This gluten-free Thanksgiving stuffing is so good! Skip the boxed and packaged brands filled with unhealthy ingredients. Make it with homemade dried bread cubes, aromatic vegetables, milk or broth, egg and herbs. No one will ever guess it's gluten-free. I'll show you how, step-by-step. What would the holiday be without a classic stuffing on the Thanksgiving table?
For faster turkey roasting and food safety, it's better cooking it separately. And yes, it still has great flavor. Our family original recipe used wheat bread, not gluten-free, so make it either way.
- Why You'll Like This Recipe
- Recipe Ingredients
- Substitutions and Variations
- Recipe Instructions
- Drying Bread: Two Methods
- How To Prep the Vegetables
- Make Ahead Tips
- What to Serve with Stuffing
- Recipe FAQ's
- More Recipes!
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- Classic Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing
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Why You'll Like This Recipe
- Because it tastes totally terrific.
- No one would ever guess it's gluten-free.
- No boxes or bags.
- Cooked separately from the turkey (better for food safety)
- If you've never made stuffing, let me show you how.
Stuffing or dressing? The terms are interchangeable. I've gone into a lot of detail so anyone can make this, step-by-step. It's all from scratch.
- Gluten-free bread: Since stuffing is all about the bread, good fresh bread is essential. The best I've found is from Canyon Bakehouse. What type of bread? I use their Mountain White bread or the Heritage Honey style. If you can't find it, choose the best gluten-free sandwich bread possible. Gluten-free sourdough is good too.
- Leek: Related to onions, garlic, and shallots, leek gives another layer of depth of flavor and mild, sweet oniony taste. Use the white and light green parts only and discard the tough dark green tops.
- Fennel: Provides a lightly sweet anise (licorice) flavor when cooked. It has a wonderful taste, trust me!
- Celery: The base for so many recipes and an essential ingredient.
- Onion: Use sweet, yellow or brown onions. All work. Another essential stuffing component for great flavor and moisture.
- Garlic: For this recipe it's worth chopping fresh garlic cloves.
- Fat: Use either unsalted butter, ghee, or olive oil. An oil and butter combo is nice. Do not use vegetable oil.
- Liquid: Use dairy milk, chicken broth or bone broth, or turkey broth.
- Egg: Gives moisture, adds richness, and helps stuffing hold together.
- Herbs: Use fresh herbs or dried, or a combination. Buy fresh parsley (Italian parsley) for fresh garden flavor and herbal balance. Thyme is a must-have herb for stuffing, as well as sage. Use ⅓ the amount of dried for fresh. Some people prefer a blend called poultry seasoning. If you do that, I suggest using a little fresh too, especially parsley.
Please see the recipe card for measurements, including salt and ground black pepper. See photos below for how to prep leek and fennel if you are unfamiliar with them.
Chef's Tip: While you're buying groceries for stuffing, pick up turkey pieces to make homemade turkey broth for using in soups and sides. You can use it in gluten-free Thanksgiving stuffing in place of milk, and for the best turkey gravy.
Substitutions and Variations
- Add finely chopped or ground cooked sausage, about 8-12 ounces.
- If you like cheese, add grated Parmesan cheese, either to the mix before baking or over the top for browning.
- This recipe works for wheat bread as well.
- For for a vegan option, use vegetable broth or almond milk.
- For dairy-free or vegan, choose a vegan butter such as Miyoko's Creamery (very tasty).
- For egg-free or vegan, skip the egg. It will still taste great.
Start by drying the bread. Why dry the bread? Drying the bread allows it to soak up all of the wonderful flavors while cooking. Making your own is far superior to a gluten-free stuffing mix from a box or bag, and so easy
Step 1: Start by cutting then drying the bread cubes either on the counter overnight or in the oven. See details below for each method.
Step 2: Chop all of the vegetables; onion, leek, fennel, and celery. For more detail on chopping vegetables, see photos below.
