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Classic Herb and Fennel Stuffing

Classic Herb and Fennel Stuffing

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If your Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without a craggy-topped, herb-infused, crusty-bread-based stuffing, this one's for you. Better yet, make two: A dish of stuffing at each end of the table will help ease the traffic jam and maximize those primo corner scoops.


  • 1 2-lb. loaf country-style bread, torn into 1"–1½" pieces
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

Recipe Preparation

  • Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 250°. Arrange bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl. Increase oven temperature to 350°.

  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onions, fennel, and celery, stirring often, until softened but not yet browned, 8–10 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add butter and cook, stirring, until melted, about 3 minutes. Scrape vegetable mixture over bread in bowl and mix in parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.

  • Whisk eggs and broth in a medium bowl to combine.

  • Pour over bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly coated.

  • Divide between two 8x8" baking dishes (you can also put it all in a 13x9" baking dish if you prefer) and pack stuffing down.

  • Cover with foil and bake until you can see some bubbles around the edges of the dishes, 30–35 minutes.

  • Increase oven temperature to 425°. Uncover stuffing and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

  • Do Ahead: Bread can be baked 2 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature. Stuffing can be assembled 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Reviews SectionAnonymousColumbus 11/28/19Big JoeMontreal,Canada11/22/19What is the bake temperature?AnonymousDurham NC11/18/18

Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing (Dressing) Recipe

Why It Works

  • Using finer-holed white bread instead of a more open-structured artisanal loaf means better flavor absorption and retention.
  • Bread that's been dried out in a low oven is more absorbent than stale bread.
  • A mixture of sage, sausage, onion, garlic, and celery lends this stuffing classic flavor.

This tried-and-true stuffing (or dressing) recipe, featuring aromatic sage and hearty sausage, is an easy crowd-pleaser.

While it can be made with any number of bases, the most popular type (and my favorite) is made with bread, broth, eggs, and butter. Essentially, it's best to think of it as a savory bread pudding.

The key to great bread pudding is to use the bread as a sponge to soak up as much flavorful liquid as possible. At the same time, you don't want it to be spongy.

The final pudding should have a moist, custard-like texture. It should be firm enough to cut with a knife, but soft and tender enough to eat with a spoon, with a bit of space left over to soak up some gravy. Much of this has to do with how you pick and handle your bread.

Top 5 Ways to Use Fennel Stalks & Fronds

Most recipes with fennel, like our Shaved Fennel, Roasted Tomato, and Pistachio Salad from yesterday, focus on the crunchy bulb, leaving us in a lurch when it comes to the leftover stalks and fronds. Fennel tops are tasty too! No sense in letting these greens go to waste. Here are some favorite ways to use them up.

The lacy fronds have a delicate anise flavor and are so tender that they practically melt in your mouth. Think of them as herbs, just like dill or tarragon. They don’t hold up well to long cooking, but are best used fresh.

The stalks also have that signature mild licorice flavor, but are much tougher. To use them raw, I like to chop them very finely to break apart their tough fibers. They also do well if cooked.

1. Add the Leafy Fronds to Salads: Strip the fronds from the stalks and toss them in your next green salad. They’ll add just the faintest hint of licorice to each bite.

2. Make Fennel Pesto: As Sara Kate would be quick to point out, any green is pesto waiting to happen. Try tossing fennel pesto with pasta or rubbing it onto meat before roasting.

3. Use Stalks and Fronds for Cooking Fish: Fennel and fish have been best friends since the dawn of cooking. Whether you’re grilling, poaching, or steaming, laying a few stalks and fronds alongside the fish will infuse the fish with sweet fennel-tastic flavor.

4. Juice ‘Em Up: If you have a juicer, you need look no further. You won’t get a lot of juice from the tops (unless you have a lot of fronds!), but what you do get can be mixed with other juiced fruits and vegetables.

5. Save for Stock: If inspiration fails to strike, at the very least you can stick the stalks and fronds in the freezer and save them for the next time you make vegetable or chicken stock. It’s not for everyone, but I really like the sweet undertone that fennel gives to stocks.

