Unless you live in a camper van traveling cross-country this Thanksgiving, you have no excuse for buying stuffing in boxes anymore. Nope. Not this year, folks. Why?
Because after you discover how easy it is to put together a delicious, warm stuffing, you’ll never go back to the boxed kind. Yes, prepackaged stuffing tastes fine and is an absolute breeze to cook, but there is no comparison once you try making this homemade version.
With home-cooked food, you are always in control and get to choose the ingredients that go into your food. (I’ve even stopped eating mac and cheese from the box – here’s how to make it at home.)
Speaking of ingredients, this traditional Thanksgiving stuffing recipe uses the most quintessential ingredients. It’s made with bread, onion, celery, fresh herbs, and apples cooked in hearty chicken broth and thickened with heavy cream. The stuffing is lightly crusted on top and moist underneath. Expect fireworks in your mouth!
My classic stuffing recipe will make enough for 12 to 15 people, but if you are expecting a huge crowd at your Thanksgiving dinner, simply double or triple the ingredients. It is the season of giving, after all!
Is Stuffing the Same as Dressing?
Stuffing is not the same as dressing, according to my research. Ha! I’ve got it all wrong this entire time.
Stuffing is a mixture of ingredients stuffed into poultry and cooked together as the bird cooks. Dressing, on the other hand, is the mixture of ingredients cooked separately from the poultry. It is then served alongside the cooked poultry.
Technically, this makes this recipe a Thanksgiving dressing, not a Thanksgiving stuffing. I’m gonna have to get used to calling it a dressing though, because stuffing is a much more common name for it. Anyone else here with this dilemma?
Check out more kitchen glossary terms in this blog post.
Don’t let the length of the ingredients list intimidate you. It may look like a lot of things, but they’re all easily obtainable from the grocery store and will come together to make a wholesome, satisfying dish.
This Thanksgiving stuffing recipe calls for:
- Italian bread – Buy 2 loaves of Italian bread. I love these because of their crusty exterior and fluffy interior which is perfect for this classic stuffing recipe. We want the bread to be really dry so that it doesn’t turn mushy when cooking.
- Olive oil – To drizzle over the bread.
- Salt and fresh ground pepper – To season the bread lightly.
- Butter – To saute the mirepoix for the stuffing, we will use ¾ cup of melted butter (equivalent to 1 ½ sticks). Ooh, it’s going to smell so good!
- Sweet onions – Dice two small sweet onions. They give a light punchy flavor to the stuffing.
- Celery stalks – Dice six celery stalks. Not only do they taste great in this stuffing, but they are also packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Apples – Cut three apples into bite-sized cubes. Look for a sweet apple variety like Pink Lady to balance out the savory flavors in this stuffing.
- Chicken broth – The depth and umami you taste in Thanksgiving stuffing? It’s from chicken broth. Get 1 carton of your go-to brand.
- Herbs – Lift all the ingredients up with these must-have fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage & oregano. Chop finely if using fresh herbs. Otherwise, you can use the dried herbs in bottles.
- Egg – Whisk an egg in a separate bowl. This gives our stuffing a fluffy texture.
- Heavy cream – 1 cup of heavy cream to thicken up the stuffing.
Step One: Cut two loaves of Italian white bread into cubes and spread them over two large baking sheets. Drizzle the bread cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step Two: Bake in a 300°F oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. While baking, toss the bread cubes occasionally until lightly toasted and dried out. Let the bread cool before transferring it to a deep, large bowl.
Step Three: Make the stuffing. While the bread bakes, heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté sweet onions, celery stalks, fresh rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano in butter.
- Pro Tip: To prevent the butter from burning too quickly, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
When the onions have softened, pour in chicken broth and cubed apples. Sauté for 5 minutes until the apples are slightly softened.
Step Four: Pour the mixture over the bread cubes in the large bowl. Then, add the whisked egg and heavy cream. Stir to combine and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Step Five: Transfer the mixture into a large oval roasting pan and bake uncovered at 375°F for about 35 minutes until set and the top is browned and crisp.
- Pro Tip: Your stuffing should be moist, but not wet. It can be hard to tell as there’s a really fine line between moist and wet, but if the broth has puddled at the bottom of the bowl, it’s wet.
Add more bread to soak up the excess moisture (good to have extra bread handy!). If the mix is dry and crumbly, add more broth and toss gently until it starts to clump together.
Expert Tips & Tricks
To make holiday stuffing in advance: You can make the stuffing 1 to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it. Leftover stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
To freeze Thanksgiving stuffing: This classic appetizer will hold up in the freezer for up to three months. Store it in small portions in an airtight container (this helps especially when you’re not going to eat the entire batch and feel like reliving Thanksgiving three months later).
To reheat Thanksgiving stuffing: Remove the stuffing from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. It will cook more evenly than if it goes directly from the refrigerator to the oven.
Cover the pan with tin foil, then place it in a 350°F oven and reheat it for about 30 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
To recreate the crispy top after storing it in the fridge, remove the foil for the last 10-15 minutes of reheating. You can also pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. If the stuffing feels dry, add a splash of chicken stock before reheating.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
- 2 loaves of Italian Bread
- olive oil drizzled
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 3/4 cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
- 2 small sweet onions diced
- 6 celery stalks diced
- 3 apples cubed
- 1 carton of chicken broth
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, thyme, sage & oregano finely chopped
- 1 egg whisked in separate bowl before adding
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Make Bread cubes: Cube two loaves of Italian bread and spread over two large baking sheets.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Bake in a 300 degree F oven. While baking, stir occasionally, until lightly toasted and dried out should be about 35-40 minutes. Let cool and transfer to a very large bowl.
- Make Stuffing: Meanwhile, sauté 2 small sweet onions, 6 celery stalks, fresh rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano in butter.
- When soft add 1 carton of chicken broth and 3 apples cubed. Saute for 5 minutes until the apples are slightly softened.
- Add mixture to dry cubes. Then add whisked egg and 1 cup of heavy cream. Mix all together and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- Transfer mixture into a large oval roasting pan and bake, uncovered at 375 for about 35 minutes, until set and top is browned and crisp.