Thanksgiving stuffing recipes are some of the most versatile dishes you can add to your holiday menu. Whether you like a traditional stuffing with mirepoix and bread cubes or you’re looking for something a little more unusual, there are dozens of unique options to choose from.
Check out the guide below for an overview of forty great stuffing recipes and useful tips on how to make it the best dish on the Thanksgiving table.
What Is the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing for Thanksgiving?
From a recipe perspective, there is no real difference between stuffing and dressing. The only difference between the two is in the cooking and serving methods used.
In dressing, the recipe is cooked and served in a container separate from the roasted meat, usually a casserole dish. Stuffing is served directly inside roasted meat, fish, or poultry.
For the purposes of this recipe collection, the words stuffing and dressing are used interchangeably. All dressing recipes can be used as Thanksgiving stuffing if they’re served inside the bird after cooking.
Best Breads to Use for Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes
The main ingredient in most stuffings and dressings is some type of bread. This bread acts as a binder and helps hold together wet ingredients such as stock and diced vegetables in a loaf-like form.
- Sourdough: Sourdough bread is a type of bread that is baked and fermented with wild yeast and lactic acid in the form of a sourdough starter. This gives sourdough better keeping qualities and a better texture in stuffing after it’s allowed to go stale.
- Brioche: Brioche bread is a French style of bread that contains large amounts of egg and butter. This makes brioche a particularly tender and flavorful bread to use in stuffing.
- Cornbread: Cornbread is a quick bread made of cornmeal mixed with eggs, milk, salt, and baking soda. Cornbread stuffing is a popular regional choice in the Southern United States for Thanksgiving.
- White bread: White bread is the most basic type of bread used in stuffings and dressings, but it works just as well as more complicated bread styles. Either homemade or store-bought white bread can be used for stuffing.
- Challah: Challah is a Jewish style of bread that is similar to brioche, with a tender crumb and a high volume of eggs and butter in its dough. Challah is known for its distinctive braided appearance.
There are several different styles of stuffing, and some types of bread taste better with certain secondary ingredients than others. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference on how tender you want your stuffing and what ingredients you intend to include.
Ways to Add Flavor to Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes
Some people claim to not like the Thanksgiving stuff, and this is often the result of having bland or poorly prepared Thanksgiving stuffing in the past. Thankfully, there are a few ingredients you can use to add more flavor to your stuffing and improve the overall texture:
Using stock instead of water can create additional savory flavor in your stuffing and keep it from drying out. Since chicken stock can be salty, either use unsalted chicken stock or adjust salt levels in the rest of your stuffing recipe if you substitute stock for the water.
Dried fruit like raisins and cranberries can add pops of sweetness and toothsome texture to a Thanksgiving stuffing. These sweet bits also help cut the rich salt and butter in the rest of the recipe.
While many stuffing and dressing recipes call for dried herbs, chopping up fresh herbs for stuffing can add some much-needed fresh flavor and color to your stuffing mix.
Fennel sausage is a popular addition to Thanksgiving stuffing since the slightly sweet licorice flavor of the fennel pairs nicely with the other herbs traditionally used in roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, such as sage.
Oysters might seem like an unusual addition to stuffing, but these savory bits of meat can help keep stuffing from drying out and add a complexity of flavor to an otherwise boring dish.
A major complaint with many stuffings is that they are too wet or soft. Adding roasted walnuts, pecans, or other nuts can help give stuffing some texture and gives the flavor of the stuffing a wonderful nutty quality.
A little goes a long way in Thanksgiving stuffing, but adding fried chopped bacon to stuffing can improve its texture, keep the stuffing moist, and complement the flavor of the turkey.
The add-ins you choose for your stuffing to improve its flavor are largely determined by the style of stuffing you’re making.
40 Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes
1. Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing
If you’re looking for a classic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, look no further than this stuffing at Small Town Woman. It contains traditional stuffing ingredients like diced apple, garlic, celery, and pork sausage.