  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram about 2 loaves) high-quality sandwich bread or soft Italian or French bread, cut into 3/4-inch dice, about 5 quarts
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (113 grams), plus more for greasing dish
  • 1 pound (500 grams) sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups 300 grams)
  • 2 large stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1 cup 200 grams)
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb, finely chopped (about 1 cup 200 grams)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons 10 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth (700 millilitres), divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 1/4 ounce 8 grams), divided
  • 2 cups raw oysters and their liquor (470 millilitres about 32 medium oysters), oysters chopped (see note)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions. Preheat oven to 275°F. Spread bread evenly over 2 rimmed baking sheets. Stagger sheets on oven racks and bake until bread is completely dried, about 50 minutes total, rotating sheets and stirring bread cubes several times during baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Increase oven temperature to 350°F.

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming subsides, without allowing butter to brown, about 2 minutes. Add sausage and mash with stiff whisk or potato masher to break up into fine pieces (largest pieces should be no bigger than 1/4 inch). Cook, stirring frequently, until only a few bits of pink remain, about 8 minutes. Add onion, celery, fennel, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add half of chicken stock.

Whisk remaining chicken stock, eggs, tarragon, and 3 tablespoons parsley in a medium bowl until homogeneous. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, slowly pour egg mixture into sausage mixture. Add bread cubes, oysters, and oyster liquor and fold gently until evenly mixed. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Transfer stuffing to a buttered 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking dish (or 10- by 14-inch oval dish) and bake until browned on top and an instant read-thermometer reads 150°F when inserted into center of dish, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

Chervil (pronounced sher-vil) is a cousin of parsley and is sometimes even called French parsley. This spring herb has a delicate, mild flavor similar to both tarragon and parsley with subtle hints of anise and licorice. The leaves of this herb resemble carrot greens and are somewhat frilly and curly. Unlike the other herbs in this French mixture, chervil is not readily available in the produce section of the supermarket.

In addition to the fine herbes, French cuisine also features two other herb combinations. Bouquet garni is traditionally a mix of dried bay leaves, thyme, and parsley, but it sometimes also includes garlic and pepper. It's most often used in stews, soups, and braises and is usually wrapped in tiny cloth bags so it can be easily removed from the pot when it's done.

Herbes de Provence is more intense than the other two mixes and is similar to Italian herb mixes, which makes sense considering the geographical proximity of Provence to Italy. The mix usually includes dried rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and savory, and often also features sage, fennel seeds, and tarragon. These herbs are commonly used as a dry rub to season grilled and roasted meats and as a seasoning in seafood and vegetable dishes. Herbes de Provence can also be used in a pinch as a substitute for Italian herb seasoning mix since it contains similar ingredients. Just add in a bit of oregano and maybe a dash of basil and you'll have the right flavor.

Top rated Bread Stuffing and Dressing recipes

Olive Bread Stuffing with Fennel

This dressing is so flavorful thanks to sautéing the fennel and using olive bread

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound trimmed fennel bulbs, cored and diced, about 2 bulbs
  • 3 cups chopped onions, about 3 large
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, white parts only, about 5 onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 15 cups stale artisanal olive bread cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup oil-pack dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil

Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing

The ultimate comfort food--old fashioned bread stuffing

  • 1 cup chopped celery, about 2 stalks
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot, about 1 medium
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups dried white bread cubes*
  • 1 cups chicken broth

Bread Dressing with Dried Apricots, Pistachios & Mint

A twist on bread dressing with sweet dried apricots, crunch pistachios and a little fresh mint

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 6 cups (packed) 3/4-inch cubes crustless country-style white bread, from one 1-pound loaf
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds, or 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup diced dried apricots, about 4 1/2 ounces
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled, about 2 ounces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth

Stuffing with Sage & Chives

Savory stuffing is perfect anytime of the year

  • 1 spray cooking spray
  • 12 slices whole wheat bread, or white bread, preferably day-old, cubed*
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons light butter
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 cups canned chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chives, fresh, chopped

Rye, Kale, Mushroom & Pumpkin Seed Stuffing

Using rye bread to make your stuffing gives it a unique flavor

  • 4 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 10 cups coarsely torn seeded rye, dried out overnight
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, or crimini), cut into large pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 medium shallots, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth, divided

Stuffing Muffins

By Foodiewife, A Feast for the Eyes

My family loves stuffing. This year, I was inspired to bake stuffing in muffins tins, and that turned out to be a .

