Classic Vegetarian Stuffing Recipe (with Vegan Option)
Our classic vegetarian stuffing is based on the recipe I grew up with and never stopped craving — updated tastefully for modern holidays. This stuffing goes perfectly with a Thanksgiving turkey, if you’re into that sort of thing. And if not, it’s savory and satisfying on its own. Don’t forget to complete the vegetarian Thanksgiving trifecta with The Best Vegetarian Gravy and Perfect Mashed Potatoes.
Vegetarian side dishes for Thanksgiving
So, here’s our thought on the modern Thanksgiving table. Whether you’re hosting or bringing a contribution to a gathering, you’re very likely to be feeding a crowd with a variety of dietary preferences.
It’s not easy to keep it simple. But one thing you can do is to make everything but the turkey vegetarian.
Over the years, some of our most popular recipes have helped people keep things streamlined over the holidays by offering really delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes bursting with seasonal flavors to feed a crowd.
Classic vegetarian stuffing is a prime example.
Tips for vegetarian stuffing
This satisfying vegetarian (or vegan!) stuffing recipe has layers of savory seasonal flavors and a great balance of crisp exterior to soft interior. It’s a nice, easy recipe — and here’s how to make it really shine.
Use good bread cubes
See the section below for a couple good ways of achieving this.
Use a nice, wide baking pan
Use a really good vegetable broth
My favorite vegetable broth by far is this one. It makes all the difference.
Use good-quality bread cubes
Here are two ways to achieve bread cube nirvana.
First, the easy way, which I tend to prefer these days. In early fall, Whole Foods (and surely some other markets as well) starts selling bags of bread cubes that they’ve made in-house from a nice, balanced variety of their own good-quality breads. To me this is the best of all possible worlds. You don’t have to spend time during an already busy week drying my own bread. And you’ll end up with a wider variety of bread types than you would otherwise, which makes for an excellent stuffing.
Of course, you can also dry your own bread cubes. If you’re going this route, look for a combination of flavorful bread types with a variety of crust ratios and textures — maybe a baguette, some sourdough, and a bit of pumpernickel.
How to make this stuffing vegan
If your crowd includes vegans, it’s super-easy (and super-delicious) to turn this stuffing vegan. Simply swap in a good, fruity olive oil or vegan butter (like Earth Balance) for the butter, and instead of the eggs, add an extra cup of veggie broth.
Another GREAT option is our Top-Secret Vegan Stuffing recipe. It’s similar to this one but also gets a little bit of jazziness from leeks, mushrooms, and a
How to make this stuffing meaty
If you want to go in the other direction entirely, our classic stuffing recipe is also great with sausage. Buy a pound of good-quality sweet Italian or sage-flavored sausage and add it to the frying pan while you’re sautéeing the onions and celery. That’s it! No need to make any other changes.
Can you make stuffing ahead of time?
Good question. Sure can! You have two great options here.
The first one, which I prefer, is to assemble the whole pan of stuffing up to 24 hours in advance, but hold off on baking it until just before you’re ready to eat. As long as it’s tightly covered in a nice cold fridge, this is a great approach. You can bake the stuffing straight from the fridge, adding a few extra minutes for it to cook through. Or you can bring it to room temperature on the counter about an hour before baking and pop it in the oven for the 45 minutes indicated in the recipe.
The second option is to bake the stuffing ahead of time and then reheat it before serving. This is totally fine, too. Pull cooked stuffing out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for an hour or so. Cover your pan tightly and pop it into the oven for 30-40 minutes. Ideally you’d do this at about 350°F, but since Thanksgiving’s ALWAYS got multiple dishes in the oven, you can really reheat it at just about any temperature your oven’s set to.
- 4 tablespoons (56g) butter
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 stalks celery, including leaves, finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely diced
- 1 cup shelled roasted chestnuts, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 4 large eggs
- 10 cups dried bread cubes
- 3 cups good vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center.
- Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add onion and celery and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to prevent browning.
- Add apple, chestnuts, thyme, and sage, and continue cooking until apple has softened, about 5 minutes more.
- In a small bowl, beat eggs with a fork.
- Place bread cubes into a large mixing bowl and scrape the contents of the frying pan overtop. Pour in the broth and eggs. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. Mix gently until everything is well-distributed, then let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the bread cubes absorb the wet ingredients.
- Transfer stuffing to a large baking dish such as an extra-deep 9x13-inch pan or a 5-quart braiser. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, until crisp on top and tender inside.
To make this stuffing vegan, you can swap in a good, fruity olive oil or vegan butter for the butter, and replace the eggs with an extra cup of veggie broth.
To make this stuffing meaty, sautée a pound of sage-flavored (or regular sweet Italian) sausage along with the onions and celery in the first step. You won’t need to make any other changes.
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