Buttery Thanksgiving Stuffing (United States)

This stuffing is buttery and popping with herbs, mixing crunchy celery with soft chewy bread and sweet roasted squash. Since it’s vegetarian (or vegan!), it takes only 30 minutes to throw together. There have never been leftovers with this recipe, much to my dismay. A must-serve for your Thanksgiving table!

My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. Not only is it food-centric, but I’ve always valued a day specifically dedicated to appreciating what we have. So often, we’re pummeled by messages that we don’t have enough (no matter how much we have) but on Thanksgiving, it’s about gratitude. I’m aware of the privileges and advantages I’ve had in life; I know I have so so much to be grateful for.

Thanksgiving is also how I really learned to cook. It was 2004 and I had just gone off to college, but we had a kitchen in the dorm basement. A few friends and I decided to host a Thanksgiving meal the Sunday beforehand for our dorm – about 30 people. I volunteered to help, and that’s how I learned to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Prior to that, I hadn’t participated in Thanksgiving prep at all and had only done a little bit of cooking, but nothing so serious as a 30 pound turkey. And if you’re wondering where a bunch of college students would store an enormous frozen bird, the answer is the bathtub! Luckily the delicious food made our dorm-mates understanding 🙂

My first Thanksgiving as chef back in 2004. I clearly hadn’t mastered food photography yet, but I promise that meal was delish.

After four years of my college tradition, I had perfected my skills and started cooking for my extended family, friends, basically anyone who would eat. But here’s the thing – I’ve never written down a single recipe. I’m pretty sure the dishes turn out slightly different each year. So developing this particular recipe, my absolute favorite dish from my absolute favorite meal, was a bit daunting.

My Thanksgiving 2015 – bread basket, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and of course turkey!

The result is above and beyond my annual standard – a stuffing that is vegetarian (easily adaptable to vegan), bready, moist, and popping with Thanksgiving spices and the sweetness of the squash. Could this be the new holiday staple you’ve been waiting for?


Start by roasting the butternut squash until tender and slightly brown.

While the squash is cooking, prep everything else: tear the stuffing bread, chop the veggies and spices. I love getting a stuffing loaf (Stop & Shop always carries it – literally unsliced white bread) but you could use your favorite bread too.

Don’t forget to use the Thanksgiving spice quartet: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. These spices make everything taste like Thanksgiving and I like to use them fresh! Rosemary and thyme are both a pain to chop, but worth it for the taste. Take your time with the rosemary to get it as fine as you can (no one wants a pine needle in their food!) As for the thyme, you can break the leaves off from the stem by running your fingers in the opposite direction the leaves are facing. They should fall right off! Thyme leaves are so tiny that they don’t need extra chopping, but I like to chop a bit in case an extra stem gets in there by accident (when working with thyme, this is a real possibility).

Sautée the mushrooms, onions, and celery with the spices. When cooked, mix with stuffing bread in a bowl. Add roasted squash, vegetable broth, and melted butter.

Return to pan and add the final heap of butter to the pan. Mix until the butter is completely melted. When the bread is soft throughout and the ingredients are well mixed, you know you are done. Serve hot with your Thanksgiving meal!

Buttery Thanksgiving Stuffing

Yields 8 servings. 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 loaf stuffing bread, torn into chunks
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, finely minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided (vegan: sub Earth Balance or similar)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Tools

  • Baking sheet
  • Large frying pan
  • Large bowl

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Chop the butternut squash. Arrange on baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until soft and slightly browned.
  2. Tear stuffing loaf into large chunks in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add chopped onion, mushrooms, and celery. Add minced parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and transparent, 7-10 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add a bit more olive oil.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add butternut squash, warm vegetable mixture, melted butter, and vegetable broth to stuffing loaf bowl. Mix together.
  5. Return stuffing to the frying pan on medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir, melting the butter into the stuffing mixture. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. The stuffing is ready when the butter has melted completely and all of the bread is soft and chewy.

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