Thanksgiving standards like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy aside, it’s really the stuffing recipe that sets the mood for your meal. Are you a traditionalist with a simple bread stuffing? Do you like it with sausage or fruit? Seafood or veggies? Is it gluten-free or gluten-full? Try one of these ultimate stuffing recipes for your holiday celebration.
My husband, Scott (pictured above) related this story to me about a Thanksgiving that he hosted for his family when he was a bachelor. He’d spent several days planning, prepping and executing the meal — even making his own homemade stuffing. It had apples, cranberries, sage and sausage.
He was excited about his new recipe. His Dad wasn’t.
“It’s not your Mother’s stuffing recipe” Dad said, eyeing the casserole suspiciously.
“No. It’s not” he agreed. “But try it. You might like it.”
His Dad had 3 helpings and went home with leftovers. Go figure.
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Before we get to the good stuff (pun intended), let’s talk about stuffing the turkey. Is it a must-do? Or a definite, don’t?
To stuff or not to stuff the turkey
To me, the question is personal, depending on what you’re used to. My grandmother always stuffed her turkey and any leftovers made it into a casserole dish.
The stuffing from the cavity of the bird was always moist, but it didn’t have those crispy, craggy edges that you get in a baked casserole. (Strike one).
Then there’s the whole “food-safety issue“. Hello — bacteria that will live in stuffing if it doesn’t reach 165° F. (Strike two – we don’t want food poisoning four hours post-dinner).
A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook than an unstuffed one. Seriously? Yep. (Strike three.)
In case you can’t tell, I’m a stuffing casserole devotee, but you should do what your family likes best — just make sure it’s cooked completely, please!
Best Thanksgiving stuffing recipes
Let’s get to some of the best Thanksgiving stuffing recipes to make your holiday shine!
I’ve partnered with my fellow recipe developers and professional taste testers to compile this list for you, and it includes everything from traditional favorites to “where did they come up with that” modern twists.
We’ve got whole grain and grain-free options, vegan and vegetarian, carnivore to pescatarian and everything in between. Find your stuffing style here.
Classic Stuffing Combinations
These familiar favorites are traditional for a reason. It's just not the holidays without them.
This delicious baked apple cranberry stuffing is the best of both worlds! It features sweet apples and cranberries kissed with cinnamon then baked into a warm Thanksgiving stuffing with all the fix-ins.
Sausage and apple is a traditional stuffing combination, but this one is kicked up with cubes of butternut squash, fresh herbs and tart, chewy dried cranberries. One reader loved this combination so much, she makes it all fall and winter long.
This vegetable stuffing is the most fragrant, moist, herbed stuffing with buttery sautéed vegetables and sweet pomegranate seeds over top. A delicious Thanksgiving side dish that the whole family will love!
Fenugreek is a maple-y scented spice that will make your whole house smell sweet. The flavor accentuates the anise flavor of the fennel and the tartness of the apple in this old fashioned stuffing recipe. Tasters couldn't get enough of this one.
Here's a Cajun favorite straight from the bayou! Classic sausage and oyster dressing is spicy, meaty, briny and irresistible. The blend of Cajun spices will make your tastebuds tingle. You can use fresh shucked oysters or buy them already shucked from your fishmonger.
Packed with sweet cornbread, bites of savory, smoky andouille sausage, spicy Cajun style seasoning, butter, and of course, juicy succulent fresh oysters, this Oyster Dressing Recipe is the perfect cornbread stuffing to wow your guests.
This wild rice stuffing is a definite crowd pleaser and must-have dish at any holiday get together! Packed with apples and cranberries, it’s bursting with flavour and makes the perfect healthy side dish for any feast!
This easy stovetop stuffing is made with nutty, chewy farro and enhanced with mushrooms, apple and butternut squash. Great for Thanksgiving, but this easy side dish is also great with a rotisserie chicken on a random Tuesday.
No roast to stuff? No problem! This EASY stove top stuffing comes together in about 30 minutes and features a mirepoix of delicious veggies with toasted pecans and perfectly spiced with sage, thyme and rosemary.
This Southwestern inspired stuffing is a sweet, savory and smoky favorite. Day old cornbread makes up the the bread portion of the stuffing. Smoky spicy hatch chiles with and browned sausage make this homestyle casserole a favorite with the whole family.
Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving with Cornbread Pudding instead of your run of the mill stuffing. You’ll combine cubes of leftover cornbread with green onions, fresh herbs, cheese and a mixture of eggs and milk then bake until bubbly and lightly browned on the outside, delicate and custardy in the center.
Unusual Stuffing Combinations:
These recipes definitely zig, where the others zag! Take your tastebuds in a completely different direction!
Easy Herbed Apple and Pumpernickel Stuffing Recipe – Pumpernickel and Sourdough bread come together in this hearty, healthy and completely vegetarian version of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish, stuffing!
This tasty rutabaga, date and bacon stuffing is not your average dry, bread-heavy affair. It has a lovely mix of sweet and savory flavors, is juicy and rich, and the perfect accompaniment to a festive dinner.
If your oven has no room on Thanksgiving Day, use your Instant Pot to make this Instant Pot Sausage Stuffing! With lots of flavorful vegetables, spicy sausage, and a gluten-free option, this is a recipe that everyone loves.
This Crock Pot Stuffing is so delicious. It’s stuffed (haha, pun intended!) with great spices and flavors so it really stands out from those other blah stuffing recipes. Plus it’s cooked in the slow cooker, so you can put it in hours before dinnertime and not even think about it until you have to serve it up with turkey!
Making stuffing in the slow cooker is a fun twist on a classic that also frees up coveted oven space! This version is veggie-loaded, featuring the classic carrots, celery, and onion but also kale and mushrooms, along with torn, day-old sourdough bread.