Sheet Pan

What We Call Stuffing: Challah, Mushroom & Celery

September 28, 2021
40 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 48 hours
  • Cook time 55 minutes
  • Serves 12
Author Notes

Our holiday entertaining guest list includes a number of vegetarians. I make every effort to have many Thanksgiving standards in a vegetarian form. In this case, I use homemade challah, cut it into cubes, and then let the bread cubes sit out on the counter for a couple of days to get a little stale. I also use only mushroom stems in this stuffing, just as a matter of economy. The caps are sauteed in butter and dusted with cayenne, then set aside for mushroom gravy, another vegetarian option. —MrsWheelbarrow

Test Kitchen Notes

No one would ever guess that this is a vegetarian stuffing, and why should it matter? It's rich yet light and teeming with fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley—a wonderful combination and a dish that everyone at the table will be able to enjoy, vegetarian or not. The most memorable of all is its texture, as the challah soaks up the vegetable broth and melted butter and then puffs up in the oven, creating a stuffing with a thick, crisp top and fluffy, almost pudding-like interior. And yes, we believe the best stuffing result is to use homemade challah, and it's really important not to skip the time it takes to make the bread stale. Two days is ideal, so you can plan ahead of time when making this recipe. The assembled stuffing can hang out on the counter until showtime, and needs about 45 minutes to bake. So a little prep is involved, but this recipe is well worth it. Thanksgiving rolls around only once a year, after all.

We baked it in a large cast-iron skillet because we didn't have right casserole dish. The stuffing didn't suffer a bit; in fact, it looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie. This recipe is pretty versatile, so feel free to experiment with whatever add-ons you like. The rest of it comes together quickly, cooking the vegetables and lots of fresh herbs, then combining those with the soaked bread, more melted butter, and preferably homemade vegetable stock. It's what stuffing dreams are made of when the holidays roll around. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
What We Call Stuffing: Challah, Mushroom & Celery
  • 1 large loaf of challah or brioche
  • 7 ounces unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 8 to 10 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut the challah into 1-inch cubes. Arrange the cubes on a parchment-lined sheet pan on the counter to get stale, at least overnight and preferably for 2 days.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 F. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 3 ounces of the butter. Cook the onions, stirring, for about 5 minutes. until wilted. Add the celery, mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, and parsley and cook, stirring, until fragrant and warmed through, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, in the microwave or in a small skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 4 ounces of the butter.
  4. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Add the stock, bread, and melted butter; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Press the stuffing into a large buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered parchment, then cover with foil. At this point, the stuffing can be held for several hours, but should be at room temperature before baking.
  6. Bake, uncovering the pan during the last 10 to 15 minutes, for 45 to 55 minutes total, until the surface is crisp and the bread is golden brown.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    Taylor Stanton
  • Pari Ghodsi
    Pari Ghodsi
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    Andrew Morgan
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179 Reviews

