Stuffing can be a touchy subject for folks. For some it’s got to have sausage, for others it must have cornbread, and some people even put the yucky innards from the turkey in there. Sorry if I’ve offended any giblet lovers out there. I grew up eating my Mom’s traditional bread stuffing that she made each and every Thanksgiving. It is still my favorite and it’s what I make for my family. I have modified her recipe over time, mixing up the spices a little, but the biggest change is the method.
I came across the idea to cook the stuffing in a slow cooker on Allrecipes and I’ve done it that way ever since. It’s genius. When I was a kid, my Mom always stuffed the bird and put what was left in a casserole dish and baked it separately. Now that we are advised not to stuff the bird, you end up with a large casserole dish of stuffing taking up oven space on a day when you have no oven space to spare. Instead, I start the stuffing hours ahead of time in the slow cooker on my kitchen counter, freeing up the oven for all my other dishes. This allows you to monitor the taste and consistency throughout the cooking time and make adjustments as needed to get the perfect result. And, you can make a ton of it so you are sure to have leftovers. Here’s the rundown.
You’ll need two loaves of bread. I like to use a soft sandwich bread, either buttermilk or potato, whatever’s on sale. I also like to add in a loaf of sweet french bread. We aren’t making a sourdough stuffing here although you really can use any type of bread that does it for you. Keep in mind that I feed a mob so if you’ve got less people, you can scale this in half.
Slice the loaf of french bread and then tear the slices up, into bite size pieces and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Now tear up the sliced sandwich bread and spread it on a second baking sheet. Discard the end pieces or save them for another purpose. Put the baking sheets in a 250 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. Reach in (carefully!) and give the bread a stir now and then and remove from the oven when lightly toasted. You can start in on the veggies while the bread is toasting.
Melt two sticks of butter in a large skillet, yes, there’s butter involved. It’s okay, it doesn’t count on Thanksgiving. Add your veggies and turn the heat up. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes or so.
Add the fresh parsley and minced garlic and cook and stir for another minute or two. If you are adding mushrooms, this is where you would add them. I didn’t add them this time but I LOVE this stuffing with fresh mushrooms.
Transfer the toasted bread to a roasting pan or very large bowl. Since the turkey roasting pan is out anyway, we’ll use it now before the turkey gets it’s turn. Pour the cooked veggies over the top and stir well to combine.
Now here’s the important part. The key……the golden rule. You will add chicken broth, but only just enough to moisten the bread, about 1 to 1-1/2 cups. How much you need to add will depend on the type of bread you use and how dry it is. Reserve the rest of the chicken broth to add in throughout the day, if needed. You may not need to use the entire amount. You can always add more but you can’t take it out.
Check on the stuffing now and then. Add in chicken broth a bit at a time if you feel it needs it. I find it perfect with the amount of seasoning called for but you can taste and adjust seasonings if needed. This is a valid excuse to taste it several times throughout the day.
After 4 to 6 hours it will be ready to serve. Just take the lid off and you’re ready to go. If you prefer a crunchy topping, transfer your removable Crock-Pot dish to your oven and broil for a couple of minutes till nicely toasted and brown. Without the browning it is more like stuffing from the bird, which is how I like it.
Traditional Bread Stuffing (Crock-Pot Method)
- 1 loaf sweet french bread
- 1 loaf sliced buttermilk or potato sandwich bread
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 3 cups diced onion (about 2 onions)
- 3 cups diced celery (1 bunch)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 4 or 5 cremini mushrooms, diced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 to 4 cups chicken broth, divided
- 2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Slice the loaf of french bread and then tear the slices of both the french and the sandwich bread into bite size pieces. Discard end pieces or save for another use. You should have about 20 cups, give or take,of torn bread. Spread the pieces of bread between two rimmed baking sheets and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until lightly toasted.
While bread is toasting, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Turn heat up to medium high and cook, stirring frequently for about 7 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, parsley and mushrooms (if using) and cook and stir for another minute or two. Add the poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Remove from heat.
When bread is nicely toasted, transfer to a large roasting pan or very large mixing bowl. Spoon cooked vegetables over and mix well. Add beaten eggs and stir to combine. Add enough chicken broth just to moisten the mixture, about 1 to 1-1/2 cups, reserving the rest for later. Mix well and transfer stuffing to the slow cooker. Cover and turn to low.
Cook for 4 to 6 hours. Check on it now and then and add chicken broth throughout cooking time to achieve desired consistency. Taste and add additional seasoning if desired.