, allowing it to reach a safe internal temperature and ensuring both the turkey and stuffing are cooked to perfection while reducing the risk of foodborne illness.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box
You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!
- 24 ounces (approx. 12 cups) crusty bread with a fine crumb such as Italian bread, French bread, Challah, Brioche or Sourdough (best to use 2 different breads)
- 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (26 crackers)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering dish
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 4 celery ribs, sliced
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (1 tsp. dried)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (1 tsp. dried/chopped)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (1 tsp. dried)
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (granulated or 1 crushed cube)*
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt, pepper
- 1 cup roughly chopped pecans (optional)
- 2 2/3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 eggs
- Dry bread cubes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add cubed bread to two baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes or until completely dried out (they should resemble croutons). Meanwhile, chop onions, celery, etc., prepare dish.
- Prepare baking dish: Lightly brush a 9×13 baking dish (or disposable foil dish) with softened butter (may spray with cooking spray); set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients: Transfer toasted bread to a very large bowl (use two bowls as needed) and stir in crushed Ritz and pecans; set aside.
- Add herbs and broth: Add garlic, all herbs, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper and cook for 1 additional minute. Stir in 1 cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add to the toasted bread bowl and gently stir to combine.
- Add eggs and broth: Whisk the eggs and remaining 1 2/3 cups chicken broth together in medium bowl or liquid measuring glass until frothy. Drizzle it slowly and evenly over the bread mixture, stirring gently to combine as you go. (Don't pour it in all at once, or the bread will become unevenly over-saturated in spots.) If you like a moister stuffing, add additional broth as desired, taking care the bread is only moistened, not overly wet.
- Bake: Pour stuffing into prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer (I promise it will fit!). Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. If the stuffing is getting too browned, tent with foil.
- Bread: You will use about 1 ½ bakery loaves for this recipe. Use crusty bread with a fine crumb such as Italian bread, French bread, Challah, Brioche or Sourdough. Use two different breads for the best depth of flavor.
- *Chicken bouillon: This is like salt with FLAVOR! Use granulated or 1 crushed cube, don’t dissolve either form in liquid first.
- Control the texture: Some people like their stuffing light and airy, others like it firm and more solid, this recipe is somewhere in between. It’s moist but not soggy with a crispy top. Add additional broth for a moister stuffing or bake longer for a drier stuffing.
- Experiment: This classic stuffing recipe is ideal to make your own. Don’t be afraid to add personal touches like sausage, apples, dried cranberries, mushrooms, etc. See the post for lots of variations!
- Cut the recipe in half: Cut the recipe exactly in half by using the sliding scale that appears in the recipe card when you hover over the servings. Note, this does not change the amount of broth in the directions so you’ll have to cut that in half as well. Place the halved recipe in an 8×8 or 9×9-inch dish and bake for roughly the same amount of time.
- Double the recipe: To serve 12 to 18, double the recipe exactly by using the sliding scale that appears in the recipe card when you hover over the servings. Note, this does not change the amount of broth in the directions so you’ll have to double that as well. Bake in a large baking dish, like a 10×15 roasting pan, for the same time or up to 15 minutes longer. Alternatively, bake in two 9×13 baking pans.
- Storage: Let stuffing cool, cover the casserole dish or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to four days.
- To reheat: Remove the pan of baked stuffing from the fridge 60 minutes before reheating it. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake again until crisp, about 15 additional minutes.
MAKE AHEAD PREPThe USDA recommends to never refrigerate uncooked stuffing, but you can prep all of the ingredients ahead and combine when ready to bake.
- Dry the bread and combine with the Ritz and pecans; cover tightly.
- Cook the onions/celery mixture; cool, cover and refrigerate.
- Whisk the eggs and chicken broth; cover and refrigerate.
- When ready to bake, you literally have less than 5 minutest of prep! Stir the onion mixture into the bread mixture. Whisk the egg/broth again and drizzle/stir it all together.
- Bake as instructing, adding an extra 5-10 minutes to the baking time.
MAKE AHEAD FREEZINGThe USDA recommends to never refrigerate uncooked stuffing, but freeze it instead. Freezing halts the growth of harmful bacteria and microorganisms that can multiply rapidly when stored in the refrigerator.
- Assemble the stuffing in the casserole dish, tightly wrap with plastic wrap, followed by foil.
- Immediately freeze until ready to bake, even if baking the next day or later that day.
- When ready to bake, replace plastic wrap with tight foil.
- Bake, covered for 50 minutes, remove foil and bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes more.
Did You Make This Recipe?
Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs
Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!