This is my favorite (and wildly popular) bread stuffing recipe updated with make-ahead instructions. It’s a great way to get a jump-start on the holiday!

Baking stuffing in a baking dish.

This classic stuffing is my mom’s recipe 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!

Recipe ingredients:

Stuffing ingredients labeled in bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Chicken broth: A little homemade chicken broth goes a long way, but store-bought is fine, too.
  • Parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram: All classic Thanksgiving herbs that taste delicious with poultry. Fresh is ideal (and should be easy to find around the holidays) but dried will work in a pinch.
  • French bread: You can also use brioche, challah, or another egg bread as well and dry the bread up to 3 days in advance. Keep 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. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-1/2-quart baking dish. Melt butter in a skillet until foaming. As soon as it foams, add the celery and chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes.
    Stuffing ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. While the onions and celery are cooking, in a mixing bowl, beat the egg Pour in the broth and season with salt and pepper.
    Stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the parsley, sage, thyme, and marjoram to the skillet and until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then remove from heat and pour the vegetables into the bowl with the broth and beaten egg; mix everything together well. Then add the bread chunks to the bowl and toss everything together gently. The mixture should be moist but not soaking wet.
    Unbaked stuffing in a baked dish.
  4. Add bread cubes and toss to combine. Transfer to buttered baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate until ready to bake, or freeze if you’re planning to bake it farther in advance than the next day. 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.
    Baking stuffing in a baking dish.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Freezing: It is safe to freeze uncooked stuffing. Ingredients can be combined, put into a shallow container, and frozen immediately. To use it safely, do not thaw it before cooking. Cook the frozen stuffing until it reaches 165 degrees.
  • Reheat: You can bake the stuffing as soon as you make it, and freeze it then, too. Reheat cooked stuffing in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 30 minutes or until warm throughout. The baking time really depends on the amount of stuffing, whether it’s just leftovers or you made the whole thing in advance.
  • Stuffing a turkey: For food safety reasons, and for a more evenly cooked turkey, most modern recipes don’t encourage stuffing a turkey with stuffing. If you decide to stuff your turkey, make sure the stuffing is warm when it goes in so it has a head start in cooking (either because you just finished making it or because you made it in advance and reheated it). 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.

A complete make-ahead Thanksgiving meal on a decorated table.

More Make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes:

Bread stuffing on a plate with a fork.

Make Ahead Stuffing

This is my favorite (and wildly popular) bread stuffing recipe updated with make-ahead instructions. It's a great way to get a jump-start on the holiday!
4.95 from 18 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Servings 10
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 241

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup butter, plus more for buttering baking dish 1 stick
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 4 stalks celery sliced lengthwise and chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups chicken broth (see note 1)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley minced (see note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage minced, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram minced, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 large loaf of French bread about 1 pound, cut into 1/2" cubes and dried overnight on counter (see note 3)

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. Refrigerate until ready to bake, or freeze if you're planning to bake it farther in advance than the next day. 
  • 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.
  6. Classic bread stuffing: If you need it now and not tomorrow, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Proceed with the recipe until you cover it with foil in Step 4. Bake covered until mostly heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until crispy edges form, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. 
  7. Small batch: Stuffing for two is perfect for a couple and can be made ahead following the method in this recipe.
  8. Stuffing a turkeychicken, or hen: 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, make sure the stuffing is warm when it goes in so it has a head start in cooking (either because you just finished making it, or because you made it in advance and reheated it). 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 7gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 459mgPotassium: 187mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 787IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

  1. Sounds delicious! I’ve never added eggs to my stuffing/dressing, but I’m going to try it this year. I also like grated carrots in my stuffing, maybe it’s more for color than flavor, maybe both. An elderly German lady told my mom to add some leftover mashed potatoes to her stuffing. She also added sausage to hers. I didn’t care for the sausage but the rest of the family loved it.
    I’ll add eggs this Thanksgiving rather than mashed potatoes and see which one I prefer. I just don’t want a bread pudding I want stuffing, so I hope I don’t ruin one of my favorite sides!5 stars

    1. Hi Johanna, for food safety reasons, and for a more evenly cooked turkey, most modern recipes don’t encourage stuffing a turkey with stuffing. I bake it delicious bread stuffing outside the bird. If you decide to stuff your turkey, make sure the stuffing is warm when it goes in so it has a head start in cooking (either because you just finished making it or because you made it in advance and reheated it). 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. – Meggan

  2. If I double the recipe, how long should I cook the stuffing for? Does it extend the time? I am putting everything in one large, deep 9×13 cooking plan.

    1. Hi Christine, I’ll make a double batch today and reply back with any info on the baking time (how much to extend). Thanks!

    2. Hi Christine, I tested the double batch today. I was skeptical about it fitting in a deep 9×13, but it did (I have 3.68 quart baking dish that is 9×13, the sides are 2.25 inches tall)! At first it doesn’t look like it will, but once you toss the bread cubes in the broth/egg/vegetable mixture, you’re fine. I mixed everything in an 8-quart bowl with my hands and felt like the cubes may have disintegrated a bit, and once I packed it in the baking dish, it didn’t look as attractive as it normally does with the pretty cubes and all. So I would say, mix it gently and don’t pack it in if you don’t have to! It will naturally cook down a little as it bakes.

      As for the cook time, I increased the time for softening the vegetables in butter from 7 minutes to 10 minutes. For the foil-covered leg of baking, 25 minutes was still good. For the uncovered portion of the bake time, 20 minutes was sufficient for my liking (you could do another 5 minutes if you wanted, but the top pieces had brown edges and were crunchy after 20 minutes).

      I hope this helps, if you need anything else just let me know! I’ll email this response to you too, just to try to make sure you get it on time. Happy Thanksgiving! -Meggan

  3. Thank you for writing a recipe to cook from. Most are guessing games that typically result in a mismatch between pan size (which is seldom mentioned), the amount of stuffing made and per person portions.

    It’s nice to see a recipe written by someone who is first a cook and then a blogger.5 stars

  4. When reheating frozen stuffing that was already cooked in advance, do you thaw it first or just go directly from freezer to oven?

    1. Hi Marguerite, you can do either. Obviously you just have to bake it longer if it’s still frozen. My preference is always to thaw things in advance if I have time, but just imagine all the things that come out of a grocery store that are frozen solid. No issues! But I just prefer to bake things from a thawed stage because they bake faster. If you need anything else, just let me know! Thanks. -Meggan

    1. WHAT!!! I’ve never heard of this, but I absolutely have to try it. Do you just take all the normal stuffing ingredients and fry them in a pan? Like toss it around in a skillet with butter? Sounds divine. I can’t wait to try it. Please tell me more!!! -Meggan

    2. I used to make my stuffing and then make little patties out ot the extra….and fry them in butter….this became a favorite for my boys when childen….they still get excited about “stuffin’ cakes” as they called them.4 stars