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Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dressing

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dressing is the BEST dressing-stuffing recipe you’ll ever have. It’s super simple to make, and is the perfect addition to turkey and gravy!

Grandma's Turkey Dressing Recipe

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This dressing recipe has been my family’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish for forever! I’ve been pulling the bread for this every year since I was a toddler. It’s super easy to make, you can make it early in the day, or even the day before to save time!

 

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

Dressing versus Stuffing?

What’s the difference between dressing and stuffing? Well, the obvious choice would be dressing is not stuffed into the bird. However, the terms are used interchangeably for dressing/stuffing outside the bird. In the south, we say dressing. And, up north they say stuffing. Rumor has it southern belles didn’t like to say “stuffing” so they would say dressing.

Either way, it’s all good and yummy!!

 

Sage and Thyme Dressing Recipe

We have our Thanksgiving day menu making down to a science after 30+ years of doing this. Dad starts with removing the giblets and stuff from the turkey, puts them in a pot of water with poultry seasoning, and lets it create a stock for later uses. You’ll want to do this first thing, so it’s ready when you are. It doesn’t need to boil for hours on end – just a good 20 minutes or so. We use this exact 4-quart pot, and fill it 3/4 of the way full with water, after adding the giblets.

I’ll walk you through how to make this dressing recipe. 

First, you’ll want to tear up two Italian loaves of bread into 1″ pieces.

I do this first thing in the morning – usually while watching the parade. I’ve been doing this step since I was a toddler! If you aren’t familiar with Italian loaves, they’re the fat, squishy ones in the bakery section. It’s a soft bread, not hard and crunchy like a long french baguette.

italian loaves for dressing

 

Here I am with my dad, ripping up bread at just 18 months!

Second, you’ll sprinkle the spice mixture on top and gently toss it around to coat each piece of bread.

What’s in the Dressing Spice Blend?

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Poultry Seasoning 

This is the pot of water with the neck and gizzards in it, along with a heavy sprinkling of poultry seasoning.

It’s the Stovetop Stock we need to create the flavor-filled dressing we’re making!

This is what we’ll use to help *moisten* the dressing after the next couple of steps.

Third, we need to chop up some celery with lots of leaves.

You’ll need just the top part of the celery – you want mostly celery leaves, so choose your celery based on this fact. 

Chop it all up real fine, along with one medium onion, not pictured.

Fourth, you’ll add the chopped celery and onions to a skillet with TWO sticks of butter.

Yes, two. Just do it and don’t think about it. It’s the holiday season, and you’ll want to have your eating pants on. 

via GIPHY

The fifth step is, after the celery and onions have softened, pour them over the seasoned bread.

Stir this around until well coated.

Using the stovetop stock, ladle in the turkey stock and stir each time.

You want the bread to be well coated, not dry, but not soggy. Maybe a cup and half total. Which, depending on your ladle size could be 3-4 ladles full. 

Like this! The bread isn’t wilting, but it’s not standing firm either. {Does any of this make sense?!}

I use sounds a lot when cooking – and this shouldn’t have a slurpy sound, you should hear nothing. If you hear that gloppy sound that is so gross, you’ll want to find some more bread and tear it into the bowl.

**If you end up with your dressing with too much liquid, either add some more bread and toss it around or just bake it longer in the oven. That is okay!**

Finally, press into a 9×13 buttered pan.

I like to get my hands wet with a tinge of water, and gently press flat. Cover with foil and set aside until 30-40 minutes before you’re going to serve. 

Thanksgiving side dish recipe

You’ll bake the dressing at 350˚ until the edges and top are browned.

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dressing is THE BEST part of the day!

Other Thanksgiving Menu Recipes:

Here are the items I think are the best to have on hand to make Thanksgiving prep a bit easier! 

Helpful Tips for Making Grandma’s Dressing:

  • Your bread does not need to be stale. I “pull” the bread apart the morning of Thanksgiving.
  • Italian Bread is the fluffy, soft, plump loaf of bread in your grocery’s bakery section. It’s not long and skinny. But, stocky and full.
  • This recipe makes ONE 9×13 casserole dish. Enough to serve 8 polite people. 6 people who just love dressing!
  • You should be using about 1.5 – 2 cups of stock. Maybe more. Just ladle it in, and as it gets to the consistency where you feel like it’s *moist* enough, stop.
  • You can make this the day before! For reheating, either pour a little extra stock on top before baking it at 350˚ or, place a baking dish on the rack below the dressing that is filled with water to create steam in your oven. This helps keep everything moist!
  • Storebought stock is totally fine to use if you are not making the turkey! I prefer Swanson’s Unsalted Chicken Broth and will simmer with a chopped onion + poultry seasoning + kosher salt before ladling into the dressing.

 

You can save this pin to your Thanksgiving board to use later!

grandma's thanksgiving dressing recipe

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Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dressing

  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: thanksgiving

Description

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dressing is the BEST dressing-stuffing recipe you’ll ever have. It’s super simple to make, and is the perfect addition to turkey and gravy!


Ingredients

Scale
  • Turkey neck + giblets
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 loaves Italian bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 12 tablespoons ‘Thanksgiving Seasoning” see note
  • 2 stick butter
  • 1 cup diced celery leaves + top stalks
  • 1 cup diced onions (about 1 medium onion)

Instructions

  1. In a medium add 8 cups water and place turkey neck and giblets in, along with a tablespoon of poultry seasoning. Bring to a simmer for 20+ minutes.
  2. Mix the bread pieces with 1-2 tablespoons of the Thanksgiving Seasoning, and toss to coat.
  3. In a medium skillet, melt two sticks of butter, and add celery and onions and cook until very soft. 
  4. Pour butter, celery, and onion mixture over bread pieces, and toss to coat well.
  5. Ladle a cup of turkey stock at a time to the bread mixture, tossing each time to make sure it’s moist enough. 
  6. Press into a buttered 9×13 baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 350˚ for 30-40 minutes. Just until the edges are browned and the middle is golden. 
  7. Serve with gravy and all the Thanksgiving sides!