Step 3: Cook the vegetables in oil or butter until soft, translucent and still moist.
Step 4: Add your dried bread cubes to the veggies bowl and stir together. Whisk the egg and liquid together and add to the bowl with the herbs, salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing mixture into a buttered or oiled casserole dish.
Step 5: Bake the stuffing. Place stuffing in an oiled or buttered large baking dish such as a 9″ x 9″ casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot and golden, 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes for a golden brown top. If you like cheese, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top.
Drying Bread: Two Methods
First cut bread cubes. Lay slices of bread out on a cutting board and trim off the crusts and discard along with the heels. Trim the slices into ¾-inch bread cubes.
Counter Top Method
Spread the cubes out on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer (they need air circulation) and allow them to stand uncovered 24 hours to dry.
You can do this several days ahead. When dry, package the dry cubes in an airtight container or plastic zip bag until you are ready to continue the recipe.
Set the oven for 225° F oven and bake the cubes for 35-40 minutes. They will dry more as they cool. When cool, package in an airtight container and reserve to make the stuffing.
How To Prep the Vegetables
Instead of just onion and celery, adding fennel, leek and garlic gives more flavor in the “aromatics” department, plus good texture and depth of flavor. If you are not familiar with how to cut a leek or fennel bulb, read below and check out the photos.
How to Chop Leeks
For leeks, trim the dark green top of off and discard (or save for making stock or broth). Trim off the root end. Slice the light green and white part of the leek in half lengthwise and run under cold water to dislodge any sand or grit. Chop the leek crosswise into thin strips or half moons.
How to Chop Fennel
Start by chopping the celery-like stalks off the top (see photo) and save the fluffy part that looks like dill for garnish and adding to salads. The stalks are good for making green juices (or toss).
Next, trim a thin slice off the bottom of the fennel bulb. If the bulbs are white and clean with no brown spots on the outer layer, cut the bulb in half top to bottom, then slice into long strips. Cut the strips crosswise into a small dice.
If the bulb is brown in spots, use a vegetable peeler to clean up the outside. You can peel off the outer layer but that wastes a lot of the bulb.
Some recipes also tell you to trim out the triangle shaped core but for this recipe you don't have to, especially with smaller bulbs.
For the garlic, simply peel and chop fine.
A pan: You need a large 12-inch fry pan, saute pan, or large skillet. To double the recipe for a crowd, you'll need a larger pan, like the 6-quart saute pan. They are big to store, but really handy for big jobs. Alternatively cook the vegetables in batches.
Rimmed baking sheet: To dry the bread cubes, a rimmed baking sheet (half sheet size). They are a great investment for your kitchen. Don't buy cheap, flimsy ones (they warp). Buy heavy ones like this one or this brand gets good ratings.
Large mixing bowl: to mix it all together before baking.
Make Ahead Tips
- Trim and dry bread cubes a few days ahead and store in an air-tight container
- Clean and chop your leek and fennel a day ahead and refrigerate until needed
- Pull your casserole dish out and put a sticky note in it that says stuffing.
- If you're using vegetable broth, make homemade. It's way better than store-bought and super easy. Make it a week ahead and freeze it.
- Make stuffing in the morning, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temp (about and hour) before baking, then keep hot until serving time.
Chef's Tip: Another BIG make-ahead tip; if you've never dry-brined a turkey, it's super easy with delicious results! Read my step-by-step post here on How to Dry Brine a Turkey. Start Sunday or Monday of Thanksgiving week.
What to Serve with Stuffing
What to serve next to that glorious bird? Try these side dishes. If you are not roasting a turkey, they work along side other mains.
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Sour Cream Mashed Gold Potatoes
- Baby Green Beans
- No-Cook Cranberry Sauce
- Lemon thyme Brussels sprouts (made stove top)
- Here's my homemade gluten-free cornbread stuffing for a change.
Leftover Thanksgiving stuffing is terrific for breakfast Friday morning with eggs. Stuffing lasts in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. I've never tried freezing it because there is never any left!
