Old Fashioned Bread and Celery Dressing or Stuffing

Traditional moist dressing, baked outside of the bird. I make this when I am cooking a turkey breast without the cavity.
old fashioned bread and celery dressing or stuffing

Old-Fashioned Bread and Celery Dressing or Stuffing
by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

This is a purist kind of recipe for stuffing/dressing. It has a simple yet wonderful flavor that is the perfect accompaniment to any roast bird.
It also works well inside the bird, but make sure your stuffing comes up to temp to be safe- to do this, when the turkey is resting before I carve it, I take the stuffing out of the bird, pop it into a pan, cover with foil and bake until it gets to 165-170F. This way you can be sure to safely cook any poultry juice that ran into it, as well as have all that inside the bird flavor!

This recipe is the way my mom made her stuffing when I was growing up, and I still prefer it as an adult. I spent many nights before Thanksgiving helping her chop up the veggies and get the stuffing together. Now that she has passed, it is a memory I will treasure forever. If you have small children of your own, make sure you have them help you with your Thanksgiving feast. Small children can easily tear up stale bread and older children can learn to chop and mix. It is something that one day they will treasure always as a memory and do with children of their own. Thanksgiving is a family experience!

Old-Fashioned Bread & Celery Dressing  or Stuffing

old fashioned bread and celery dressing or stuffing

If you use dried herbs instead of fresh, use only one third of the amount.

Poultry seasoning can sub for all of it together if you prefer. Bell’s is a good brand. You can also easily make your own.

Old-Fashioned Bread and Celery Dressing or Stuffing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

old fashioned bread and celery dressing or stuffing

  • 12 ounces dry bread cubes
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups turkey broth or 2 1/2 cups chicken broth


  1. Saute the onions, celery. herbs, salt and pepper in butter until soft.
  2. Combine with the bread cubes by tossing lightly, adding enough broth to make it wet but not too soggy,  and place in an oblong baking pan.
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 325F. for 45 minutes.
  4. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Note: If you are stuffing a bird Instead of cooking in the pan), pack it lightly into the cavity as it expands as it cooks. Give it room to grow. If you have excess, place it in a baking pan and follow directions for cooking that part outside of the bird. If your stuffing is not 165-170F when you remove it from the bird, place it in a baking dish covered with foil or a lid, and continue to bake outside of the bird until it is at that temp. (food safety)

Source: palatablepastime.com

Old-Fashioned Bread and Celery Dressing or Stuffing
Old-Fashioned Bread and Celery Dressing or Stuffing

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98 responses

  1. Wow! Thank you! I continuously needed to write on my website something like that. Can I implement a part of your post to my blog?

  2. Thank you for the recipe. This is what my husband’s family, and my family, always had for Thanksgiving. I have tried other recipes over the years, but everyone still prefers this traditional stuffing.

  3. Yes this sounds delicious and I’d like to make it but could you advise what temperature the oven should be for this recipe?

    • Oh my goodness! Never noticed that typo. Bake it at 325F. You can have some wiggle room with the temp, if you are baking something else- if you bake at 350 or 375 just bake it for less time.

    • That depends on the density of the dried bread if you make it yourself. Different kinds of bread will have different dried weights, so volume is not the best measurement. Just weigh your dried bread on a kitchen scale. If you buy the bread cubes already dried, the weight should be on the package.

  4. This is exactly how my mom taught me to make stuffing with one exception….we always chopped very finely & sauteed the innards that come inside the turkey cavity with the veg. Adds alot more flavor

    • I use unsalted butter as a rule, but if you are concerned about salt content, remember to taste it as you add salt, because not only will the butter change that, but the broth/stock will as well, particularly if you use canned. Those have wildly varying salt contents. ~s

    • Just double the ingredients. If packing a bird, don’t pack it too tightly, because it tends to expand as it bakes. If baking in pans, just make sure your pan is big enough, that’s all. Very easy.