  • 1 (14-ounce) package Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Stuffing (or use your own stale bread combo of your choice)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (I used homemade turkey stock), heated until almost boiling
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Bell's Seasoning (if a seasoning packet isn't included)
  • Additions: stuffing recipes vary so much! You can add cooked sausage, chopped apples, dried cranberries, golden raisins, oysters. whatever your heart desires.

Easy Vegetable Stuffing

Love stuffing? This tasty, vegetarian version is packed with bell peppers, broccoli and corn

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen bell pepper and onion stir-fry (from 1-pound bag)
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli cuts
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (from 32-ounce carton)
  • 4 cups sage and onion-seasoned stuffing cubes (from 14-ounce bag)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Holiday Sausage Stuffing

With savory flavors like sausage and garlic, this holiday sausage stuffing is sure to liven up any holiday table!

  • 1 (16-ounce) package Johnville All Natural Ground Mild Italian Sausage or Italian Sausage Link, casing removed
  • 12 slices or 1 1/2 packages of New York Brand Texas Garlic Toast
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper,chopped
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Apple, Bacon, & Leek Stuffing

Leeks bring a rich and mellow flavor to this stuffing recipe, with the apples bringing a little sweetness, and the .

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 9 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped leeks, about 4 to 5 leeks
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery, about 3 stalks
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped, cored, peeled, Fuji or Granny Smith apples, about 2 large
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 6 cloves
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 12 cups dry country-style bread cubes*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh snipped sage, or 1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • Fresh sage leaves, optional

Jones Sausage, Cranberry & Apple Stuffing

The bright, tangy flavors of dried cranberries and tart apples are the perfect addition to traditional stuffing mad.

  • 1 loaf sour dough bread, cubed (about 10-cups)
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 (12-ounce) Jones Dairy Farm All Natural Pork Sausage Rolls
  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped and divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup chardonnay wine
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Mama's Old Fashioned Stuffing

Mama's old fashioned stuffing is a classic and comforting dish that'll bring back fond memories of your childhood

  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, finely chopped
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (14-ounce) package cubed herb-seasoned stuffing mix (8 cups)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Nanny's Thanksgiving Dressing

Sauté celery and onion in butter until soft, set aside

  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 pound pork breakfast sausage
  • 5 quarts hamburger buns, broken into pieces (1bun=approx 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups chicken broth, plus extra

Summer Squash Stuffing Casserole

This casserole is a perfect side dish any time of year, but especially for the big Thanksgiving dinner

Fennel’s licorice flavor has long been considered an excellent complement for fish and the same goes for bronze fennel. One classic preparation involves stuffing a whole fish with chopped fennel fronds and stalks, wrapping the fish in foil or parchment paper and then baking it. Bronze fennel works with all kinds of fish but it is believed to be especially enjoyable with salmon and other fatty fish.

You can chop the fronds finely and sprinkle them over the ingredients in your salad as a garnish. Alternatively, you can add them to a salad dressing. Thinly sliced bronze fennel stalks pair well with most salad ingredients. Use a mandolin slicer to get them as thin and possible if you want to use them in a salad. Chopped bronze fennel fronds make an attractive addition to pale, creamy dressings. Use them in aioli or homemade mayonnaise.

Because of how well bronze fennel goes with creamy and fatty ingredients, it is a great option for potato salads and coleslaws where you can add the chopped fronds to the dressing or sprinkle them over the top right before serving. Along with rich ingredients, bronze fennel fronds are particularly enjoyable in dressings that contain orange or other citrus fruits.


