You Should Never Use Stale Bread For Stuffing

stale bread stuffing
PSA: You Should Never Use Stale Bread For StuffingSean Gladwell / Getty Images; Evan Kissner / Evan's Studio / Getty Images

If you've made nearly any stuffing recipe, the idea of using stale bread has likely been drilled into your mind. Cookbooks, TV hosts, and grandmas everywhere will tell you that stale bread is the only way to achieve a fluffy stuffing. Your days-long Thanksgiving meal prep might begin with leaving a loaf of bread out on the counter. Stale bread is as quintessential to stuffing as turkey is to Thanksgiving.

Except...it shouldn't be. In fact, using stale bread and fresh bread will both leave you with equal amounts of mush. The longstanding tip to use old, stale bread for the perfect stuffing is actually a myth.

Letting bread go stale doesn't actually dry it out. After sitting out on your counter, bread goes through the process of retrogradation. The starch molecules crystallize and make your bread appear dry and hard. However, that moisture didn't leave the bread—it became trapped inside.

"Whether your bread is fresh or stale," says Delish Food Director Rob Seixas, "the water content is the same."

But how does that affect your stuffing? A perfect stuffing should achieve a delicate balance between moisture and texture. Too dry, and your stuffing will be crumbly and bland. While too much liquid will leave you with a soggy, unappetizing dish.

"If you’re using stale bread and adding liquid, there will be nowhere for the liquid to go," says Seixas. "It's like when you're trying to cram more people into a fully booked flight. There's no space for extra moisture to fill."

As a result, your stuffing will have a soggy texture. And even worse—it'll taste less delicious. All of the broth, aromatics, herbs, and butter you add will be diluted by the flavorless moisture from the bread.

Thankfully, there's an alternative to stale bread that makes a show-stopping stuffing, and it doesn't require days to prepare. Drying your bread in the oven takes less than an hour, and will actually remove the moisture we want to avoid.

"Dried bread has had all of the moisture evaporated, so it can absorb and hold any liquid you add to it," Seixas says.

Simply chop (or even better, tear) your bread into bite-sized pieces, spread them on a baking sheet, and cook them in a 250° oven for about 45 minutes. All of that moisture will be gone, the bread may even take on a slight toasty flavor, and your stuffing will be the perfect texture.

So there you have it. Now check out our favorite stuffing recipes for all that dried bread, and plan the rest of your Thanksgiving menu.

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