You can make this Crock Pot stuffing recipe the day before your holiday dinner for an easy hands-off side dish for your family feast. All the same flavors and crispy golden brown texture of oven baked stuffing without using the oven!
Crock Pot stuffing is the perfect solution for a hands-off Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish when you need more room in your oven for the rest of the feast.
Make the entire stuffing recipe ahead the day before and just store it in the fridge overnight. You can set the bowl into the Crock Pot and bake it while you prep your dinner.
Made from fresh Italian bread croutons (that can also be made in advance), butter, celery, and onions, this particular dressing recipe is cooked outside of the turkey and meant to be a side dish with gravy and cranberry sauce on the side.
- Why This is the Best Recipe
- Stuffing Variations
- Dry the Croutons: Up to 48 Hours Ahead
- Saute the Onion and Celery in Butter
- Assemble the Stuffing (Up to 24 Hours Ahead)
- Crock Pot Cooking Instructions
- Oven Baked Variation
- Make Ahead Tips
- Serving Suggestions
- More Crock Pot Side Dishes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Why This is the Best Recipe
If I had to choose just one side dish for Thanksgiving, I would probably pick my mom's Italian sausage stuffing above all others but sometimes you just really need to make the holiday prep easier.
In those cases, you could take all the same ingredients of my mom's recipe and cook them right in a slowcooker for the easiest holiday side dish ever.
I think this is the best Crock Pot stuffing recipe because:
- Golden Brown Crispy Edges: With my cooking method, you'll still have those amazing crispy edges around the perimeter of the dish.
- Make Ahead Friendly: You can assemble the entire recipe the day before your holiday dinner and then just bake it in the Crock Pot before serving.
- Sausage or No Sausage: Whether you want this to be a sausage stuffing or not, you can easily tweak the recipe for your family.
- Saves Oven Space: Now you have one less side dish to worry about timing with the rest of your oven baked dishes.
This easy holiday side dish starts with just a few simple ingredients:
- Italian Bread: A fresh loaf of bakery bread or one loaf of my homemade Italian bread recipe. If you want to use store bought stuffing croutons, see the recipe notes in the recipe card.
- Chicken Broth
- Poultry Seasoning
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
This recipe makes a very classic holiday stuffing with the flavors of sage and thyme. If you would like to dress it up to match your holiday menu, you could make these simple variations:
Sausage Stuffing: Brown up one pound of bulk Italian sausage and add it to the stuffing mix with the vegetables.
Stuffing with Dried Cranberries: Add ¾ cup dried cranberries to the stuffing.
Dry the Croutons: Up to 48 Hours Ahead
First, preheat the oven to 250°F and set out a large baking sheet.
Slice the Italian bread into ½-inch thick slices. Then either slice the slices into a cubed dice or rip the bread by hand into ½-inch pieces.
Add the bread cubes to the baking sheet in an even layer.
Bake the bread cubes for 7 - 10 minutes or until the pieces feel very crispy and firm. You'll find it helpful to gently toss the bread once or twice as it bakes so the center pieces can also toast evenly.
Store the dried bread croutons in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Saute the Onion and Celery in Butter
Melt the butter in a large skillet.
Add the chopped onions and celery. Add the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and stir everything together.
Saute the mixture until the onions have softened but not charred, about 8 - 10 minutes.
Assemble the Stuffing (Up to 24 Hours Ahead)
Add the dried croutons to a very large mixing bowl. You may even find it easier to add them to a large soup pot so you have room for stirring.
Scrape the melted butter and softened vegetables over the croutons. Use a large spatula to gently toss them together until all the bread is coated in butter.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the chicken stock into the eggs until smooth.
Pour the egg mixture over the croutons and gently toss it together.
You may find it easiest to use a large spatula or spoon in one hand and use your other hand to gently toss the stuffing together.
The dried bread is fairly delicate. If you overstir the mix, it will turn to mush.
Rather, just gently scoop with the spatula/spoon and use your other hand to gently turn the bread over. Repeat until the bread mixture is fully dampened but not overly soggy.
If the mixture is still too dry, drizzle a little of the remaining chicken stock in until everything is appropriately moistened. You may not need any more liquid so just do a little at a time.
The stuffing should look similar to this:
At this point, spray the bowl of the slowcooker with cooking spray and gently transfer the stuffing mixture into the pot.
Do not stuff it down or hard pack it, just let the stuffing settle naturally into the pot.
The stuffing can now be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Crock Pot Cooking Instructions
If you made the Crock Pot stuffing the day before and stored it in the fridge, be sure to take it out and set it on the counter for one hour before cooking.
