How to Make Thanksgiving Stuffing Ahead of Time, 5 Methods

In this post, I am sharing 5 methods for a make-ahead Thanksgiving stuffing so that you can save prep time on the big day!

We love celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with all the foods that we really only make once a year.

But honestly, often there is a lot of Thanksgiving prep and cooking so I am always looking for ways to make things easier for myself.

This make-ahead Thanksgiving stuffing fits that bill. You can make it up to 6 months before the big day and I am sharing 5 different methods with you. Isn’t stuffing everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving anyway?

More make-ahead recipes:

In the spirit of prepping ahead, I have teamed up with my blogging friend Megan who also shares a make-ahead holiday recipe. Please check it out by scrolling all the way to the bottom of this article to see the mouthwatering photos of her recipe!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to youYou can read my full disclosure.

Homemade stuffing recipe

Even though I am giving you our favorite, classic stuffing recipe, this is really more about how you can make it ahead of time.

In other words, you can absolutely use your family’s best stuffing mixture recipe and find the method that works best for you.

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make ahead thanksgiving stuffing ingredients


  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 stalks of celery
  • ½ cup of butter
  • 1½ – 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 6 cups of bread cubes (stale bread or day-old bread is perfect)
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (or some dried rosemary)
  • 6 sage leaves (or some dried sage or other fresh herbs)
  • 1 handful of pecans or hazelnuts (optional)
  • salt & black pepper

Method Nr. 1

If using, roast the nuts over medium heat in a skillet until fragrant and set aside.

roasting pecans in cast iron skillet with wooden spoon

Next, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat and chop the onion. Saute the onion in the butter until translucent.

sauteing onions in cast iron skillet

In the meantime, chop the celery and the herbs. Add once the onions are soft but not browned and cook until the celery is soft, too.

sauteeing onions and celery in cast iron skillet
  • For METHOD NR. 1, let this mixture cool down to room temperature. You can now put it in a freezable container or ziplock bag and freeze it for up to 6 months. We like this container or this Ikea container for that.
  • On Thanksgiving morning, you simply thaw this mixture, cube the bread, and add the broth, spices, and nuts, if using. Either bake it in a casserole covered with foil for 30 minutes at 350˚F and about 10 minutes uncovered.
  • Alternatively, you can stuff your turkey with it.
  • Done. You will have saved yourself a lot of chopping and prepping.
make ahead thanksgiving stuffing

Method Nr. 2

  • To save even more time, you can cube the bread. We always love toasting it in the oven at 300˚F on a large baking sheet until golden brown (about 10-15 minutes). Of course, you can absolutely omit this step.
  • Then, you let it cool down and also freeze the bread in a container or ziplock bag.
  • On Thanksgiving Day, you assemble the stuffing by combining the melted butter onion-celery mixture with the dried bread, vegetable broth, spices, and nuts, if using. Either bake it (see above) or stuff your turkey.
toasting bread for stuffing

Method Nr. 3

For this method you can assemble the entire stuffing; onion-celery mixture, cubed bread, broth, spices, and nuts, if using. Then place this in a freezable container or ziplock bag and freeze it for up to 6 months.

On Thanksgiving Day, you proceed as described in method nr. 1 by baking your stuffing in a casserole dish or stuffing your turkey with it.

stuffing in a ziplock bag

Method Nr. 4

Make and assembly the entire stuffing (onion-celery mixture, bread chunks, broth, spices, and nuts, if using), bake it in a casserole at 350˚F for about 30 mins covered with foil and uncovered for another 10 mins or.

Now, let it cool off and keep this covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days ahead of Thanksgiving.

Method Nr. 5

Just as in method nr. 4, you prepare and bake the entire stuffing and let it cool down.

However, in this method, you freeze it in a freezable container for up to 6 months. Again, on Thanksgiving Day, you thaw it and reheat it at 350˚F covered with some aluminum foil for about 15-20 mins or until you get a crispy top.

make ahead thanksgiving stuffing

How to decide which method to use for your make-ahead Thanksgiving stuffing?

Ultimately, this boils down to how much freezer, refrigerator, and oven space you have, and what kind of containers you will use versus how much time you want to save on Thanksgiving day.

Obviously, the method that will save you the most amount of time is refrigerating or freezing the entire baked stuffing. On the other hand, you will need enough space in your freezer or fridge to keep it there.

If you’re short on space but want to save some prep time, you might like to go with method nr. 1 in which you only prepare the onion-celery mixture and freeze or refrigerate that. That means that you will still need to assemble and bake the stuffing.

Your choice also depends on whether you are baking the stuffing separately or whether you will be stuffing your Thanksgiving turkey with it.

A lot of people have a single oven. By the time you have your turkey in there and maybe a green bean casserole and sweet potato dish, there might not be enough space to bake the entire stuffing. In this case, you could prepare all those dishes and bake and thaw the stuffing during the time the turkey is resting.

I hope I was able to show you some simple and easy ways to prep your Thanksgiving stuffing ahead of time so that you can enjoy the day relaxed and not stressed out.

woman holding thanksgiving stuffing in a glass dish

Other variations:

  • Bread: You can use any type of bread you like. French bread is great. My olive oil sourdough bread is even better. You can make a cornbread stuffing by using this homemade sourdough cornbread. Any stale or dry bread is great in this recipe.
  • Butter: I love butter for its deep flavor but you can always use olive oil instead

What to do with leftover stuffing:

Even though it’s hard to imagine, here’s what to do with any stuffing that wasn’t eaten on turkey day:

  • You can refrigerate it for up to four days
  • Or you can freeze for up to three months

Please check out my friend’s post for her make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish:

Cranberry Sauce with Oranges using fresh Cranberries at

canberry orange sauce

More recipes and Thanksgiving side dishes you might enjoy:

Roasted Chestnut Stuffing

Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Eggnog

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread Pudding

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Freezable containers:

More freezable containers:

make-ahead thanksgiving stuffing
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Thanksgiving Stuffing

This basic Thanksgiving recipe can be made ahead of time at various stages in the recipe.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 125kcal
Cost: $9


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups broth (turkey or chicken)
  • 6 cups bread cubes (optional: toast bread cubes at 350˚F until lightly browned)
  • 1 sprig rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 6 leaves sage (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 handful nuts (optional; walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Roast the nuts until fragrant if using, let cool, and chop coarsely. Set aside.
  • Melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add onions and saute until translucent, stirring frequently.
  • Add celery and saute until soft.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and transfer to an oven-proof dish.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350˚F for about 30 mins. Remove foil and bake for another 10 mins or until edges of bread cubes are crisp.


  • feel free to add any other ingredients or omit some
  • you can easily make this stuffing vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken stock


Calories: 125kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @ourgabledhome or tag #ourgabledhome!
Let me know all your comments and questions below!

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How to make Thanksgiving stuffing ahead - 5 different ways

One Comment

  1. I have never made homemade stuffing, but after seeing this post I’m wondering why on earth I have never done it myself?! These look incredible, and I will definitely be giving them a try.

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