Classic Stuffing Recipe is a staple side dish for holiday dinners. This stuffing is made with Italian bread, apples, celery, onions, and herbs. Learn how to make bread stale quickly.
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Ah, stuffing, a wonderful bread side dish that is a must for many holiday dinners. What started out as a way to cook the turkey moist and juicy, evolved into a delicious bread side dish.
There is much debate among family members and friends whether to call this dish “stuffing” or “dressing,” but either way you call it, we all know that is a delicious addition to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner.
This is a simple stuffing recipe made with celery, onions, apples, and herbs. To add another layer of flavor and a little sweetness, I sauté fresh apples along with onions and celery and mix a little apple juice with broth.
Addition of apple is a delightful sweet surprise in every bite and pairs perfectly with turkey, ham and many other side dishes.
Bread – choose a deli baked bread, it will give the stuffing much nicer flavor and texture. We like Italian loaf, but you can also use deli Cuban, French baguettes, or other breads soft on the inside with crusty outside.
Veggies and Fruit – besides anything else, onions and celery are the base vegetables you should have. Apples add a nice sweetness burst and helps balance out the savory ingredients. Choose sweet and juicy apples for their naturally sweet flavor and the best balance.
Seasoning – parsley and thyme make a nice herb addition without being overpowering. You can use fresh or dried, just remember to use about half the amount of dried as you would fresh.
Stock – stock should give you more flavor than broth and you can choose chicken or vegetable. Vegetable will keep the dish vegetarian but if you don’t mind the protein, use chicken stock for a deeper flavor. Choose unsalted stock so you can regulate the sodium in the dish.
How to Make Stale Bread (Classic Way and Fast Way)
It’s a silly question isn’t it, “how to make stale bread?”
Simple answer might be, “leave it on a counter for a week and it becomes a weapon.” But, there are actually two ways to stale bread for recipes. There is a slow way and a fast way.
One way to stale bread is to dice the bread and leave it to air-dry for about 24 hours.
PRO TIP: Buy Italian bread that is already thinly sliced and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours. It is easier to cut the bread when it’s cold.
Cut bread slices into small cubes that are about 1/2-inch in size. Use a serrated bread knife to cut the bread.
Spread bread cubes in two large baking sheets, in one even layer, and leave them to get stale for about 24 hours.
To Make Stale Bread Fast
Preheat the oven to 200°.
After spreading the bread cubes in two large baking sheets, place the trays in the oven.
Let them harden for about 2 hours.
Take them out and you can prepare the stuffing right away.
How To Make Stuffing
After you have the stale bread taken care of, it’s a fast and easy process.
First, preheat the cooking pan and add a little oil. Sauté onions and celery until softened (1) and add in the apples (2). Sauté everything until softened.
Seconds, mix the stale bread, sautéed veggies, and seasoning together in a large mixing bowl (3).
Third, in another mixing bowl, whisk together stock, apple juice, and eggs until smooth.
Fourth, start pouring in the liquid mixture into the bread mixture and you carefully stir (4). Make sure to stir everything well.
Finally, transfer the stuffing mixture into the greased baking dish (5) and bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes (6). Keep an eye on it, strength of ovens vary slightly.
PRO TIP: you can use either 9×9 casserole dish or 9×13. If using 9×13, bake time will be less. For 9×9 deep casserole dish, bake the stuffing for 35-40 minutes. For 9×13 casserole dish, bake the stuffing for 30-35 minutes. To tell if the stuffing is done, check the center with an instant read digital thermometer so it reads 165°.
There are several sides to this life-long debate. One is that the side dish is regarded as stuffing if it’s used to stuff inside a turkey, and dressing if it’s made in a separate baking dish.
Another school of thought is that the name reference is regional. In the south, it is called a “dressing,” while up north, it is referred to as “stuffing.”
And yet another answer lies in bread. As in, dressing is made with cornbread and stuffing is made with other breads, like sourdough, Italian loaf, etc.
This is a very simple and classic stuffing recipe but you can always add more veggies, herbs, nuts, and dried berries to up the flavor.
Nuts – chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, or cashews.
Dried berries – cranberries or raisins.
Sausage – sausage stuffing has an addition of Italian sausage and more herbs.
Although Italian of French loaf will make the best stuffing, in my personal opinion, you can try using other breads.
Sturdy sandwich bread
Brioche – not that it is sweet, so you will have sweetness to your stuffing.
Make Ahead Tips
Of course, you can start the bread staling process a day or two before. Simply dice the bread into small cubes, spread it on two large baking sheets, and let it stale for 1-2 days in a cool, dry place.
You can also prep the whole stuffing recipe and spread it into the baking dish. Instead of baking, cover it air-tight with plastic wrap or a fitted lid and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to bake the next day, take off the plastic wrap, set the dish on the counter while the oven is preheating and then bake per recipe instructions. You will want to add about 5-10 minutes to bake time since you’re starting from cold.
You can also freeze it after prepping. If you plan to freeze the stuffing before baking it, spread it in an aluminum baking pan. Cover it completely air-tight with aluminum foil and plastic wrap, label, and freeze for up to 2 months.
Thaw frozen stuffing slowly, in the refrigerator, for about 24 hours before baking. Bake according to the recipe but add about 10 more minutes to bake time since you’re starting from cold. Make sure the center is baked through and reached 165 internal temperature.
Some More Holiday Sides Recipes
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Classic Stuffing Recipe
- 1 lb Italian bread sliced
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 12 oz celery stalk (1 small stalk)
- 12 oz sweet apples (2 medium apples)
- 1/2 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp minced parsley
- 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 3 eggs
- fresh cracked black pepper
Make stale bread:
- Preheat oven to 200°.
- Cut bread slices into small cubes that are about 1/2-inch in size. Use serrated bread knife to cut easier.
- Spread bread in two large, rimmed baking sheets evenly and place the trays in the oven.
- Let them bake and harden for about 2 hours.
- Take them out and you can prepare the stuffing right away.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 9×9 deep casserole dish or a 9×13 casserole dish. (Note that if using 9×13, the bake time will be slightly less).
- Dice onion and celery. Peel, core, and dice the apple. Try to get all the cuts as equal as possibly.
- Preheat a medium cooking pan over medium heat. Add oil.
- Add onion and celery and saute until onions are transparent.
- Add apples and cook until veggies are softened. Take off heat.
- In a large mixing bowl (and I mean large), combine stale bread cubes, cooked veggies, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Gently mix everything until evenly incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in broth and apple juice. Season with some salt and stir well.
- Pour the liquid into the bowl with bread and veggies and quickly mix everything together as evenly as possible.
- Transfer into prepared baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes. For 9×9 deep casserole dish, bake the stuffing for 35-40 minutes. For 9×13 casserole dish, bake the stuffing for 30-35 minutes. To tell if the stuffing is done, check the center with an instant read digital thermometer so it reads 165°.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in November 2018.