Taylor S. October 22, 2023
Absolutely amazing stuffing! A very simple recipe with high reward.
Mary November 25, 2022
I made this for thanksgiving and it was fabulous!! The only thing I changed was the seasoning, as I was too cheap to buy fresh. Instead I used a ton of herb de Provence (the kind with no lavender) and caraway seed, something that is used heavily in Czech cooking. SO good! I’m eating it cold this morning for breakfast and it’s even better! I will definitely be making this one again! But maybe only half the recipe as it made a HUGE, DEEP 13” x 9” pan lol.
Cookie October 30, 2022
This is now what we call stuffing too! Loved by all at our Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.
MrsWheelbarrow November 1, 2022
Hi Cookie! I'm so glad to hear this. I'll think of you this year when my challah cubes are all over the kitchen becoming delightfully stale. Happy Thanksgiing.
[email protected] August 17, 2022
Try thpe same recipe with BAGELS!! Especially stale rye and pumernickle. Bold flavors and if you stuff the poultry with it...Heaven on earth! The bagels give the stuffing some tooth, tired of mushy stuffig?
Pari G. November 25, 2020
Hi, What do you think of adding eggs to the recipe? to bind the dressing?
sega10028 November 25, 2020
There is no need to. I've made this several times as is, and it's wonderful. Maybe the photos make it look dry, but it isn't.
MrsWheelbarrow November 25, 2020
I think it might be soggy with eggs.
Pari G. November 26, 2020
Andrew M. November 25, 2020
This has been my go to stuffing for the past three years. It's amazing. A few of the holiday prep tips I've picked up:
You can prep the butter, herb, and veg mixture the night before and hold it in the fridge. Take it out in the morning, let it come to room temp, and mix with your bread, melted butter, and stock.
I bake it for the initial bake before I do a turkey. Keep it out at room temp, loosely covered, while the turkey cooks, then pop it back in for 15 minutes to warm through and crisp while the turkey rests. If it seems a little dry on top from the resting, I'll add some thinly sliced cold butter to the top so it melts in the oven. (Even if it doesn't seem dry, I add it, because butter)
One of my guests doesn't like mushrooms in large pieces, so I blitz the mushrooms and onions in a food processor to very fine pieces before cooking, almost like making a duxelles. I actually prefer it this way, because the mixture coats the bread rather than staying as definable pieces. Celery, I still use in small dice, because I like the texture contrast.
If you aren't adverse to the joys of MSG, a teaspoon or two added to the broth is fantastic.
Kathy C. November 26, 2019
How many Trader Joe’s loaves of challah to use. I think I get the amount of bread wrong. Thx!!!!!
MrsWheelbarrow November 26, 2019
Two, maybe two and a half! My homemade challah is denser than the TJs loaf
toral November 26, 2019
I made this last year with one TJ's challah and it worked. It was 1.5 lbs.
Kathy C. November 27, 2019
Thank you so much for replying at such a busy time! Happy Thanksgiving!
Kathy C. November 27, 2019
My reply was directed at Mrs Wheelbarrow but also thanks to you.
Kathy C. December 2, 2019
I made it with 11 cups bread, 1-1/2T Thyme, 1T Rosemary plus other ingredients and it turned out so good. Rave reviews from guests! Thx for the exact measurements!!
rbg915 November 24, 2020
Hi can you use sourdough instead of challah? What about mixing the two? And if you add celery leaves as one comment or suggested, should you add them all from the celery or just a little and chop it up? Thanks!
MrsWheelbarrow November 25, 2020
I've never used another bread and challah is kinda the reason for this stuffing recipe. :) I use a lot of celery and the leaves but I LOVE celery.
Zoe November 24, 2019
I have been using this stuffing for years now, been meaning to thank you for sharing! The challah gives it such a delightful texture. I do add a little more herbs for an extra punch as well as some crumbled vegetarian sausage for some protein and even more flavor. It’s a forgiving recipe but letting the bread get stale and not breaking it up too finely is key. Highly recommend this one since it is delicious if you play around with it or serve exactly as is! I’ve assembled fully then traveled a few hours to bake it, made it fully the night before and reheated, and of course enjoyed fresh out the oven. Always a hit. Thanks again for my thanksgiving tradition :)
MrsWheelbarrow November 24, 2019
Awwww. Thanks so much! I just set out all the challah. Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving!
Zoe November 24, 2019
You and yours as well!
Fogdweller November 27, 2019
Zoe, in case you see this late on the eve before Thanksgiving .... what was your re-heating strategy. I spaced out and assembled the whole thing tonight (doh!) and will now need to reheat tomorrow. Thanks for any counsel!
