Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing is my favorite part of the meal and it always seems to be the first dish to disappear. So this recipe makes a ton of stuffing in a slow cooker, leaving your oven available for all the other dishes needed on the day. Plus you can prep this part of the meal a day ahead of time and then let it cook unattended in your slow cooker while your turkey roasts in the oven.

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I think I’ve always loved Thanksgiving stuffing because it has so many different qualities. (Yes, I know it is called “stuffing” when it’s stuffed inside a turkey, and called “dressing” when it comes on the side, but I’m going to call it stuffing just because it’s easier and then can’t be confused with the sauce you might put on your salad!) A good stuffing is moist and tender, but it has crunchy or crispy toasted edges; it has a well-seasoned savory flavor, but also a sweet component that contrasts nicely. A great stuffing has everything to do with the ingredients you put in it.

Ingredients on a cutting board in front of a slow cooker - stuffing bread, sausage, celery, mushrooms, chestnuts, onion, parsley and chicken stock.

How to Make Stuffing in a Slow Cooker 

This slow cooker Thanksgiving stuffing includes salty sage sausage, two types of bread crumbs, the usual vegetables like onion and celery, and also mushrooms and sweet roasted chestnuts. It’s seasoned with salt and pepper (of course), but also has grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley too. All these delicious ingredients are bound together with eggs and some really good quality chicken stock. The sausage is browned and the vegetables are sautéed before mixing all the ingredients together. Once combined the stuffing comes together so nicely in a slow cooker or Crock-Pot®. 

A slow cooker with ingredients in front of it - sauteed vegetables, beaten egg, chicken stock, bread cubes and parsley.

 

Making Slow Cooker Stuffing In Advance

It’s true that you do need to cook some of these ingredients on the stovetop first before you can put it all in the slow cooker, but there’s no reason why you can’t do this a day ahead of time. All of the ingredients in the stuffing can be prepped and assembled a day in advance, except for the eggs and chicken stock. Then all you need to do on the day is stir in the eggs and chicken stock before “stuffing” everything into your pre-heated slow cooker. Yes, that’s what I said – “pre-heated slow cooker”. By letting your slow cooker warm for 30 minutes, you give the cooker a real head start. It’s much easier for the cooker to warm up when it’s empty than when it has to heat the stuffing ingredients too.

Looking straight down into a slow cooker with stuffing ingredients inside.

How Long to Cook Stuffing in a Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot®

After you pre-heat your slow cooker, it will only take 3 to 4 hours to cook on the Low setting.  As you have been preparing the roast turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and everything else your family loves,  this delicious slow cooker Thanksgiving stuffing is finished. You might even have forgotten that you made it!

Looking straight down into a slow cooker with mixed up raw stuffing inside.

More Thanksgiving Side Dishes

If you are looking to fill out your holiday table with more delicious dishes, check out these side dish recipes:

A wooden spoon scooping some Thanksgiving stuffing from a slow cooker.

 

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Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Stuffing

  • Prep Time: 35 m
  • Cook Time: 3 h
  • Roasting Chestnuts: 20 m
  • Total Time: 3 h 55 m
  • Servings:
    15

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large loaf white bread (about 12 cups cubed)
  • ½ pound whole chestnuts (or 5 ounces cooked and peeled)
  • ½ pound pork sausage with sage
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped celery about 6 ribs
  • cup chopped onion (about 2 small)
  • ¾ pound mushrooms chopped
  • 1 14 ounce package dried herb seasoned stuffing mix
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut the loaf of bread into ½-inch cubes. Spread them out in one layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350ºF for 5 to 15 minutes, until lightly colored. Set aside.

  3. If using whole chestnuts, increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Using a sharp paring knife, place the flat end of the chestnut on a cutting board and carefully cut an “X” on the top of each one, just cutting through the shell. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400ºF for 25 minutes until the skin curls up away from the nut. (Alternatively, you can air-fry the chestnuts at 370°F for 12 to 15 minutes.) When the shells of the chestnuts are darker in color and the cut skin has peeled away from the center, remove them from the oven. The shell should peel away easily at this point. If it doesn’t, continue to roast for a few more minutes. Allow the chestnuts to cool so that you can handle them and then peel away the shells and chop the nuts into small pieces.

