Is it stuffing? Or is it dressing? Whichever camp you’re in, chances are you’ll agree that it’s one of the most delicious sides on any Thanksgiving Day table (or for that matter, any table at all). Here, we give you 12 stuffing and dressing recipes that will make all your dinner guests call it nothing but “delicious.”
Dressing (or stuffing) is essentially seasoned starch, typically prepared with sausage, onions, celery and various seasonings. Naturally, the variations are endless. In some regions, cooks add dried fruit; others use cornbread, and still others use spices native to their heritage.
What you call it is determined mostly by where you live. Northerners eat stuffing — but south of the Mason-Dixon line, you’re in dressing country. (As the story goes, “dressing” happened when “stuffing” was deemed too uncouth-sounding to polite Southerners.)
Ingredients vary regionally, too. Northeastern and Great Lakes states often use oysters to lend a meaty, salty flavor that balances out the butter and bread in their stuffings. South Florida reflects its Hispanic and Caribbean influences with ingredients such as red bell peppers, corn, spicy chorizo and cornbread. In the southern U.S., stuffing is made with cornbread, sausage — and in Georgia, peaches! Of course, San Franciscans use sourdough bread, while Texans and Oklahomans work in giblets and hardboiled eggs. No matter where they hail from, most recipes incorporate savory and sweet. There’s no one way to make dressing or stuffing; it really just depends on what you like.
To stuff or not to stuff?
Traditionally, stuffing was cooked inside the bird; however, the USDA now recommends that stuffing be cooked separately from the bird to prevent salmonella contamination. If you must stuff your Thanksgiving turkey, simply let the casserole mixture cool after mixing it together in the pan. (You don’t want the stuffing hot when you put it into the poultry cavity.) Assemble the stuffing the day before; in fact, Sally swears this casserole improves in taste as it cools and the flavors blend.
Savory vegetable stuffing
Thanksgiving can be difficult for the non-meat eaters, so this meatless savory vegetable stuffing from Budget Bytes is an ideal option if you have vegetarians at your table. Mushrooms, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, vegetable broth, butter, parsley, thyme, sage, walnuts, salt and pepper make something wonderful out of day-old French bread. (If you’re serving vegans, use a butter-flavored substitute or olive oil in place of the butter.)
Sauté the mushrooms first to get all the excess moisture out. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and already you can tell this stuffing will be delicious. While the veggies are cooking, toast the walnuts in a separate pan for two to three minutes. (Be careful: They burn quickly.)
Once the vegetables are all sautéed, add the seasonings, butter and bread. Stir the mixture to distribute the butter evenly. Next, add the vegetable broth a half cup at a time and stir. The bread will soak up the broth, infusing all that delicious flavor into every morsel. The whole thing is then placed into a buttered casserole dish and baked covered for 30 minutes, and then uncovered and baked for 15 more minutes to brown and crisp up the top. When finished, you’ll have a toasty top layer and a well-seasoned, softened body, with a vegetable in every bite.
A lot of stuffings call for sausage at about $4 per pound, but, without meat, this recipe’s cost is very reasonable. Budget Bytes estimates the total price at $7.54 for eight servings; that’s only about $1 each.
Herbed sausage, cranberry and apple stuffing
This herbed sausage, cranberry and apple stuffing recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction has all the flavors a stuffing should have: toasty bread, hearty sausage and sweet apples. Cranberries, onion, celery and mushrooms round out the taste beautifully.
Sally recommends using whole-wheat French bread for a hearty, nutty flavor. Be sure to let the bread dry out (or toast it). Dry bread makes the best stuffing because it’s able to absorb the liquid from the vegetables, butter and broth.
The recipe starts like all stuffing recipes start: with the sautéeing of the veggies. Then thyme, sage and parsley (also known as the Thanksgiving trio) are added, followed by the sausage. For the apples, Sally likes to use one Granny Smith and one Fuji, Honeycrisp or Pinata, but any kind works. The apples are cooked down with the vegetables, herbs and sausage.
Add the bread and toss with the chicken broth and dried cranberries (if cranberries aren’t your thing, simply omit them). Transfer it into a casserole dish and pop it into the oven to bake at 350F for 40–45 minutes.
Old-fashioned bread and celery dressing
Spicy celery and toasted bread pair up in this appetizing old-fashioned bread and celery dressing from Palatable Pastime. Celery is the overlooked hero of most savory dishes. Don’t believe it? Try leaving it out. You’ll know it’s missing.
In this recipe, the celery gets a chance to shine. The onions and celery are sautéed until nice and soft, and then the usual herbs are added. Thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary complete the aroma profile and will make your kitchen smell amazing.
Next, add the cubed bread and mix with the broth and melted butter. Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake for 40–45 minutes at 325F. Uncover it and bake for another 15 minutes.
This is a great recipe to keep on hand when cooking a turkey breast. You can even pair this dressing with a roasted chicken for an easy weeknight meal.
Paleo butternut sausage stuffing with apples and cranberries
The most difficult part about following the paleo diet is the absence of bread. So how do you do stuffing without bread? Thanks to Paleo Running Momma, we have the answer in this paleo butternut sausage stuffing with apples and cranberries. Recipes as great as this one will help you stay strong, eat clean, and continue your healthy lifestyle.
The secret: butternut squash roasted in butter, ghee or oil. As the squash is roasting, crumble the sausage and cook along with the celery, onions, chopped apples and poultry seasoning. Once the squash has reached the desired doneness, add it to the pan, along with the dried cranberries. The final addition is a whisked egg, which helps the dressing stick together. Bake the dressing in a 350F oven for 30 minutes.
Simple Thanksgiving dressing
Sometimes, the traditional and simple are best, especially when the chaos of the holiday gets to be overwhelming. Make it easy on yourself and family this year and go with this tried and true, simple Thanksgiving dressing from Bon Appetit, a market leader in testing and refining recipes.
No fancy ingredients to procure for this one. It starts with day-old good-quality white bread, torn into bits, toasted and cooled. Melt butter in a saucepan, then add the onion, celery and typical Thanksgiving seasonings such as thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley. Once the veggies are nice and soft, add the seasonings and fold in the cooled bread along with the broth.
Stir in whisked eggs to help it bind, and then bake the dressing for 40 minutes at 350F.
You can make this dressing up to one day ahead of time, and it’s easy enough to throw together for dinnertime throughout the year. This dressing recipe will pair well with roasted chicken, roasted turkey breast, or even a pot roast.
It doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious. This dressing recipe gives all the flavor of a carefully crafted side dish, with the ease of everyday ingredients.
Want more? Check out these additional stuffing recipes: