Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe (2024)

By Eric Kim

Updated Nov. 1, 2023

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes
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This deeply savory, buttery sage stuffing builds layers of flavor with each step. First, whole sage leaves fry in melted butter for a pretty garnish that offers pleasurable crispy bits. The butter ends up browned, nutty and infused with the herb’s woodsy aroma, and helps chopped sage, fennel seeds, poultry seasoning and cayenne bloom for a fragrant blend that tastes like sausage. Milk in place of watery boxed stock means there’s a base of richness that only dairy can provide. The combination of white bread and cornbread results in a classic but amped-up Thanksgiving stuffing with textural integrity and a hint of sweetness to boot.

Featured in: I Cooked 20 Thanksgiving Stuffings to Create the Ultimate Recipe

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Learn: How to Make Stuffing

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Yield:6 to 8 servings

  • 8ounces crusty white bread, such as country loaf or sourdough, cut into ½-inch dice (about 6 cups)
  • 8ounces store-bought or homemade cornbread, cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • ½cup unsalted butter
  • 10fresh sage leaves, plus ⅓ cup coarsely chopped sage (¾ ounce)
  • 1tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1teaspoon salt-free poultry seasoning
  • ¼teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1large yellow onion, finely diced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2cups whole milk, plus more as needed

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

318 calories; 17 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 6 grams sugars; 8 grams protein; 386 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe (2)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread all the bread cubes on a large sheet pan and bake until brittle, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on the pan. (The cooled bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.) Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

  2. Step


    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip a wadded-up paper towel into the melted butter and grease a 1½- to 2-quart shallow baking dish or pan with it. Unwad the paper towel and line a plate with it. Add the whole sage leaves to the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until the speckled milk solids at the bottom of the pan start to brown and the sage leaves become crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the sage to the paper towel-lined plate.

  3. Step


    Add the chopped sage, fennel seeds, poultry seasoning and cayenne to the browned butter and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the celery and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and heat until steaming. Taste and add salt and pepper; the milk should be assertively seasoned.

  4. Step


    Transfer the toasted bread cubes to a large bowl. Pour the hot milk mixture over the bread and gently toss with two spoons until the bread is thoroughly soaked; add more milk if needed. Spread the stuffing in the buttered baking dish and cover with foil. Bake until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is crispy and a little darker in color, about 10 minutes. Scatter with the fried sage leaves and serve.



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Cooking Notes


Read the article first and learn why he uses milk and no eggs. I can just randomly spout my own dressing recipe (thanks mom!) OR I can try this one that was researched and developed.


Speaking from many years of ALWAYS making the dressing ahead of time... Bake to the "warmed through" step which will help set it, them let it cool and store in the fridge. The day of... let it come to room temp, put it in the oven for the warm through phase then uncover and crisp! I have never had this fail with ANY dressing/stuffing recipe and I rarely use the same recipe twice


To make a bit more homey-turkey parts (wings, necks) readily available at most markets can be made into a nice aromatic broth to sub out the milk. Add a small diced tart apple )Granny Smith keeps its firmness and a cup of dried cranberries/cherries add a fruity note. And a final glaze of melted butter crisps up the top.

M/R Cooper

I have been making stuffing/dressing from NYT and Gourmet/Epicurious for almost 30 years. Recently some of my family has stopped eating meat so chicken stock or cooking under the the turkey not allowed. Replacing with even homemade intensely flavored veg stocks just don’t make it. So happy to see this recipe with fennel seeds (to mimic sausage flavor) and milk instead of watery stock, and a combo of two breads along with serious herbs might just be the answer. Can’t wait to try.

Naptown Reader

Milk? Never heard of that, I've always used chicken stock or boullion. I also add in an egg. For onions, I like to do a mix of 2-3 onions, such as shallots, red onions, and leeks. I also add in a clove or two of garlic, and 8-10 bella or sh*take mushrooms, sauteed first.

Linda L

I hope the original article will eventually be linked to this. In the meantime, here's the rational for adding milk: "Custardy texture relies on hydration. Since most stuffing recipes today don’t actually make it into a bird, the drippings that once came from the turkey need to be replaced with added liquid. Unless you’re making a homemade turkey stock from scratch, skip store-bought stock, which tends to taste like water." He got the idea from other recipes that used cream.

Caroline S.

I replace celery with a bulb of fennel. More flavor, especially here where the author already calls for fennel seeds, and you are not left with 1,000 stalks of celery you aren’t going to use before the rot in the crisper ;)


Can this be made ahead? Perhaps through everything but last 10 minutes of uncovered - then do that before serving?


