Stuffing has always been my favorite side dish for the holiday meal, and this is my family’s best Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe. It has fresh Italian sausage, herbs, lots of butter, and veggies, and it uses ciabatta bread for the best texture. It’s simple, classic, and easy!

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe - In a Green Casserole Dish with Spoon

This stuffing is so darn good. This could be my whole Thanksgiving meal, right here. Just me and my 8×11 pan of stuffing.

Except I still need my Lemon Buttermilk Pie, Pumpkin Roll, and Maple Pecan Bars afterwards for dessert, obviously.

I’ve tried many variations of Thanksgiving stuffing over the years, using different breads (even cornbread) and mix-in ingredients, and this is how we like it best. We no longer stray from this recipe. It has the best balance of simplicity and richness of flavor.

Why This Is My Favorite Version

Sausage for flavor and heartiness – I feel that stuffing recipes are much better and more flavorful with meat than without. Here we’ll use fresh Italian sausage, which has the best flavor base. The pork adds its rich fat and flavor, plus, the fennel seed and other spices in the sausage go really well with the other flavors in the dish.

Lots of texture – Using ciabatta bread gives us a more interesting and not-mushy texture than other options like bagged stuffing cubes. The fresh factor makes a big difference, and the cubes are both soft and tender but with a satisfying chew on the edges from the bread’s crust.

Classic flavors – The combination of the onion, celery, and parsley balances out the richness of the butter and chicken stock, and overall, it tastes like Thanksgiving.

Best Thanksgiving Stuffing - Presented in a Green Casserole Dish with spoon

How to Make It Step by Step:

First cook lots of chopped onion and celery with butter, until it softens:

Sauteed Onion and Celery in Nonstick Skillet

Then toss the veggies with stale ciabatta bread cubes, cooked Italian sausage, parsley, egg, and chicken broth:

Bread Cubes In a Bowl Tossed with Onion and Celery

I make the ciabatta bread stale by cubing it the day before, then leaving the pieces out overnight, uncovered.

For the chicken broth, I used to use the Swanson tuscan chicken flavor infused broth, which had sage, rosemary and thyme in it, but I think they discontinued it. So feel free to chop up those herbs and throw them in as well, if you want more herb flavor, but I find that the parsley, celery, and onion are sufficient.

Pour the ingredients into an 8×11 baking dish, and bake it until the bread is golden and the liquid has been soaked up.

Thanksgiving Stuffing - In Green Casserole Dish with Spoon

Potato Gratin, Wild Rice Salad, and Butternut Squash Soup, are some of my other favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Enjoy!

Recipe FAQ and Tips

Is this Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing?

Technically it’s a dressing, because it’s made outside of the bird, but you can certainly put this into your turkey cavity if you prefer.

Can you make Thanksgiving stuffing ahead of time?

Yes. First of all, you can stale the bread a month in advance, by leaving the cubes out overnight, then putting them into a bag and storing in the freezer. You can also assemble the dish the day before, then bake when you’re ready. It may need an extra 5 to 10 minutes in the oven if it’s straight cold from the fridge.

How do you store leftovers?

Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze Thanksgiving stuffing?

Yes, for up to 2 months. Make sure it’s well wrapped or stored in an airtight container, so it doesn’t absorb off flavors or get freezer burned. When ready to reheat, bake it in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes, until warmed through.

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. Or, follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest!

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe In a Green Casserole Dish with Spoon

Best Thanksgiving Stuffing

This Thanksgiving stuffing recipe has fresh Italian sausage, herbs, and veggies for the perfect holiday side dish!
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Ingredients

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread* cut into cubes and left out overnight, uncovered
  • 1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1.5 cups chopped celery
  • salt
  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian pork sausage casing removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion, celery, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant.
  • Pour the cooked veggies into a large mixing bowl, and return the skillet to the heat. Turn the heat to medium high, and brown the pork sausage. Break the pork sausage up into small pieces with your spatula, if needed, and cook until fully cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Add the cooked pork sausage to the mixing bowl.
  • Add the bread cubes to the mixing bowl, as well as the parsley and eggs. Slowly pour the chicken broth over the bread cubes, then toss everything together to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  • Pour the ingredients into an 8×11 baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 40 minutes until golden on top. Enjoy!

Notes

Storing leftovers: Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezing: leftovers can be frozen for up to 2 months. Make sure it’s well wrapped or stored in an airtight container, so it doesn’t absorb off flavors or get freezer burned. When ready to reheat, bake it in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes, until warmed through.
Make-ahead options: You can stale the bread a month in advance, by leaving the cubes out overnight, then putting them into a bag and storing in the freezer. You can also fully assemble the dish the day before, then bake when you’re ready. It may need an extra 5 to 10 minutes in the oven if it’s straight cold from the fridge.
*The loaf I buy from the bakery is usually a little more than a pound in weight (18 to 20 ounces), and is about 12 cups of bread cubes (it seems like a lot, but the cubes are not packed in so they take up a lot of volume). 

Nutrition

Calories: 396kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 100mg, Sodium: 626mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated in October 2021. Post originally published in November 2014. The video was sponsored by Swanson Chicken broths.