Make Ahead Stuffing

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This Make Ahead Stuffing is based on my favorite (and wildly popular) bread stuffing recipe. It’s a great way to get a jump-start on the holiday!

Bread stuffing on a plate with a fork.


 

This Thanksgiving stuffing recipe is my mom’s creation and my favorite part about Thanksgiving. Add in the advantages of make-ahead convenience and you’re officially out of excuses not to make it!

And if you love getting ahead of the game (Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of the food world, after all), check out my full Make Ahead Thanksgiving menu: Make Ahead Roasted Turkey, Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (they won’t get watery in the freezer), and Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for make ahead stuffing.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Chicken broth: I keep jars of homemade chicken broth in the freezer (it’s a delicious by-product of poaching a chicken), but store-bought is also good. Or use turkey broth if you have that.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs taste the best in this stuffing, but dried work too. I rarely find fresh marjoram and almost always substitute dried. Or, customize with your favorite herbs like rosemary or poultry seasoning.
  • French bread: Use any sturdy bread such as Italian, challah, or sourdough bread. Dry the bread up to 3 days in advance (keep it covered with a dry kitchen towel on counter, or slice and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Coat a 9″ by 13″ baking dish with butter. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter until foaming. Add onion and celery and sauté until translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Onions and celery cooking in a skillet.
  1. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in large bowl. Stir in broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Melted butter and spices in a glass measuring cup for make ahead stuffing.
  1. To skillet, add parsley, sage, thyme, and marjoram and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with eggs mixture and stir well. Add bread cubes and toss to combine. Transfer to buttered casserole dish and cover with foil. Freeze until ready to bake.
Bread stuffing in a baking dish before being baked.
  1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Keep stuffing tightly covered with foil and bake until mostly heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until crispy edges form, about 10 to 20 minutes longer.
Baked bread stuffing in a baking dish.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe will serve at least 10 as a side dish.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: For best results, assemble and freeze the bread stuffing uncooked. Then thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed in the recipe.
  • Classic stuffing recipe: To make my homemade Bread Stuffing recipe, preheat oven to 400 degrees and rub a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter. Add stuffing to the baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until mostly heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until crispy edges form, about 10 to 20 minutes longer.
  • Crockpot stuffing: Save your oven space and make bread stuffing in your slow cooker. You’ll still have soft, chewy bread cubes with plenty of crispy edges without using your oven.
  • Gluten-free stuffing: transforms gluten-free bread into a side dish worth making. You’d never know the difference when you tuck into this glorious gluten-free bread stuffing.
  • Small batch: My Bread Stuffing for Two is the same delicious, buttery stuffing with all your favorite flavors, but scaled down to a smaller quantity for small gatherings. See my full Thanksgiving for Two Menu which includes a pair of roasted Cornish Hens with Stuffing and two Mini Pumpkin Pies for dessert.
  • Sausage stuffing: My homemade Cornbread Dressing is made with plenty of sausage for a spicy kick.
  • Vegan stuffing: Filled with wild mushrooms, leeks, fresh kale, and all the classic Thanksgiving herbs you love, this Vegan Stuffing recipe has bread cubes that are soft and chewy on the inside with browned, crispy edges outside. The entire recipe is 100% vegan and delicious.
  • More Thanksgiving side dishes: Round out your Thanksgiving dinner with Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce, Soft Yeast Dinner Rolls, and Vegetable Casserole.
A plate of roasted trukey, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries.
A Classic Midwestern ThanksgivingPerfect Roast TurkeyMashed Potatoes with Turkey Gravy, Classic Bread StuffingVegetable CasseroleRoasted Asparagus, and Cranberry Sauce with Apples.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bread for stuffing?

The best bread for stuffing is a sturdy loaf with a tight crumb. Bakery French bread, Italian bread, Challah, and Sourdough are all good choices. When you cut up a 1-pound loaf into cubes, it should fit in an even layer on a single half-size rimmed baking sheet. If you need 2 sheet trays to fit your pound of bread cubes, the bread is too soft an airy. It won’t make good stuffing and you’ll wind up with a dish full of mush, no matter how well you dry it out.

How do you dry bread cubes for stuffing?

Dry the bread up to 3 days in advance (keep it covered with a dry kitchen towel on counter, or slice and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes).

Can I make this stuffing in an aluminum foil pan?

Yes! I’ve tested this homemade stuffing recipe in a 9-inch by 13-inch aluminum foil pan.

Can you cook stuffing in a turkey?

