Bread Stuffing Recipe (2024)

By Mark Bittman

Bread Stuffing Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour
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Mark Bittman writes that this bread stuffing, based on a James Beard recipe, has been a staple on his Thanksgiving table for decades. First you make fresh bread crumbs: just whiz a few cups of slightly stale cubes of decent bread (crust and all, unless it’s super-hard) in a food processor. Keep the crumbs very, very coarse. Cook them with plenty of butter (yes, you can use olive oil) and good seasonings. Baked in a pan, this is delicious, with or without gravy. You could use it to stuff the turkey if you’d like — but once you've tried it cooked on its own, you won't look back.

Featured in: To Stuff or Dress the Bird? James Beard Had It Covered

Learn: How to Cook a Turkey

Learn: How to Make Stuffing

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Yield:6 to 8 cups, enough for a 12-pound bird

  • ½pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1cup chopped onion
  • ½cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 6 to 8cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (see tip)
  • 1tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon or sage, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½cup chopped scallions
  • ½cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (12 servings)

252 calories; 20 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 2 grams sugars; 4 grams protein; 166 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Bread Stuffing Recipe (2)


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  1. Step


    Melt butter over medium heat in a large, deep skillet, Dutch oven or casserole. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add nuts and cook, stirring almost constantly, until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes.

  2. Add bread crumbs and tarragon or sage and toss to mix. Turn heat to low. Add salt, pepper and scallions. Toss again; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add parsley and stir. Turn off heat. (You may prepare recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate, well wrapped or in a covered container, for up to a day before proceeding.)

  3. Step


    Pack into chicken or turkey if you like before roasting, or roast in an ovenproof glass or enameled casserole for about 45 minutes, at 350 to 400 degrees; you can bake this dish next to the bird, if you like. (Or you can cook it up to 3 days in advance and warm it up right before dinner.)


  • To make the bread crumbs, tear bread into chunks and put them in the container of a food processor; you may need to do this in batches. Pulse until you have coarse, irregular crumbs, no smaller than a pea and preferably larger.



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Cooking Notes


I made this twice. The first time I followed the directions exactly and it came out very dry, and burnt. The second time I added minced celery to the onion sautee and about a cup of broth with the scallions at the end. I covered with foil and cooked for 20 mins, then took the foil off for another 15mins. Turned out much more moist but with some crunch and still very flavorful.


I persisted and the results for the 2nd time around make this is my favorite stuffing ever! My modifications based on comments here and elsewhere:-only 1 stick (and a couple tbs) butter-add chopped celery, carrots, and apple to sautéed shallots-2 types of baguette, 8-9 cups (soft, dried, and chopped in different sizes)-1 cup homemade (veg) broth (at this point I wanted to gobble up the stuffing from the pot!)-bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 20 minutes


How far in advance can this be made


Sounds a little dry. Shouldn't there be broth?

Kate Fickle

Reviewers recommended 1. adding celery, carrots, and apple2. adding 1 cup broth3. bake covered for 20 minutes, uncovered for 20 minutes


I think my favorite comment about this stuffing at the dinner table last night at Thanksgiving was, "The pine nuts are genius! They are everything. Why haven't I put pine nuts in my stuffing before?"

Huge hit. Everybody loved not having gelatinous, gluey stuffing.

Thank you!


Watch the video! I shows the kind of stuffing that it meat, no liquid, no eggs.....the finished product is simple and delicious....make extra gravy if you want to moisten it, and serve it in your best gravy boat.

Cate Doty, Senior Staff Editor, NYT Cooking

The butter should take care of any dryness. This is looser stuffing than many, but it's delicious.


I have made stuffing using this recipe since I got my first "How to cook..." more than 15 yrs ago. In the spirit of "How to cook..." I have always modified it by adding chicken stock and more butter until the bread was moist. I see now from the video that my results are very different from what Mr. Bittman intended. However, I found that adding broth increases the moisture without making it soggy or mushy. Its always been a huge hit at my house.


I added chopped Granny Smith apple and dried cranberries. It was amazing!


OK - the video is key. Wish I had watched it first... Like a few mentioned, I burned it beyond recognition on my first try. Mistake one: hard breadcrumbs. This calls for fresh bread, not those angry dried cubes I bought. Mistake two: don't cook too long or hot on the stove and loose all that butter.