Notes

Thanksgiving Seasoning:

  • 2 parts kosher salt
  • 1 part black pepper
  • 1 part poultry seasoning

If you think you’re dressing is too wet, either add more bread, or bake longer in the oven. If you think it’s too dry, add another hefty ladle full of stock. 

Keywords: grandma's thanksgiving dressing

 

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46 Comments

  1. This is just like my mom’s stuffing recipe, and it’s the best! We love it so much we make a whole extra pan for leftovers 🙂

    1. We do too!!! We only have it on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. But, this year, I made a whole thanksgiving dinner in May! It was so much fun!!

  2. This is exactly how I remember helping my mom and nana make stuffing every year! I used to alway sneak a bit of it raw during the day while we waited to cook it. So delicious and buttery!!

    1. Me too!!!! My family always knows how many times I’ve been by the pan… the corners slowly disappear. 😉

  3. Great! This is just like my grandma’s too, except she likes to put gizzards in hers.

  4. Oh, Thanksgiving food brings back a lot of memories!! I love this stuffing! Can’t wait to have it for Thanksgiving!

  5. Sounds delish! What a great family tradition also! I do have to say though the difference between stuffing and dressing in the south is cornbread is used for dressing.
    Happy Thanksgiving?

    1. Thanks, Joyce! While I’ve lived in the south all my life, we never had cornbread dressing on our table. 😉 And, man! Do I love myself some cornbread and sausage dressing!!

    1. Nope! It’s pulled apart the morning off. You could pull it the night before and zip tight in a bag or container. Unlike some recipes that use torn bread that they leave out or dry out in the oven, these pieces are very small. So, if I were to leave these out, they would take a lot more liquid to make it edible. Hope this helps!

  6. What is Italian bread? Also any particular brand of poultry seasoning? This is my first time making homemade dressing, someone else always made it or I just bought it already made.

    1. Hi, Shirley! Italian loaf is the one in the bakery section of the grocery store that is wide and fat. Not long and skinny like a french baguette. It’s soft and bouncy, as opposed to hard and crusty. I prefer McCormick brand of poultry seasoning – but, whatever your grocery has is fine! I’m sure you’ll do great with the recipe!!

    1. It makes a 9×13 pan, so usually, 8-10 polite people who think dressing is just a side dish. 4-6 people if you love dressing and think it’s the best thing, ever! 😉

  7. This will be my first time making dressing, how much stock do I add to the bread before I bake it?

    1. Hey, Josie! Okay, so this is totally a feeling thing. Your bread should not be soggy, but it should be equally moist. Nothing dry. I would say for a 9×13 pan, use at least a cup and half. I like to pour it into a glass measuring jug with a spout and pour a little in, mix it up, pour a little in, mix it up. I hope this helps!

  8. Thank you so much! I was also wondering if I wanted to make this ahead of time, how should I reheat it?

    1. Sure thing! I’ve only reheated the following day, and I place the 9×13 in a 350 oven and put another baking dish filled with water below it. Bake for about 20 minutes, until it warms all the way through. ((This might be hard to do, since usually ovens are filled on Thanksgiving!))

  9. This is almost exactly like I learned from my Grandma! We do add the chopped gizzards and heart though (or i eat that ?) and even take the meat off the neck and put that in. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  10. I am in charge of bringing stuffing this year. Please don’t judge me ? Would store bought stock be okay to use??

    1. Ha! No judgment, for sure!!! Sure! I would simmer it with an onion and some poultry seasoning, just to give it some life! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. You can! You’ll want to take it off towards the end of baking so it gets nice and crispy on top!

  11. This looks wonderful!!!

    Did you say if we won’t be the one with the turkey can we use broth and what broth exactly to use?

    1. You can use Swanson Chicken Broth! I would simmer it with an onion and some extra poultry seasoning, just to jazz it up a bit! Thanks, Kelly! Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Hi! This looks great! Have you ever tried to prepare the night before? Would that be a disaster?

    Thanks so much!
    Blair

    1. Sure, Blair! You can definitely do it the night before. Just leave a little less broth, but before you bake it, pour some over to rehydrate. I hope that makes sense!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi, Madison!! For two 9×13 dishes, I would say 3-4 loaves of Italian bread. In cups, that’s probably 36 or so! 😉 Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Flavorful & easy to make. Just like how my mom use to make stuffing. I ended up baking it for 45 mins then put under broiler for 3 mins to crisp the top slightly. Everyone in the family enjoyed it. Will definitely keep this recipe for the next holiday!

  14. The only thing I do differently is I add 1 or 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and a little sage. I can almost smell it baking!!

  15. This is the exact same recipe I’ve used for 30 yrs. I’ve been told by a few people it that i’ts the best dressing they have ever had. The one thing I do before putting it in oven is that I drizzle it with turkey drippings for a nice brown crust.

  16. Good recipe! The only thing I wish had been more clear (because I am not a super experienced “chef”) is what was meant by one-part/two-part. My finished dressing was much too salty since I was in a hurry and guestimated. I learned my lesson! haha. I am sure my next batch will be much better now that I have read through the comments and learned that part is a synonym for tablespoon. Rookie mistake!

    1. Thanks for this feedback! I’ll update the post with this! Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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