2. Leek and Mushroom Stuffing
You can greatly alter the flavor of your stuffing depending on which ingredients you add in along with the bread. The leek and mushroom stuffing from Two of a Kind Cooks combines leeks, cremini mushrooms, cheese, and eggs for a savory stuffing that is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
3. Cranberry-Pecan Bread and Cornbread Dressing
Dried berries and nuts are popular symbols of the fall season, and they’re a festive addition to this cornbread dressing at Taste of Lime. Along with making a great side for Thanksgiving, this dressing makes a good side dish for pork and chicken-based meals during the week.
4. Buttermilk Cornbread Dressing with Italian Sausage
Italian sausage with fennel and other herbs adds a ton of flavor to stuffing and dressing recipes. The buttermilk cornbread dressing at The Brook Cook combines Italian sausage with other classic dressing ingredients like fresh herbs, yellow onion, and garlic.
5. Brioche Stuffing
The brioche stuffing recipe from Kitchen Skip is a vegetarian one, so it’s a good option if you’re serving your Thanksgiving stuffing alongside a vegetarian entree like tofurkey or lentil loaf. The brioche gives this recipe a slightly sweet flavor compared to other stuffings.
6. Fennel and Fresh Herb Stuffing with Chestnuts
The fennel and fresh herb stuffing at Floating Kitchen has something for everyone – sweet apricots, roasted chestnuts, spicy fennel, and fresh chopped herbs. The secret ingredient to this stuffing recipe is the mashed potatoes that help hold everything together.
7. Thanksgiving Stuffing with Fruit
For a thanksgiving stuffing recipe that’s a little less traditional, try this fruit-studded version from Maple Wood Road. The recipe combines store-bought dried stuffing mix with fresh cranberries, raisins, apples, and orange zest for a stuffing that is both sweet and savory.
8. Family Favorite Oat Stuffing
Most stuffing recipes include some kind of bread, but this stuffing from Nicole’s Tasting Spoon uses oats as a base instead. Similar to the Scottish dish skirlie, this stuffing is flavored with herbs and uses a ton of butter to add flavor and richness.
9. Apple Sausage Stuffing
Apple and sausage-based stuffings are considered classic for a reason – if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This version of traditional Thanksgiving stuffing at The Healthy Epicurean includes whole grain bread to try and make the stuffing a little more nutritious than the traditional kind.
10. Cornbread Chestnut Stuffing
Making cornbread stuffing is one of the easiest ways to increase the flavor of your Thanksgiving stuffing since the fresh cornbread gives it a more homemade vibe than using store-bought mixes.
The cornbread chestnut stuffing from Running to the Kitchen includes roasted chestnuts along with other classic Thanksgiving stuffing ingredients like fennel, rosemary, sage, and cranberries.
11. Classic Stuffing
The Thanksgiving stuffing recipe at Herbs and Flour is conventional in most of its ingredients except one. Instead of using celery, a vegetable traditionally diced into Thanksgiving stuffing, this version uses fresh peppers instead. The peppers give the stuffing a unique flavor you won’t find in most other recipes.
12. Cornbread Stuffing with Skillet Cornbread
Homemade skillet cornbread is the key ingredient to this cornbread stuffing recipe at Pinch and Swirl. It adds a savory, buttery element to the stuffing that boxed cornbread mix doesn’t have. Adding homemade turkey broth and fresh thyme can take this stuffing to the next level, too.
13. Walnut Cranberry Dressing
Walnuts and cranberries can help add sweetness and a crunchy texture to stuffing, helping offset the savory and salty flavors of the bread and butter. The stuffing from What Steve Eats combines these classic ingredients with other more savory add-ins such as celery, carrots, and onions.
14. Keto Sausage Stuffing
Eating a low-carb diet can be hard any time of year, but especially around Thanksgiving. Thankfully, this keto-based sausage stuffing at Stylish Cravings is designed to satisfy your stuffing cravings while it keeps your carb intake low.
15. Best Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing
Even though the Thanksgiving turkey is supposed to be the highlight of the holiday, traditional stuffing often ends up stealing the show. That’ll surely be the case if you serve this classic stuffing recipe from The Gracious Wife.
