Make Ahead

Traditional Sage Stuffing

November  2, 2009
6 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This dressing is a classic in my family, and you can't mess with it on pain of death. We gather around the kitchen table on Thanksgiving morning to cut up the ingredients and make the stuffing, and we always make extra, since nobody can keep their fingers out of the bowl. It's really a traditional stuffing, so it's key to use good ingredients—a firm white bread and fresh sage. We usually stuff the turkey with it, which adds additional moisture, but if you're not going to stuff it, add a cup of chicken stock and a jar of oysters in their brine before baking. —Savour

Test Kitchen Notes

This traditional sage stuffing is everything I want Thanksgiving stuffing to be. Flecked with aromatics and a full cup (!) of salted butter, it's got enough rich, savory flavor to hold its own, but is not so powerfully scented that it can’t still play nice with everything else on your table.

As Savour, the community member who created this recipe, mentions, the ingredient list here is minimal, so you'll want to use some high-quality stuff. A couple loaves of crusty French bread you like to eat plain, or even sourdough will do the trick here (tear it into chunks instead of cubing for more interesting textural variety), and the most flavorful butter you can find (I like European-style for its creaminess and slightly sour, cultured twang). If you don't like celery or want to try something more adventurous, use chopped fennel in an equal amount. If you prefer something a little milder than white onion, shallots, leeks, chives, or scallions will work great. And if you want to make this completely vegetarian, try using vegetable or mushroom stock to coat the stuffing mixture before baking off in the oven.

Speaking of baking off in the oven: If you're not using this stuffing to, well, stuff your turkey, and are instead enjoying it as a side dish, Savour has you baking this in a casserole dish, covered, for 30 minutes. That'll seal in the moisture and allow the mixture to stay custardy on the inside, which is ideal. But to get an enviably crispy-crackly crust on top—the prized textural contrast that is equally the hallmark of a good stuffing—remove the cover for the last 7 to 10 minutes of your stuffing's time in the oven; dot the top with a few more pieces of butter; and let 'er get golden brown and delicious. It's no time to be shy with the butter. —Brinda Ayer

What You'll Need
  • 2 large loaves white bread, 2 to 3 days old
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 5 tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
  1. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and set aside into a large bowl.
  2. In a large and deep skillet, melt butter over low heat.
  3. Add onion and celery, saute slowly until the vegetables are translucent.
  4. Add salt and pepper and fresh sage and stir to combine.
  5. Take a deep breath. Your kitchen smells like Thanksgiving!
  6. Toss as many bread cubes as the pan will hold in the butter vegetable mixture.
  7. Pour contents of the skillet over the remaning bread cubes. Use your hands to toss until all the bread has some sagey buttery goodness on it.
  8. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt, sage or pepper to taste.
  9. Use the stuffing to stuff a turkey, and roast according to the instructions. If you don't want to stuff the turkey, put stuffing in a casserole dish, pour about 1 cup good, flavorful chicken or turkey stock over the stuffing, and bake, covered, at 350°F for 30 minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Winniecooks
  • Lauren
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    Food Blogga
  • TasteFood
  • Joe Dolan
    Joe Dolan
I'm a Los Angeles based home cook with a full time job and 2 young kids, so my recipes tend to be accessible to busy people. I firmly believe that anyone can cook good, everyday meals from scratch with sufficient tools and encouragement, and I try to create meals that are delicious, wholesome and not too intimidating. Most of my favorite recipes tend to be twists on a classic dish that makes it new and exciting.

7 Reviews

JUSTLUVKUKN November 24, 2023
Simple yet flavorful, like my mom's recipe, which I lost. Everyone loved it! Added a pound of oyster mushrooms. It will definitely be a Thanksgiving tradition in our house.
Winniecooks November 14, 2022
Delicious made as written. Use the full amount of fresh sage and brown up if using as dressing. The crunchy bits were especially tasty so use a large, flat pan to maximize the crunch.
Lauren November 26, 2020
Beat stuffing recipe! This is the second year I’m making this stuffing and love it - simple, flavorful, easy to make. I particularly love step 5 of the directions!
Lusty D. November 15, 2012
This is what I make. I use the most unprocessed bread I can find. No artificial ingredients. In my family we add rendered italian sausage, from the butcher only and we like some dried apricots as well to cut the richness. Good chicken and always Bells Seasoning.
Joe D. November 11, 2020
Bell’s, yes!
Food B. November 6, 2009
This is so similar to my go-to stuffing. Bread, onions, celery, and herb like sage and rosemary. Classic and simple.
TasteFood November 3, 2009
This is my all-time favorite combination for stuffing that I grew up on. I've made many other kinds of stuffing, but return to this one over and again. The combination of sage, celery, onion and butter can't be beat.