Get ready to revolutionize your holiday feast with my crock pot stuffing! This recipe achieves the perfect balance of moistness and golden crispness with a flavorful mix of herbs and spices.
Table of Contents
A Thanksgiving Day dinner is not complete without delicious stuffing on the menu. The best thing about this vegetarian crock pot stuffing recipe is that with just a press of a button, you’ll have a delicious dish ready in 3 hours with little hands-on cooking. This method frees up real estate in the oven for the star of the table, a juicy roasted turkey.
For maximum flavor, this version includes cutting up a big loaf of bread and toasting the cubes to control the size of the pieces. Don’t worry; if you’d prefer to use pre-made stuffing mix or croutons, that works too! Combine the bread with sauteed vegetables, herbs, seasonings, eggs, and stock in the slow cooker.
- Bread: Use a large 1-pound French or sourdough bread loaf. Sliced bread can be used as well. You’ll need 16 cups of fresh bread cubes. If the bread is dense and heavy, cut up two loaves to make up the volume.
- Vegetables: Diced celery, red onions, and garlic adds color, earthiness, and natural sweetness to the dish. They are sauteed in butter to soften the pieces and enhance their flavor.
- Herbs: A trio of fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary is added to the stuffing. Dried herbs can be swapped with fresh by adding half the amount. Fresh chopped parsley adds a pop of color and herbaceous note.
- Seasoning: Salt and black pepper bump up the savory taste. Garlic powder intensifies the allium flavor with a more roasted taste.
- Eggs: Whisked eggs create an airy consistency inside the bread cubes. It also helps to bind the stuffing together when scooped.
- Stock: Use unsalted vegetable stock or broth to moisten the bread. If using salted broth, reduce the added kosher salt to 1 teaspoon.
Cut the bread
This slow cooker stuffing is made from scratch and is a great way to use day-old bread or fresh loaves from the market. Grab a 1-pound loaf; if they are skinny like baguettes, purchase two. Slice the bread into 3/4-inch thick pieces, then cut into cubes. This should yield about 16 cups of diced bread.
Toast the bread
Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Dry the bread cubes for 10 minutes in a 350ºF (177ºC) oven. Toss them halfway through for even toasting and let them completely dry on the warm sheet pan afterward. This is the same technique for making homemade croutons.
The bread will reduce in volume as the moisture evaporates, yielding about 12 cups of dried cubes. From here, you can make the stuffing in a crock pot immediately or store the bread in an airtight container for up to 5 days. This is a great recipe to prepare in advance.
Saute the vegetables and herbs
To make the most flavorful stuffing, I take a few extra minutes to saute the aromatics. Melt butter in a large pan oven on medium heat. Add the diced celery and onions, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
This gives the onions a chance to concentrate the sweetness and take out the sulfurous taste. Saute the finely chopped garlic, sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cooking the herbs in hot fat will extract more fat-soluble flavor compounds and aromas.
Combine the bread and aromatics
Add the dried bread cubes, the sauteed vegetable mixture, fresh parsley, and garlic powder to the pot. Stir it to coat the bread with the vegetables and herbs.
Soak the bread
To make a savory and fluffy stuffing in the crock pot, combine eggs and vegetable stock. Alternatively, chicken broth or stock is recommended for not making vegetarian stuffing.
Pour the custard mixture evenly over the bread cubes. The goal is to get them soaked with the flavorful broth. Gently stir until no liquid is left on the bottom of the vessel. Spread the stuffing out into an even layer.
Slow-cook the stuffing
I use two settings to cook the stuffing. Initially, ramp up the heat using the high setting for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to low for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours of cooking time. You can do just the low setting for 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours if you need a set it and forget it option.
The crock pot stuffing is cooked when it reaches at least 144ºF (62ºC). This is the temperature at which the eggs are no longer raw. However, the stuffing temperature will be closer to around 180ºF (82ºC) or above after several hours. The surface will be nice and dry, just like baking stuffing. Keep the stuffing covered and on the warm setting if not serving right away.
It’s easy to switch up the flavor of this crock pot stuffing! Try these tasty variations:
- Bread: Use gluten-free bread, whole wheat, sourdough, cornbread, artisan loaves, or white bread. If using pre-dried stuffing mix or croutons, you’ll need 12 cups.
