Foolproof Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

This make ahead thanksgiving stuffing is like a more wholesome, more delicious version of the stovetop you grew up on.  It’s bursting with fresh herb flavor, crisp on top and chewy in the middle, and the best part is that it can be made almost entirely ahead of time, freeing up your precious Thanksgiving Day schedule! 

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing from above

Ah, stuffing.  Some people love it, and some people hate it, but for me it is one of my FAVORITE parts of the Thanksgiving Feast.  It is with great fear that I admit to the foodie world that I am normally a stovetop kinda girl.  I know.  Partially hydrogenated oils and all, I love the stuff.  I’ve been trying homemade stuffing recipes for years.  Unfortunately, I usually find the flavor lacking and the texture either too stiff and chewy, or soggy and yucky.  This year, I decided to change that.  I have been working on this recipe since September, and just last week I perfected the version I am sharing today.  This make ahead thanksgiving stuffing recipe is moist, sufficiently but not overly chewy, and perfectly seasoned.  While it doesn’t taste exactly like stovetop, it’s an alternative that I’m happy to switch for.

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Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

Keys to the Perfect Stuffing

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This make ahead thanksgiving stuffing recipe is straightforward, basic, and pretty awesome, but I wanted to share a few tips that can make any stuffing recipe awesome.  See how you can adapt your stuffing recipe to be even better using the techniques and tips below:

make ahead thanksgiving stuffing horizontal

Type of Bread

Stuffing is pretty straight-forward, but, like I said, it took me a long time to nail down the perfect texture of this make ahead thanksgiving stuffing.  I found that the type of bread you use in stuffing is VERY important.  I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I tend to over-complicate things (see here). When I first started making homemade stuffing I would over-complicate by buying the most expensive crusty artisan bread I could find.  The texture of this stuffing was too chewy and didn’t soak up the broth/butter well.  I decided to try cheap, typical white bread, but this produced an overly soft, soggy stuffing.  I found the perfect balance in a thick, hearty, high quality white bread.  I bought my loaves from Great Harvest and it was perfect if you have one nearby.  If not, you should be able to find some at any local bakery or even your grocery store’s bakery.  Homemade white bread is also the perfect texture, but I don’t usually have homemade white bread laying around, if I did make it, I would scarf it down before I could make it into stuffing!

Dryness of Bread

Another thing I found important in making the perfect make ahead thanksgiving stuffing is fully drying out the bread.  Many recipes suggest using stale bread that has sat out to dry overnight or so.  This recipe, which is the recipe my make-ahead thanksgiving stuffing is based on, suggested drying out the bread in the oven instead.  I had much better results with this method.  Getting the bread really dry helped so when the broth is added it doesn’t soak it up immediately like a sponge.  This really helps to avoid soggy dressing.  Because you will be using a hearty, somewhat dense white bread it takes a while to dry the bread in the oven.  I baked mine at a low heat for about an hour and a half to get it nice and dry.

make ahead thanksgiving stuffing up close

Controlling Moisture-Containing Add-ins

Many stuffing recipes call for celery, onions, apples, and other high moisture ingredients.  While it’s perfectly acceptable and even a good idea to add these ingredients, it’s important to control them.  This make ahead thanksgiving stuffing recipe calls for celery and onions, but instead of calling for one onion and 2 stalks of celery, it calls for the celery and onions and cups.  While this is always a best practice in recipe writing, it’s especially important in a recipe like stuffing because these veggies will add moisture as the stuffing bakes. Too much moisture=soggy stuffing, which is what we’re trying to avoid.  So while you might be tempted to just throw in the rest of that onion or celery if you have more than is called for, resist the urge to keep the texture of this make ahead thanksgiving stuffing perfect!  You also will want a kitchen scale to weigh your bread and make sure you’re using just the right amount.

 

Making the stuffing the day before

Make ahead thanksgiving stuffing with hand and spoon

I have to admit, I really love it when something that makes a recipe more convenient, also makes it taste better.  This make ahead thanksgiving stuffingstuffing actually turns about better when made in advance.  I like to add the broth in two different stages.  I find this helpful for two reasons.  The first is that letting the stuffing sit overnight allows the herb flavors to sink into the bread making the flavor even and delicious.  The second, and probably more important reason is that adding the broth in two steps helps to assure you are adding just the right amount of broth for perfectly moist but not soggy stuffing.  When you are working with such dry bread (as you’ve hopefully gotten from toasting the bread in the oven right?) it can be hard to know how much broth is going to ultimately soak into the bread which can make adding the broth difficult.  Adding the broth in two steps allows the bread to soak up some of the broth at the beginning, then you can better judge how much broth to add the second time.  The broth amount is not a hard and fast amount, you will likely need to adjust it depending on the exact density/structure of your bread.

I really love this recipe and I’m so excited to this make ahead thanksgiving stuffing to my holiday table.  I love that it can be made almost entirely the day before, needing just some last minute prep and a bit of oven time the day of, and the flavor of the fresh herbs, butter, and broth make it the perfect, irresistible side.  Yum, Thursday can’t come soon enough.

