What would the holidays be without the traditional favorite, stuffing? This savory side dish is essential for your holiday gatherings. Some might even say that it's better than the turkey! Stuffing is commonly a mixture of bread, spices, herbs, and vegetables, and is typically used to fill an empty cavity of various meats, seafood or pie. When you think of the word stuffing, you probably associate it mostly with turkeys. Stuffing a turkey helps keep the turkey moist as well as give the stuffing some additional flavor. In this article, we're going to discuss various stuffings that can be enjoyed during this holiday season.

How To Make Homemade Stuffing

thanksgiving table setting

Note: Don't forget to tear a French baguette into roughly ¾-inch pieces, and let the bread portions air dry for a couple of days prior to preparing your stuffing!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large French baguette
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. After ripping up your French baguette and letting the pieces air dry, gather them up along with the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Wash and dry all produce. Halve, peel, and dice the onion. Finely chop celery. Pick and cut sage leaves until you have one tablespoon.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat (use large cast iron frying pan or any thick bottomed pot if you don't have one). Cook onion and celery until soft, 6-8 minutes. Season with poultry seasoning, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread pieces, until evenly coated. Slowly add chicken broth; mix well, about 30 seconds.
  4. Transfer bread mixture to a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Supplies

  • Dutch Oven or Thick Bottomed Pot
  • Casserole Dish

Recipe Notes

This traditional stuffing is delicious on its own however, you can add your own personal touches. Try incorporating some additional ingredients such as cranberries, walnuts, or sausage for some added flavor.

Variations Of Stuffing

There are many variations of this classic holiday side dish, as it is extremely versatile. A stuffing mixture can contain several different types of bread, meat, fruits, nuts, or vegetables. The following lists are some common add-ins to this tasty holiday tradition.

Bread

basket of assorted breads

Typically stuffing contains a starch, most commonly bread. The bread absorbs moisture and flavor in the mixture. It's important that the bread being used in a stuffing is dried prior to being baked. Drying bread prevents the stuffing from getting soggy, thus giving the stuffing a nice texture. Drying the bread can be done by either leaving the loaf out for a few days to become stale. Or, the bread can be cubed and put in the oven under low heat until dry. You may use an assortment of bread in your stuffing to experience different flavors.

  • French
  • challah
  • sourdough
  • pumpernickel
  • cornbread
  • Italian
  • ciabatta
  • white sandwich
  • potato
  • English muffins
  • bagels
  • whole wheat
  • whole grain
  • rye

Try one or several of these types of bread in your stuffing to create a wonderful layered flavor in your stuffing. Bread such as pumpernickel and rye will add a nice spicy kick to the flavor of the stuffing, but you could even use leftover hamburger and hot dog rolls in a really tight pinch.

Meat

sausage

If you want to make your stuffing more plentiful, adding some meat would be the way to go. Meat will only add to the savory flavors making this dish more delish. Meat adds an extra layer of flavor while creating a change in texture and enhanced flavor.

  • sausage
  • pancetta
  • kielbasa
  • giblets
  • oyster
  • proscuitto
  • chorizo
  • ham
  • crab
  • bacon
  • hamburger

Nuts

assorted nuts

Including a variety of nuts into your stuffing will add some crunchy texture and some sweet, nutty flavors. Garnishing the stuffing with nuts and then baking it, will create a sweet toasted flavor, whereas nuts incorporated into the mixture will have a raw taste.

  • pecan
  • chestnut
  • hazelnut
  • pistachio

Vegetables

basket of carrots and onions

Vegetables are bursting with flavor, and make a fantastic addition to stuffing! Vegetables are hearty, healthy and their flavors are absorbed into the stuffing mixture as it bakes. Onions and celery are commonly found in most holiday turkey stuffing recipes. Here are a few other vegetables that make a great addition to stuffing.

  • carrot
  • potato
  • mushroom
  • assorted squash
  • spinach
  • kale
  • leeks

Fruit

cranberries

Fruits are a lovely pairing to savory dishes, as they offer some refreshing sweet tangy flavors. The colors also provide a much more festive presentation.

  • apple
  • cranberry
  • apricot
  • tomato
  • pear

Make Your Stuffing Gluten-Free

bowl of rice

You don't always need bread to make a terrific stuffing, although there are gluten-free bread varieties available. Those following a gluten-free diet have a few options to make a delicious stuffing.

  • rice
  • polenta
  • chickpeas
  • gluten-free bread

Make Your Stuffing Vegan

spread of herbs on table

Vegans can enjoy a delicious stuffing as well by avoiding stuffings that have no animal by-products. It's tricky to find a pre-packaged stuffing in the store that is truly cruelty-free or doesn't require animal products to produce. It's often best to prepare stuffing from scratch so you're aware of what's inside. The following list will help create a flavorful base for a vegan stuffing.

  • vegan butter
  • olive oil
  • vegetable broth
  • various fresh herbs

Four Scrumptious Thanksgiving Stuffings

1. Apple, Walnut and Cranberry Stuffing

apple walnut cranberry stuffing

This festive stuffing incorporates both sweet and tart flavors from both the apples and cranberries along with a lovely crunchy texture from the walnuts. This apple, walnut, and cranberry stuffing is perfect for the holidays.

2. The Best Vegan Stuffing Recipe Ever

vegan stuffing

This stuffing is totally vegan! Swap out the chicken broth for some vegetable broth and dairy butter for some vegan butter, and you're all set. This stuffing is also jam-packed with some amazing herbs that give it some tremendous flavor! No wonder it's called thebest vegan stuffing ever!

3. Polenta And Sausage Stuffing

polenta stuffing

Polenta is a wonderfully delicious alternative to bread for those following a gluten-free diet. This polenta and sausage stuffing is simply irresistible with its unique textures, and rich flavors. Half of the polenta is cubed and the other half creamy, tossed in Parmigiano-Reggiano and savory sausage. This may be better than the turkey!

4. Pear, Prosciutto & Hazelnut Stuffing

pear, prosciutto and hazelnut stuffing

This pear, prosciutto, and hazelnut stuffing is both elegant and heavenly with its luscious flavor. This dish will be a stunning addition to your holiday table, as it will surely delight all your guests.

Stuffing is a must-have side dish at every Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering, no questions asked. The variations of stuffing seem endless because every family has their own unique way to make stuffing. Use the guide above to create a new holiday favorite in your family and let us know how it turns out.

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