This is the most delicious stuffing I've ever had. There were no leftovers last year. I can't wait to make it again this year. Like most of Bittman's recipes, it's easy and tastes amazing.

jessica d

We have a winner! This recipe will be at our Thanksgiving table for years to come. The key, I believe, is using a good quality bread (I used a French boule plus a few slices of rye-cranberry-walnut for variety. I asked the bakery to slice the loaves to get things started, then tore the slightly stale pieces by hand after leaving out overnight). I also indulged in a good quality butter.Bake the night before, tossing with just a drizzle of turkey broth before reheating the day of. Delish!!!


I think people who have left comments have the wrong idea about this dressing. It doesn't need stock. The brilliant thing is that the buttery bread gets very crisp in the oven and adds some non-mushy texture. I served it to 12 people tonight and it was very popular. I did add some sauteed sausage and apple to it, though, which was unnecessary but we liked it.


I made this twice. The first time I followed the directions exactly and it came out very dry, and burnt. The second time I added minced celery to the onion sautee and about a cup of broth with the scallions at the end. I covered with foil and cooked for 20 mins, then took the foil off for another 15mins. Turned out much more moist but with some crunch and still very flavorful.


I followed the recipe exactly, except for omitting the pine nuts and it came out burnt.


Wonderful recipe - my family greatly enjoyed! I prepared about 1.5x the recipe which fit nicely into a 9x13 pyrex dish. I used 1 stick of butter and 10 tbsp of olive oil, pine nuts, and fresh tarragon, etc. Prepared 3 days ahead and followed recipe. It was crunchy but not dry at all. I reheated a bit prior to dinner on Thanksgiving Day!Thanks Mark Bittman for a delicious yet simple recipe!


I make this every year. I love the crunch of this dry dressing with turkey and some good gravy. Over the years I've used everything from saved bread ends, loaves bought specifically for the dish, and bags of panko. I usually use yellow onion, but have also used red and shallots. All have turned out well. If you're having a panko year, stir once or twice while baking and keep a close watch at the end, it can go from browning to burnt quickly.

Athena of Detroit

This recipe is perfect as is. Watch the video. I hosted a large Thanksgiving potluck dinner with 40 guests and 4 different stuffing offerings— this one by far was the best. It was light with a slight crunch to it without being dry.


I have made this recipe for the last 4 years. Yes, I modify, as others have suggested by adding celery, apples, pecans, maple sausage, and lots of fresh herbs. It is about the quality of the bread as another reader commented. I use a whole loaf of fresh sourdough from a local bakery. I also moisten with just enough broth so that is not dry. It is our favorite stuffing/dressing, and we made many over the years.


Where can I find the Video?


Click the "watch" button on the picture of the stuffing, or under preparation.


Delicious but two notes: day-old bread is ok but not two days. Some pieces remained too crunchy, even with all the butter. I used pine nuts but they got lost in the stuffing—I think walnuts are a better choice.

Rebecca Callimanis

Make bigger chunks- like quarter sized (vs pea size)


This was so good! I burned it while being overly attentive to the turkey and had to scoop out the unburned top and center to serve. Guests still raved about it.


The flavors in this stuffing were delicious, but I found it way too buttery and heavy (read: not fluffy). Will make it again but next time will use only half the butter, and will try others' suggestions of adding celery & apple. I think those additions would complement the tarragon and walnuts really well.


I totally messed up and baked the torn pieces of bread. So then I had to wing it by adding by adding broth and celery. The chopped walnuts add a great flavor. Thanks Mark Bittman for a great base recipe and I will definitely try to remember to just use fresh bread next time.


Add at least one cup of broth. Cover and bake for 20 mins, uncover and bake 15 mins longer


Can I substitute butter for olive oil? The recipe sounds amazing but I cannot eat dairies.


From the introduction to the recipe: "Cook them with plenty of butter (yes, you can use olive oil) and good seasonings"


Made it and decided I agree with some of the comments below, it needs broth but covering it while it cooks would really make sense. Thanks for the tips.


Delicious. Truly. Followed it exactly thanks to watching the video in advance (a must). Simple and delicious. I mean after all it is bread with lots of butter, is there much of anything better than that?!

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