Made with crusty sourdough bread, butter and herbs, this sourdough stuffing recipe might just be the side dish that steals the show on any holiday table. With a few simple steps, learn to make a classic stuffing recipe with an easy sourdough twist. Keep it simple by making it entirely on the stovetop, use the baking method to achieve delicious crispy edges or make it in the slow cooker to free up oven space.
I know I'm not the only one who could take it or leave it with turkey at a Thanksgiving meal.
Leftover turkey for sandwiches, though, well that's a different story.
While you can make this classic recipe with any stale bread, my Mom's stuffing is most often made with her homemade sourdough bread.
And let me tell you, if you can get your hands on a loaf of artisan sourdough, it will take your Thanksgiving stuffing to the next level (the same way it elevates Sourdough French Toast).
Regardless of what bread you use though, it is imperative that it is a bit dried out in order to achieve the right texture with your sourdough bread stuffing (because no one wants to eat a soggy dressing).
Now, let's make some sourdough dressing!
Dressing vs Stuffing
First things first, let's clear up the difference between stuffing and dressing.
Technically, stuffing is cooked inside the cavity of the bird while dressing is cooked separately.
So this recipe is actually "dressing".
But the two words tend to be used interchangeably (and I was an adult before I even knew the difference), so you'll see me calling it both names.
- Sourdough Bread- You can use any bread you have on hand to make dressing but I find sourdough is the best bread by far. You want it to be a bit stale, so if planning to use fresh bread, I would leave it out overnight.
- Unsalted Butter- If you are looking to make it dairy free, you can use a good quality extra virgin olive oil instead and skip the melting step.
- Black Pepper
- Broth or Water- The choice between water, chicken broth or stock, vegetable broth, or turkey broth depends on your preference- I usually just use water for ease. If using salted broth, you may need to reduce the amount of salt added to the recipe.
- Poultry Seasoning- You can use dried or chopped, fresh herbs. I like to use a blend of rosemary, thyme and sage (can often find it labelled as poultry seasoning). If you choose to use just one, I recommend sage.
When preparing your holiday meal, time and space are often limited resources. And so I have tested and included the directions for 3 different ways to prepare this dressing.
You can make it on the stovetop, which is the quickest (best for last minute).
Or you can make it in the oven, which is a great way to achieve a bit of a crisp topping (unbeatable texture!).
And lastly, you can make it in the crockpot, which is ideal if you are short on oven space or time (you can prep it hours before dinner).
Regardless of the method you choose though, the very first step is the same.
1. Prepare bread. For best results, you want the bread to be a bit stale and dry. Slice the bread into ¾-1 inch cubes. Lay the bread out in a single layer on a sheet pan and allow to dry overnight.
*If you don't have time to get the bread ready the day ahead, you can instead bake it on the sheet pan at 325 F for 10-15 minutes to dry it out.
When ready to start preparing the dressing, move the day-old bread (or recently baked) cubes to a large bowl. Measure out the seasonings and herbs and toss to combine.
2. Melt butter. To a large skillet with a lid or saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium heat.
3. Add bread. To the pot with the melted butter, stir in the seasoned bread cubes to coat. Pour in 1 and ½ cups of the broth and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. If it seems dry, add an additional ½-1 cup of broth or water.
4. Rest. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 additional minutes, covered.
5. Stir and Serve. Garnish with fresh parsley and herbs.
2. Prepare oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a 3 Quart or 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. Mix. Melt butter and pour over the large mixing bowl of bread and spices. Toss to coat and then stir in 2 cups of the broth or water. (Start with 2 cups and then add up to an additional 1 cup if it seems dry).
4. Transfer. Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish.
5. Bake. Cover with aluminum foil or an oven safe lid and bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Then, uncover, stir and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
2. Prepare Crockpot. Butter the bottom of a 3 Quart or larger slow cooker.
3. Add Bread. Add the bread and spices to the slow cooker and stir to mix.
Melt butter and pour over bread and spices. Toss to coat and then stir in 1 cup of the broth.
4. Cook. Cook on low for 2 to 3hours, until tender and lightly crisp around the edges.
Tip: To help absorb moisture, you can lay a clean kitchen towel over the top of the slow cooker (under the lid), leaving overhang out of the lid on all sides.
