Thanksgiving Stuffing in the Crock Pot – Free up some of that precious oven space on hectic holidays with this stuffing in the crock pot recipe!
The few times I’ve hosted a large holiday dinner, I’ve realized that what stresses me out the most is oven space.
For years growing up, I watched the women of my family jostle vintage pyrex bowls – which weren’t old enough to be vintage at the time – around a gigantic turkey in a single oven. How else could they get every one of the 12 side dishes out on the table, hot and at the same time?
Plenty of fingers were stuck in my food to test the temperature, only to have the dishes hastily recovered with foil and shoved back into the oven.
So when I came across a recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing in the crock pot, I about died.
Radically Simple Crock Pot Stuffing Recipe
WHY, in 2014, was this the first time in my life that I’d ever heard of such a brilliant idea? I mean, slow cookers have been around since the beginning of time (or you know, the 1970s). I’m just now hearing about how to make Thanksgiving stuffing in the crock pot?
While this radical idea won’t necessarily completely fix the dreaded holiday oven space issue, it’s meant to alleviate it. Especially if you’re not into stuffing your bird full of, well, stuffing. So I guess this recipe is more for Thanksgiving dressing since it’s cooked on the side.
But really, who cares what you call it?
It’s fantastic!! This is a classic turkey stuffing recipe made with dried-out bread cubes, crumbled sausage, and savory herbs. You could certainly add dried fruit like figs or cranberries as I did with my turkey roulade stuffing. Other great additions could be fresh apples, pecans, or butternut squash.
But I skipped all of that and went super traditional with this version.
Using The Instant Pot for This Stuffing
If you have an Instant Pot, you can definitely use it for this stuffing recipe! Just use the Slow Cooker Low setting (according to your instruction manual) and cook the stuffing for 4 hours. So easy!
How Do You Dry Bread for Stuffing?
You’ll need some super dry bread for this stuffing. And you can dry bread 2 ways:
- Toast the cubed bread in the oven at 250° F for 45 minutes, or
- Set the bread slices out on the counter for a couple of days prior to making the stuffing. Then cut the slices in to cubes and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
We loved this crock pot stuffing recipe so much that I’ve made is twice in the past 2 weeks! The first time, this make ahead stuffing cooked away for 4 hours while I did some work in the yard. And then I stuck a good ol’ chicken in the oven to roast for dinner. The perfect fall Sunday meal!
You can bet that I’ll be freeing up my oven space just so I can make this stuffing again for a Friendsgiving or on Thanksgiving day.
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Looking for More Thanksgiving Crock Pot Recipes?
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- 2 lbs country white sandwich bread, cubed into ½-inch pieces (or 2 bags of pre-packaged stuffing mix, like Pepperidge Farm) - see notes #1 & #2 below
- 16 oz Italian sausage (hot, sweet, or both), casings removed
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, minced
- 3 celery ribs, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp fresh sage, minced, or 2 tsp dried sage
- 2 ½ - 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- If using your own bread: Adjust two oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 250° F. Spread the bread cubes out over two large baking sheets and bake for about 45 minutes, until the bread is dried out on the edges and just a tiny bit soft in the centers. Let the bread cool on the pans for 10 minutes then transfer to a very large mixing bowl.
- If using pre-packaged stuffing mix: Place the package contents in a very large mixing bowl.
- While the bread is in the oven (if you're toasting your own bread), ready a 6-quart crock pot (see note #3 below) by folding a 16-inch piece of aluminum foil into a 16 × 4-inch long rectangle, then lining around the back and sides of the crock with the foil. Spray the foil, bottom, and exposed front side of the crock with cooking spray. The theory behind using this foil collar is that the back side of many crock pots cook hotter than the rest of the crock does and the foil will help to insulate the stuffing, preventing it from cooking too fast or burning.
- Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the bowl with the bread, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the butter to the pan, melt, and then add the onions, celery, thyme, and sage. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned and softened. Stir in ½ cup of the broth and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Immediately add the mixture to the bowl.
- In a large bowl, whisk 2 ½ cups of broth with the eggs, then pour this mixture into the bowl. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir everything in the bowl together until well-combined. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared crock pot, cover, and cook on low for 4 hours (see note #4 below). Turn the crock pot to the warm setting (if yours has this - or off it it doesn't). If the stuffing seems dry, stir in up to another ½ cup of broth. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or allow to cool slightly, refrigerate in an airtight container, and reheat the next day.
- If you can plan ahead a couple of days, let the bread dry out on the counter - this will prevent the extra step of having to bake the bread cubes to dry them out in the oven.
- If you use the bagged stuffing mix, reduce the herbs in this recipe by half, as the stuffing mixes are usually already seasoned.
- Half of this recipe fits very nicely in a 4-quart crock pot. Use the same size foil collar that is recommended above.
- If your crock pot normally cooks hot, as some do - and you generally know if this is a problem with your crock pot - cook the stuffing for 4 hours then turn the crock pot off until you're ready to serve the stuffing. Hotter crock pots, even on the warm setting, will likely overcook this stuffing - trust me.
adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen
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- Slow Cooker Revolution: One Test Kitchen. 30 Slow Cookers. 200 Amazing Recipes.
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