If you really want some amazing cornbread for this dressing, make the browned butter cornbread ( thanks, Melissa Clark) in NYT Cooking. And then make a second batch to serve at dinner. Your guests will love it. And use fresh fennel instead of celery, so subtle and with a touch of sweetness. I also add sweet Italian sausage to this. And to just go over the moon, chopped chestnuts, not too many. If you haven’t made your own rich broth, go with milk. Japanese milk bread cubed and toasted. Oh my.


Poultry Seasoning includes rosemary, oregano, ginger, marjoram, thyme and pepper


Could this be made a day in advance and be reheated?

Craig Rutenberg

My father made a terrific stuffing which he learned to make in the US Army during WW 2. The main starchy ingredient was… Wheaties! I imagine there weren’t a lot of white bread or cornbread loaves sitting about, waiting to be toasted in the oven, in The Philippine Islands back then. He also used celery, onion and giblets along with tinned stock. I wish I’d paid better attention 50 plus years ago. I’ve never gotten it to taste as delicious as his. Or maybe it’s just sentimental memories.


There are lots of things I like about this recipe, and I'm impressed that it only took Eric Kim 20 tries. I've been making turkey dressing at least twice a year for 54 years. I agree with cubing and crisping the bread and his herbs and spices are bang on, although my mother was from New Brunswick so I use summer savoury instead of sage. I make turkey stock, so I have turkey fat to use instead of butter. Nuts, dried fruit, chestnuts are all nice additions, but none is essential.


I grew up on Oyster Dressing prepared every Thanksgiving. My mother, the cook, always used milk as the liquid. Heaven.


I put my stuffing in the pan that goes underneath a roasting rack (greased), then I put my brined, air-dried overnight in the fridge, spatchco*cked turkey on the rack and let the juices permeate the stuffing. Wow!


I love this stuffing recipe! I have made it as stated and also gluten free and vegan. It's a winner every time it hits the table.

Debora Knopp

Disappointing. Not nearly as tasty as my usual with turkey stock and eggs.


The fennel seed was overpowering in my opinion. And I really like fennel!

Liz Par

Here's an idea: make the NYT Mississippi pot roast a few days before hand. Save the tallow and dripping. Then, fry the sage and onions in part beef fat part butter and right before everything hits the oven, mix in the dripping. YUM!


This recipe is absolutely perfect. I don’t change a thing. I made it last thanksgiving and this thanksgiving and both years it’s perfect. I want to start making this regularly I love it so much!!!!


Made this for our Friendsgiving feast yesterday and, Eric, it was DELICIOUS. Slammin’, even. Wonderfully sagey and the kick from the cayenne was right on point. I used sourdough and from-scratch cornbread, and since it was still a bit dry after adding the milk, I added some rich turkey stock I’d made and it was perfect. I loved this so much.


This is my new stuffing recipe. Excellent. Could use more sage flavor--hard to know just how savory the sage leaves will be...


Or maybe even 1/2 tsp


I have tried various stuffing recipes and this one was the best yet. Enjoyed by all. I doubled the recipe since we had a group of 16 and had plenty with a little leftovers. Wonderful!!


I made this with store bought corn bread and the corn bread was too sweet. If I make it again I need to make the corn bread so I can control the texture but Im still not sure I would love this recipe.

Judith Frangos

The real beauty of this recipe is the least-expected...because of the buttered baking dish, the bottom develops a wonderful crust...I did add in a couple of beaten eggs...I think I might even do an additional one next time. All in all...lives up to the hype.


This is the homemade stuffing recipe I have been looking for. I grew up eating boxed stuffing, so those flavors and textures are near and dear to my heart and is “stuffing” to me. I’ve tried numerous recipes on NYT, Bon Appetit, and Food Network, and this one is spot on. The biggest thing I love is it doesn’t have eggs. Other stuffings on here called for eggs, which is yummy but not what I was looking for. If you want to feel like you’re eating boxed stuffing with elevated flavor, this is it!


I made this stuffing for Thanksgiving this year because it is close to the one my southern mother used to make and it was a real hit. I made two changes because of that history - I don’t add the egg, and instead of milk I used a very rich turkey stock. (I enhance it by using one or two packages More Than Gourmet Roasted Chicken stock). This was the best stuffing I’ve made.


I’ve made this twice now—once in preparation for Thanksgiving and then again yesterday. I would highly recommend using a full bulb of fennel sliced in with the rest of the veg instead of the seed. Such a great flavor added! I found I needed about 1/2 cup more of milk since I used a full baguette and a fully prepared box of Trader Joe’s cornbread mix to make things easier. Did well being prepared a day ahead up to oven time and then baking the day of.

Emily B

Followed this recipe exactly and it was some of the best Thanksgiving stuffing I've ever made. Crispy sage was a nice touch.Lots of notes and suggestions in comments about how to adjust based on personal preferences, and some people balking at the milk, but just wanted to add that following this exactly without adjustments came out wonderfully.

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Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe (2024)


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