  5. i was wondering if i buy a bag white bread and cut/ dry it myself over night and it says 8oz on the package will this recipe work well with it?

    • I always make this stuffing for the holidays and it is delicious. I buy 2 large cheap sandwich loaves of bread and tear up the night before in a big roaster pan to dry out over night. It shrinks up somewhat when you add the broth which is why I use two loaves. It’s not an enormous amount. We have about 10 for dinner with a few small bowls for leftovers. Yummy! The key for us is using quite a bit of sage.

  6. I always using Bell’s seasoning for the first time and wanted to make sure of the amount. If you are using a total of 3 tablespoons of spices do I use 1 tablespoon of Bell’s?

      • Thank you; I sure don’t want to mess up my dressing since I need to triple the recipe and have never used Bell’s before maybe I should just use Durkee’s poultry seasonings. Would I triple everything?

      • Some blends of poultry seasoning have pepper, so just taste your seasoning first to see how much bite it has. And always just use one third of dried herbs compared to the fresh amounts, since as herbs dry, water leaves them and they shrink.

  7. I come from a staunch New England family who celebrated with the traditional Thanksgiving meal. My dad always made the stuffing, precisely dicing each piece of onion and each piece of celery, then, adding the herbs and stuffing that fat old bird and sewing it up with added pats of butter.

    Thanks for this recipe. With Thanksgiving coming up, I shall try your recipe which is so close to his and we shall enjoy both. Love to use the left over stuffing with turkey and cranberries in a chubby sandwich the next day. Yum. Thank you for your contribution to our enjoyment of various dishes; you have become a part of our family.

  8. Hi I am from Costa Rica and since my husband is from USA we always celebrated Thanksgiving! This year our youngest daughter is getting married and she wants for her wedding dinner a Thanksgiving dinner! We have 115 guess. Would you help me with the quantity of bread, celery and onion to use?
    We love this recipe!
    Thank you!!

  9. The way the recipe is laid out, it looks like you’re suggesting the stuffing gets baked even if you’re stuffing it into a bird? Never done that before, so wanted to confirm as it seems odd.

    • The reason is that if you cook it in the turkey, it isn’t going to be up to a safe temperature at the time the turkey is done. So your choice is to either overcook the turkey so that the stuffing is done, or remove the stuffing so the turkey is perfect and finish the stuffing in the oven up to temp. This way you don’t risk the salmonella from raw poultry juices.
      I know we all grew up eating stuffing from the bird, but the bird was usually overcooked too and that explains most of it. The rest is dumb luck. I know I don’t want to end up in the ER over stuffing, so cook it to 165F.

      • Sorry, what I meant was that it looks like you want it baked then stuffed. I’m assuming you follow steps 3 and 4 *or* steps 5 and 6, and wanted to make sure my assumption was correct. Totally understand about baking it *after* it’s cooked in the bird a while!

      • I see! It would be put into the bird uncooked. I’ve pulled that from the bottom of the method and added it as a note to make it more clear. It was just an alternate cooking instruction.

    • You’d need to use a bit less stock/liquid as it isn’t going to evaporate as it would in the oven. I’d say whatever liquid you have is going to stay in the stuffing in the crockpot, heated up for a few hours on low or less on high. I’m not a big fan of crockpot stuffing myself, but have done it before. You can try this recipe here: http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-chicken-and-stuffing-47577 The cooking time in that reflects the chicken and stuffing by itself won’t need as long. Good luck!

  10. Hi! This recipe seems to be closest to what I remember growing up as a kid!! Thank you so much for posting it!!

    I do have a question though; what type of bread do you use & do you dry it yourself? If so, how long do you dry it out for?

    • I use a variety, whatever I have around in the white type. It gets dry until it is like a salad crouton and can be bagged up and left shelf stable without mold. What kind of bread you like will depend- I’ve used everything from white sandwich bread, French bread, sourdough bread, Challah bread, Hawaiian bread, stale sandwich rolls, dinner rolls and hot dog buns. I generally save everything I’m not going to use and dry it and put it in the pantry to have ready.