16. The Best AIP Thanksgiving Stuffing
AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol, and AIP recipes are designed to help reduce inflammation and other dietary triggers that can aggravate autoimmune diseases. The Thanksgiving stuffing at Hurried Healthnut combines traditional stuffing flavors with gluten-free and nutritious ingredients for a stuffing that is both delicious and healthy.
17. Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
Here’s another old-fashioned bread stuffing recipe from Chisel and Fork that combines classic ingredients in a casserole that will please all your guests. The stuffing combines stock, mirepoix, sausage, fresh herbs, and bread cubes for a side dish that is sure to satisfy.
18. Overnight Sausage and Sage Stuffing
Trying to get all of your Thanksgiving side dishes baked alongside the Thanksgiving turkey can be a hassle with only one oven. The stuffing at Inquiring Chef is assembled the night before so that the bread has plenty of time to absorb the liquid, giving it a delightful custardy texture when it is cooked the next day.
19. Browned Butter Mushroom Stuffing
Mushrooms are often included as secondary ingredients in stuffing, but this recipe from Bittersweet is unique because it uses dried shiitake mushrooms rather than fresh ones. This gives the mushrooms a more concentrated flavor to help cut through the richness of the brown butter and tangy sourdough.
20. Vegan Cornbread Stuffing
Just because you’re serving a vegan feast for Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that you have to skip the stuffing. Check out The Daily Dish for a vegan cornbread stuffing version that will be just as flavorful as any stuffing with eggs, butter, milk, and meat.
21. Broccoli and Stuffing Casserole
What’s better than Thanksgiving stuffing? Thanksgiving stuffing that has been combined with another Thanksgiving fan favorite, broccoli casserole. The broccoli and stuffing casserole at The Kitchen Is My Playground contains traditional stuffing ingredients with a creamy broccoli filling that will disappear from the table in a hurry.
22. Savory Sausage Bread Pudding with Roasted Butternut
Roasted butternut squash is a somewhat unusual ingredient for Thanksgiving stuffing, but it’s a welcome one in this version from Not Entirely Average. The stuffing combines classic stuffing ingredients like a sausage with more unique add-ins like roasted butternut squash, eggs, cheese, and sausage for a stuffing that has a creamy custard texture not shared by other recipes.
23. Memere’s Meat Stuffing
The French-Canadian meat stuffing at New England Today might be the most unusual Thanksgiving stuffing on this list. Instead of traditional stuffing ingredients like bread cubes and winter herbs, this version contains hamburger, potatoes, cinnamon, and cloves.
24. Stuffing Balls with Cranberry, Chestnut, and Sage
Rolling Thanksgiving stuffing into balls before cooking makes stuffing much easier to serve and store ahead. Try these stuffing balls at Lost in Food that contains sausage, chestnuts, and fresh herbs like sage. The stuffing balls can be frozen ahead to serve later and are great served with a cranberry dipping sauce.
25. Easy Sourdough Stuffing
You can make homemade sourdough bread for this sourdough stuffing at Randa Nutrition, but store-bought sourdough bread will work just as well in a pinch. Combine the bread cubes with herbs, sausage, and chicken stock for a recipe that is easily customized to your preferences.
26. Spinach and Artichoke Bread Pudding
Looking for a slightly different twist on the same old bread and mirepoix mixture that you usually use in your Thanksgiving stuffing? Check out this spin-off from Tastes Spicy that combines bread cubes with more unique ingredients like spinach and artichokes for a savory stuffing that will serve as a delicious surprise for your guests.
27. Caramelized Onion and Hawaiian Sweet Bread Stuffing
Even though it isn’t a bread type that is traditionally used in Thanksgiving stuffing, Hawaiian sweet bread can provide a balanced counterpoint to more savory Thanksgiving dishes and ingredients. Adding caramelized onions takes this sweet factor up a notch. Get the recipe at Homemade Haley.
28. Quick Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage and Cranberry
Here’s another sourdough stuffing recipe at Straight to the Hips Baby that uses classic ingredients like cranberries and turkey sausage. Fresh herbs and chicken or turkey stock help heighten the flavors in the stuffing and keep it moist during cooking.
