Thanksgiving Stuffing from Homemade Bread


(photo by Mark Luinenburg)

We’re spending Thanksgiving with friends this year, and our family is doing the stuffing and bread for a table for 25.  Sounds like a job for a household where they bake bread twice a day anyway…

I’m making the stuffing from basic boules, ball-shaped breads as above.  You can use any lean dough you like, including whole-grain dough from the new book.  Tomorrow I’ll be using the Peasant Bread from my first book, which is basically the white-flour Master Recipe, swapping out 1 cup of whole-grain rye for 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

Breads for the table are going to be a mix of seeded and unseeded rye breads, very rustic, maybe Anadama bread from the new book.  All we’ll need is the belt-buckles on our hats.

Two other Thanksgiving recipes from the “library” are:

Thanksgiving Buns and Other Helpful Holiday Hints

Thanksgiving Cranberry Corn Bread

OK, let’s make some stuffing…The great thing about making bread for stuffing:  you don’t have to care how it looks, or how the crust sets.  I happened to do my boules with steam in the oven, but you don’t have to and I can’t much tell the difference in the stuffing when I don’t.   One other thing… a lot of recipes tell you to dry the bread by slicing and putting it into the oven for a while.  That’s laborious so I don’t do it.  Just be sure to bake your breads fully, and the moisture that remains is about right for the liquid proportion in this recipe.  Likewise, the bread can be stale by a day or two, but it doesn’t have to.  I’ve made this with fresh bread; using the stale stuff is a nice convenience though.

I do oven-baked stuffings– we gave up stuffing the bird because I’m convinced that the turkey ends up with overdone breast meat doing it that way (plus USDA is on our case about this for food safety).  If you want to retain the richness of stuffed-bird stuffing, make your own broth and don’t skim the fat.

Here’s the recipe, kinda based on what my grandmother used to do (but with homemade bread):

1/2 cup olive oil (plus additional for greasing pan and brushing top of baked stuffing)

2 celery stalks, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1-pound loaf of homemade peasant bread, white or whole-grain, cubed with crust left on

1 3/4 cups chicken or turkey stock, canned (low-sodium) or homemade without added salt

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions until browned.  Add the remaining vegetables, salt, pepper, and herbs, continuing to saute until the mushrooms give up their liquid.  Allow to cool slightly so the hot vegetables don’t cook the eggs when they’re mixed.

Drop all the bread cubes into a large bowl and mix with the broth, eggs, stock, and the entire contents of your skillet.

Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (or equivalent), and spoon the mixture into it.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and brush with olive oil, then bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Years ago, I started tripling this recipe for larger groups. I recently gave some of this stuff to a stuffed-in-the-bird true believer, and she is a convert.  Just don’t skim that broth–the chicken fat is part of the old-time flavor of in-the-bird stuffing.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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38 thoughts to “Thanksgiving Stuffing from Homemade Bread”

  1. Wow thanks, I am making homemade stuffing for the first time and I am going to use this, right after I bake off a loaf!
    Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Wishing you both and your families a happy thanksgiving. I and my family are certainly thankful for your contribution to our table for the last 6 months.

    You have to understand that we’ve been searching for a close approximation of the multigrain bread we used to get in australia – we are expats in the midwest. I’ve managed to get a pretty close thanks to your method and for that we are truly grateful, as fresh bread with vegemite is an australian staple. The other thing is I have an 18mth old who loves to make dough with mom. She has rejected playdough in favor of the read deal. She likes to count the flour cups with me and kneed her own piece. We often pop it in the oven with the boules. My husband’s thanksgiving project is to make her a step stool so she can safely reach the counter and fully participate in the cooking/baking efforts. I know that together we will have created a great childhood memory for her, and probably built a lifelong skill (and love I hope) as well. SO THANK YOU!

    1. Kelly: Such a sweet note, thank you so much. Your recipe looks terrific, so thanks for that too.

      Marcia: Thanks for this very intriguing libation– need to try that, maybe I can interest my hosts!

      Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Jeff

  3. congrats to the winners! I count myself lucky that we can find everything we need for both books (except brotforms, caramel, and whole cracked wheat) at our local Boulder Vitamin Cottage and King Soopers…yes, even WWW and the elusive Buckwheat Flour. The stuffing recipe looks great and I’ll try it at xmas; WE GET TO GO OUT TOMORROW THIS YEAR merging my birthday, our anniv., and Thxgvg all into one great meal at a place called Greenbriar.
    I’d like to share our favorite holiday drink with you. Everyone, from my 94 year old mom to the pickiest eater loves this libation!
    Old New England Cranberry Shrub
    3 cups fresh cranberries (12 ounces)
    1 cup sugar (we use 3/4 cup splenda)
    1 cup distilled white vinegar
    3 cups water

    In a nonreactive saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until the cranberries are tender or burst, barely 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.

    Strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a large bowl, mashing on the cranberries to extract all the juice. (we use a food mill) Transfer to a pitcher.

    Can be stored up to 2 months in the refrigerator or frozen

    Holiday Cocktail:

    Pour a jigger of shrub into a Champagne flute and top with Champagne or other sparkling wine. Or mix 1 Cup Shrub to 1 Bottle Champagne for a crowd.
    For kids or nonalcoholic, use pineapple juice, Seven-Up, or sparkling apple cider.
    Bon Appetit!

  4. In return can I share my Expat Aussie Multigrain recipe with you and your readers? Thanks also to my friend Heather who also loves this recipe and helped me perfect it.

    Kelly’s Kashi Multigrain Bread (Australian Style Artisan Multigrain)
    1 packet of Kashi 7 Whole grain Pilaf – Contains whole Oats, brown rice, rye, hard red winter wheat, triticale, buckwheat, and sesame (
    1/4 cup of millet
    1/4 cup of quinoia

    Mash: in saucepan cover the above grains with about 2 1/4 cups water and bring to boil, cover turn off the heat and allow to sit till grains are cool and most of the water is absorbed. Stir thorough to the mash.
    1/4 cup whole flax seeds
    1/4 cup of course cornmeal (polenta) and allow mash to sit on the counter overnight. Most of the water should be absorbed and the mash should resemble wet course sand.
    The mash can be kept in the refrigerator for the a week or so or frozen. If your grains have not fully absorbed all the water during the mash process and are still a little firm to tooth, they will rob moisture from your stored bread dough and you will get a dense loaves. (I’ve noticed this can be an issue with stored whole wheat loaves too)

    The BREAD
    5 cups of unbleached king arthur all purpose flour (for a healthier higher fiber alternative I have also used Ultragrain unbleached AP flour which I get from costco – it needs an additional 4 tbs Vital wheat gluten though to achieve the same lift).
    1 1/2 Tbs yeast
    1 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
    3 cups of lukewarm water
    1 1/2 cups of Multigrain Mash
    Assemble the bread dough as per the HBI5 method.

    Check dough – this dough is slightly wetter than the master ABI5 boule. I usually end up adding an extra quarter cup water to ensure that the dough is really very tacky. This is pretty key. Allow to rise on the counter till doubled, place in fridge till
    cool, and proceed to shape and bake as be ABI5 475 degrees for 35 minutes usually does it, but I just bake till I get 205-210 on the instant read thermometer.

    Tips on shaping, I use a homemade brotform for this bread dough due to the fact it is so wet. I put a generously floured waffle weave teatowel in a small mixing bowl. I flour the top of the dough, grab my grapefruit sized chunk of dough stretch it into a ball and drop it in the bowl. cover with a parchment square and either do a refrigerator rise or let rest on the counter while the oven heats. When ready to bake I flip the whole thing onto a pizza peel, remove the bowl and the towel, slash and pop straight in the oven before it has time to spread too much. The waffle weave leaves a great pattern in the dough

    For the stored dough, you may notice that your bread gets progressively better or denser as you use up the dough. it’s all about the hydration and how well you have cooked your mash, and how much the grains continue to absorb or not. This is a trial and error process, you get a feel for it.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!
    I just have to tell you all that I made cinnamon rolls with the Pumpkin Pie Brioche dough and they were to die for!!! I used pumpkin puree that I made myself…a first…in the dough. I rolled the dough out and spread with butter, brown sugar , cinnamon and pecans. I also put brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts on the bottome of my baking dish for a carmel effect. I baked for about 25 minutes. I made the brioche ias well. I used my tube pan and it baked for about 55 minutes. I will make this again but make it a bit sweeter and spicer. The brioche makes great toast!!! Have a super great weekend with your families everyone.

    1. Rosalie: Great to hear that the tube pan worked well– there’d been many questions about that.

      Mandy: I’m so glad you liked my grandmother’s stuffing! Here’s the funny part, I spaced out while mixing mine and left out the herbs! I found it a bit bland but my hostess loved it because she finds Thanksgiving stuffing over-herbed. We had a great time…

  6. I saved the heels of homemade bread for months (storing in the freezer), which I used for making the Thanksgiving stuffing. Took the bread out of the freezer early in morning, and spread it out in the oven to thaw/dry until we were ready. It turned out excellent! My b/f’s father took one bite and said, “Is this made with homemade bread? That’s why it’s so good!”

