There may be regional disagreements over the name for the scrumptious, carb-forward dish that may or may not go inside the turkey, but there’s one thing everyone can agree on: When done right, stuffing (or dressing!) is the absolute best part of the Thanksgiving table. New York Times Cooking has pulled together a wonderful collection of recipes, shared below, that readers come back to time and again, whether it’s a classic cornbread stuffing or a more modern cheesy pizza version that all ages will enjoy.
And a tip: You can make most stuffings or dressings ahead of time. Simply toast your bread and prep the liquid portion the night before, then combine and bake on the big day. (If it’s a bread pudding-style stuffing, you can soak everything overnight.)
“Yum — I made this last year and there was no question that this was officially my go-to stuffing for this year and many more.”
Kim Severson brought this five-star recipe for cornbread stuffing to The Times in 2014, straight from the kitchens of Lulu’s, a chain of restaurants run by Lucy Buffet, sister of Jimmy. (Yes, that Jimmy.) You can either make your own cornbread or use a box mix, but go for the best fresh oysters you can find — preferably the fat, brackish sort that grow in the Gulf of Mexico.
“This has every delectable ingredient ever invented, so how could it be anything but amazing? It is!”
If you love the earthy savoriness of mushrooms, you’ll adore this recipe from Susan Spungen, where dried porcinis are the star. They combine beautifully with fresh sage, shallots, leeks and Cognac (optional), while Gruyère ties the entire pudding together. For the most tender and flavorful results, allow the dish to sit in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
Recipe: Mushroom Bread Pudding
“I just completed assembly … wow! The dried and toasted brioche takes on a sweetness, complementing the rich flavors and absorbs the stock like a sponge.”
This is the kind of classic stuffing — featuring celery, onion, sage and fennel — that you can use to fill your turkey. (Here are some best practices for stuffing a bird.) But this recipe, based on one created by Melissa Clark’s mother, Rita, really shines when allowed to bake on its own in a casserole dish, resulting in a nice, crispy top layer dotted with roasted chestnuts for texture.
“REALLY delicious. Love this recipe and will definitely cook again.”
For this recipe from Nik Sharma, wild rice is cooked in stock, combined with aromatics and finished with subtly spicy chile crisp, which you can make at home or buy at the grocery store. Best of all, it’s entirely prepared on the stovetop, which is nice on a day when oven space is at a premium.
“Boy, was this a hit at Thanksgiving. The chorizo gives the stuffing a nice, smoky flavor and a little heat.”
Ready to take your Thanksgiving menu off the beaten track? Let this smoky chorizo dressing from Sam Sifton lead the way. The key here (besides the three tablespoons of melted butter) is to use a country loaf with a thick crust that’s been toasted until it’s almost completely dry, but still moist enough to soak up your chicken or turkey stock. (And don’t be afraid to add more stock if you think your dressing is getting too dry.)
“Amazing! Made the night before. Taste explosion, with the sausage, kale, dates.”
Time to cash in on your pandemic-era sourdough obsession. This five-star sourdough stuffing from the Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin is an ode to California, featuring roughly chopped Tuscan kale, toasted almonds and less sweet but no less delicious deglet noor dates. The recipe calls for turkey sausage, but feel free to crumble in your favorite Italian sausage as a nod to the Tuscan kale.
“Oh my god, this stuffing is off the charts!”
We can all agree on pizza, right? For this vegetarian stuffing, Eric Kim looked to the flavors of red-sauce joints, blooming tomato paste and dried oregano in butter with yellow onions, and garnishing the final dish with shredded mozzarella. Stale brioche or challah is your best friend here, but if you don’t have any around, toast your torn bread beforehand in a 250-degree oven.
“This is simply the best dressing that I have ever had. And since it’s the only one I’ve ever made, it’s ‘mom’s famous dressing’ now!”
This five-star cornbread dressing from Julia Moskin gets its richness from six eggs, heavy cream and a lot of butter, which almost takes it into bread pudding territory. Luckily, the sturdy cornbread and torn pieces of baguette can stand up to all that moisture. Serve alongside your other favorite sides — or add in oysters and turn it into a meal of its own.
Recipe: Rich Cornbread Dressing
“Easy and absolutely delicious!”
Here’s another example of the intersection of immigrant cuisines and Thanksgiving traditions. In 2016, the contributor Ligaya Mishan brought this recipe for egg roll stuffing to The Times via the pastry chef Diane Yang. After her parents, Hmong refugees from Laos, decided to stuff the turkey with leftover egg roll filling one year, it became a beloved family tradition that your family will love, too.
Recipe: Hmong Egg Roll Stuffing
“In 40-plus years of either making bad stuffing or begging someone else to bring it, I have finally found THE PERFECT recipe.”
When Melissa Clark shared this recipe in 2013, she called it “the peacemaker.” Why? Because it works with whatever your family prefers: white bread or cornbread (gluten-free as well!), extra mushrooms instead of bacon if you want to make it vegetarian, crispy-soft or puddinglike — just add more stock. The only nonnegotiable? Whoever prepared the stuffing gets the last bite.
“The pecans were delicious as written and added great flavor. Don’t leave them out. This will be our staple stuffing in the years to come.”
To achieve a vegan stuffing that’s comparable to egg-based versions, Gena Hamshaw made a few adjustments to an otherwise classic stuffing recipe: Vegetable broth is added twice to retain moisture, toasted pecans help to bind everything together; and the stuffing is covered for the first 20 minutes of baking to ensure that it won’t dry out too much. Nonvegans will barely be able to tell the difference.
Recipe: Vegan Stuffing
“This is exceptionally good! The egg and broth make for a wonderfully light texture, unlike other dressings I have made.”
If you’re having a small Thanksgiving or don’t want to leave the Friendsgiving potluck with leftovers, this super-simple stuffing from Melissa Clark (created at the height of the Covid pandemic) may fit the bill. It also scales up beautifully, doubled or even tripled, though it’s generous as is.
“This is simply the best ever use of extra stuffing and cranberry sauce.”
OK, this isn’t a stuffing recipe but rather a recipe for leftover stuffing. For this five-star treatment, Sohla El-Waylly compresses and refrigerates Thursday’s stuffing (preferably on Thursday night) and then fries it the next day. The fried cubes are served with your favorite crunchy greens (radish, fennel, radicchio, little Gem) and pears, and dressed with tart cranberry vinaigrette. Leftovers, who?