Easy, Prep Ahead Slow Cooker Stuffing

Your holiday meal just got easier with this prep ahead slow cooker stuffing. The perfect Thanksgiving {or Christmas} side dish! #slowcookerrecipes #sidedish #thanksgivingrecipes

Slow cooker stuffing is the answer to all your Thanksgiving {and Christmas} prayers. It’s simple to prep ahead and tastes like perfection! 

Stuffing wasn’t a huge deal in my house on Thanksgiving when I was growing up. At least, it never took up any space on my own dinner plate. I think my mom made stuffing from the box and I avoided it didn’t really eat it.

Then in 2010 when I was 2 years into marriage and was hosting my first Thanksgiving (okay, so it was just my parents and younger brother coming over, but it was a big deal to us!), I wanted to make everything from scratch. Even stuffing, which I had never tried. I was learning how to cook, and I didn’t have any kids, so it was truly the perfect time for me to show off my skills in the kitchen.

That first Thanksgiving we hosted was one of our best. We’ve since hosted 5 others.

I was so lucky to have found this delicious recipe for slow cooker stuffing that first year we hosted. It was the talk of the town (even I loved it), and it has only disappointed us once a few years ago when I let it cook for too long. The bread was barely recognizable. Oops.

Slow cooker stuffing is perfect whether you are hosting or taking it to someone’s house for the special meal. If you’re the host, you will have the oven taken over by the bird, most likely, so making the stuffing in the crock pot, rather than in the oven, is a smart move. Or, if you are packing the stuffing to your mother-in-law’s house, you can keep it warm on the way over and plug in your slow cooker once you get there (assuming you are just a short drive away. Haha. don’t take it on the plane already cooked!).

Your holiday meal just got easier with this prep ahead slow cooker stuffing. The perfect Thanksgiving {or Christmas} side dish!Prepare the Ingredients Ahead of Time

Now that I’ve hosted Thanksgiving half a dozen times, I truly appreciate any recipe that can be made or prepped ahead of time. I don’t recommend making this slow cooker stuffing days ahead, but you can definitely prepare all of the ingredients at least a day or more ahead.

You can do two main things the day before so that on the day you make it you spend less than 10 minutes throwing everything together. First, you can chop up the vegetables. Store the onion, celery, mushrooms, and garlic in one container in the fridge. The other task you can easily do is put all the seasonings/fresh herbs together in one small container in the fridge.

If you do just those two small tasks, then the day of, all you will have to do is cook up the veggies, pour them over the bread cubes along with the seasonings, broth, and eggs, mix it up, and throw it in the crock pot. Ten minutes, tops. Okay, so there’s one more step, which is checking on it at least halfway through to see if it needs more broth, but that’s it.

Your holiday meal just got easier with this prep ahead slow cooker stuffing. The perfect Thanksgiving {or Christmas} side dish!Homemade Bread Cubes

Stuffing, in general, can be made with many different kinds of bread. I have only ever made this slow cooker stuffing with homemade Italian bread and dry bread cubes from the store. You could also use bagels or even whole grain bread, as examples.

Most recently I made this stuffing with homemade Italian bread, so I figured I’d share the process of turning that bread into dry bread cubes. First, if you plan on making your own bread for this, make it at least 2-3 days ahead of time.

Once your bread is made, cut it into 1-inch cubes. For this recipe, you will need 12 cups of dry bread cubes. I was able to get about 9-10 cups out of my bread, so I had to use 1 whole loaf plus 2-3 cups from another loaf.

Toss your cubed bread with ½ cup of melted butter then spread the cubes in an even layer onto a baking sheet. With the amount of bread cubes you need to toast, you can use two baking sheets or just bake one batch at a time.

Put the bread into a 350F oven for 10 minutes. Toss and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Let cool completely and store until you need them.

When I was testing the recipe for this post, I left the bread cubes for 5 days, and that was too long, both because the cubes were starting to get soft (because of the butter) and because my husband kept snitching some as he’d pass by them on his way through the kitchen. Naughty, naughty, naughty! The dry bread cubes should be fine for two days, but no longer than that, especially if you have a bread-loving spouse like me!

