The BEST Thanksgiving stuffing! Based on my family's classic recipe, it's rich and savory, made with fresh herbs, celery, butter, and leeks.
If I told you that a no-frills, classic stuffing recipe was my favorite part of Thanksgiving, would you believe me? Well, it’s true! As a kid, I fell in love with my grandma’s stuffing recipe. Made with onion, celery, and dried herbs, it was simple and delicious. It had a crisp, golden layer of bread on top, with a moist and gooey center underneath. Rich, savory flavor filled every bite.
My mom still makes this homemade stuffing recipe for my family’s Thanksgiving every year. Because I love it so much, I wanted to develop my own spin to share with all of you! I didn’t make many changes – I swapped the onions for leeks and dried herbs for fresh ones, and I used crusty sourdough bread. I was thrilled with the results, but I was nervous to see what my mom would think. When I shared it with her last weekend, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. After a few bites, she looked up and said, “You took our stuffing recipe, and you made it better!” I hope you love it as much as we do.
Stuffing Recipe Ingredients
Unlike the stuffing recipes I’ve shared in the past (see here or here), this one is fairly traditional. I make it with these basic ingredients:
- Bread, of course! Steer clear of pre-sliced sandwich bread for this recipe. You want a loaf that’s crusty and flavorful, preferably sourdough.
- Butter – It infuses this stuffing with rich, buttery flavor.
- Leeks – I love their sweet, oniony flavor with the herbs and celery in this recipe. If you don’t cook with leeks often, check out this post to learn how to cut and clean them!
- Celery – A stuffing essential.
- Garlic – For sharp depth of flavor.
- Fresh herbs – Rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley fill this Thanksgiving stuffing with a mouthwatering mix of earthy, fresh, and savory flavors. You’ll never make stuffing with dried herbs again!
- Vegetable broth – To moisten the bread.
- Eggs – They add richness and moisture, helping to create the stuffing’s irresistible gooey center.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – Drizzle a little on top to help the stuffing brown in the oven.
- And sea salt and fresh black pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Stuffing
This stuffing recipe is super simple to make! Here’s how it goes:
First, tear the bread. Yes, tear with your hands, not cut with a knife! I prefer the look of torn bread to perfect little bread cubes, and I like how the craggy edges catch the melted butter and herbs. After you tear it, place the bread in a very large bowl.
Next, cook the leeks. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the leeks, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. I turn the heat to low halfway through to avoid browning the leeks.
Then, season the bread! Pour the leek mixture over the bread and add the fresh herbs. Use your hands to toss it all together, coating the bread with the butter and herbs. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the broth over the bread, and toss again. Add the eggs, and toss again. At this stage, the bread should be very moist. If it feels dry at all, add an additional 1/2 cup broth.
Finally, bake! Transfer the bread mixture to a greased baking dish and arrange it in a thick, even layer. Drizzle the top with olive oil, cover, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°. If you’re like me, and you like your stuffing to have a crispy top, uncover the dish and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more.
Best Stuffing Recipe Tips
- Use day-old bread. This stuffing recipe comes out best when you make it with day- (or days) old bread. Because it’s drier than fresh-baked bread, it really soaks up the flavors of the buttery leeks, broth, and herbs. So plan ahead! Buy or make your bread one to three days in advance.
- Uncover the pan for a crispy top. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving stuffing is how the crispy top layer of bread contrasts with the moist, gooey middle. To get the top of your stuffing nice and crisp, uncover the casserole dish for the last few minutes of baking.
- Make it ahead. Who doesn’t love a Thanksgiving recipe that can be made ahead of time?! If you want to prep this recipe a few hours in advance, follow it as written, stopping right before you bake the stuffing. Cover the baking dish, and stick it in the fridge. Pop it in the oven 30-40 minutes before your meal, so that it’s hot when you eat. If you’d rather make your stuffing a full day in advance, that works too! Then, fully bake the stuffing ahead of time, but leave it covered for the entire time it’s in the oven. Refrigerate it overnight. The next day, reheat it, still covered, in a 350° oven until it’s warmed through. Uncover it for the last few minutes of baking to get the top nice and crisp.
- Double it if you need to. If you’re feeding a crowd of stuffing lovers, or if you want to have plenty of leftovers, go ahead and double this recipe. It’s enough for 8 decent-sized portions, but you might want seconds. At least, I always do. 🙂
More Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
You could make this stuffing recipe anytime during the fall or winter, but it’s perfect for Thanksgiving. Round out your feast with one or more of these delicious side dishes:
- Green Bean Casserole
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Delicata Squash with Apples and Sage
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Mushroom Gravy
- Or any of these 50 Thanksgiving Side Dishes!
Don’t forget the pumpkin pie for dessert!