  11. After several decades of stuffing my birds, this year I’m going to do dressing on the side. So I went in search of a good recipe for cooking outside the bird, and lo and behold, I found the same old stuffing I’ve always made (with a couple of tweaks) that my mother always made. Where would we be without our mothers?? I guess it’s silly to try to improve on a family tradition that’s always been a winner, especially since the stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner! I’m happy to see it should be just as successful outside as it’s always been inside the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I’m thankful for the pleasant side of the internet – the side where we share recipes and ideas and occasionally post a comment that brings a tear to someone’s eye. 😉

    • Dried herbs you would use only 1/3 as much, so dried thyme leaves would be 1 teaspoon. But for ground thyme, which is more compact, about 1/2-3/4 teaspoon should do. Add the half teaspoon, then taste to see if you need more.

  12. thanks, enjoyed all the comments. We’re Canadian so we have already celebrated Thanksgiving. Trying recipe for Christmas.

  13. I’m looking for a good recipe to make where you put the stuffing in individual muffin tins. I like your recipe, any idea on the cook time for this?

    • That is better with stuffing that includes egg as a binder- add one or two beaten egg, decrease the liquid by the same amount of egg (measure in a cup), grease the muffin tins real well and bake about 35-45, should be okay.

  14. I did not dry my own bread and could not find any unseasoned dried bread cubes in the stores. Would using the fresh seasonings I bought with already seasoned cubes be too much?

    • If it is preseasoned, it will be okay without, but taste it and see if you like more. If you have leftover herb, put it between two paper towels, cook on high in the microwave one minute, then 30 second intervals after that, rotating the plate, until the are dry, then store them in a jar in your pantry.

    • Look or ask in the bakery section instead of on the shelves where the prepackaged stuffing mix is. Most stores put out mixed bags of dried bread right before Thanksgiving & Christmas there.

  15. So close to my Mother’s recipe. I loved this dressing. She used her own saved broth when she would baked chicken. I know yours will be good.

  16. I’m not sure if this was already asked but, if I were to make this ahead of time, say the morning of, should I adjust the liquid amount due to the bread soaking it up for a few hours before baking? Or possibly combine bread and veggies and hold the broth until it is time to bake? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Can’t wait to try it!

  17. Secret ingredient that some fear… we finely chop prunes… they sweeten it wonderfully. As kids we had no idea we were eating them!

  18. I have 2 14 oz bags bread cubes and I use dry sage, rosemary, thyme…how much of each do I use and onions, celery do I increase amt. Oh ! 9×13 pan should be good, right..newbe

  19. There were a couple of questions here about the amount of bread in cups to make 12 ounces. Could you be nice and give a guesstimate. Not everyone has a kitchen scale. Thank you.

    • It’s about 7 cups with standard white bread. If you use a denser bread or homemade bread or other types, it can be different. It’s not that you can’t use those, but just be watchful that it might need more liquid with heavier bread and use your judgement.
      However, a standard bad of bread cubes from the store is 12 ounces. And I formulated the recipe around that since I figured many people would use that. But you can make stuffing using any amount of bread or type as long as you watch the liquid amount, making sure it is adequately moist but not too soggy if that makes sense.

  20. Hi, I’m going to try your recipe out. It looks good. But your first item in the recipe is listed as 12 “ounces” of bread cubes. I am going to take it that it actually is 12 cups. Thanks for posting this recipe, can’t wait to try it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. This recipe is the closest I could get to taste like my mother-in-law’s stuffing, and hers is the only stuffing that I like. I’ve been looking forward to making this since last Thanksgiving. Thanks for the recipe!

    • I’mglad you like it. It’s pretty much the textbook stuffing recipe. I have been using it for about for about 45 years.

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