It’s not Thanksgiving without a good homemade stuffing recipe! Whether you make it inside the bird or out, it’s a classic. Add some Italian sausage, celery, onions and sourdough bread for what will be sure to become your new go-to side dish.
I’ve always loved stuffing – it is truly what helps to fill you up and maybe put you over the top in fullness while sitting at a table filled with delicious dinner dishes.
I always believed that the only way to make true Thanksgiving stuffing was to actually stuff it inside a turkey. If it didn’t cook in all the yummy turkey juice then it wasn’t the real deal. All other stuffings or dressings I had tried were dry and didn’t have much flavor.
However, I’ve had a change of heart and this is now my favorite stuffing recipe. Both the texture and flavor comibne in what I consider to be the BEST Thanksgiving stuffing.
Is it “stuffing” or “dressing”
I’ve lived most of my life in the South but my parents are not from the South. We ate “stuffing” growing up which consisted of bread, celery, onion, butter and egg along with some seasonings which then you stuffed inside a turkey. Anything that wasn’t inside the turkey was “dressing” and something other people ate. So this recipe is actually “dressing” and not “stuffing”, according to how I grew up.
However, I’ve learned that what you call this side dish depends more on where you are from then whether it’s cooked inside or outside the turkey. Southerner’s call it “dressing” where the rest of the country, me included, call it “stuffing”.
Why you’ll love this homemade stuffing recipe
- The perfect stuffing recipe has flavor from onions and celery along with sage. It’s like a savory bread pudding. But with all the other soft food you typically see at Thanksgiving, like corn pudding and mashed potatoes, it’s nice to have something with a little crunch. I also appreciate that this stuffing recipe uses sourdough bread, which when baked, is crunchy on the top but soft and moist inside.
- You can assemble the stuffing ahead of time and bake it right before dinner. If your stuffing is inside the turkey, you have to remove it when you remove the turkey to keep from getting salmonella and then if you’re not eating right away, it can get cold. This version stays hot and crispy.
- The Italian sausage adds so much flavor to the traditional stuffing ingredients.
- You can make this any time of year, not just when you’re cooking a turkey.
- It’s perfect if you are spatchcocking the turkey. If you want to learn about how to spatchcock a turkey, check out Laura’s post on Foodology Geek where she walks you through the steps.
What you’ll need
- Sourdough bread – you can also use a loaf of French or Italian bread or whatever you like in the bakery section of the grocery. It needs to be dried out so that it can soak up the custard mixture.
- Pecans – toasted pecans add a nice crunch
- Italian Sausage – this adds so much flavor
- Onions and celery – for that classic stuffing taste
- White wine and chicken stock – you can use all chicken stock if you prefer
- Bay leaves and sage – it’s not Thanksgiving without these herbs
- Pantry staples – butter, eggs and olive oil
How do you make stuffing
Combine dry bread pieces with toasted pecans.
Cook the Italian sausage and when browned add it to the bread.
In the same skillet, sauté onions, celery and sage and add to the bread mixture. Add some white wine to the skillet and cook down and then add butter until melted. Pour over your bread mixture.
Whisk together eggs and chicken stock and pour that over the bread mixture. Season and transfer to a large baking dish and top with butter.
Bake for 30 minutes covered at 350º, then increase the temperature to 450º and remove the cover so that the top can get golden and crisp
Pro tip: If you forget to use day old bread and your loaf is fresh, cut it into cubes and place in the oven at 250º for a few minutes.
I hope this side makes your Thanksgiving feast even more special.
FAQs and tips
Stuffing freezes great. Just let it thaw and then reheat in the oven, the top will even stay crispy after it’s been frozen. You can serve it with Lemon Garlic Chicken, or if you are crunched for time, have some with a rotisserie chicken.
I like to use sourdough bread for that distinct flavor but if that’s not your favorite, then go with a French loaf from the bakery section. Regular sandwich bread will get a little mushy. I generally cut it into cubes and let it sit out all day. Dried bread will absorb more of the liquid and flavor.
Eggs help bind the ingredients together in stuffing. If you don’t use eggs, you should use another binding ingredient.
You can freeze the leftovers and re-heat in the oven. It’s great with any chicken dish if you run out of turkey.
More Thanksgiving SIDE dishes
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Homemade Stuffing Recipe
- 10 cups sourdough bread dried out and torn into pieces
- ½ cup pecans toasted and chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces Italian sausage
- 2 onions diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
- ½ cup white wine
- ¾ cups butter divided
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a 9 X 13 glass baking dish.
- Tear dried bread into pieces and place in a large bowl. Add toasted and chopped pecans to the bowl.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add sausage breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and cooked through about 7-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to bowl with bread.
- In the same skillet add onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, sage and bay leaf and cook until onions are slightly browned and soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread.
- Reduce heat to medium and add wine to the skillet, scraping up the browned bits. Cook until almost evaporated, about 1 minutes. Add ½ cup of butter, stirring until melted. Pour over bread mixture.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and stock and pour over bread mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish and dot with remaining ¼ cup of butter.
- Cover baking dish with foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out hot. Increase temperature to 450º. Remove foil and bake uncovered until golden brown and crisp, 20-25 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If using fresh bread, cut into cubes and place in 250º oven until slightly dry.
- You can prepare this a day ahead and bake before serving.
- If you don’t like sourdough, use a french bread. not sandwich bread which will get mushy.
- You can freeze the leftovers and cover and reheat in a 350º oven for 5-10 minutes.