The Best Make-Ahead Stuffing Out There

Danielle Oron is the force behind popular recipe blog I Will Not Eat Oysters and a former Yahoo Food Blogger of the Week. She’s also the chef and owner of Moo Milk Bar in Toronto, and, most recently, author of the cookbook Modern Israeli Cooking.


Photos: Danielle Oron

Are you like me? Do you like to be overly prepared when hosting a holiday meal? Do you like prepping everything possible ahead of time so you have less to do — and not to mention less to clean — the day of? If your answers are “yes,” then you agree: Thanksgiving is way more enjoyable when you’re not running around the kitchen like a turkey with its head cut off.

I have the best make-ahead stuffing (or dressing) recipe for you. It’s classic, flavorful, and just needs to be thrown in the oven the day of Thanksgiving. No fuss and no mess. I use sourdough bread, but a basic white country loaf works well, too. Maple or brown sugar breakfast sausage adds a hint of sweetness and excellent flavor, while sautéed rosemary, sage, and parsley, instantly make your kitchen smell like the holidays.

This recipe calls for a lot of butter, but believe me when I say that it’s worth it. Now is not the time to start counting calories! The top is crispy and the inside is juicy and soft — it’s basically the best bread pudding you’ve ever have. And because it’s made a day ahead of time, the flavors have a chance to develop and meld together. I have always done it this way, and once you try it, you will, too.


The Best Make-Ahead Stuffing

1 loaf sourdough or crusty country loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces maple or brown sugar breakfast sausage, casings removed
5 small or 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes (I used small rainbow carrots for color)
6 celery stalks, cut into ¼" cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper (black pepper if you don’t have white), plus more to taste
1 cup white wine
1 stick plus 3 tablespoon unsalted butter (plus 5 tablespoons cut into small cubes if you’re cooking it outside the bird)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ¼ cups turkey or chicken stock, homemade is best

Place the cubes of bread on a baking sheet and allow to dry out overnight. Alternatively, you can place them in a pre-heated 200˚F oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until they’re dry. Transfer them to a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the breakfast sausage into the pan and press it down to form a large patty. Cook for 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest. Add the carrots, celery and onion into the pan and sauté for 8 minutes, moving them around the pan to pick up any brown bits from the sausage. Add the parsley, sage, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the aromatics to the bowl with the dried bread cubes.

Return the pan to the stove and turn the heat up to medium-high. Immediately deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up anything that has accumulated along the bottom. Reduce the wine by at least half. Add in the butter (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) and allow to melt into the wine. Pour over the bread and vegetables. Chop the sausage into small pieces and add to the bread bowl too. Toss everything to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, stock, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.


IF YOU ARE MAKING THIS FOR STUFFING THE TURKEY: Cover the bread mixture and the stock mixture well with plastic wrap then set in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to stuff the turkey, combine the two together and let sit for 20 minutes for the bread to soak in the liquid. Stuff the turkey and cook the turkey as usual.

IF YOU ARE MAKING THIS AS A DRESSING (outside of the turkey): Transfer the bread mixture into a greased/buttered baking dish. Pour the stock mixture over top and into the baking dish. Place 5 tablespoons of cubed butter around the top. Cover very well with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to bake it. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the baking dish well with greased/buttered tin foil. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until warmed inside. You can check this by inserting a knife in and checking that it comes out warm. Remove the tin foil and continue baking for an additional 25 to 30 minutes until the top is browned nicely. Remove from oven and allow to set for at least 20 minutes.

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!