Thanksgiving Stuffing

Let's get one thing out of the way: Whether the dish we're discussing is called "stuffing" or "dressing," and whether those terms actually refer to the same dish or two different ones, is a topic of hot debate, but frankly, we don't care all that much. Here's what we do care about: a moist, savory, bread pudding–like dish, covered in crispy nubs on the outside and fluffy and custardy inside, studded with bits of meaty sausage and fragrant sage, chewy dried fruits, crunchy nuts, or any other seasonal add-ins that strike our fancy.

Let's get one thing out of the way: Whether the dish we're discussing is called "stuffing" or "dressing," and whether those terms actually refer to the same dish or two different ones, is a topic of hot debate, but frankly, we don't care all that much. Here's what we do care about: a moist, savory, bread pudding–like dish, covered in crispy nubs on the outside and fluffy and custardy inside, studded with bits of meaty sausage and fragrant sage, chewy dried fruits, crunchy nuts, or any other seasonal add-ins that strike our fancy.

Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing

The Only Stuffing Recipe You'll Ever Need
This tried-and-true recipe featuring aromatic sage and hearty sausage is easy to make your own by choosing a different type of bread. Though we prefer white breads for the rich, custard-like texture they lend to the stuffing, whole-grain breads will impart their own nutty flavor. Regardless of which you like, oven-dried bread is always a better option than stale bread if you want the best results.
Get the recipe for Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing

Vegan Stuffing With Mushrooms, Pecans, and Sage
Traditional stuffing recipes tend to be far from vegan-friendly—ours calls for butter, eggs, chicken broth, and sausage! But by swapping in plant-based ingredients that offer comparably savory flavors, you can indeed make a great stuffing that's 100-percent vegan. This recipe replaces the chicken stock with our hearty homemade vegetable stock and replicates the meatiness of sausage with earthy browned mushrooms. Toasted pecans do a good job of absorbing all the flavorful juices and help bulk up the stuffing's texture.
Get the recipe for Vegan Stuffing

Oyster Stuffing With Fennel, Tarragon, and Sausage
Oysters may be thought of as a luxury these days, but early New Englanders had more of them than they knew what to do with. That's how this dish came about hundreds of years ago, and though it's now a relative rarity, it's worth a revival: The brininess of the oysters boosts the savoriness of the stuffing without adding any obvious seafood-y flavor, much like a dash of fish sauce in a pot of French onion soup. We combine them and their liquor with cubes of toasted white bread, sausage, fragrant fennel and tarragon, aromatics, and stock for an out-of-the-ordinary stuffing that will surprise you in a good way.
Get the recipe for Oyster Stuffing

Cornbread Dressing With Sausage and Sage
If you're planning to make a cornbread-based stuffing this year, put aside your personal stance in the sweetened-versus-unsweetened battle and choose our Southern-style cornbread, which will give you the savory base you need. Here, we lightly toast the cornbread chunks before folding in sausage, fresh herbs, aromatics, and homemade chicken stock. For a more complex flavor profile, try other traditional mix-ins, like mushrooms or chestnuts.
Get the recipe for Cornbread Dressing

More Stuffing Recipes

More Stuffing FAQs

What's the difference between stuffing and dressing?
The difference partly comes down to where you're from. In some areas of the country, people call this savory bread side dish "stuffing" and in others "dressing." That said, the names themselves do signal a deeper difference. Stuffing implies it was stuffed inside the bird and cooked there. Dressing is vaguer but allows for the possibility that it was cooked in a separate vessel. No matter what you call it, we generally recommend cooking it on the side to reduce food-poisoning risk and improve your chances of cooking your bird perfectly (though there is a way to stuff your bird safely and end up with juicy meat).
Can stuffing be made ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare most stuffing recipes—sautéing aromatics, combining them with the bread, adding stock and eggs—just up the final baking step. Keep it refrigerated (you can have it pre-loaded into its baking dish), then transfer it to the oven to finish cooking when ready. Just one warning: Some baking dishes can shatter if they're exposed to too great of a thermal shock, such as going straight from the fridge into a hot oven; let the dish (if not its contents) come to room temp before setting it on a hot oven rack.
Is it safe to cook stuffing in the turkey?
It's safe to cook stuffing in the turkey, assuming you allow the stuffing to get hot enough (150 to 165°F). The problem is that, because the stuffing is in the center of the bird, by the time sufficient heat has penetrated the stuffing, the turkey surrounding it is almost always overcooked. Try to cook your bird perfectly, conversely, and your stuffing likely isn't hot enough to safely serve without sending guests on a prolonged bathroom break. You have a couple of choices: Cook the stuffing separately, or heat it up to 160°F before stuffing it into the bird, which should be sufficient to guarantee it remains hot enough without overcooking the turkey.
When is stuffing done?
Depends how you're cooking it. If you're baking it separately from the turkey, the stuffing is usually done when hot throughout and crispy in spots on top; if your recipe contains eggs and you're worried about salmonella, you can use an instant-read thermometer to confirm it has reached a safe internal temperature of at least 150°F. If you're cooking your stuffing inside your turkey, you're going to want to be more careful, since the raw turkey juices will contaminate the stuffing. In this case, you'll absolutely want to use a thermometer to check that the stuffing has reached at least 150°F in the center.
What kind of bread should I use for stuffing? Does it really need to be stale?
Many types of bread can work in a stuffing, whether white bread, cornbread, or something else. That said, we're partial to the simplicity of basic white sandwich bread, which is enough of a blank canvas to allow all the other flavors to shine, and it delivers a great final texture (some whole-grain breads are more rough, leading to a final texture we find less appealing). Your stuffing bread does not need to be stale, but it does need to be dry—there's an important distinction here, since stale and dry are not the same thing. When thoroughly dried out, your bread will be able to absorb more flavorful liquid (like stock), leading to a much more delicious final result. Read more in our article about how to make great stuffing.
What should I do if my stuffing is too wet or too dry?
If your stuffing is too wet, you can try to bake it longer in a low (roughly 300°F) oven, leaving it uncovered to allow excess moisture to evaporate. You could also try mixing in additional dried bread to soak up some of the extra moisture, though this may require other adjustments (more salt and seasonings, additional baking) to properly incorporate it into the batch. Dry stuffing can be moistened with a light sprinkling of additional stock until the desired texture is reached.