29. Vegetarian Apple Stuffing
With so many Thanksgiving stuffing recipes that contain sausage, vegetarian stuffing recipes can be few and far between. The recipe at Throwdown Kitchen is a variation on Ina Garten’s traditional apple-and-sausage stuffing recipes but substitutes raisins for the sausage.
30. Cauliflower Stuffing with Crispy Topping
Cauliflower is another unusual Thanksgiving stuffing ingredient that can help you shake things up at the buffet table. Try this version at Everyday Healthy Recipes and top it off with a layer of panko bread crumbs for a crispy side dish so delicious you won’t miss the bread cubes.
31. Easy Whole Wheat Stuffing
Wheat bread is a healthy food to keep around the house, but the heels of wheat bread can go stale quickly compared to other varieties. Save these stale bread heels and leftover bread slices in the freezer until you have enough to make this whole wheat stuffing recipe at Never Any Thyme for a healthier version of more classic stuffing recipes.
32. Easy Homemade Stuffing
The sourdough stuffing recipe at Lemons for Lulu only contains seven ingredients, making it a snap to throw together for your Thanksgiving gathering. An advantage of this recipe is that it’s easy to adjust the levels of individual ingredients to suit your preferences without messing up the final result.
33. Cornbread-Inspired Dressing
Coming up with a gluten-free recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing can be a challenge since most stuffing recipes depend heavily on bread for their mouthfeel and flavor. Try this recipe at Sugar Face Bakes for gluten-free stuffing that combines classic stuffing ingredients like mushrooms, celery, and onions with more unusual add-ins like everything bagel seasoning and almond flour.
34. Apple Sage Stuffing
Sometimes going with a sweeter stuffing recipe can help tone down the savory and rich flavors in other Thanksgiving side dishes. The stuffing version from Seasoned Sprinkles is unusual because it includes diced green apples for pops of tart, bright flavor.
35. Spicy Cajun Cornbread Dressing
Tired of the same old stuffing? Spice things up with this spicy Cajun version at Went There 8 This. Instead of traditional stuffing ingredients like celery and apples, this recipe uses Cajun ingredients like andouille sausage, baked shrimp, and red bell pepper.
36. Focaccia and Bacon Stuffing
Focaccia is not one of the more popular bread types used for Thanksgiving stuffing, but it works well in this recipe at Inquiring Chef. The olive oil-based bread is combined with crispy bacon and aromatic herbs for a decadent dish that will get people talking.
37. Instant Pot Wild Rice Pilaf Stuffing
An Instant Pot can make your Thanksgiving preparations much easier since it frees up an extra slot on the stovetop or in the oven. The stuffing recipe from Profusion Curry combines wild rice with fresh fruits like apples, oranges, and pomegranates for a dish that is as beautiful as it is delicious.
38. Southwest Cornbread Dressing
Here’s another regional variation on Thanksgiving stuffing, this time from the American Southwest. The cornbread-based recipe at The Seasonal Junkie combines homemade buttermilk cornbread with Southwestern ingredients like poblano peppers, anaheim peppers, corn, and green chile sauce.
39. Seafood Dressing
Seafood-based dishes can be a much-needed break at Thanksgiving for people who aren’t fans of turkey and sausage. The seafood stuffing from Grandbaby Cakes adds seafood stock, fresh shrimp, and lump crab meat to a cornbread base for a rich coastal variation on traditional stuffing.
40. Chinese Sausage Stuffing
Sausage is a common ingredient in Thanksgiving stuffing recipes, but the Chinese sausage in this stuffing at Cooking Therapy uses Chinese sausage for an unusual Asian twist on the classic. The recipe uses lap cheong, a hard-cured sausage with a salty, savory flavor.
How to Make Stuffing for Thanksgiving
No matter which Thanksgiving stuffing recipe you end up going with, the basic method for building a Thanksgiving stuffing is pretty much the same.
Step 1. Prepare the bread
The bulk of most stuffings is created by the bread. Chop stale bread slices into one-inch cubes. (Note: Fresh bread will not work correctly for most stuffing recipes, so be sure to purchase bread ahead of time.)