- Herbs: Add tarragon, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, sage, or oregano. Use ⅓ to ½ the amount of fresh when using dried herbs.
- Seasoning: Poultry seasoning has added marjoram and nutmeg for a slightly sweeter taste. Make it spicy with cajun seasoning.
- Vegetables: Saute mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, onions, celery, butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.
- Fruit: Add diced red or green apples or pears. Add in dried cranberries, apricots, cherries, or raisins.
- Nut: For extra crunch, add chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
- Protein: Add cooked sausage, bacon, chicken, or ground beef.
- Spatchcock turkey
- Crock-Pot turkey breast
- Green bean casserole
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet potato casserole
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Homemade gravy
Frequently asked questions
This recipe uses homemade bread cubes, but pre-seasoned can be used. I recommend reducing the added kosher salt to ½ to 1 teaspoon instead of 1 ½ teaspoons if using pre-seasoned bread. You’ll need 12 cups.
Eggs can be omitted, but the texture will be denser, and the pieces of bread won’t bind together as well. If needed, add more broth or stock to moisten the bread before slow cooking.
Make sure that the bread cubes soak up all of the egg and broth mixture before cooking. The eggs help to solidify and lock in the moisture. If the pieces still feel very dry, gradually add more broth. The stuffing should not be soggy before slow cooking, or it will have a mushy texture.
No! Keep the cover on to ensure proper cooking. Do not stir, or the bread will break down and not have as nice of a chew.
Yes, the stuffing ingredients can be assembled directly in the vessel, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Add another 1 to 2 hours of cooking time on the low setting since the vessel and ingredients will be cold.
The main difference between stuffing and dressing is to classify it by how it’s cooked. Technically, stuffing is cooked inside of a turkey, whereas dressing is cooked outside. Each region may call it something different, which can add to the confusion.
Pre-cook these ingredients before slow-cooking
Fresh bread must be dried out to absorb the flavorful liquid. To maximize the flavor, it’s best to saute any vegetables or meat before slow cooking. Onions and garlic have a robust sulfurous note and would benefit from pre-cooking to mellow the raw taste while enhancing the allium’s sweetness. Vegetables and proteins also contain a lot of moisture, which could make the stuffing mushy.
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Crock Pot Stuffing
- 1 pound french loaf, or sourdough loaf
- ¼ cup unsalted butter , or olive oil
- 1 cup diced red onion, ¼" dice
- 1 cup diced celery, ¼" dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chopped sage
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups unsalted vegetable broth, or stock
- Cut the Bread – Cut the bread into ¾-inch cubes. There should be about 16 cups of cubes.
- Toast the Bread – Set the oven rack to the lower and upper-middle positions. Heat to 350ºF (177ºC).Spread the cubes in a single layer on two large sheet pans. Toast in the oven until the edges are dry and crisp, about 10 minutes, gently stirring after 5 minutes. Cool completely on the sheet pan while cooking the aromatics. The bread will completely dry out.
- Saute Vegetables and Herbs – Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the pan. Add onions and celery, and saute until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Combine Bread & Aromatics – Lightly grease a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Add 12 cups of toasted bread, the sauteed vegetable mixture, parsley, and garlic powder. Gently stir to combine.
- Soak the Bread – Whisk together the eggs and vegetable broth. Pour the liquid evenly over the bread and gently stir to combine. The bread should soak up the liquid. Evenly spread out the stuffing.
- Cook the Stuffing – Cover and cook on high setting for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to the low setting and cook for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours. The internal temperature should reach at least 144ºF (62ºC). If not serving immediately, keep the stuffing in the warm setting.
- Recipe Yield: 8 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Substituting store-bought bread: Use 12 cups of dried bread cubes instead of fresh bread loaf.
- Using dried herbs: Use half the amount of the fresh herbs (sage, thyme, and rosemary), a total of 1 tablespoon dried. Poultry seasonings can also be used; add 1 tablespoon.
- Make-ahead: The dried bread cubes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Combine all of the stuffing ingredients, cover, refrigerate, and cook within 1 day. Cook until the internal temperature reaches at least 144ºF (62ºC). This may take another 1 to 2 hours since the vessel is cold.
- Reheating: Microwave on high power in 30-second intervals until warm.
- Make it Dairy-Free: Substitute olive oil for butter.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free bread.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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