My favorite Easy Stuffing Recipe from my childhood! Made from scratch with very simple ingredients including toasty bread, milk, butter, aromatics, and the secret ingredient – rendered chicken fat! Crisp bread cubes on the outside, tender on the inside, and so flavorful.
And make sure you save room for the best mashed potatoes!
Favorite Homemade Stuffing Recipe
Out of all the foods out there, I think people have a real attachment to their own Thanksgiving turkey stuffing most of all. Whether it be what they grew up with or a recipe that’s been handed down from generations, it’s personal. And rarely does anyone want to try a new stuffing recipe. So I’m here documenting my mom’s recipe more for me, than for you. Ha. But I do encourage you to try it, of course! It’s from my childhood and now what I make for my own family.
We like plain stuffing – no nuts or dried fruit added in. But plain doesn’t have to mean boring. This stuffing recipe incorporates toasted bread, soaked in an aromatic egg and milk mixture, then basted in rendered chicken fat before baking, resulting in a crisp outside and tender inside, with every bite full of great flavor. We could (and do) fill up on it!
What You’ll Need
Here are the stuffing ingredients:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Hearty white sandwich bread: Yep, sandwich bread. But purchase a good quality kind, nothing too soft or limp.
- Onion and garlic: For aromatics and great flavor.
- Egg: This acts as a binder and holds the stuffing together.
- Whole milk: Instead of chicken broth, whole milk is our liquid of choice which adds richness and makes the bread tender.
- Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat): Our secret ingredient! This boasts big time flavor and way more than regular chicken stock. Once upon a time, you needed to make it from scratch or have your local butcher order some, but it’s now available at most common grocery stores near the oil and vinegars.
- Butter: Either unsalted or salted butter work, since this recipe only uses 2 tablespoons. But you might want to consider omitting any additional salt if using salted butter, depending how salty you want the overall dish.
- Seasonings: Dried thyme, dried oregano, kosher salt, and pepper.
Tips for Success
- Use stale or toasted bread: For best results, toast your bread first or leave it out for a few days to become stale. Fresh bread is too soft and can turn to mush once soaked in the liquid.
- Mix with your hands: It’s best to mix with your hands so you can feel if the cubes are moist enough. If you don’t add enough liquid, the stuffing can be dry, but if you add too much, it will be soggy.
- Be careful with the amount of liquid added: The amount of milk can vary greatly depending on the type of bread you use. You just barely want the bread to absorb the liquid. Which is also why we highly recommend mixing with your hands.
- Don’t over-bake: Bake until just cooked through so the stuffing doesn’t end up dry.
Make Ahead and Storing Stuffing
Holiday time is usually jam packed with activities, traveling, and a long list of cooking items. So the biggest thing we all need is to be able to prep in advance, right? You can definitely make this stuffing recipe ahead of time.
- Prep the bread cubes ahead of time: You can cut and bake the bread cubes several days before assembling the stuffing.
- Prep the stuffing ahead of time: Prep the stuffing as directed up to 1 day ahead, cover tightly, and refrigerate. The next day bake as directed, but add about 10-15 minutes to the cook time, since it will be chilled.
- Storing leftovers: Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and eaten within 3 days.
- Freezing: To freeze leftovers, wrap tightly in foil and transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm up. (We do not recommend freezing the unbaked stuffing.)
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes:
Nana’s Easy Stuffing Recipe
- 1 pound loaf hearty white sandwich bread (including the crusts and ends)
- 3 tablespoons butter , divided
- 1 medium onion , diced
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Lay bread slices out on baking sheets (they can touch, but do not overlap.) Bake for 7 minutes, flip each slice over, and bake an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut them into 3/4 to 1-inch uniform cubes. Then place them in a very large mixing bowl.
- Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Warm 1 tablespoon butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
- Put egg, milk, and all the seasonings into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add in the cooked onions and garlic and pulse once or twice to incorporate.
- Slowly pour the liquid mixture evenly over the toasted bread cubes as you gently mix and fold for a few minutes to combine and moisten. Be gentle so the bread doesn't break down too much. (It's best to mix with your hands so you can feel if the cubes are moist enough.) If the stuffing isn't moistened enough, slowly add a touch more milk, ONLY if necessary. You don't want it mushy.
- Transfer stuffing to the prepared baking dish in an even layer, pressing down slightly.
- Drizzle the top with the rendered chicken fat.
- Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into little cubes and place all around.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until it's cooked and golden, but not dried out.
- Enjoy as is or with a little turkey gravy.