Best Stuffing

The BEST Thanksgiving stuffing! Based on my family's classic recipe, it's rich and savory, made with fresh herbs, celery, butter, and leeks.

Best stuffing recipe

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.

Homemade stuffing recipe ingredients

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.

Crusty bread in a mixing bowl

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.

Sautéed leeks in a skillet with wooden spoon

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.

Crusty bread and herbs in a mixing bowl

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.

Hands mixing crusty bread with herbs, leeks, and celery

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.

Enjoy!

Homemade stuffing mixture in a bowl

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. 🙂

Thanksgiving stuffing recipe

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:

Don’t forget the pumpkin pie for dessert!

Best Stuffing

rate this recipe:
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Serves 8
This classic stuffing recipe is the BEST Thanksgiving side dish! Leeks, celery, and fresh herbs fill it with rich, savory flavor.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

18 comments

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  1. Lark
    11.08.2020

    I try to be vegan…do you have suggested substitute for the two eggs?

  2. Kristin Lanham
    11.08.2020

    If you have a dairy allergies, what would you substitute the eggs for?

  3. cohealthye
    11.09.2020

    5 stars
    It looks very yummy and delicious

  4. Amber L
    11.09.2020

    Looks delicious! Question about the bread..do you recommend tearing the bread first and then letting it sit in a bag or airtight container for a day or so? I imagine it might be harder to hand tear if it’s sitting for a couple of days.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.09.2020

      Hi Amber, it’ll work either way!

  5. Bronte
    11.23.2020

    5 stars
    Made this for Friendsgiving and it turned out great! It was my first time making stuffing and I really enjoyed it. I used a Tuscan loaf and it worked just fine. I had to leave it uncovered in the oven for a bit longer to crisp up the top. Definitely recommend!

  6. Dee
    11.25.2020

    Can you put the best stuffing ever stuffing in the turkey instead of belong on its own in the oven?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.25.2020

      Hi Dee, yep it does, my mom makes it both ways every year.

  7. Nicole C
    11.25.2020

    Making ahead for tomorrow — do you have a time estimate for how long to get it heated through? 15 mins? 20? Doing Thanksgiving with my quarantine pod, half of which is vegetarian, so having fun stepping outside my usual Thanksgiving box and doing a vegetarian Thanksgiving!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.25.2020

      Hi Nicole, I would assemble it tonight, keep it in the fridge and bake it tomorrow according to the times in step 5 tomorrow (30 minutes covered, 5-10 mins uncovered).

  8. Julia
    11.25.2020

    I’m avoiding grocery stores in person because of COVID so have resorted to delivery, but twice know I’ve received scallions instead of leeks! Is there a decent replacement for leeks? Maybe shallots?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.26.2020

      Hi Julia, you could use the scallions, they’d be fine!

  9. Adriana
    11.26.2020

    Can I use onion instead of leeks?

    • Lauren
      11.26.2020

      I did! Used a cup and a quarter of yellow onions. Ended up tasting delicious!

  10. stephanie
    11.27.2020

    We loved this stuffing/dressing last night for Thanksgiving. I halved the recipe for 3 people (maybe a little more leeks since we love them)
    and it was exactly what I wanted. Light fresh and herbaceous which went perfectly with the meal without feeling too hefty and muddled with too many ingredients as sometimes can happen with stuffing. Though we like those as well… Thank you for this lovely recipe!

  11. MekissaE.
    11.30.2020

    5 stars
    Good god this was fantastic!! I’d never made stuffing before, but was feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t spend Thanksgiving with my family due to the pandemic 🙁 & I came across your recipe. It sounded so good I had to try it, & I’m so glad I did! This was also my first time cooking with leeks (thanks for your extra guidance!) & they came out great. And the fresh herbs really made the dish sing! Now I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thanks so much for this one! It’s a WINNER!!!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.