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stuffing in white casserole dish
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5 from 23 votes

Best Make Ahead Stuffing

Try this tried and true classic make ahead stuffing and you'll be sure to have a hit at your next Thanksgiving or holiday dinner. Best dish at Thanksgiving - no contest!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings (change as needed): 10
Author: Cheryl


The Basics

  • 16 slices bread, Note 1
  • 1 cup (230 ml) chicken stock or broth, Note 2 (or more if needed)

Vegetable Mixture

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) butter - 1 stick (or neutral olive oil /canola oil)
  • 1 large sweet onion (or 2 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers and/or mushrooms (optional)


  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning or sage (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste (or more) depends on saltiness of broth used

Great optional add-ins (I use all)

  • 8 ounces one small can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 2 hot dogs of cooked sausage any kind, cut into 1/2 inch/1.27 cm pieces adds a nice smoky flavor
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped, skin on
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra butter or drippings from turkey or less if you prefer


  • PREPARE BREAD CUBES: Toast bread slices in 350F/177C oven for 5 minutes on each side until nicely toasted. Rip or cut dry bread into 1/2 inch/1.27 cm 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 large skillet on medium-high heat. Add vegetables, garlic and seasonings. Sauté 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, chestnuts, hot dogs (if using) and parsley. Add enough broth a bit at a time (allow time for bread to absorb 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 3 to make ahead.
  • BAKE: Heat oven to 350F/177C. Grease/spray with oil a large casserole dish or 9 x 13 pyrex dish. Spoon stuffing into prepared baking 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. Sprinkle baked stuffing with fresh herbs before serving.
    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. I think doing a separate stuffing casserole is the better option.


  1. Bread options: Any kind of bread will work although I don't like multigrain as much. Challah (my preferred choice), French bread, Italian bread, plain white, etc). Shortcut: Buy store bought toasted bread cubes, about 5-6 cups/~200 g)
  2. Vegetarian stuffing: Use vegetable broth and either leave out the hot dogs or substitute them with a veggie hot dog. 
  3. Make Ahead:
    • If not making the stuffing immediately, cover and place in fridge until needed in the next day or two. Or freeze it unbaked for up to 3 months. I put the stuffing in a ziploc bag to save room in the fridge. Mix in diced apples (if using) just before you bake the stuffing.
    • Leftover stuffing will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Reheat in microwave or 325F/163C oven covered. 
Nutrition values are estimates and include optional add-ins of hotdogs, apples and water chestnuts. 
Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 646mg | Potassium: 242mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1129IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 2mg