  7. I had the same mission as you, Jeff — how to make convenient refrigerator-ready dough. I did a web search and in short order I was onto your guys’ site. This was yesterday. I made the loaf today and it is outstanding! I have the book on order so could you answer a quick question for me? I know to keep the lid of the container cracked a bit while the dough is on the counter; should it still be open a little bit for the 2-week stay in the fridge?

    1. Brian: Usually we find that a plastic container can be snapped shut after about 48 hours, not producing much gas after that time. Jeff

  8. Since this year I’ve been baking bread a lot (thank you!!), I made stuffing and rolls for the table. The stuffing was delicious made with an herbed light wheat bread, and the pain d’epi (sp?) was a big hit at the table. Thank yoU!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Thank YOU! We are thrilled that you are using the book and baking so much bread.

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday!


  9. Dear Jeff and Zoe –

    I have 2 questions:
    1. What type of lentils would you recommend using for the lentil curry bread? I guess you used green/black ones based on cooking time (60 minutes), is that right? Did you try it with red lentils?
    Also – do you have any suggestions for 100% rye bread? My mom has diabetes and was told 100% rye bread would be good for her.

    Thanks so much for your books, we love them !


    1. Hi Nyyca,

      The lentils we used were the green/black variety. I have not tried it with the red, but it would probably be equally as tasty. May just take a different cooking time.

      It is difficult to get a 100% rye dough that is not overly dense and difficult to work with after a few days of storing. For your mom’s sake, it may be worth playing with, but we do not have a dough worked out at this time. If you start to experiment with it, please keep us posted!

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. I used the Master Recipe from HBin5 for my dressing. I have issues with shaping the dough, so I end up putting two dough balls in a bread pan, and as they rise, they grow together. I dont get the crispy crust, but for a sandwich type bread, I dont need it.

    The bread was a hit, and everyone was impressed that I used my own homemade bread for it!

  11. The pumpkin brioche toast with Nutella is a real treat… I did a lot of bread baking over the holiday. My best loaf was one that was half King Arthur All Purpose flour, half whole wheat with 3tbs. of VWG added. I did a refrigerator rise for a boule and the spring in the oven was amazing, and the crumb the best I have gotten. Thanks for your bread baking mentorship.

    1. Regina: The stone distributes the oven heat, and also conducts moisture away from the bottom crust. For free-form loaves, it really gives the best result. A cookie sheet works, but the crust just won’t be the same. For your first experiments, you can try the cookie sheet and see what you think.

      You also need to trap steam next to the bread crust, by dumping water into a pre-heated broiler tray, or any of these other methods:

  12. I love what you are doing. I would like to make bread without yeast. Do you have instructions for that – with a starter.

    1. Jill: I’ve found that completely leaving out commercial yeast creates temperamental dough in our method… sometimes there’s adequate rise, and sometimes there isn’t. I’ve been much happier using about 1 1/2 cups of activated starter (decreasing the flour and water by 3/4 cup each, assuming that your activated starter is about half water and half flour), and then using a little yeast, maybe a quarter the usual dose. See our post on decreasing the yeast at

  13. Yikes, I screwed up. Jeff or Zoe: If I accidentally let the Bradley Beer Bread covered dough batch sit out on the counter overnight, did I just waste my time preparing it to bake–thought I’d better ask? (not that it took that much time, thanks to 5 MINUTES A DAY!) It’s been refrigerated since um, Sunday morning. Thanks.

  14. I have been making the Whole Wheat Bread, Plain and Simple and adding honey as per your recipe. My comment is that it has great flavor but the dough does not rise enough to fill the pan. Any suggestions?

  15. I have requested before and still have not got an answer. Can I add ingredints, such as pecans, garlic or jalapeno in dough that has been in the refigerator overnight??? Thanks…

  16. Hi Jeff,
    I am making the stuffing again this Thanksgiving (we loved it) and was wondering if you have ever made it the night before and refrigerated it “raw” and then baked it off the next day?

    1. Btw you can do this … I take it out of the fridge to warm up as the oven preheats.

      Still loving the recipe. I did take out the eggs and it still works great.

  17. been using this recipe for years and i love it! i always go to my supermarket and check the clearance section for any kind of artisnal breads they have and i triple the recipe!

    1. Thanks Andrew, it’s a good basic workhorse recipe, pretty much the way everyone’s Grandma made this. Now, start making your own bread!

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