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

make ahead thanksgiving stuffing ultra close up

Other awesome Thanksgiving Recipes

If you’re interested in some other thanksgiving day dishes be sure to check out my make-ahead rolls, the creamiest mashed potatoes ever, and the easiest pumpkin pie

Hands with hot pats holding homemade pumpkin pie
Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

This make ahead thanksgiving  is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table, especially because it's made almost entirely the day before clearing up your Thanksgiving Day schedule!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb quality white bread, (amount will depend on the density of your bread, I would say I had 7-8 C)
  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 2 1/2 C yellow onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 C celery, diced small
  • 1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2-2 1/2 C turkey or chicken stock, divided*
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

  1. Tear the bread into small, bite size pieces (~1/2 in). Spread evenly over a large sheet pan. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1-1 1/2 hrs until crispy throughout (not soft in the middle). The bread may start to brown slightly and that's okay. This can be done up to a day ahead if needed. Store in a loosely covered bowl until ready to use.
  2. Saute onions and celery in butter for about 10 minutes until soft, translucent, and starting to brown.
  3. Add herbs, salt, and pepper. Mix with 1 1/4 C stock. Add to dry bread and let sit in refrigerator overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees Whish together two large eggs and add 3/4 C broth. Stir into bread mixture and add to a lightly greased casserole dish. I found two cups to be the perfect amount of stock for me, but depending on your tastes or type of bread you may need more. I like all of the bread to be covered and moist, but no extra liquid to be pooling at the bottom of my bowl. Add up to 1/2 C extra stock if necessary/desired.
  5. Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned and crisp. Serve with all of the other Thanksgiving fixings!

Notes

I like to use turkey stock from trader joe's, but kitchen basics also carries a brand of turkey stock. Chicken stock will work just fine, I just like to keep things authentic on Thanksgiving and use turkey stock.

Calories calculated using MyFitnessPal

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271

Amanda

Amanda is a dietitian turned mom and food blogger. Her goal is to change lives one family at a time by providing easy, from scratch, family friendly recipes that the whole family will enjoy!

This Post Has 39 Comments

  1. This looks yummy, but I’m too scared to give up my Stove Top. I’ll need to practice first 🙂

    1. Baha, this made me laugh out loud. I don’t blame ya, but it really is good!

  2. Hey! I actually found and made this recipe last yr and repeated again for this year. Hands down, one of the best and easiest stuffings I’ve made and I love that it can basically be prepped in advance. Love it!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. How many people does this 9X13 casserole of stuffing feed? I’m making it for a potluck and want to have plenty for all.

      1. This will easily serve 8-10 people depending how much they like stuffing 😉

  3. What size casserole dish would I use for this?

    1. Hi Margie, thanks for your comment. I use a 9×13 casserole dish for this.

  4. Can I add mushrooms to the celery and onions?

    1. I have never tried. Since mushrooms have a lot of moisture I would cook it with the celery and onions to reduce the moisture and I would probably take out half of the onions or celery so you have about the same amount of moisture going in. Let me know how it works out!

  5. Have you ever tried with potato bread?

    1. I haven’t tried, potato bread is pretty soft. It will probably work just great, but I imagine it might soak up the moisture pretty easily so you might want to experiment with decreasing the broth a bit so it’s not soggy! Let me know how it turns out!

  6. What kind of bread do you buy and from where

    1. I buy great harvest bread (it’s a bakery chain not sure if there’s one near you). The main thing is you want bread that is a little bit more dense, like homemade bread.

  7. Can you use a high quality cubbed stuffing mix to save time?

    1. I have been wanting to try this, but I haven’t. I imagine it would work great though since the stuffing mix is nice and dry. Please report back if you try it out!

  8. can I cut my celery and onions ahead of time, like on tuesday? My schedule is, prep veggies tuesday, dry bread and mix with veggies wednesday, bake final stuffing mix thursday for thanksgiving. Will veggies get too mushy if I chop them tuesday? Thanks!

    1. Sorry Katie, I’m late answering, not sure what you decided, but i think cutting your veggies a few days in advance is just fine, especially since you are cooking them anyway! Good luck!

  9. Hey! So is the entire thing prepped a day before and then just cooked day off? So all ingredients go into casserole dish today and I bake tmw?

    1. The details are in the recipe card, but essentially yes. You will add a little more broth the day of and bake it in the morning.

  10. I would like to add apples and golden raisins. Would the apples be sautéed with celery and onion?
    Thank you!

    1. Sounds delish, I think I would saute the apple with the celery and onion to release a little bit of the moisture. I also might cut down a bit on the amount of onion and celery. Good luck!

  11. Do you cover it when u store it over night or just leave uncovered in fridge? Not sure wat to do.

    1. Sorry I’m a bit late! I do cover it, but I’m sure it’ll be alright uncovered for awhile if you didn’t. Good luck!

  12. I’m guessing you’re busy making make ahead everything, but thought I would take a chance…how far ahead can you make this stuffing?
    Thanks! Happy T-Day!

    1. HaHa more like busy trying to get little ones to sleep haha. I’ve only ever done it a day in advance so I haven’t tested how long it will last. Let me know if you do some experimenting!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made my very own stuffing this year from your recipe for 30 people (which can be very intimidating) and it turned out AMAZING!!!!!

    1. So glad it worked out for you!! Thanks for your comment Jessica (and go you for cooking for 30 people!!)

  14. I’m so excited to find this as I have been wanting to try a stuffing with my spelt bread. Can you divide the stuffing between baking and putting in the turkey cavity?

    1. Hi Michelle, so sorry for the late response. I would think that would work out just fine. I would love to know if you tried it out and how it worked for you!

  15. Hi! Just curious if I could add sausage to this? Everyone always likes sausage stuffing, it’s my first time doing Christmas dinner, please help!!

    1. I think adding sausage would be delicious, it shouldn’t mess with the recipe too much since it won’t add moisture. I would just cook it on it’s own and add it with the broth and veggies 🙂

  16. I have a recipe that adds some red wine. would you recommend this? And if so, cut back on the turkey stock in the same amount?

    1. Absolutely! As long as you keep the level of liquid the same it should turn out!

  17. Has anyone tried cubing and drying bread and then freezing it until ready? Also thinking about prepping celery and onions and then freezing. Thoughts? TIA

    1. Kristen, I think both of those ideas would work just fine!

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