6 Thanksgiving stuffing recipes — because there's more than one way to (not) stuff a turkey

Country stuffing with lots of Celery -- a great vegan option for Thanksgiving
(Evan Sung / For The Times)

Country bread, cornbread, masa or rice will make a fabulous stuffing, or dressing, for your Thanksgiving turkey. There are vegan and gluten-free options too.


Stuffing is a must for Thanksgiving dinner, but unless you actually stuff it into the turkey (which we do not recommend for safety reasons), technically it is dressing. Call it what you like; if it is not on the Thanksgiving table, things could get ugly. A simple, white-bread-and-aromatics approach will buy you as much goodwill as a complex, ingredient- and labor-intensive masa stuffing. However you decide to make it, just be sure to serve stuffing.

Check out Ben Mims’ Classic Thanksgiving Recipes for his stuffing recipes (and more). Here, his Sourdough and Herb Stuffing is bursting with flavor from lots of onions, celery and fresh herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme. The recipe is vegetarian and can be easily modified to be vegan if desired.

Sourdough and Herb Stuffing

Tangy sourdough bread gets lots of flavor from sautéed celery and onions and hardy winter herbs in this simple Thanksgiving stuffing crisped with olive oil.
Time2 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 12

For a meatier, sweeter and moister alternative, try Mims’ Spiced Cornbread and Sausage Dressing. It uses breakfast sausage to impart herby and maple flavors and gets a kick from chile flakes. The recipe includes easy-peasy instructions for making the precise amount of cornbread you will need using a mix, or you can use your own favorite cornbread recipe, or buy it premade (it’s all good; we don’t judge).

Spiced Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

In this Southern spin on traditional Thanksgiving stuffing, lightly sweetened cornbread meets breakfast sausage, chile flakes and aromatics.
Time2 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 12

If you like your dressing a little more complex, the late Times restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold fancied pork-apple sausage and chestnuts in his stuffing. Roasting and peeling the chestnuts adds to the festive air of the occasion. It is a little more labor intensive than a more basic stuffing, but the richness and flavors are payoffs well worth the effort.


Pork Apple Sausage Stuffing

Late restaurant critic Jonathan Gold's pork apple sausage stuffing recipe includes chestnuts and crumbled apple sausage for an amplified Thanksgiving side dish.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 10.

It goes by the name bread pudding, but this Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding is perfect served as dressing alongside a freshly roasted turkey. Rich and rustic, it calls for heavy cream and grated Swiss cheese along with the ingredients you would expect in a stuffing recipe.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

This wild mushroom bread pudding is a simple, rustic dish — and it's a terrific stand-in for the bland, mushy stuffing that often shows up on Thanksgiving tables.
Time1 hour 40 minutes
YieldsServes 8

Chef Ray Garcia makes his stuffing with masa — the corn dough used to make tamales — which makes it a gluten-free option as well. Bone marrow, roasted potatoes, poblano chiles and lots of Swiss chard are among the other ingredients that make this stuffing truly unique.

Ray Garcia's Masa Stuffing

Ray Garcia, chef of L.A.'s Broken Spanish restaurant, shares his masa stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving that includes potatoes, bone marrow and Swiss chard.
Time3 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 12

Another gluten-free option is a wild rice stuffing studded with roasted butternut squash, toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds. It is also a great option for vegetarians. For a vegan rendition, swap out the butter for vegan margarine.


Wild Rice 'Stuffing' with Butternut Squash, Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

This wild rice Thanksgiving stuffing recipe pairs ingredients that suit its nutty flavor profile: a dice of butternut squash, toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds.
Time1 hour 20 minutes
YieldsServes 16