Make Ahead

Best Old-Fashioned Turkey Stuffing Ever

by:
July 16, 2021
8 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

My mom learned the recipe from her mom who learned it working as a housekeeper/cook/maid in the 1930s. It used sage and poultry seasoning, which is key. My brother was the pickiest eater ever and he loves this stuffing, so it's kid-friendly too. —Yateski

Test Kitchen Notes

Of course, every family has their own version of stuffing when Thanksgiving rolls around, and yours is arguably the best. But if you ever want to branch out and try our version of the best, we suggest checking out this classic stuffing recipe. You may initially be put off by the fact that it calls for turkey liver, but if you're cooking the whole bird anyway, might as well use all of the parts! Plus, it adds so much flavor, you'll soon find out why it's an essential addition. Otherwise, this recipe features classic stuffing ingredients, from cubed white bread to onions, celery, and a touch of sage.

This is the type of stuffing that lives up to its name: You stuff the turkey and let them both roast away in the oven. If you're not inclined to do so, you can bake the stuffing in a casserole dish instead, which is suggested for any leftover stuffing that doesn't fit into the bird anyway. Just be sure to add a little bit of chicken stock to help build the flavor if you're not stuffing a bird. Plus, you can get the kids to help with cubing the bread and then mixing all the ingredients together with your hands—yes, that is by far the best way to make sure everything is evenly distributed and the texture is correct. With the bird simply seasoned and the best stuffing ever, you know that you and your loved ones will have a Thanksgiving to remember. —The Editors

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 2 loaves of white bread
  • 1 liver from the turkey, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk (more may be needed depending on the softness of the stuffing)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sage, plus more to taste
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. For this recipe, we are assuming that the oven is preheated to the turkey's package directions and the turkey is rinsed clean inside and out, patted dry, and waiting in the roaster already. Cube the bread and place in a large container. You can cube 3 to 4 pieces stacked at the same time to speed up the process.
  2. Chop the liver into small pieces. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the liver, celery, and onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions and celery are getting transparent. Transfer to the container with the bread.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl. Add the milk and beat until blended. Pour over the bread; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the parsley, poultry seasoning, and sage. You can add more or less of any of these seasonings to match your taste; it should smell good to you when the seasoning is right.
  5. Mix with your hands until evenly distributed and moist. If the stuffing isn't sticky, add a splash more milk until it gets soft and gooey.
  6. Stuff the turkey. We pack it in pretty tightly and it ends up expanding a little, but it's always a lot better in the bird than in the casserole dish. If you have a small turkey, you will have stuffing left over. Place in a casserole dish next to the turkey in the oven. Bake the turkey and stuffing, covering with foil if it starts to brown too quickly, for about 30 minutes, until cooked through.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Andrea Gurd
    Andrea Gurd
  • Patty LaChance
    Patty LaChance
  • Delia Galindo
    Delia Galindo
  • Margaux
    Margaux

5 Reviews

Andrea G. December 25, 2020
Perfect! This will become my go to stuffing recipe. The only change I made was to add currants.
 
Andrea G. December 25, 2020
Perfect! This will become my go to stuffing recipe. The only change I made was to add currants.
 
Patty L. January 9, 2020
This recipe is so close to my moms from 1940 but we use the giblets and not the liver. Good old fashioned bread sage dressing. I always add just a little more sage. I don't like adding corn bread or any other things to change the taste. In my opinion if your going to do that why not just buy it out of a box. My family goes nuts over this recipe. And when i invite friends they all want the recipe and i am glad to share.
 
Delia G. November 6, 2019
It sounds way off using mere bread. Not even toasting the bread. Where’s your cornbread and chicken stock. Weird I guess it’s all about different tastes
 
Margaux November 20, 2016
This is LITERALLY my mom's recipe!!! I've been looking for something similar to what she showed me, since I didn't bother to write it down. I totally forgot about the liver, which obviously really important for the flavor. Thanks so much for posting this :)