For many folks, stuffing is one of the best parts of a turkey dinner, so having a great go-to recipe for bread stuffing is key to a successful holiday meal. Our family recipe for bread stuffing is a real standout for its light, soft texture, making it a delicious alternative to some of the denser, drier versions you might have encountered in the past.
The secret to making stuffing that is flavorful and moist without being soggy lies in choosing the right type of bread and a careful balance of additional ingredients. Our recipe includes sautéed onions, celery, and mushrooms along with a trio of fresh herbs. This combo heightens the overall flavor and enhances the texture of the stuffing. The finishing touch is a drizzle of pan drippings or buttery broth to give it that savory, baked-in-the-bird quality.
In addition to basics like eggs, salt, pepper, and pan drippings, these are the ingredients essential to the success of this recipe. For the quantities and instructions, refer to the printable version of the recipe below.
- Bread: Choosing the right type of bread is key to making stuffing with a moist, tender texture. We’ve found that firm white bread with a somewhat dense crumb and tender crust will absorb the moisture from the butter and eggs without getting soggy, and produce stuffing that is moist and tender. We generally use a mild sourdough sandwich bread from the grocery store bakery department and get consistently good results. Avoid bread that has a very soft or airy interior as it won’t produce the best results. You’ll need a one-pound loaf (about 14 slices), cut into 1/2-inch cubes. This yields about 4 to 5 cups, loosely packed. Note: There’s no need to remove the crust.
- Butter: We do recommend using real, unsalted butter for stuffing, but we’ve found a very good brand of dairy-free butter made with avocado oil (Country Crock) that makes a good substitute. Just be mindful that it is salted, so you’ll want to be a little more careful with your seasoning.
- Onions and Celery: Because they add both flavor and texture, diced onion and celery are essential to traditional bread stuffing. There is really no omitting or substituting these ingredients.
- Mushrooms: We’ve modernized our family stuffing recipe by adding mushrooms to enhance both the flavor and texture. The quantity isn’t large enough for the mushroom flavor to predominate, but they do add an umami element that we feel makes a difference. They also give off a little bit of moisture which helps to maintain the stuffing’s texture. You can omit them if you don’t like mushrooms.
- Herbs: Fresh parsley, sage, and thyme add a significant amount of flavor to the stuffing without being overpowering. Should you choose to use dried herbs in their place, make sure you reduce the quantity by 2/3 or your stuffing will be over-seasoned.
How to Make Traditional Bread Stuffing
This is an overview of how this dish is made. Detailed measurements, ingredients, instructions, and times are available in the printable version of the recipe below.
Prepare the Stuffing
- Preheat the oven and grease a casserole dish with butter. Add the bread cubes to a colander, moisten them with water, then using your hands, gently squeeze them out as you would a sponge. Be sure not to skip this step. Moistening the bread before combining it with other ingredients adds to the soft, fluffy texture of this stuffing. Transfer the moistened bread to a mixing bowl, add the fresh herbs, and set aside. Be sure to read the recipe notes if you are substituting dried herbs.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, then add the celery, continue cooking for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and sauté a few minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the sautéed vegetables to the mixing bowl with the bread and herbs. Using your hands, combine thoroughly, taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed before adding the eggs. Once the bread mix is seasoned to your liking, stir in the beaten eggs, combine well, and transfer it to the prepared casserole dish.
Bake the Stuffing
- Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and drizzle the top of the stuffing with pan drippings from your turkey. If you don’t have pan drippings available, heat 1/4 cup of chicken broth combined with a tablespoon of butter in the microwave until the butter melts. Whisk to combine and drizzle that over the stuffing instead. Return the stuffing to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove the stuffing from the oven and replace the foil cover to keep it warm until you’re ready to serve. It should stay hot for up to 45 minutes, or you can keep it in a low oven (200°F) for up to 90 minutes.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Leftover bread stuffing can be wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. If you plan to reheat it in the foil, spray it first with nonstick spray. If not, when ready to reheat, transfer it to an appropriately sized casserole dish. Before reheating drizzle the stuffing with a little water or chicken broth, cover (or rewrap the foil tightly), and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
Stuffing can also be frozen for 1 to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat according to the instructions above.
More Stuffing Recipes
While our old-fashioned family stuffing recipe is our go-to favorite to serve with traditionally roasted turkey or chicken, you may want to opt for a different flavor profile entirely. Our Savory Corn Bread Stuffing goes great with turkey, chicken, roast duck, and Cornish game hens, and our Italian Sausage and Herb Stuffing is delicious with poultry and roast pork.
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
- 1 loaf soft bread, cubed, 1 pound, (see notes below)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, stems removed
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, (see notes on dairy-free below)
- 2 cups diced onion
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pan drippings from roasted turkey , or 1/4 cup chicken broth whisked together with 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 1-1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish with butter.
- Add the bread cubes to a colander, moisten them with water, then using your hands, gently squeeze them out as you would a sponge. Be sure not to skip this step. Moistening the bread before combining it with other ingredients adds to the soft, fluffy texture of this stuffing.
- Transfer the moistened bread to a mixing bowl, break up large clumps with your fingers, then add the parsley, sage, and thyme (be sure to read the recipe notes if you are substituting dried herbs). Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking for 2 minutes longer, then add the mushrooms. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the sautéed vegetables, 3/4 teaspoon of salt (1/2 teaspoon if using salted butter), and a sprinkling of black pepper to the mixing bowl with the bread and herbs.
- Using your hands, combine thoroughly, taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed before adding the raw eggs. Once the bread mix is seasoned to your liking, stir in the beaten eggs, combine well, and transfer it to the prepared casserole dish.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the stuffing from the oven, uncover it, and drizzle the top with pan drippings from your turkey or the butter-broth mixture in the ingredient list. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove from the oven and replace the foil cover to keep warm until served. It should stay hot for up to 45 minutes, or you can keep it in a low oven (200°F) for up to 90 minutes.