Save oven space on the holidays with this easy Crock Pot Stuffing recipe. This hands off method is a real timesaver and creates the most delicious, classic bread stuffing for your Thanksgiving dinner.
I grew up eating my mom’s classic bread stuffing that she made each and every Thanksgiving and to this day it remains my favorite. I’ve modified her recipe over time, mixing up the spices a little (but only a little!) but the main difference between mine and hers is the method.
About 14 years ago, I came across the idea to cook the stuffing in a Crock Pot and I’ve done it that way ever since. It’s genius.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works
- Cooking stuffing in your Crock Pot frees up oven space for all your other Thanksgiving dishes.
- You can easily monitor the taste and consistency throughout the cooking time and make adjustments as needed.
- It makes a large batch of stuffing so you are sure to have leftovers.
- There is no loss in quality whatsoever. The flavor and consistency is fabulous.
- French bread – A loaf of soft French bread (some stores have it labeled as “sweet French”.
- Sliced sandwich bread – I use buttermilk or potato sandwich bread (like Oroweat).
- Diced yellow onion
- Carrot – I like to add a little bit of diced carrot for color and nice flavor.
- Minced garlic
- Fresh parsley
- Mushrooms – An optional ingredient, but I love what cremini mushrooms do for the flavor of this stuffing.
- Dried herbs – Sage, poultry seasoning, thyme, and marjoram.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Low-sodium chicken broth – You can substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian stuffing.
How to Make Crock Pot Stuffing
This is a quick overview of the steps of this recipe. You’ll find detailed instructions and the recipe video in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Toast the Bread
- Slice the loaf of French bread, then tear the slices up into bite-size pieces and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Tear up the sliced sandwich bread and spread it on a second baking sheet. You can discard the end pieces or save them for another purpose.
- Transfer the baking sheets to a 325 degree F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Reach in (carefully!) and give the bread a stir now and then. Next, remove the bread from the oven when it’s lightly toasted.
I like the rustic look you get from tearing the bread. If you’d prefer a more uniform look to your stuffing, you can slice the bread into cubes.
Prepare the Vegetables
- While the bread is toasting, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently for about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the 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 the heat.
Assemble the Stuffing
- Transfer the toasted bread pieces to a large roasting pan or a very large mixing bowl. Spoon the cooked vegetables over and mix well.
- Add the beaten eggs and stir to combine.
- Add just enough chicken broth to moisten the mixture, about 1 to 1½ cups. Reserve the remaining broth for later. Mix well and transfer stuffing to a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker.
The key to a good result is adding the correct amount of broth. Be conservative in the beginning and add more as it cooks down to reach the desired consistency. Add more for a “cooked in the bird” consistency and less for a looser stuffing.
Cook the Stuffing
- Mix the stuffing well to be sure the veggies and seasonings are distributed throughout.
- Coat a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and add the stuffing. It will be full to the brim but will cook down. Cover and set the slow cooker on low for 4 to 6 hours. Check on it now and then and add chicken broth throughout cooking time to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and add additional seasoning, if desired.
If you prefer crispy stuffing, transfer your removable oven-proof Crock Pot insert to your oven and broil it for a couple of minutes until nicely toasted and brown on top.
Conventional Oven Instructions
If you don’t want to cook the stuffing in your slow cooker, this recipe works very well in the oven too.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add as much of the remaining broth as desired and transfer the stuffing to a large baking dish that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake, covered, for 40 to 50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
For a crispy topping, remove the foil during last 15 minutes of the baking time, or place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Apple Cranberry Stuffing – Add about 1 cup of peeled, diced apple when cooking the vegetable mixture. Add it to the toasted bread with 1 cup of dried cranberries and 1 cup of chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts.
- Sausage Stuffing – Add ½ pound of cooked and well drained ground Italian or sage sausage to the toasted bread with the vegetables and then cook as directed.
- Giblet Stuffing – Chop the giblets and add them to the vegetables while they are cooking in the skillet. The giblets should be cooked through when you add them with the vegetables to the toasted bread. Follow the remainder of the directions as written.
The USDA recommends that once the wet and dry ingredients have been combined, stuffing should be baked immediately for food safety concerns. But, you can get some of the prep out of the way a day or two in advance to save time on Thanksgiving Day.
- Toast the bread pieces, as directed, allow them to cool, and transfer them to an airtight container (plastic storage bags work great).
- Dice the onion, celery, and carrot and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the stuffing.
FAQ and Valerie’s Tips
You’ll need two loaves of bread for this Crock Pot Stuffing recipe. I use a sliced sandwich bread, either buttermilk or potato. I also add in a loaf of soft French bread (not super hard and crusty) that I get from the bakery section at my local grocery store. If you love sourdough dressing, you can use a loaf of sourdough bread instead.
If your stuffing is ready before the rest of your menu is ready to serve, just switch your slow cooker to the Keep Warm setting for up to an hour. Even on the lowest setting, the stuffing will continue to cook so I don’t recommend allowing it to go much longer than this or the texture will begin to change. Instead, just unplug the slow cooker and keep it covered until ready to serve. Don’t allow any menu items to sit out for more than 2 hours before you pack up and refrigerate any leftovers.
Eggs add moisture and body to bread stuffing recipes. The eggs and broth work together as a binder to help the stuffing hold together.
To be sure your stuffing is fully cooked, check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should register a minimum of 165 degrees F regardless of whether it is cooked in a slow cooker, casserole dish, or in the bird.
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate within 2 hours. Leftover stuffing should be consumed or frozen within 3 to 4 days.
Create the perfect menu with these classic Thanksgiving recipes.
- Herb Roasted Turkey
- Easy Turkey Gravy
- Broccoli Pearl Onion Casserole
- Honey Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts
- Very Berry Cranberry Sauce
- Sweet Potato Rolls
Check out my entire collection of Thanksgiving Recipes for more!
Crock Pot Stuffing
- 1 pound loaf soft French bread, (some stores label it as sweet French)
- 1 pound loaf sliced buttermilk or potato sandwich bread, (I use Oroweat)
- 1 cup butter
- 3 cups diced yellow onion, (about 2 onions)
- 3 cups diced celery, (about 1 bunch)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 4 or 5 cremini mushrooms, diced (optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 teaspoons salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided (can substitute vegetable broth)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Slice the loaf of French bread and then tear the slices of both the French and the sandwich bread into bite-size pieces. Discard the end pieces or save them 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 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly toasted, tossing with a spatula about halfway through.
- While the bread is toasting, melt the butter in a large skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Turn the heat up to MEDIUM-HIGH and cook, stirring frequently for about 7 to 10 minutes, until tender. Add the 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 the heat.
- When the bread is nicely toasted, transfer it to a large roasting pan or a very large mixing bowl. Spoon the cooked vegetables over the bread and mix well. Add the beaten eggs and stir to combine. Add just enough chicken broth to moisten the mixture, about 1 to 1½ cups, reserving the rest for later. Mix well.
- Coat a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and add the stuffing. Cover and set the slow cooker on LOW for 4 to 6 hours. Check on it now and then and add broth throughout cooking time to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and add additional seasoning, if desired. Set the slow cooker to the KEEP WARM setting, if it has one. Alternately, unplug the slow cooker and keep it covered until ready to serve.
- If you prefer a crunchy topping, transfer your removable (oven-safe) Crock Pot insert to your oven and broil for a couple of minutes until nicely toasted and golden brown.
- Toast the bread and transfer it to plastic storage bags.
- Dice the veggies and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published on November 17, 2011. It has been updated with new images and text but the recipe is and will forever remain the same!