My Mother’s Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe
My mother’s old fashioned thanksgiving dressing recipe is our family’s favorite side dish! We have always said that Ida had the best stuffing recipe. It was an old fashioned bread stuffing made with celery, onions, sage, butter and bread.
Although we have been tempted to make Southern cornbread dressing, now that we live in the South, my mom’s stuffing is a family tradition. It is a classic stuffing that has stood the test of time! We look forward to seeing it on the Thanksgiving dinner table.
My mother grew up in Western Kansas, during the depression and the Dust Bowl. Ida was the last girl of 12 children and I think that made our family what I would call scrappy, and resourceful! She knew what it meant to make every meal count. There was never a time when any part of a meal went to waste.
Ida was able to make a meal out of any ingredients to make any holiday meal special. She had the easiest, most delicious Thanksgiving stuffing recipe. Not only did she stuff the turkey with it, but she also made extra in a casserole dish. And the next day we would smother leftover stuffing and the Thanksgiving turkey with gravy.
Although we love to have this traditional stuffing on our Thanksgiving menu, in it is the perfect side dish served with roast chicken, roast turkey or any main dish.
The few simple ingredients you will need for this old fashioned Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe:
- Bread: The type of bread you use for this homemade stuffing recipe really does not matter. You can use wheat bread, white bread, french bread, sourdough bread or even gluten-free bread. We think the best bread to use should have a slight chew to it, and not too fluffy.
- Butter: For the richest, classic stuffing recipe, butter is a must! Use unsalted butter so that you can control the sodium content in the stuffing.
- Celery and Onions: This is the classic base for bread stuffing. Use yellow or white onions, not red or sweet onions when making stuffing.
- Chicken Stock: We like to use chicken stock vs chicken broth, as it gives it a richer flavor. You can use vegetable stock, or turkey broth as well.
- Seasonings: Fresh sage, salt and pepper are the seasonings we use. Be sure to look for fresh sage a week ahead of Thanksgiving, or you may not find it. You can use dried sage, but fresh just tastes so much better!
How To Make Bread Stuffing
Step One: Dry Out Bread
A key step to making the best stuffing is to allow the bread to dry out. We tear the bread into small pieces the day before and leave it out to dry. This is a fun job for the kiddos (or mother in law) to do!
Step Two: Saute Onions and Celery
When you are ready to prepare the stuffing, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add in the minced onion, diced celery, and minced sage. The smell of melted butter with onions and celery takes me back to my mother’s kitchen in Kansas.
Step Three: Combine
Once the onions and celery have softened in the butter, it is time to combine the vegetable mixture with the cups of bread. You can use a large mixing bowl to do this. If we are making a double or triple batch we use a large turkey pan to mix this up. We then add the mixture to a large casserole pan that has been lined with aluminum foil. This makes for easier clean up! We are all about that after a long Thanksgiving dinner!
Step Four: Bake
We have the turkey in the oven before we start the stuffing. We then add the stuffing, covered in foil to the oven, to bake along with the turkey. We remove the foil on the stuffing to allow it to get golden brown. The crispy edges are what everyone fights over!
What kind of bread should I use for stuffing?
We have used store bought sandwich bread for years in this recipe. Recently we used the home made wheat bread that Bruce makes. If you are using sourdough, do not let it dry out like you would for the softer bread. The first time I used sourdough, I let it dry out too long, and then I had to soak it for longer than usual! You can use almost any type of high-quality bread: unsliced French or Italian bread, sturdy sandwich loaf, brioche, challah, or even corn bread.
Should I prepare uncooked stuffing ahead of time and refrigerate?
The short answer is If stuffing is prepared ahead of time, it must be either frozen or cooked immediately. To use cooked stuffing later, cool in shallow container till it comes to room temperature and refrigerate it within 2 hours. Use it within 3 to 4 days. However, you can chop the celery and onions ahead of time, which will save you time. We tear up the white bread into smaller pieces the day before, and let it set out to dry.
My moms recipe doesn’t even have measurements for the most part. It is a little of this, a bit of that, and a whole lot of love. This stuffing recipe is our favorite thing on Thanksgiving day, coming out of the oven with crunchy corners, and a warm and tender middle. Drenched in gravy, or cold the next day on a turkey sandwich, our boys love it. We think you will too.
We miss Ida. She was the best cook.
She would have loved this recipe for Maple Bourbon Glazed Carrots and Pears!
- 2 loaves of day old bread torn into pieces
- 2 large yellow or white onions chopped
- 1 entire stalk of celery washed, and chopped
- 2 sticks of butter
- 32 oz roughly chicken stock
- Fresh Sage from garden or 2 packages of fresh sage from store, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- If using store bought white or wheat soft bread, tear apart night before and let sit out
- If using home made brioche or artisan bread, can cube the day you make, and set out in morningMelt butter slowly in a large pan
- Add in onion, and let cook at a low to medium heat for 5 minutes (slowly sweat, do not brown)
- Add in celery, and let sweat another 10 minutes or so-does not need to completely cook, as it will finish in the oven
- Pull mixture off of heat, and allow to cool slightly, but still warm
- Pour this warm mixture over the cubed or torn bread in a large bowl, or turkey pan
- Pour about half of the chicken broth over, and continue to mix gently (do not over mix)
- Continue to add the amount of broth until the stuffing is no longer dry, but not too sloppy. (Its a feel)
- Butter 2 containers, or for easy clean up, butter foil or parchment and put into pans, and divide stuffing
- Remove foil, and back another 15-30 minutes till crusty corners form
- Stuffing will need 45 minutes to an hour to cook in oven at 350 degrees
- Note that if you are cooking Turkey at 325, you can cook stuffing in the same oven, but it may need a bit longer
- Serve with gravy over the top
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Classic flavor, but hard with measurements.
Bruce and Dina Miller
I am sorry this is hard with the measurements. My mom always made this by feel, and I know we do not have an exact measurement amount of the celery and onions, and the bread. Did you give it a try, and adjust the amount of broth? What could we do to make it better?
Dina and Bruce