This lets the stuffing come closer to room temperature so that it bakes evenly in the slowcooker.
Cook the stuffing on HIGH for 30 minutes. Then turn the heat down and continue to cook for 2 - 3 hours or until the center of the stuffing is piping hot.
Do not stir the stuffing while it bakes, if you leave it alone it will develop delicious golden brown edges around the perimeter of the dish.
Oven Baked Variation
If you really love the golden brown crispy edges on stuffing like I do, you may want to consider making the stuffing in advance but storing it in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
You can then bake the stuffing in the oven where it will get a crispy top all over the stuffing. For more information, be sure to see my Italian sausage stuffing recipe:
Make Ahead Tips
The easiest way to make ahead Crock Pot stuffing is to assemble the stuffing completely the day before and just bake it fresh the day you want to serve it.
However, you could just break down some of the steps ahead of time and then toss the stuffing together just before baking it on the day you serve it:
- Pre-Dry the Croutons
- Pre-Soften the Veggies in Butter: Just scrape everything into a glass storage dish and keep in the fridge. You can reheat the butter mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute or until the butter has melted and the veggies have warmed through.
This makes it very easy to just stir everything together while also helps avoid the one hour waiting time for the chilled stuffing to come back to room temperature.
With a slowcooker filled with this stuffing cooking away, your house is going to smell like a holiday.
You could also plan to make open face turkey sandwiches with this stuffing as the base instead of a slice of bread.
Personally, I love a dollop of tart cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier to help balance all that salty goodness on the plate.
More Crock Pot Side Dishes
I love using my Crockpot for side dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas because it keeps my oven clear for other things.
These easy slowcooker recipes will definitely make feeding a crowd for the holiday a lot easier:
Crock Pot Stuffing
- 1 (2-pound) loaf of Italian bread cut into cubes, see notes for substitution
- 8 tablespoon (1 stick) butter
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups chicken broth
- OPTIONAL: 1 pound bulk Italian sausage see notes
Make the Stuffing Croutons (Up to 48 hours in advance)
- Preheat the oven to 250°F. Cut the loaf of bread into small cubes about the size of a pair of dice. You may also find it easier to just rip the bread by hand into small pieces for a more rustic looking stuffing.
- Lay the cubed bread on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake it for 7 - 10 minutes or until the bread feels crispy to the touch and firm. It is helpful to toss the bread once or twice while it bakes so every piece gets nice and crispy.
- The dried stuffing croutons can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days if you want to do this step ahead of your holiday cooking.
Prepare the Stuffing (Up to 24 hours in advance)
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and celery and stir. Season the vegetables with the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook until the onions are softened but not charred, about 8 - 10 minutes.
- OPTIONAL: If you prefer a sausage stuffing, you can brown the bulk Italian sausage in a separate skillet, breaking it up as it cooks. Be sure to cook it until a deep toasted brown color so it isn't chewy. Stir the cooked sausage into the stuffing along with the cooked vegetables.
- Scrape all the cooked vegetables and all the melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Add the dried croutons and gently stir together. You will find it easiest to use a large spatula and one hand to help gently toss and coat the bread in the melted butter. It is important to keep the bread cubes in shape so the stuffing doesn't turn to mush so just work lightly and stop once the croutons are coated.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Whisk them with a fork to break the yolks. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth to the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture over the bread and gently fluff it together with a large spatula. Be careful to not overmix.
- Drizzle the remaining 1 cup chicken broth into the stuffing mixture just a little at a time. You may not need the entire cup. The mixture should be moistened but not soggy.
- Spray the bowl of a 6 qt Crock Pot with cooking spray or rub additional softened butter over the bottom and sides. Transfer the stuffing to the bowl and smooth into an even layer.
- At this point, the stuffing can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Just be sure to let it come to room temperature on the counter for 1 hour before the final cooking.
Cook the Stuffing (4 - 5 hours before your meal)
- Cook the stuffing on HIGH temperature for 30 minutes. Lower the temperature to the LOW setting and continue to cook for 3 - 4 hours or until the stuffing is cooked through. You can then turn the Crock Pot to the "keep warm" setting while your dinner prep finishes up.
How to Use Store Bought Stuffing Croutons in This RecipeIf you prefer to not use a fresh Italian bread for this stuffing, you can substitute store bought dried croutons. Use 12 cups of dried croutons and increase the chicken stock to 3 - 4 cups. The remaining instructions and ingredients would remain the same.
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