My absolute favorite, traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe is made with dried bread cubes, diced vegetables, sausage, and chicken broth.  It’s the easiest meal of Thanksgiving, can be made ahead of time, and includes step-by-step photos and a video to help you make it perfectly! 

I hope you will agree that homemade stuffing is as important on Thanksgiving day as the perfect turkey recipe, homemade rolls, and Thanksgiving pie. My mom has made this stuffing recipe for our big family party for decades and it’s absolutely delicious and fool proof!

Homemade stuffing in a casserole dish with a wooden spoon.

A really good traditional stuffing recipe is absolutely essential on Thanksgiving, and this recipe has been tried and tested by hundreds of dinner guests at our Thanksgiving feasts over the years.

What makes it soo good? It has the traditional stuffing flavors that everyone loves from the combination of herbs, vegetables and ground sausage, and it’s light and fluffy, NOT gloopy, or mushy. No one likes soggy stuffing and I’m excited to share my best tips for avoiding common stuffing mistakes many people make.

If you’re looking for more Thanksgiving recipes, I’ve got you covered with all of our best recipes!

Stuffing or Dressing?

Although you could use the exact same ingredients to make both stuffing and dressing, it’s technically called “stuffing” when it’s stuffed and cooked inside of a turkey and “dressing” when it’s baked separately, in a casserole dish.

If my grandmother heard me call this recipe Thanksgiving “stuffing” instead of the correct term, “dressing”, you bet she’d be quick and firm in correcting me. But the truth is, most people generally call it stuffing (except those in the Southern United States who are passionate about their “dressing”, and get the name right!).

Good Ingredients are Essential for Good Stuffing!

It’s as simple as that, good ingredients make yummy stuffing!  Remember these tips when you’re at the store shopping for stuffing ingredients:

  • Good veggies: Look for crisp, fresh celery, carrots and onion, and not limp, soft vegetables. Look for brown spots or signs of rotting.
  • Good bread: This may be the most important ingredient of all.  You want to buy hearty, slightly dense white bread for stuffing. If you can purchase freshly baked white bread at a bakery, that’s a great option, or Artisan or French bread will work.  Just be sure to avoid bread that is airy and flimsy or overly soft, like Wonder bread or similar sandwich breads.  Airy bread will soak up a lot of the chicken broth and result in mushy and soggy dressing.
  • Good broth: Higher quality chicken broth will simply taste better.  I would recommend using better than bouillon chicken base, homemade broth,  or Swanson’s chicken broth.

Close up photo of stuffing and a wooden spoon holding up a spoonful.

How to make Homemade Stuffing:

1. Cut and dry bread. With a sharp serrated knife cut the loaf of bread in 1/2” cubes using 3-4 pieces of bread at a time. Try not to smash the bread too much as you cut. Spread bread cubes out onto a baking sheet to dry out. Leave them on your counter for 2-3 days, OR, put them in a 200 degree oven for 1-2 hours to dry, tossing occasionally.

Dried bread cubes on a baking sheet.

2. Brown the sausage. Break it into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain all of the grease and pat the sausage with paper towels to remove grease.

3. Dice the veggies and herbs. Finely dice the onion and celery. Grate the carrot and squeeze it out tightly inside a paper towel. Mince the parsley and sage.

4. Combine bread, sausage and parsley in a large bowl. 

Skillet with cooked sausage and a bowl with bread cubes, sausage and parsley.

5. Cook veggies. In a large sauté pan melt the butter on medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the sage and gently stir in, allowing the sage to wilt and release its flavor.

6. Add to bowl with bread crumbs. Pour the sautéing butter and veggies over the dried bread cubes and sausage and gently toss to combine.

7. Add chicken broth. Start with 1 ½ cups of the chicken broth and drizzle it very slowly all over the bread mixture, stirring gently as you go. It is important not to pour the liquid in all at once or it will make soggy spots in the bread. Add more chicken broth as needed, until all of the bread is lightly moistened, but not overly wet.

Saute pan with chopped veggies and a bowl with the veggies, dried bread cubes and chicken broth poured in.

8. Bake. Pour stuffing into a greased 9×13 inch pan or similar size casserole dish. Cover with tinfoil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Overhead photo of white casserole dish with sausage stuffing baked in it.

Additional Stuffing Variations:

  • For vegetarian stuffing:  Leave out the sausage, no substitute needed.
  • For vegan stuffing: Omit the sausage, use 2/3 cup of canola oil in place of the butter, and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.
  • Add Dried fruit: I recommend dried cranberries, or raisins.
  • Add nuts: Pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts are best.
  • Use Multiple types of bread: My personal preference is old fashioned white bread for traditional white stuffing.  However, you can add other types of dry bread or artisan bread.  Just be sure the bread is dense, quality bread and not airy soft bread that will cause your stuffing to be soggy.

Make-Ahead and Storing Instructions:

To make ahead:  Stuffing can be made in advance, and in fact, I recommend preparing it one day in advance to give the flavors time to settle.  The bread for stuffing can also be dried out 2 weeks in advance.