For food safety reasons, and for a more evenly cooked bird, most modern recipes don’t encourage stuffing a turkey. If you decide to stuff your turkey, combine wet and dry stuffing components just before placing them in the cavity, ensuring any raw meat, poultry, or seafood used in the stuffing is fully cooked beforehand. Do not stuff a bird with cooked stuffing. Use a large spoon or your hands to loosely stuff the body and neck cavities (do not pack it tightly because the stuffing expands while it cooks). Truss the main cavity with trussing pins to keep the stuffing inside. The stuffing must register 165 degrees on an internal thermometer to be safe to eat. For more information, see the USDA website. Stuffing a chicken or Cornish hens is also discouraged.

More Thanksgiving recipes

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Bread stuffing on a plate with a fork.

Make Ahead Stuffing

This Make Ahead Stuffing is based on my favorite (and wildly popular) bread stuffing recipe. It's a great way to get a jump-start on the holiday! Dry your bread the night before on the counter or in a 300-degree oven for 40 minutes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 10 servings (1-cup each)
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 241
4.99 from 178 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Coat a 9″ by 13″ baking dish with butter. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter until foaming. Add onion and celery and sauté until translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk eggs in large bowl. Stir in broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  • To skillet, add parsley, sage, thyme, and marjoram and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with eggs and mix well.
  • Add bread cubes and toss to combine. Transfer to buttered baking dish and cover with foil. Freeze until ready to bake.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Keep stuffing tightly covered with foil and bake until mostly heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until crispy edges form, about 10 to 20 minutes longer.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Chicken broth: I keep jars of homemade chicken broth in the freezer (it’s a delicious by-product of poaching a chicken), but store-bought is also good. Or use turkey broth if you have that.
  2. Herbs: Fresh herbs taste the best in this stuffing, but dried work too. I rarely find fresh marjoram and almost always substitute dried.
  3. French bread: You can also use brioche, challah, or Italian bread. Dry the bread up to 3 days in advance (keep it covered with a dry kitchen towel on counter, or slice and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes).
  4. Yield: This recipe will serve at least 10 as a side dish.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cupCalories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 7gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 459mgPotassium: 187mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 787IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. I have made this three years running to RAVE reviews. It’s now the most requested Thanksgiving meal component by my kids!5 stars

  2. Love that it’s make ahead, and best stuffing I’ve ever eaten! Doesn’t need any liquid or anything added next day,perfect as is!5 stars

  3. Never in my 73 years have I made stuffing except when I bought a bag of it in our local store. When I saw Megan’s recipe ( a fan) for this make ahead stuffing I thought I might give it a try. Very happy I did. I used a half loaf of country white bread and half a loaf of brioche. Cut it in 1/2 cubes and let it sit for 3 days. I did use home made chicken broth and added a lb of pork sweet Italian sausage. Sautéed onion, sausage, and celery together and did a mix and sit. Heated up as directed and it was fantastic. Wife even had some for breakfast. Ok….I had a couple bites. Printed out the recipe and it’s a shoo in when I need stuffing. Thanks Megan for putting it out there.5 stars

  4. USDA recommends that you never refrigerate uncooked stuffing. Why? Remember, stuffing can harbor bacteria, and though bacteria grow slower in the refrigerator they can cause problems because stuffing is a good medium for bacteria growth, therefore a higher risk food in terms of cooking safely.

    It is safe to freeze uncooked stuffing; however, the ingredients must be combined, put into a shallow container, and frozen immediately. To use it, do not thaw before cooking. Cook from the frozen state until the stuffing reaches 165°F.

    1. Thank you Catpainter, I’ve updated the recipe to include the current USDA guideline. Thank you for your help. Happy Thanksgiving! – Meggan

  5. If I prep this on Wednesday and bake it Thursday morning covered for 25 mins – will I be able to leave it out (covered)? And then around 3:30 bake it covered for the 10-20 mins? OR should I bake it fully Thursday morning and reheat? Reason I ask is that we are getting together and everyone is going to need the oven to cook/reheat their items they are brining.

  6. If I prep this on Wednesday and bake it Thursday morning covered for 25 mins – will I be able to leave it out (covered)? Around 3:30 bake it covered for the 10-20 mins? OR should I bake it fully Thursday morning and reheat? Reason I ask is that we are getting together and everyone is going to need the oven to cook/reheat their items they are brining.

    1. Sure, sounds delicious! I would cook it along with the onions and celery in step 1. Take care! – Meggan

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