Leftovers and Storage
To Store: Store leftover sourdough stuffing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To Freeze: Freeze cooled stuffing in portions for up to 3 months in airtight, freezer-safe containers or bags.
To Reheat: Reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 350°F (175°C) with a splash of broth or water until warmed through, about 15 minutes.
Make it Your Own
- Sausage and Apple: Incorporate cooked sausage and sautéed apples into the stuffing mixture for a mixture of sweet and savory flavor. Sauté the sausage until browned, then add chopped apples and cook until softened. Add to the bowl with the bread cubes and then start the recipe as written.
- Cranberry and Pecan: Add dried cranberries and chopped pecans for a contrast of sweet and nutty flavors. Mix these ingredients into the stuffing at the same time as the bread cubes.
- Mushroom and Spinach: Sauté mushrooms and spinach in 1 tablespoon of butter and add to the bowl with the bread cubes, then resume with the stuffing recipe, adding the original amount of butter called for.
- Holiday Season: Serve your sourdough stuffing as a classic thanksgiving side dish alongside roasted turkey or chicken and Greek Yogurt Mashed Potatoes.
- Breakfast Waffles: Turn your leftovers into a savory breakfast by making Leftover Stuffing Waffles and topping them with eggs and maybe some Hollandaise.
- Stuffed Vegetables: Use the stuffing to fill bell peppers, mushrooms, or acorn squash halves for a flavorful side.
- Sandwich Filling: Create a unique sandwich by using leftover stuffing as a filling, paired with roasted chicken or turkey and Cranberry Sauce.
- Casseroles: Incorporate it into casseroles, such as a breakfast casserole for added taste and texture.
Tips For the Best Stuffing
- Use Dry, Stale Bread: For the perfect texture, use slightly stale sourdough bread or dry it out overnight. Fresh bread will turn your stuffing soggy.
- Bake the cubed bread in the oven at 325°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes if you're short on time.
- Choose the Best Method: Consider your time and space availability to choose whether to opt for stovetop, baked, or slow cooker.
- Adjust the Liquid for Your Preferences: Depending on the method that you use and how dense your sourdough bread is, you may need more water or broth. I find that I use 1 cup for slow cooker, 1.5 cups for stovetop and 2 cups for oven baked. But if it seems drier than you would like, add more (½ cup at a time).
- Absorb Moisture in the Slow Cooker: If you choose to use a slow cooker, remember to place a clean kitchen towel under the lid to absorb excess moisture, which keeps your dressing crisp.
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Sourdough Stuffing (Stovetop, Baked or Crockpot)
- 8 cups sourdough ¾-1 inch cubes, about 1 loaf
- 3 tablespoon dried, chopped onion
- 2 teaspoon ground poultry seasoning or 2 tablespoon freshly chopped sage, rosemary and thyme
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup unsalted butter *see notes for salted
- 1-2 cups water or broth **see notes
- Prepare the Bread: Slice the sourdough bread into cubes and lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Allow the bread to dry overnight. Alternatively, bake the bread cubes at 325°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes to dry them out.
- Move the day-old or recently baked bread cubes to a large bowl. Add the poultry seasoning (or fresh herbs), salt, and black pepper. Toss to combine.
- In a large saucepan or skillet with a lid or saucepan, melt the unsalted butter (or heat the olive oil) over medium heat.
- Stir in the seasoned bread cubes to coat with the melted butter. Pour in 1 and ½ cups broth and stir (add additional water if it seems dry). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Remove from heat and let the stuffing sit for 10 additional minutes, covered.
- Stir the stuffing to fluff it up and then serve.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a 3 Quart or 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Melt the butter and pour into the mixing bowl with the bread, tossing to coat. Stir in 2 cups of broth or water and then transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish (add an additional cup if it seems dry).
- Cover with aluminum foil or an oven-safe lid and bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Then, uncover, stir and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and serve.
- Grease the bottom of a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.
- Follow steps 1 and 2 of the stovetop method. Add the bread to the base of the slow cooker. Melt the butter and pour over the bread, tossing to coat. Stir in the broth or water.
- Cook on low for 2-3 hours until tender and lightly crisp on the edges.*Tip: To help absorb moisture, you can lay a clean kitchen towel over the top of the slow cooker (under the lid), leaving overhang out of the lid on all sides.
- Serve warm.