To make 1 day ahead of time, prepare the stuffing and pour into casserole dish, but don’t bake it.  Store it, covered, in the refrigerator. Remove the stuffing from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking to allow it to come to room temperature. Bake at 35oF for 30 minutes.  Don’t miss my list of make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes.

Storing leftover stuffing: Store stuffing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Reheat in the microwave.

If you’re planning Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to check out my tips for making several Thanksgiving recipes ahead of time so that you can have a fancy meal and still relax on your holiday!

Sausage stuffing in a baking dish with a wooden spoon lifting up a serving.

Don’t miss my other traditional Thanksgiving Dishes and Pies! Some of my favorites include:

Recipe

Homemade stuffing in a casserole dish with a wooden spoon.
Prep 15 mins
Cook 40 mins
Bread drying time: 2 hrs
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 loaf hearty white bread* , cut into 1/2' cubes (12 cups fresh or 10 cups dried)
  • 1/2 yellow onion , finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot , grated
  • 3-4 stalks celery , finely diced (about 1-½ cups)
  • ½ lb ground sausage
  • 3/4 cup butter*
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh parley
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced fresh sage
  • 2- 2 1/2 cups Chicken broth* , or stock (you may need up to 2 ½ cups total broth)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste

Instructions
 

  • Cut Bread Cubes. With a sharp serrated knife cut the loaf of bread in 1/2” cubes using 3-4 pieces of bread at a time. Try not to smash the bread too much as you cut.
  • Dry Bread. Spread bread cubes out onto a baking sheet to dry out. Leave them on your counter for 2-3 days, OR set your oven to 200 degrees F and place them in the preheated oven for 1-2 hours to dry, tossing them occasionally.
  • Cook Sausage. In a saute pan, brown the sausage breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Drain the sausage well and pour it onto a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
  • Chop veggies. Finely dice the onion and celery. Grate the carrot and squeeze it out tightly inside a paper towel.  Mince the parsley and sage.
  • Pour the dried bread cubes into a large bowl. Sprinkle the fresh parsley on top, and add the cooked and drained sausage. Toss to combine.
  • Cook veggies. In a large sauté pan melt the butter on medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the sage and gently stir in, allowing the sage to wilt and release its flavor.
  • Pour sauté pan with the butter and veggies over the dried bread cubes and sausage and toss to combine.
  • SLOWLY add chicken broth. Start with 1 ½ cups of the chicken broth and drizzle it very slowly all over the bread mixture, stirring gently as you go. It is important not to pour the liquid in all at once or it will make soggy spots in the bread. Add more chicken broth as needed, until all of the bread is lightly moistened, but the mixture is not overly wet.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Add to casserole dish. Pour stuffing into a greased 9x13 inch pan or similar size casserole dish. Cover with tinfoil.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Video

Notes

Bread: For best results, use heavier white bread (possibly from the grocery bakery), not light and airy sandwich bread, like "Wonder bread". The bread cubes can be dried out and stored in a resealable bag at room temperature up to 2 weeks in advance. 
The time it takes for bread to dry on the counter will largely depend on where you live and the humidity of the environment (bread will dry much quicker in the dessert). Three days should be long enough for most locations.
Butter: Salted or unsalted butter will work. If using salted butter, use low sodium chicken broth, and add additional salt later, if needed.
To make ahead:  Stuffing can be made in advance, and in fact, I recommend preparing it one day in advance to give the flavors time to settle.  The bread for stuffing can also be dried out 2-3 weeks in advance. 
To make 1 day ahead of time, prepare as directed but don't bake it.  Store it in a covered casserole dish or ziplock bag in the refrigerator.  Before your Thanksgiving meal, remove the stuffing from the refrigerator and allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes (as it comes to room temperature). Then bake at 35oF for 30 minutes.
Storing: Store leftover stuffing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Reheat in the microwave or oven.
Vegetarian stuffing:  Leave out the sausage, no substitute needed.
Vegan stuffing: Omit the sausage, use 2/3 cup of canola oil in place of the butter, and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.
Add-in Ideas:
  • Dried fruit: I recommend dried cranberries, or raisins.
  • Nuts: Pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts are best.
  • Various types of bread: My personal preference is old fashioned white bread for traditional white stuffing, but you can use different flavors if you'd like. You could even use cornbread to make Cornbread Stuffing.

Nutrition

Calories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 9gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 835mgPotassium: 242mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1368IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 169mgIron: 3mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. In stead of baking the stuffing in a casserole dish can I stuff my turkey with it ? If so I’ll try it next time with turkey or chicken. I’ll let you know it turned out.

  2. Excited to try this! For the make ahead version, do you still bake it for 30 min, uncover tinfoil and bake an additional 10-15 min? Baking for 40-45 minutes total? Or are you baking uncovered only, for 30 minutes?
    Thank you!

    1. If you make it ahead of time you can still bake it as the recipe suggests! You are really just baking it to warm it, so depending on the depth of your pan, or how cold the stuffing is to begin with, you can decide how long you think it needs. Start with 30 minutes.

  3. 5 stars
    Literally the best stuffing I’ve ever had. I will never go back to stovetop. Lol. I used a wide french bread loaf cause my store was out of hearty white, but it was still amazing. 10/10

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