  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 pounds lamb and mutton (ground)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup cilantro (fresh, chopped)
  • 1/3 cup mint (fresh leaves, finely chopped)
  • 6 cloves garlic (crushed and finely chopped)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)

The bread must be stale to achieve the right texture in your stuffing, and this can be done a couple of ways.

Cut the bread into cubes when you get home from the store and let it sit out at room temperature for a few days until nice and stale, or bake it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until dried.

From there, the bread cubes can be left out at room temperature for a day or so until your ready to make your stuffing.

5 steps to better stuffing

Proceeding majestically from kitchen to table with a gloriously golden turkey practically bursting with stuffing on its platter is an iconic moment in everyone's Thanksgiving dreams. You can do it for real, if you plan properly and take steps to build flavor in your stuffing.

The big challenge is cooking the stuffing in the bird to a safe 165 degrees without incinerating the bird. The key is to keep the turkey moist.

Susan Westmoreland, Good Housekeeping's food director, prefers cooking the stuffing in a baking dish but realizes that Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving for some without a stuffed bird.

"If you do it … cover the bird with aluminum foil for everything but the last hour," she says. "Then start basting the turkey for some color."

Placing a loose tent of aluminum foil over the bird will create an environment that will help the stuffing reach the proper temperature, she says, while helping the breast meat stay moist.

Westmoreland is editor of "The Good House Keeping Test Kitchen Cookbook" (Hearst, $29.95). The newly published book contains a classic recipe for a vegetable-herb stuffing.

Here, she walks through the deconstructed recipe, explaining how to get the best results with your stuffing. Use this recipe, or adapt your recipe to the steps.

Step 1 Buy good bread. You'll need 11/2 loaves (16 ounces each) of sliced, firm bread. "Use either a Pullman loaf from a bakery or a good quality sandwich bread that has some body,'' Westmoreland says. Or try more creative loaves, such as Parmesan or herb. Toast slices on baking sheets in a 400-degree oven until golden and dry, turning slices over halfway through toasting, 16 to 17 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Step 2 Saute vegetables for deeper, richer flavor. Finely chop 2 carrots, 2 ribs celery and 1 onion. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables cook until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Don't crowd the pan you want the vegetables to cook but not steam. Remove from heat stir in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves, 3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Step 3 Boost the bread's flavor by adding liquids. Pour 2 1/2 cups canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock over the bread cubes in a bowl. Add the vegetables. Toss until the bread mixture is evenly moistened. How can you tell you've used enough broth? "If the pieces are moist on the outside, not soaked through, and hold their shapes," says Westmoreland. Use your hands — that's the way to tell for sure. Broth is a flavor carrier, she adds, meaning the recipe can use less fat. USDA officials like a moist stuffing for another reason: Heat destroys any bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment.

Step 4 Spoon stuffing loosely into the turkey. Stuff the bird as soon as the stuffing is assembled, advises the USDA, using 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. A looser pack means the stuffing will heat more evenly.

Step 5 Roast the turkey (at 325 degrees or higher) as soon as it is stuffed, until the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees. Let the roasted turkey rest at least 20 minutes remove all stuffing from the bird.

3 variations
Susan Westmoreland offers three quick ways to vary stuffing's flavor profile:

Chestnuts and sausage:
Saute 1 pound crumbled sausage in skillet along with vegetables mix in 2 cups roasted, peeled, chopped chestnuts.

Fennel, pears, dried fruit:
Swap out carrots, celery and onion for 1 small bulb fennel, chopped, 2 chopped pears and 1 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins.

Corn bread:
Substitute corn bread for white bread. Saute 1 chopped bell pepper and 1 chopped jalapeno along with the vegetables.

Rather not stuff?
Cook the stuffing in a greased, shallow, 3- to 31/2-quart ceramic or glass baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil bake 30 minutes in a 325-degree oven. Remove foil, bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until heated through and lightly browned on top.

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