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!
This stuffing is so darn good. This could be my whole Thanksgiving meal, right here. Just me and my 8×11 pan of stuffing.
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.
How to Make It Step by Step:
First cook lots of chopped onion and celery with butter, until it softens:
Then toss the veggies with stale ciabatta bread cubes, cooked Italian sausage, parsley, egg, and chicken broth:
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.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
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.
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.
Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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.
Best Thanksgiving Stuffing
- 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
- 3/4 lb sweet Italian pork sausage casing removed
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 2.5 cups chicken broth
- 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!
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.