To heat leftover stuffing, bake covered in a 350°F oven until heated through and 165°F internally. How long depends on how cold it is out of the refrigerator. Start with 30 minutes. For faster heating, allow the dish to stand at room temperature for an hour before hand.
Stuffing is traditionally made of basically bread, vegetables like onions and celery, and herbs.
A mix of vegetables, plenty of herbs, garlic, and of course good bread. Some people add dried fruit like cranberries or figs or fresh fruit like seasonal apples or pears. I leave them out of my recipe, but you can add them.
For more flavor I stuff the cavity of my turkey loosely with chopped onion, roughly chopped carrot and celery, crushed, whole garlic cloves and more herbs. See this post for more information. Cook your dressing on the side as this recipe guides.
While we're getting ready for Thanksgiving, we still need to eat! Here are some easy recipes to have in your arsenal as we lead up to the big feast.
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Classic Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing
- Large saute or fry pan (12")
- Medium casserole baking dish 9x9 for single or 9x 13 for double recipe
- Large mixing bowl
- 1 ½ pound loaf gluten-free white bread I buy Canyon Bakehouse Heritage White
- 1 small leek light green and white part only
- 1 medium fennel bulb trimmed and chopped small
- 3 large celery ribs chopped small
- 1 medium onion chopped small
- 2-3 large garlic cloves chopped fine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter or plant-based butter
- ½-3/4 cup milk (dairy or plant) or broth chicken, turkey, or vegetable
- 1 large egg, beaten optional (skip for egg-free)
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley ½ bundle
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage leaves or ¾ teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Cut bread cubes
- Discard the heels of the bread loaf. Trim the crusts and discard, then slice the pieces into ¾-inch strips. Cut the strips into ¾-inch cubes.
Oven drying bread cubes (do ahead)
- Pre-heat oven to 225°. Bake cubes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil for 35-40 minutes. Let cool on the counter and store in an airtight container or zip bag until ready to make the stuffing. Cubes will get crisper as they cool.
Counter drying bread cubes (do ahead)
- Arrange cubes on a rimmed baking sheet to dry, uncovered, for 24 hours. Do this two days ahead and package the cubes in zip plastic bags or an airtight container. Cubes can be stored at room temperature up to 4 days until ready to use.
Prep the Vegetables
- For the leek, trim dark green top and root end from the leek, saving the white and light green part. Discard top. Slice the reserved leek in half lengthwise and run under cold water to clean out any sand or dirt. Slice the leek crosswise into thin half circles or chop.
- For the fennel, trim stalks off the top and a thin slice off of the bottom. Save the fluffy fronds for garnish if desired. Cut the bulb in half top to bottom. Slice the halves into long thin strips, then crosswise into small dice. For the celery and onion, dice small. You can do these a day ahead, combine, and refrigerate until cooking time.
Cook the Vegetables
- When ready to finish the stuffing, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter or oil (or combination) in a large fry pan (12"), saute pan or large skillet until melted. Add the leek, fennel, celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent but still moist, 12-13 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Do this in two batches if your pan is small.
- Pour the vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the dried bread cubes, herbs, salt and pepper. Whisk together ½ cup of milk or broth and and egg. The mixture should be moist and hold together when gently squeezed. If it seems dry, add a little more of the liquid. Season with additional salt and pepper then taste for seasoning.
Assemble and Bake the Stuffing
- Place stuffing into an oiled or buttered medium sized casserole or baking dish (9"x9") and cover with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven on the center rack for approximately 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, 15-20 minutes longer. Serve and enjoy.
- Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator well covered for up to 4 days.
- For vegetarians use vegetable broth or almond milk.
- For vegans, use almond milk or oat milk and olive oil or plant-butter. Skip the egg.
- Works for both gluten free bread and wheat bread.
- This recipe is low risk for those with histamine intolerance.