You may be used to cooking stuffing in the oven, but did you know it can be made on the stovetop too? Who am I kidding, of course you knew that — those iconic red boxes have been on grocery store shelves since 1972. Don't bother with the prepackaged stuff if you can help it, though. Stuffing made with crusty, artisan bread and fresh herbs and vegetables is so, so good.
The night before you plan to make the stuffing, cube up a big loaf of crusty bread and leave it out overnight. By morning, the tough little croutons will be nice and dry, ready to soak up a flavorful, buttery broth. Even with lots of liquid, a good, hearty bread maintains its structure (no mushy stuffing here) while still becoming soft and tender to the bite. Use sourdough, French bread, or pain au levain for the best results.
Sautéed celery, onions, and garlic are the traditional triumvirate of stuffing vegetables, and that's what I've used here. If you like, add in chopped mushrooms, dried cranberries, a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans — whatever add-ins you like will work well with this basic recipe.
Not only do I love the fact that cutting the bread the night before means that it has a chance to dry out without having to use the oven, but I also love that I can get the bread-cutting out of the way. It's one of my least favorite Thanksgiving-related cooking tasks, and getting it done the night before means I have time to sweep up the crumbs that end up all over the floor as I cut!
- Christine, November 2015
Stovetop Thanksgiving Stuffing
2 cups chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from their stems and chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
The night before: Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread it out on a baking sheet. Leave it on the counter overnight to dry out a bit.
To make the stuffing: Heat the broth in a small (1-quart) saucepan over low heat, or in a measuring cup in the microwave until piping-hot. Add the salt.
In a large (4- to 5-quart) saucepan, soup pot, or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and stir to coat with the butter. Cover the pot and let the vegetables sweat for 10 minutes, until the onions and celery are softened and translucent.
Uncover the pot and add the sage and thyme, stirring them into the onions and celery. Sauté for a minute or two, just to wake up the herbs a bit and let their flavor permeate the vegetables. Add the bread cubes to the pot and stir well, so all of the bread gets moistened by the butter and vegetables.
Pour in the hot broth and stir once more, so all of the bread is soaked with some of the broth. Cover the pot, then turn off the heat and let sit on the stove for 10 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl and serve hot.
- Keep the stuffing warm for up to 30 minutes in the covered cooking pot. Alternately, transfer it to a crock pot on its "warm" setting for up to two hours, adding a splash of broth if it becomes a bit dry before serving.
- If you’re using homemade or low-sodium broth, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Optional add-ins: Dried cranberries, chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted pine nuts, diced apples.
- Oven variation: You can easily convert this recipe to an oven-baked dressing. Instead of heating the broth, whisk in two eggs. Pour this mixture into the pot after you add the bread cubes, stir everything together, and pour the stuffing into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake at 375°F until heated through and browned on top, about 25 minutes.