Follow our step-by-step instructions for how to make this tried and true classic homemade stuffing and you’ll be sure to have a hit at your next Thanksgiving or holiday dinner.
I’ve been making this stuffing for over 30 years – the the same one my mother made with a few tweaks. For instance, I now use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth so my vegetarian daughter can eat it.
A basic stuffing – or dressing – includes bread, onions, broth and savory seasonings like sage and thyme. We add add celery and some optional ingredients such as chopped water chestnuts for crunch and chopped hot dogs for smokiness.
For Jenna’s vegetarian version, I put aside a portion of the stuffing before I add the hotdogs, but you can always use vegetarian ‘hot dogs’ instead.
Play around with the ingredients to your taste, adding and subtracting what you and your family like best. I’ve made several suggestions below.
And don’t forget to pass the gravy! Here’s a good labor-of-love Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy from scratch. And, in this roast chicken and gravy recipe, you’ll find an easy and delicious gravy you can make in about 6-8 minutes.
Dressing vs Stuffing
Apparently, what you call it depends on where you live. In the US south, dressing is the term of choice. In the north, most of the rest of the US and Canada, where I come from, it’s called stuffing.
The difference between the terms dressing and stuffing is that dressing is cooked inside the turkey and stuffing is cooked outside the turkey in a separate dish.
Should you stuff the turkey or cook it separately?
I always prefer to cook my stuffing separately. It gets nicely browned on top and the turkey doesn’t take as long to cook. If you do want to stuff your turkey, though, here is a great video from FineCooking on how to stuff a turkey. Do not stuff a turkey ahead of time.
Basic steps for how to make homemade stuffing
The detailed instructions are in the recipe, but here are the main steps. Pretty easy!
- Prepare the toasted bread cubes.
- Saute onions, garlic, celery and seasonings in butter.
- Combine the sauteed veggies with the bread cubes and add broth to moisten
- Add in optional extras if you like, then place the stuffing in a casserole dish.
Tailor To Your Taste
There are so many variations you can try with add-ins, the bread you use, etc. Some suggestions…
- Chopped mushrooms and/or red peppers
- Chopped nuts
- I often add a diced, unpeeled apple just before baking for a bit of sweetness. Another option is 1/2 cup raisins.
- Replace hot dogs with cut up cooked sausage
- Add red chili flakes for heat.
- Use vegetable or chicken broth.
- Try various kinds of bread – Challah, white, whole grain, French, Italian. I often use Challah.
- Butter adds an extra richness, but you can replace it with a neutral oil if you like.
- You can eliminate the step of cutting, toasting and ripping up the bread by buying plain toasted bread cubes, often available in grocery stores during holiday periods.
- I use a food processor to chop the vegetables in a few seconds.
- Using hot dogs instead of sausage is a time saver because they are fully cooked. You save the extra step and still add that smoky flavor.
- As always, feel free to use minced garlic in frozen cubes or from a jar.
- The stuffing can be prepared a couple of days ahead, kept well covered in the fridge, then baked the day you need it. Tip: I often put the unbaked stuffing in a zipper lock bag to save room in the fridge. Just dump it into a greased casserole dish before baking.
- I bake the stuffing while the turkey is resting before carving.
- Leftover stuffing will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Reheat in the microwave or 325F oven covered.
Other stuffing recipes you might like (in 30 minutes or less)
How to make homemade stuffing
Basic ingredients: toasted bread (Challah), onion, celery, seasonings, garlic, broth, butter, parsley. Optional: apples, water chestnuts, hotdogs, peppers.
Toast bread slices in the oven, then cut or rip them into small pieces. Or buy bread cubes for a shortcut.
Chop extras like parley, water chestnuts and hotdogs to add later if you like.
Saute onions, celery, peppers (if using), garlic and seasonings in butter or oil.
Combine bread cubes and the sauteed onion mixture in a bowl. Moisten with broth.
Spoon the stuffing into a casserole dish and bake. Drizzle with turkey juices or butter before baking if desired.
How to Make Homemade Stuffing
- 14 slices -15 bread (challah, french, italian, plain white, etc). Day old bread is best. (Buy store bought toasted bread cubes, about 4.5-5 cups/175 g)
- 1 cup (230 ml) chicken or vegetable broth or more if needed
- 1/2 cup (113 g) butter - 1 stick (or neutral olive/canola oil)
- 1 large sweet onion (or 2 medium)
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 cup chopped red peppers and/or mushrooms (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning or sage
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste (or more) depends on saltiness of broth used
Great optional add-ins
- 1 small can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
- 2 hot dogs any kind (including vegetarian), cut into 1/2 inch pieces adds a nice smoky flavor
- 1 apple, chopped, skin on
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley adds great color
- extra butter or drippings from turkey a few tablespoons
- PREPARE BREAD CUBES: Toast bread slices in 350F oven for 5 minutes on each side until nicely toasted. Rip or cut toast into 1/2 inch pieces.
- PREPARE VEGETABLE MIXTURE: While bread is toasting, cut celery, onions and any other vegetables you are using into large chunks and place in food processor. You might need to do this in two batches. Process until finely chopped. (Alternatively, chop vegetables finely with a knife). Melt butter in medium skillet on medium high. Add vegetables, garlic and seasonings. Saute until tender and most of the liquid from the veggies has evaporated, about 8-10 minutes.
- ASSEMBLE: Place bread cubes in large bowl. Add vegetable mixture, water chestnuts, hot dogs (if using) and parsley. Add enough broth to moisten well. Stuffing should be quite moist but not mushy. Mix until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. (I often add more poultry seasoning). If you're baking right away, mix in diced apple now. Note 1 to make ahead.
- BAKE: Heat oven to 350F. Grease/spray with oil a large casserole dish or 9 x 13 pyrex dish. Spoon stuffing into dish. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, drizzle with turkey drippings or dot with butter if desired. Bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned on top. ALTERNATIVE: add stuffing loosely into the turkey cavity before roasting turkey (not ahead of time). Here's a video on how to stuff a turkey.
- Make Ahead:
- If not making the stuffing immediately, cover and place in fridge until needed in the next day or two. I put the stuffing in a ziploc bag to save room in the fridge. Mix in diced apples (if using) before you bake the stuffing.
- Leftover stuffing will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Reheat in microwave or 325F oven covered.