Valerie O. November 22, 2019
I've made this stuffing for the last five Thanksgivings, and it's just the right thing to feed a crowd of mixed dietary needs. It's vegetarian, but also so jam-packed with flavor that it satisfies even the meatiest of eaters. I always throw in an extra bit of herbs as I do think that's what makes this stuffing pop. Otherwise, I follow the recipe as-is. I have pre-made the stuffing the day before, placed in baking dish, covered with parchment, then baked the next day. It's been perfect thus far.
MrsWheelbarrow November 22, 2019
So nice to hear this! Very happy and delicious wishes to you this Thanksgiving.
Susan U. November 17, 2019
Can this be made ahead and frozen? Assuming that the cook doesn't help herself to all of it 'just to taste'.
MrsWheelbarrow November 17, 2019
It doesn’t freeze perfectly but you can do it. I prefer to freeze the bread cubes and the. Chop the veg and herbs a day or two in advance. I put it all together thanksgiving morning.
Margaret L. November 17, 2019
Just remember that air is the enemy of food in the freezer, and this stuffing in the pan has plenty of air pockets. Freezing will pull the water out of ingredients, leaving it in the dish as little ice crystals. This will change the texture of the ingredients, and the longer it is frozen, the more marked the change you will notice. But since it doesn't have any never-freeze ingredients, you could freeze it for a few days. Just wrap it as tightly as possible and be prepared to accept a slight deterioration in the texture.
Eric K. September 11, 2019
This stuffing rocks!!!!!!!
Vi H. November 21, 2018
Love this recipe and have used it 3 years running- it is always declared the best dish! Question: could you par-bake this for 45 min and then finish baking without the parchment about an hour later? Will need to transport it a distance this year.
Christa November 21, 2018
I made this last year and it was sooooo delicious! This year I need it to be gluten free, was thinking of using corn bread....thoughts? Thanks so much!
MrsWheelbarrow November 21, 2018
Use the very best gluten free bread you can find.
Lizzy C. November 22, 2018
I make this recipe gf every year! It comes out great - just buy really good gf bread and toast the cubes rather than letting them go stale over 2 days
Michelle November 21, 2017
Hello, does anyone have a good idea for replacement of mushrooms in this recipe?
Jeannine D. November 21, 2017
Just leave them out
Carrel R. November 19, 2017
I would like to add dried sage to this recipe, instead of the other herbs. Could you recommend how much, please? Thank you so much!
MrsWheelbarrow November 19, 2017
Start with 1/2 teaspoon and taste. Sage can get very medicinal if overused!
Carrel R. November 19, 2017
Thank you so much for your quick reply! And the sage is the "rubbed sage" variety...correct? Thanks, again!
FrugalCat November 15, 2017
Challah is a great bread for stuffing. I also throw in some shredded carrots. And for the celery, use the leaves too- great flavor.
Margaret L. November 8, 2017
This wonderful recipe is very similar to the pan dressing (I don't stuff the bird) I've made for about 35 years. My additions: a bit of dried sage and a tablespoon or two of good-quality sherry. Simple and sublime!
Jeannine D. October 11, 2017
This is almost exactly how I make stuffing, only different is I use Turkey stock, do half Challah and half Italian bread and add chopped pistashios
Anne E. November 25, 2016
Made this for Friendsgiving and it was a smash hit. Everyone kept coming up to me asking if I indeed was the one behind the stuffing—will be making it again and again!
MrsWheelbarrow November 27, 2016
Hi Anne, I'm so pleased to hear this! I wait all year for this stuffing. (Geez, I wonder why I don't make it more often?????)
Anne E. November 27, 2016
I was also the very happy recipient of the leftovers, so I have been living off of it for DAYS now. Very happy I used the expensive brioche for it ;)
Marisa A. December 2, 2015
I have to say, this was the best I've had. My sister and brother-in-law are vegan. With hosting thanksgiving this year, it posed a minor challenge--appeasing the meat eaters while killing it with some vegan crossover recipes. They bring a delicious vegan pot pie for their main dish, so that was no big. But the sides--it was important to punch it with flavor.

I found a recipe for a vegan challah bread and made that the weekend before. I let it sit and get stale. I used homemade veg broth and earth balance in place of butter. Doubled the recipe and it was a total smash! No one knew it was vegan and my sis was beyond stoked. It'll be on repeat for a while I think.
MrsWheelbarrow December 2, 2015
That is so great to know!