Making your own homemade stuffing is easy with our master recipe and simple step-by-step instructions. Use our flavor ideas to mix & match your own version.

Stacy Fraser
Updated November 28, 2019
Squash & Oyster Stuffing

Save room for this! Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, there’s more than one way to make it better. Our master recipe helps you make a lightened-up version of this must-have holiday side.

Related: 4 Mistakes That Ruin Stuffing (and How to Fix Them)

1. Start With Dry (Not Stale) Bread

Dry bread (almost as dry as croutons) absorbs liquid and seasoning better than fresh (or even stale). To dry out your bread: Spread 10 cups 1/2- to 1-inch bread cubes (from 1-1 1/2 pounds) on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 275°F until dry to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let cool; transfer to a large bowl.

Breads:

Challah

Cornbread

French

Italian

Multigrain

Pumpernickel

Rye

Sourdough

Whole-wheat

2. Load Up On Veg Or Fruit

A base of sautéed vegetables makes the best stuffing: Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups chopped onions (or leeks) and 2 cups chopped vegetables and/or fruit; cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add 2 minced cloves garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Vegetables/Fruits:

Apples

Brussels sprouts

Celery

Chestnuts

Fennel

Mushrooms

Pears

Shallots

Winter squash

3. Bring On The Seasoning

Once your flavor base is ready, it’s time add a layer of seasoning from fresh (or dried) herbs and a touch of decadence with a little butter: Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (or 4 tsp. dried) to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more. Scrape the mixture on top of the bread. Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in the hot pan, scraping up any browned bits. Scrape that into the bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Herbs:

Marjoram

Parsley

Rosemary

Sage

Savory

Thyme

4. Make It Moist … Or Not

Pour on some broth to moisten it all up—how much you use depends on how you like your stuffing. If you’re a super-moist-stuffing lover, go for 3 cups broth. If you like your stuffing a little bit squishy and a little bit crispy, stick to about 2 cups broth. Either way, use low-sodium broth (or homemade stock) so the stuffing’s not too salty.

Broths:

Chicken

Turkey

Mushroom

Vegetable

Seafood

5. Add A Little Indulgence

Sprinkle in just enough extra-special ingredients to flavor the stuffing without tipping the calories overboard—about 1 cup total does the job nicely. Gently stir until the bread is evenly soaked with the broth and the ingredients are well distributed.

Special bits:

Bacon, pancetta or prosciutto, cooked

Cheese, shredded

Dried fruit, chopped if large

Nuts, toasted, chopped

Oysters, raw, halved

Sauerkraut, chopped

Sausage, cooked, crumbled

6. Bake It Just Right

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; transfer the stuffing to the pan. Coat one side of a piece of foil with cooking spray; cover the stuffing, sprayed-side down. Place in a 350°F oven. If you’re the extra-moist-stuffing type, bake covered for 50 minutes. If you like some crispy bits on top, bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake about 20 minutes more.

Sausage-Chestnut Stuffing

Mix-and-Match Stuffing Ideas

These five recipes had us coming back for seconds, but to truly make it your own, mix-and-match your favorites at each step.

Squash & Oyster Stuffing

Bread: Sourdough

Vegetables: Leeks, Fennel, Butternut Squash

Seasoning: Parsley, Thyme

Liquid: Seafood Broth

Indulgence: Oysters

Apple-Sauerkraut Stuffing

Bread: Seeded Rye

Vegetables/Fruit: Onions, Apples

Seasoning: Parsley

Liquid: Chicken Broth

Indulgence: Gruyère, Sauerkraut

Mushroom-Cornbread Stuffing

Bread: Cornbread

Vegetables: Leeks, Mushrooms

Seasoning: Parsley, Rosemary

Liquid: Mushroom Broth

Indulgence: Pecans, Pancetta

Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Stuffing

Bread: Challah

Vegetables: Onions, Brussels Sprouts

Seasoning: Sage

Liquid: Chicken Broth

Indulgence: Bacon, Dried Cranberries

Sausage-Chestnut Stuffing

Bread: Whole-Wheat

Vegetables: Onions, Celery, Chestnuts

Seasoning: Sage

Liquid: Turkey Broth

Indulgence: Turkey Sausage

Related: More Easy Stuffing Recipes

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