Stuffing is often an afterthought on the Thanksgiving table, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A great stuffing will transform your entire Thanksgiving plate. The ideal stuffing has a mix of savory and sweet flavors, is crispy in some parts and moist in others, and goes well on a sandwich the next day!
Many years ago I stopped stuffing my turkey for a variety of reasons, but cooking the stuffing (or, as some call it, dressing) out of the bird does leave me with a quandary regarding my oven. I just run out of room!
This slow cooker stuffing recipe instantly (or slowly) solves this problem for me. Stir together the ingredients in the slow cooker, set it, and forget it. It comes out perfect every time and you can serve it right out of the slow cooker dish.
What I Put in My Classic Stuffing
I’m a bit of a wild man when it comes to stuffing. I like to add the classic ingredients like good bread, celery, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs, but I also add some sausage to mine for extra savory notes. To balance it out I l add some dried fruit (cranberries) and fresh fruit (diced apple).
Oh. And butter, of course!
Use the Bread You Have
There isn’t a hard and fast rule when it comes to bread for stuffing. If you have some leftover bread, I would use that. I’ve used hamburger and hot dog buns before and it works well.
If you are buying bread for your stuffing, though, choose a hearty sourdough or crusty boule loaf. All other things being equal, these rustic loaves will hold up better to the stuffing ingredients and not get too soggy. The recipe I made uses about a 1-pound loaf of bread, which works out to about 12 cups of loosely packed bread cubes if you don’t weigh them.
Layer Ingredients for Flavor
This is mostly as simple as it sounds. Add the ingredients to the slow cooker and let it do the rest! I do like to layer my ingredients, putting the aromatics in first, the bread next, and the sausage on top of the bread. Doing that gives the aromatics some time to cook before stirring everything together.
You’ll need at least a 5-quart slow cooker to fit all this stuff in. I used a 6.5-quart slow cooker which had some room left over at the top.
I recommend cooking the stuffing on high heat for 4 hours and stirring it just once halfway through.
Tips for Slow Cooker Stuffing
- Rub your slow cooker vessel with butter before adding ingredients. This will grease the sides and bottom and lead to less sticking when you are trying to serve the stuffing later. Also, butter is delicious.
- After 4 hours, if you find that the stuffing is too moist or watery, set the slow cooker lid ajar for 30 minutes so some of the liquid can cook off.
- Taste, season, and add some fresh parsley to the top right before serving!
Making Ahead and Reheating
One of the many nice things about slow cooker stuffing is you can make this well in advance, cool it in the insert completely, store it in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, and then just pop the insert back in the slow cooker to reheat.
Reheat the stuffing on low heat for 1 to 2 hours until it’s warmed through. If it seems dry, add up to 1 extra cup of chicken or turkey stock to it to bring it back to life.
Transporting the Cooked Stuffing
If you need to transport this recipe just keep it in the slow cooker! Taking it out will make it harder to reheat.
Also, make sure the stuffing is cooled down before trying to transport it. It will be very hot after cooking and could cause a burn if you try to move it too far.
More No-Oven Holiday Sides
Slow Cooker Stuffing
1 (1-pound) bread loaf
1 pound pork sausage (casings removed, if any)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 large white onion, chopped (2 cups)
3 ribs celery, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, chopped (1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium apple, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
Up to 4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Toast the bread:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Cut your bread into about 1-inch chunks. Lay them out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them for about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. The bread should be dry, almost like croutons. It’s okay if some pieces have some browning on them, but not necessary.
Brown the sausage:
Add the sausage to a medium skillet. Over medium heat, cook the sausage and break it into pieces as it cooks and browns. Cook until the sausage is cooked through and browned, about 6-7 minutes. Do not drain off the drippings.
Layer the stuffing ingredients in the slow cooker:
In at least a 5-quart slow cooker (I used a 6.5-quart), rub the sides and bottom of the insert with butter to prevent sticking. Then add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, apples, cranberries, salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary. Top with all the toasted bread, then add the sausage on top of that, scrape out as many drippings from the skillet as you can. Then pour in the chicken stock and set the lid on top.
If you prefer a drier stuffing, start with just 3 1/2 cups of the stock and add more later on if you think the stuffing needs it.
Cook the stuffing:
Set your slow cooker on high and cook the stuffing for 4 hours, stirring it once halfway through just to make sure it’s cooking evenly.
In the final 30 minutes of cooking, check the stuffing. If it seems too watery, set the lid ajar on the slow cooker so some of the moisture can cook off in the final minutes.
Taste and serve:
Taste the stuffing and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, if needed. When it’s time to serve, garnish with fresh parsley.
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If making in advance on the day you plan to serve, after the 4 hours cooking on high, reduce to warm and hold the stuffing for up to 4 hours. Otherwise, cool the stuffing and transfer it to the fridge. Reheat it in the slow cooker on warm for 2 hours before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 20g||26%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||38%|
|Total Carbohydrate 43g||15%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||12%|
|Total Sugars 15g|
|Vitamin C 6mg||31%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|