- 1 small loaf (1 pound) day-old crusty sourdough bread, (not sandwich bread)
- ½ cup salted butter or vegan butter
- 2 leeks, halved, thinly sliced, and rinsed well (2 cups)
- 4 celery stalks, diced (1¾ cups)
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped sage
- Heaping ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1½ to 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8x11 or 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a very large bowl.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes, turning the heat to low halfway through. Pour the leek mixture over the bread and sprinkle with the sage, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Use your hands to toss until coated. Pour 1½ cups of the broth evenly over the stuffing and toss to coat. Add the eggs and toss again. The bread should feel pretty wet. If it’s still a bit dry, mix in the remaining ½ cup of broth. The amount you use will depend on how dense and dry your bread was.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. If making ahead, stop here, cover the dish with foil, and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- When ready to bake, drizzle the olive oil on top and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. If the stuffing is still pretty wet, uncover the dish and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes to crisp the top a bit.
I Made a different stuffing for the holiday and it was no bueno. I made this to augment our leftovers and it was sooo much better! I did dry the torn bread in the oven a little bit, but everything else was the same. Super yummy.
So glad you enjoyed it!
I’m so sorry to report that I will not be preparing this dressing again. We had it for Christmas Eve and it just didn’t pass muster.
I certainly leave open the possibility that I may have made an error, but the end result was just not as I had hoped.
This recipe is in stark contrast to any traditional dressing/stuffing recipe I have ever had in that though mixed together appropriately, the ingredients did not mesh into a cohesive whole as other dressings do.
I anticipated that the fresh herbs would add more flavor. The small amount of salt and pepper were not enough to rescue the bland flavor this recipe imparted. I probably should have tasted the mixture before putting it into the oven, but because of the raw eggs, I avoided doing so.
Maybe the bread I selected was not stale enough? Maybe there was too much of it? “Small loaf” is probably too vague. Knowing how much bread is optimum in terms of cups would be more helpful. What is considered a “small” loaf to some may not be small to someone else.
On a positive note, we did enjoy the leeks as an alternative to onion. And it all fairness, the dressing is certainly edible. For us, it just didn’t reach the heights it seemingly did for many other reviewers.
Thanks so much for posting it. It was certainly worth trying!
Hi, so I used week old bread but my bowl of stuffing is more like a soup rather than most bread. It’s this right?
Hello! This looks great-but do I need the eggs?
Hi, I think it would be fine to skip the eggs here. Without them, you might need to add a little extra stock to moisten the bread before baking. Hope you enjoy!
Highly recommend this recipe! Even my husband who usually doesn’t like stuffing (!) said it was good. The entire pan disappeared even with a small party. When I make it next year, I might plan ahead and use homemade broth rather than store-bought for a more complex flavor. Thank you for a great recipe!
Hi Angela, I’m so glad the stuffing was a hit!
So good. Used loaf of Rosemary artisan bread. Put that in oven til it was crunchy on outside. Then tore it as recipe suggests into bite size pieces. Followed recipe as written except I added fresh sliced mushrooms, and it was a big hit. Thanks for posting.
Hi Deborah, that sounds delicious! I’m so glad it was a hit!
brilliant recipe. i love how easy it is to adjust and add my own twist to it if i want, yet the recipe holds its own. only thing i would add, and this may just be a function of baking something at higher elevation, i would broil it uncovered for 5-10 min after initially baking it covered for AT LEAST 30 minutes. it took me about 45 minutes covered and then another few minutes broiled uncovered to get the desired texture and top layer crunch. Thanks again!
Hi CJ, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Henceforth, this stuffing will be MY family tradition. All those fresh herbs and buttery goodness, blended with my homemade ciabatta made this the highlight of my dinner. Especially loved the crunchy bits!
Another keeper. Thanks so much.
Hi Bob, I’m so glad it was a hit!
I forgot thyme and this was still amazing. I also used a cranberry walnut sourdough loaf. Can’t wait to make this again!
Hi Lily, oh that sounds delicious, I’m totally doing that next year, thanks!
So good! I made this yesterday for US Thanksgiving. I have vegetarians in my family and they could eat everything except the turkey. Using sourdough bread really gave this recipe a zing. The fresh herbs were sold out so I used dried herbs, it turned out OK. This will be my go to holiday stuffing. It will also work well for stuffing vegetables.
Hi Deborah, I’m so glad everyone loved it!
This stuffing is absolutely incredible. It sets a new standard for stuffing that soars beyond the “traditional” Stove Top version. THANK YOU ♥️🍋
Hi Sara, I’m so glad you loved it!
I did not realize what size to tear the stuffing into, so instead of one inch pieces there are some pieces that are too small. In addition, this bread is kind of flaky. I bought sourdough bread from the Walmart bakery. It doesn’t seem to be very great quality but it’s what I have. It has a lot of air pockets and very crumbly. I’ve never made stuffing before other than out of the box and I don’t have time to do something different, so I’m hoping this isn’t going to ruin it.
I made this the day before Thanksgiving (today!) and totally forgot to put the parsley in! All of the reviews rave about the parsley flavor. I baked for 30 minutes covered and plan to reheat tomorrow, can I add parsley on top? Or try to mix it in before I bake again tomorrow? Any suggestions?
Just mix parsley in and jumble it all together before you reheat and it should be fine!
Hi Madeline, with all of the other herbs, it’ll be just fine without it 🙂