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Oven Baked Stuffing – An Easy Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe

One of the most popular side dish recipes served at Thanksgiving is oven baked stuffing. Whether you choose to stuff your turkey with the popular bread dressing or roast it in a pan all by itself, you can be sure that on dinner tables across the country some version of this side dish will find a place.

And after eating a helping on Thanksgiving and indulging in leftovers for the next day or two I always wonder why I don’t make it more often. It is an easy side dish recipe to make and the warm and hearty flavors would be welcome addition at any Fall or Winter meal.

Although I also realize that maybe it is special because I only make it once or twice a year. Regardless, every November I look forward to tasting the warm flavored bread cubes that have been cooked with earthy tasting herbs and broth.

oven baked stuffing
Homemade stuffing ready for Thanksgiving dinner. A simple and easy to make side dish recipe.

There is no mistaking the flavor of classic bread stuffing. The flavor of sage and thyme take center stage in every bite.

However, not all stuffing recipes are created equal. In fact there are many types of stuffing recipes and everyone seems to have their own preferred version.

However before we get into the possible recipe variations I must first clarify the difference between the terms stuffing and dressing. Although in common day dialogue both terms are often used interchangeably there is technically a difference between the two.

What Is The Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing

Both oven baked stuffing and dressing are made with bread cubes being tossed with various herbs and broth. However it is the cooking method that separates the two by definition.

As the name implies, stuffing is made by placing the herb flavored bread cubes inside the cavity of a bird, most often times a turkey. The drippings from the poultry flavors the bread as it cooks.

However, it is very difficult to get the turkey and the stuffing to cook and be safe to eat at the same rate. The turkey meat will cook faster than the juices that have soaked the stuffing inside the cavity.

Therefore, the USDA recommends to not make stuffing inside your Thanksgiving turkey. Instead, they suggest making dressing instead.

Dressing is made with the same ingredients as stuffing. However, instead of shoving it inside the cavity of a turkey, it is cooked in a casserole dish.

This eliminates the worry that the popular Thanksgiving side dish recipe has a chance to harbor salmonella. However, because many people refer to it as stuffing, and not dressing, I also use the terms interchangeably.

bread cubes
I use standard white bread to make stuffing. This is an easy and economical recipe when feeding a crowd.

Different Recipe Variations of Stuffing

No matter what you call this side dish, there are also various ingredients that can be used. My favorite recipe is included below which includes the standard ingredients of white bread, onions, celery, herbs and broth.

This is what I would call a standard Mid-western recipe. However, depending on where you live, you may use other ingredients to flavor your oven baked stuffing.

1. Cornbread

If you live in the southern portion of the United States, cornbread is often used instead of white bread. This was a great way to use cornbread leftovers and turn it into a delicious dish.

When hosting Thanksgiving for my extended family I will make Slow Cooker Cornbread Dressing in addition to my classic stuffing recipe.

This way everyone gets a taste of their own classic, homemade comfort food recipe.

2. Sausage

On your search for the best dressing recipe, you may notice that many include sausage as one of the ingredients. The flavor of the sausage compliments the other ingredients and adds a bit of substance and texture.

However, when making dressing for Thanksgiving I prefer to let the turkey be the star protein. Then I serve it alongside, not in the actual stuffing.

Although when making a stand alone, one pan meal, I will add sausage to my standard dressing recipe to make it a complete meal.

celery and onion
The classic recipe starts with sautéing onions and celery. If using mushrooms add them at this time.

3. Oysters

If you live on the coast, oysters are commonly used to flavor oven baked stuffing. The salty flavor adds a unique twist to the classic side dish.

However be sure to limit the amount of additional salt that you add to the recipe. Otherwise you may end up with stuffing that is too salty for your guests.

4. Cranberries and Apples

To add a little bit of crunchy flavor, sometimes cranberries or apples are added to the bread mixture. Not only do they provide texture, they also add a little tartness and sweetness.

Both are easily found during the Fall. And it is a good way to use up any extra that you may have on hand.

5. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are another ingredient that is commonly found in Thanksgiving dressing recipes. They get sautéed with the onions and celery and are barely visible when cooked.

They add a warm and earthy flavor that pairs well with the sage and thyme found in traditional recipes.

I am sure there are several more ways that you can enhance both the flavor and texture of your Thanksgiving stuffing, but I find that the recipe below is my standard go-to recipe.

bread and herbs
The flavor behind oven baked stuffing is poultry seasoning and sage. You can add more or less to your liking.

Oven Baked Stuffing Recipe

*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅔ cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cups bread cubes*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth

*It is best to use day old (or stale) bread. I will tear or cut the bread into small cubes and place them in a large bowl or spread them on large baking sheets.

Then let them air dry overnight so that they become a little crisp. Or you could put them in the oven to bake and lightly dry them out before adding them to the stuffing recipe.

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Then spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat add the butter. Once melted add the diced onion, diced celery and poultry seasoning and stir.

Cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to get tender about 5-6 minutes.

Place the air dry bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the onion and celery mixture, fresh parsley and sage. 

Slowly pour 3 cups of chicken broth over the bread cubes, gently tossing as you pour. Add more broth, a little at a time until the bread is moist, but not soaked.

moist bread for oven baked stuffing
The key is to get the bread crumbs moist but not soaked. Then you will have the perfect texture once it comes out of the oven.

You may not need the entire 4 cups of broth. Once the bread is slightly moist add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Place the stuffing in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the top bread layer begins to become slightly crisp.

Remove from the oven and serve warm.

If you love the thought of making stuffing, but don’t have the room in your oven, try this Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe. It is a great alternative when oven space isn’t available.

Enjoy!

Mary and Jim

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Oven Baked Stuffing

oven baked stuffing

How to make oven baked stuffing so that it has the perfect texture and moisture. A classic Thanksgiving side dish recipe made easy!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cups bread cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

  2. In a large skillet over medium heat add the butter. Once melted add diced onion, diced celery and poultry seasoning and stir. Cook over medium heat until tender about 5-6 minutes.

  3. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Add onion and celery mixture, fresh parsley and sage. 

  4. Slowly pour 3 cups of chicken broth over the bread cubes, gently tossing as you pour. Add more broth, a little at a time until the bread is moist (but not soaked). You may not need the entire 4 cups of broth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Place dressing in the prepared baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

  6. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top bread layer begins to slightly crisp.

    Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Notes

It is best to tear or cut the bread cubes the night before. Place them in a large bowl or across baking sheets so that they can air dry overnight.

Poultry seasoning substitute: 1 teaspoon ground sage + 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

If you like stuffing to be crispy bake uncovered, covering only if the bread becomes too brown and crispy.

For moist stuffing keep the cover during the entire baking process.

Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 1182mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 6g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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