Delicious Holiday Stuffing Recipe for Special Occasions—Stuffing Recipe System

A full tabletop display of ingredients for our holiday stuffing recipe, such as spices, herbs, onions, vegetables and bread.

Add some flare to your roasted poultry, game birds or red meat roasts with homemade stuffing. The guidelines in this holiday stuffing recipe system will help you start a new holiday tradition in your family with delicious homemade stuffing.

When it comes to food, I advocate for a four-tiered approach to a nourished life: Explore cuisine with great curiosity, grow in essential culinary skills, heal your mind and body with top-quality food experiences, and connect with your inner foodie, family and community by honouring and fully enjoying the pleasures of food.

Unlike rigid recipes, Tree House Kitchen cooking systems empower you to make each recipe your own. This demystifies the process of sourcing, prepping and cooking top-quality ingredients.

I hope you will learn to confidently trust your senses and that your cooking experiences change from stressful to satisfying. Ultimately, our goal is that after a few trials, you will crumple up your collection of recipes and throw them away to create something on your own. Feel true joy, soulful nourishment and accomplishment exploring in your kitchen, fired up to create again and again.

Follow along as I share my homemade stuffing system—it’s just waiting for you to make it your own.

The Special Occasion Stuffing System

To demonstrate this system, I prepared a Thanksgiving feast. I loosely stuffed a 21-pound turkey with half of the recipe below, then baked the remaining half until warm. For a smaller roast and crowd, halve this recipe.

As you explore this system, you’ll discover that the more texture and colour you have, the better! Leave some ingredients whole and add variation with large, medium and small ingredient dices, including herbs. The colours and textures hold up well in the cooking process—just be sure not to chop the ingredients too finely. This stuffing can also be made ahead of your special roasting event, as it freezes well!

Fresh ingredients, such as bread, nuts, and grapes, used in our holiday stuffing recipe.

Combine items 1–5 below to make stuffing for 10 or more people.


1. Bread Cubes

Brown, white, cornbread, gluten-free—use whatever type of bread you like.

  • 8–10 cups bread cubes (about one medium or large-sized loaf), crust removed or not, sliced into one-inch squares

2. Garnish

Any combination goes! Choose from the multitudes of ingredients in this step, or be inspired at the grocery store and add whatever else tickles your fancy. Trust yourself to experiment, or see the end of this post for a suggested combination.

8-cup mixture cut into bite-sized pieces (use anything from the list below to taste):

  • Fresh or canned fruit (drained): Apples, grapes, pears, oranges, peaches, apricots, plums
  • Dried fruit: Raisins, currants, prunes, apples, dates, cranberries, figs, blueberries, apricots, goji berries
    • Soak fruits in water, sherry, port or brandy if you’d like
  • Nuts: Chestnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts
    • Experiment with leaving nuts whole for beauty and texture
  • Vegetables (small or medium diced, pre-cooked slightly): Onions, celery, leeks, garlic, carrot, mushrooms, squash, peppers, shallots, dark leafy greens
    • Soften and render liquid from vegetables slightly by sweating or sautéing in a bit of olive oil or butter
  • Meat and/or seafood (fully pre-cooked): Ham, sausage, bacon, oysters, clams, crab, shrimp
  • Other ingredients of interest (pre-cooked following usual cooking procedures): Potatoes, yams, bulgur, barley, beans, lentils, wild rice, quinoa

3. Herbs/Spices

Use a total of 1 ½ tbsp. of dried herbs and spices or ½ cup of chopped, fresh herbs from family #1 or #2. Add items from family #3 to either, or experiment with your favourite herb/spice combos to taste (just note that it’s never a good idea to get experimental before a dinner party).

  • Family #1 (fresh or dried): Marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary, tarragon, basil, mint
  • Family #2 (dried spices): Ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, curry, five spice, cumin, anise, clove
  • Family #3:
    • 1 tsp. dried thyme or 1–2 tbsp. fresh thyme
    • ½ cup or more fresh parsley

4. Broth

  • 1–2 cups (or to taste) chicken, vegetable, mushroom, pork, beef or seafood stock to flavour, soften and bind the stuffing

5. Salt and Pepper

  • To taste
  1. Spread bread cubes on cookie sheets and bake to dry out at 350˚F (175˚C) for approximately 20 minutes. Cool completely. If you are using day-old bread, you can skip this step.
  2. Toss with all of the ingredients, herbs and spices from items 2 to 5. Taste before you add salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. For moist stuffing, add more stock. Use less stock if you like it crispier.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until needed (not more than 24 hours), or wrap well and freeze. If you’re freezing the stuffing, don’t add stock until after it has defrosted.
  5. Stuff cool or defrosted stuffing in the main cavity of poultry, game or red meat roasts just before roasting. Pack stuffing loosely to allow for even, safe cooking. Roast the meat as directed in your favourite recipe. Bake any remaining stuffing in an ovenproof dish, covered for 30-45 minutes at 350˚F (175˚C) or until warmed through. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more to brown and crisp the top if you like.
  6. The centre of the stuffing should reach 165˚F (74˚C) inside a bird before eating. Use a meat thermometer to test. Remove the stuffing from the roasted meat immediately after cooking. Stuffing will be crispier baked outside of roasts/birds and more moist if baked inside roasts/birds.

Excess stuffing that has been baked separately from roasts can be frozen for up to four weeks. It can be heated without thawing or thawed in the fridge first, then used immediately.

Try This Suggested Combination!
The final presentation of homemade holiday stuffing made using Chef Nancy’s cooking system.
  • 5 cups day-old white and brown bread and 5 cups of homemade, day-old cornbread, large dice
  • 3 cups onions, leeks and celery, sweated, medium dice
  • 2 cups cooked wild boar and apple sausages, sliced, casings removed (try Cumbrae’s wild boar sausages), medium dice
  • 2 cups wild rice, cooked according to package directions to a crisp-tender stage
  • 1 cup organic grapes, halved, raw
  • 1 cup pecan halves, left whole, raw
  • 1 cup steamed and chopped organic Swiss chard (juices drained away, but added to a green smoothie snack), medium dice
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh organic parsley leaves and stems, medium chop
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh sage and rosemary leaves (go lighter on the sage as it can have a strong flavour)
  • 1 tsp. dried or 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • No salt and pepper
  • No stock if freezing; add turkey stock to taste just before baking
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