How to Make the Best Homemade 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bacon, pancetta or prosciutto, cooked
Dried fruit, chopped if large
Nuts, toasted, chopped
Oysters, raw, halved
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.
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.
Vegetables: Leeks, Fennel, Butternut Squash
Seasoning: Parsley, Thyme
Liquid: Seafood Broth
Bread: Seeded Rye
Vegetables/Fruit: Onions, Apples
Liquid: Chicken Broth
Indulgence: Gruyère, Sauerkraut
Vegetables: Leeks, Mushrooms
Seasoning: Parsley, Rosemary
Liquid: Mushroom Broth
Indulgence: Pecans, Pancetta
Vegetables: Onions, Brussels Sprouts
Liquid: Chicken Broth
Indulgence: Bacon, Dried Cranberries
Vegetables: Onions, Celery, Chestnuts
Liquid: Turkey Broth
Indulgence: Turkey Sausage
Related: More Easy Stuffing Recipes