Make-Ahead Stuffing Means One Less Thing to Worry About on Thanksgiving (2024)

The key to a breezy Thanksgiving is the same as for any dinner party: Do absolutely everything you can ahead of time. I don’t just mean getting a jump on cranberry sauce, pie dough, or overnight-brining the bird—you should cross every single item, big and small, off your to-do list as far in advance as possible, to free up the big day for last-minute mishaps and (this is going to sound crazy) enjoying yourself.

Can you make stuffing ahead of time? Absolutely. Most Thanksgiving stuffing recipes can be made at least partially in advance since: A) They’re easily assembled a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving Day; and B) They’re often baked using a two-step process (once covered with foil to cook through, then uncovered to achieve a crispy top). Our best make-ahead stuffing recipe is no different. The key is assembling and doing the first round of baking a day ahead, so all that’s left to do is crisp it up while your turkey rests.

How to make stuffing ahead of time:

If you’re used to throwing together a dish of stuffing from a store-bought mix, this make-ahead stuffing recipe is a very easy, very delicious upgrade. Instead of coating a bag of brittle dried bread cubes with unidentified poultry seasoning, this homemade stuffing recipe builds big flavor with hearty torn sourdough bread, hot Italian sausage, fresh herbs, and a boatload of caramelized onions. It requires minimal day-of labor (without sacrificing taste) by relying on the prep time you’ll carve out on Thanksgiving Eve. The result is a stuffing that’s ready when you are—and plenty of time on T-day to focus on your turkey recipe and all those other Thanksgiving side dishes.

Start with the right loaf.

If you want to make stuffing ahead of time, the type of bread matters. Some classic stuffing recipes call for plain white bread, which will likely absorb too much moisture and disintegrate. A sturdier loaf, like sourdough bread, is more likely to retain its structure as it soaks in the chicken broth, making it the ideal choice for this make-ahead stuffing recipe.

Drying the bread on two baking sheets gives you room to spread the bread cubes into a single layer for even toasting. You’ll dry them in an oven on low heat (250°). Don’t skip this part, even if you’re using a stale loaf (since stale bread isn’t actually dried out), as it helps the sourdough maintain its integrity once submerged into its custardy bath. Transfer the dried bread chunks to a large bowl and prep the rest of the mixture.

Build big flavor.

True caramelized onions take a long time to break down and become the melty, sweet-savory magic you want them to be. On Thanksgiving dinners past, you would not find a caramelized onion within 100 feet of my table because I absolutely did not have that kind of time. But if I’m assembling the entire stuffing the day before, I can cook spicy sausage, caramelize onions, and create a sage-scented base for torn bread without worrying about the clock.

Make-Ahead Stuffing Means One Less Thing to Worry About on Thanksgiving (2024)
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