Your holiday meal just got easier with this prep ahead slow cooker stuffing. The perfect Thanksgiving {or Christmas} side dish!Final Tips to Make This Stuffing the Talk of the Town

I am certain that if you get this stuffing right, your family will love you even more. 😉 That being said, here are some of my best tips to get the stuffing just right.

The trickiest part of this stuffing is achieving the right consistency (for your taste, anyway). If you add too much broth, your stuffing will be too soggy. If you don’t add enough broth, your stuffing will be too crunchy. Ideally, you want to get your stuffing somewhere in between those two states.

When you first mix all the ingredients together, add just 1 cup of broth and then you can adjust as it cooks. About halfway through cooking, you can check the bread and if it seems too hard, add some broth. It may need a full cup, but I wouldn’t put too much more than that.

I recommend that you only cook this stuffing for 4-5 hours on low in the crock pot. Any longer than that, and you run into issues with the bread being much too crunchy on the edges. Although, if you own a slow cooker that seems to have an overall lower temperature as it cooks, maybe you will need to cook the stuffing for longer. 

I’ve made this stuffing using store-bought and homemade broth. When I’ve used homemade broth, I noticed that the stuffing could have used a bit more salt. If you make your own broth and only add a small amount of salt to it, I would add more salt to your stuffing than the recipe calls for (¼ or ½ tsp. will probably be best).

Now, let’s discuss the herbs. I personally really like fresh herbs, but I don’t use them all the time since they tend to get pricey. However, for an occasion like Thanksgiving, I’m willing to overlook that and splurge. I have never done a side-by-side comparison of this stuffing using fresh vs. dried herbs, but I really think the one with fresh herbs would win. If you don’t want to spend extra money on fresh herbs, dried herbs will work just fine, but the taste may not be as phenomenal as with fresh herbs.

May your stuffing turn out well and be the most talked about side dish at your holiday meal!

Don't Stuff the Bird Slow Cooker Stuffing
Serves 16
The absolute tastiest stuffing without all the fuss!
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. Butter 14 Tbsp.
  2. Onion 2 cups, chopped
  3. Celery 2 cups, chopped
  4. Mushrooms 8 ounces, sliced
  5. Garlic 2 cloves, minced
  6. Poultry seasoning 1 tsp.
  7. Fresh parsley 4 Tbsp., chopped
  8. Fresh sage 1 Tbsp., chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried sage)
  9. Fresh thyme 1 Tbsp. (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  10. Dried marjoram 1/2 tsp.
  11. Kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp.
  12. Ground black pepper 1/4 tsp.
  13. Dry bread cubes 12 cups
  14. Chicken broth 2 cups, or as needed
  15. Eggs 2, beaten
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Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, mushrooms, and garlic and saute in the butter, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery are soft, about 8 minutes. You may add up to 1/4 tsp. salt about halfway through cooking to bring out the flavors of the vegetables.
  2. When the vegetable mixture is done cooking, turn off the heat and add the poultry seasoning, parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Put the bread cubes into an extra large mixing bowl. Pour the vegetable mixture over the bread and mix. Pour in 1 cup of broth, to start. Add the beaten eggs. Mix everything together and dump into a slow cooker that is at least 4 quarts.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and turn it on low. Let the stuffing cook for two hours and check the consistency at this time. If it seems a bit too crunchy for your taste, add up to 1 cup of broth. Stir well.
  5. Check the stuffing again two hours later. If you like the consistency, turn off the crockpot (or turn it to warm). If it seems too crunchy for your taste, add 1/2 cup broth and stir. Let cook for another hour.
Notes
  1. I have made this with a poultry seasoning substitute when I didn't have any in my pantry. I just used 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. ginger, and 1/4 tsp. oregano. I do realize this doesn't add up to 1 tsp. but it worked for me.
  2. You may use any type of bread for this, but make sure it is dry. I have used both dry bread cubes from the store and homemade Italian bread, which I toasted in the oven to dry.
  3. If you don't have any fresh herbs or don't want to spend the extra money on them, you can use dried ones. It may not be as yummy, but it will work just fine.
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Adapted from Allrecipes - Gayle Wagner
Humble in a Heartbeat https://humbleinaheartbeat.com/
Your holiday meal just got easier with this prep ahead slow cooker stuffing. The perfect Thanksgiving {or Christmas} side dish!

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Charlee

I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.

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