How To Make the Very Best Thanksgiving Stuffing

updated Oct 17, 2023
christmas

Like the boxed stuff, but so much better. This is the only stuffing recipe you'll need on Thanksgiving — or any day.

Serves6 to 8

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Turkey gets the magazine covers and the big platters, but let’s be real — stuffing is the star of the show, at least on my Thanksgiving table. And when I say stuffing, I mean the most classic, herby, moist, and fragrant bread stuffing — just like what you get out of the box, but even better.

Here’s how to make that stuffing you crave, the one that is so indelibly connected with Thanksgiving, any time you like. It’s remarkably simple, and oh so good.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Julia Choi-Rodriguez

What Makes this Stuffing Recipe the Best?

People get serious about their stuffing. Oysters? Sausage? Cornbread? Keep ’em off my table. But I know that others feel differently. However, I would argue that for a majority of Americans (sweeping generalizations, love them) this taste of herbs and onion, so similar to classic Stove Top from a box, is the taste that is quintessentially Thanksgiving.

We set out to recreate that taste in a simple, from-scratch recipe that can be prepped ahead and baked while the turkey finishes.

The alchemy of this stuffing recipe is really wonderful — when you’re mixing dried bread, herbs, and butter, it doesn’t seem possible that all of it will come together in that silky, homestyle stuffing you crave. But pour in a good measure of turkey broth and butter, and suddenly this is a moist and fluffy Thanksgiving classic.

Stuffing vs. Dressing

Now, some nomenclature. Stuffing is what I call the bready-casserole-goodness that soaks up gravy and sits besides the turkey. Technically, however, this is just bread dressing. It’s only stuffing if it’s baked inside the turkey, which I almost never do. But I don’t let the name trip me up; stuffing this is, to me, and it will always remain so. If it confuses you, though, then dressing it is.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Julia Choi-Rodriguez

The Key to Great Thanksgiving Stuffing: The Broth

Now, I can’t give you this recipe without one big caveat, and that is broth. A simple stuffing or bread dressing like this one has a bare handful of ingredients, so they really have to count. The single biggest boost you can give your homemade stuffing is turkey broth.

Sure, boxed chicken or vegetable broth will do just fine, but the best stuffing is made with rich, savory, homemade turkey broth — the richer, the better. That flavor is what you want.

Why Doesn’t This Stuffing Cook Inside the Turkey?

I don’t stuff my turkey partly because there are very real health hazards and a need to make sure that stuffing is completely cooked. It also makes the turkey cook more slowly.

What Temperature Should You Cook Stuffing?

This stuffing bakes at 375°F. You’ll bake it covered with aluminum foil for the first 25 minutes, which ensures it stays moist. Then, to give it that nice golden-brown color, you’ll bake it uncovered for the final 15 minutes.

Can You Make This Stuffing Ahead of Time?

Yes! This stuffing can be completely assembled in a casserole dish and refrigerated overnight or up to 24 hours in advance. If you’re baking it directly from the refrigerator, add about 10 extra minutes to the baking time. If you’re baking it from room temperature, you can bake it as directed. We don’t recommend freezing this stuffing.

How To Make Stuffing Recipe

Like the boxed stuff, but so much better. This is the only stuffing recipe you'll need on Thanksgiving — or any day.

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    large yellow onions (about 1 pound total)

  • 4 large stalks

    celery

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh sage

  • 4 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1 (about 18-ounce) loaf

    rustic bread

  • 6 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided, plus more for the baking dish

  • 2 cups

    low-sodium turkey, chicken, or vegetable broth

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Equipment

  • Large rimmed baking sheet

  • Large skillet

  • 9x13-inch or 3-quart baking dish

Instructions

Show Images
  1. Heat the oven and cut the bread. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 225°F. Meanwhile, coat a 9x13-inch or 3-quart baking dish with butter. Cut 1 rustic bread loaf into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups). Place on a large, rimmed baking sheet in an even layer.

  2. Dry the bread. Bake, stirring every 30 minutes, until the bread is crisp, about 90 minutes total. Meanwhile, prep and cook the vegetables.

  3. Prep the ingredients. Dice 2 large yellow onions and 4 large celery stalks. Mince 4 garlic cloves. Pick the leaves from 1 small bunch fresh sage and finely chop until you have 1/4 cup. Pick the leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs.

  4. Cook, the onion, celery, and garlic until tender. Melt 4 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes.

  5. Add the herbs. Add the sage and thyme and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat.

  6. Mix the toasted bread cubes with the onion mixture. When the bread is ready, remove from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Transfer the toasted bread to a large bowl. Add the onion mixture and fold to combine.

  7. Whisk the eggs and broth, and mix in. Place 2 cups low-sodium broth, 2 large eggs, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Season with a generous amount of black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour over the bread mixture and stir until evenly combined.

  8. Put into a baking dish and top with more butter. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop and drizzle over the stuffing.

  9. Cover and bake. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is golden-brown, about 15 minutes more.

  10. Rest before serving. Let the stuffing cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The stuffing can be completely assembled and refrigerated overnight or up to 24 hours. Bake covered for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is lightly browned, about 15 minutes more.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.