Step 2. Prepare the add-ins
Once the bread is prepared, the next step in making stuffing is to prepare the add-ins. These include any diced vegetables like celery as well as other flavorful additions like mushrooms, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh herbs. After these ingredients are prepared, they should be mixed in with the bread cubes.
Step 3. Add stock or other liquid
After the bulk of the stuffing is prepared, water or stock is poured over the mixture and stirred in before it is patted down into a casserole dish. (Note: For food safety, stuffing should be cooked separately before being served in the Thanksgiving turkey rather than baked in the turkey itself.)
Step 4. Cook/bake the stuffing
Stuffing should be baked until the top is golden brown and the liquid in the stuffing has been absorbed by the bread. After baking, stuffing can be served directly from the casserole dish or scooped into the waiting Thanksgiving turkey for presentation.
Each stuffing recipe will have slightly different directions with regard to the amount of liquid used and the cooking time. But if you’re trying to come up with a customized stuffing recipe, following the steps above should give you a decent result regardless of which recipe you choose to work from.
Tips for a Successful Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
Thanksgiving stuffing is one of the most simple dishes you can make for the holiday, but that doesn’t mean that it’s foolproof. Follow these tips to get the most out of your Thanksgiving stuffing recipe:
1. Use fresh herbs and high-quality ingredients
You’ll definitely be able to tell the difference in depth of flavor when you put together a homemade stuffing with fresh herbs and high-quality ingredients versus a commercial boxed stuffing recipe.
2. Don’t use fresh bread
While you want to use fresh herbs and secondary ingredients for stuffing, the one thing you shouldn’t include fresh is the bread. Fresh bread has too much moisture and will prevent the stuffing from achieving the texture you want.
3. Use a fennel-based sausage
Fennel-based sausage is a useful way to add flavor to the stuffing without adding a bunch of additional moisture in the form of vegetables or fruits. The fat from the sausage can also help the stuffing hold together more easily.
4. Stuff the turkey at the end
It isn’t recommended to cook stuffing directly inside the Thanksgiving turkey because it can prevent the interior of the turkey from achieving a safe cooking temperature. This can leave the interior of the turkey raw even if the exterior is cooked through.
5. Add celery leaves as well as the stalks
While most people dice celery to add to their stuffing, adding the washed leaves as well after chopping can help increase the amount of celery flavor.
The number one tip for a good Thanksgiving stuffing is to find a reputable recipe and stick to it. Adjusting the measurements for liquid or making changes to the type of bread used can throw off your entire stuffing if you don’t plan ahead.
If you want to make changes to an established stuffing recipe, it’s a good idea to test it ahead of the holiday to make sure it’ll turn out.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes FAQ
Is Stuffing Healthy?
In general, Thanksgiving stuffing is not considered a healthy food. Most stuffings are very high in fat, calories, and sodium due to the amount of salt and butter they contain. Stuffing can be made healthier by including ingredients like fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit.
How Much Stuffing Per Person for Thanksgiving?
It’s recommended that you prepare at least three-fourths of a cup of stuffing for each person at your Thanksgiving table, or up to a cup if you’re not serving a bunch of other side dishes. In buffet-style Thanksgiving dinners with multiple sides, most people will only serve themselves a little scoop of stuffing, so you won’t need a large portion of it per person.
Can You Make Stuffing the Day Before Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving stuffing is one of the easiest side dishes to make ahead of Thanksgiving. Not only can it be prepared the day before, but you can also even make stuffing weeks or months in advance and thaw it to serve on the holiday. This helps streamline more immediate cooking activities on the day of and helps free up the oven and stove top for other duties.
Can You Freeze Thanksgiving Stuffing?
Thanksgiving stuffing can be saved in the freezer for up to three months in advance. In general, it’s best to freeze stuffing before cooking to avoid the stuffing drying out. Freeze it in small portions rather than as a large casserole, then heat it back up at 325 degrees.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes are a Must for Holiday Feasts
The holidays wouldn’t be quite the same unless you have some kind of stuffing or dressing on the table, traditional or otherwise. Hopefully, the Thanksgiving stuffing recipes above should give you plenty of options for great stuffing, regardless of your flavor preferences.