  4. If you are using cooked and peeled chestnuts, chop into small pieces and set aside.

  5. Pre-heat your slow cooker using the SAUTE setting or pre-heat a large skillet on the stovetop. Brown the sausage until it is no longer pink. Remove the sausage from the cooker with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Melt the butter in the cooker along with any leftover fat from the sausage. Add the onions and celery and sauté for a few minutes, until they start to soften. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables have cooked through.

  6. Add the cooked sausage, chopped chestnuts and parsley to the cooker and toss everything to evenly combine the ingredients. Add the stuffing mix and combine well. Stir the toasted bread cubes into the cooker batches, combining them with the other ingredients carefully.

  7. Mix the eggs and the Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and stir into the stuffing mixture. Gradually add 2 cups of the chicken stock, stirring to evenly combine. Add more of the remaining stock as needed – the stuffing should look and feel moist. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  8. *If you are making this stuffing ahead or time, hold this mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook. Remove the stuffing mixture from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to start slow cooker to bring the ingredients to room temperature. In the meantime, pre-heat the slow cooker on HIGH for 30 minutes. Pour another ½ cup of chicken stock evenly over top the stuffing in the cooker and proceed with the recipe.

  9. Slow-cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Check the stuffing after 2½ hours and if it starts to dry out, add a little more chicken stock. Keep on KEEP WARM until you are ready to serve.

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Comments (41)Post a Reply

  1. If prepared ahead , when should you add the eggs, when preparing or before you add to crockpot the day of?? I have never added eggs to my stuffing, I felt the butter and sausage fat binded it enough

    1. Hi June. You can add the egg and cheese when you prepare it, adding the chicken stock as well. Just make sure you refrigerate the stuffing overnight before you cook it.

  2. A whole loaf of white bread = a pound of white bread ??
    Unfortunately Lowes is coming so many sizes now. But if you have time to answer it would be great🙂

    1. Hi there. You could substitute white wine for part of the stock, but since you are putting this in a slow cooker, the alcohol from the wine will not burn off – there is not enough intense heat. That’s not a problem if you don’t mind a bit of boozy flavor, but I would add no more than 1 cup – ½ cup might be enough to give you a wine flavor.

    1. You could use this recipe and place it in a casserole dish or in a baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the stuffing has a browned nicely and is warmed through.

  3. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday for thanksgiving dinner. I had no idea that you could make stuffing in a slow cooker that would taste as good as in the turkey. Delicious, easy to make and loads of compliments.

  4. I’ve done this for several years, I add some of the turkey drippings instead of the last bit of chicken stock. I like to start it the night before, it perfumes your house and you wake up to the aromas of family celebrations. Love it!!!

    1. Hi Dawn. If you want to use two bags of stuffing, I would use one bag of the course crumb stuffing and one bag of unseasoned, stuffing bread cubes.

  5. I use a traditional recipe of using stuffing bread(3 loaves chopped the day or two before and air dried in the oven) chopped celery, chopped onion, poultry seasoning, salt. pepper to season, broth from cooking the neck and giblets. My family does not do the chestnuts nor sausage in their stuffing ( I tried sausage once and only the one raised with that dressing liked it). Can I still follow the crock pot directions from your recipe using my recipe? I have no problem adding extra broth (I have chicken bone broth and chicken broth). Are the eggs to help bind it or is there another reason for them? I always make extra stuffing but live in an apartment with one stove so it’s always just for the take home parts. I was excited about using the slow cookert but wasn’t sure it would work w/o the sausage and with my recipe. I have the Ninja slow cooker so I have a buffet setting to keep it warm.

    1. Hi Karen, yes you can use your stuffing recipe and follow the slow cooker instructions in this recipe. The sausage will not make a difference. I do use add the egg to bind the stuffing, it also adds some moisture to the dish which I like.

  6. Hello, I sure hope you are able to respond to this post BEFOFE Thanksgiving. I would love using this slow cooker receipe. So living in the south, we have always used cornbread plus dried maybe 4 slices of dried bread for our dressing. Is it possible to use cornbread in this recipe then the dried stuffing. I am not sure if my sons would enjoy this without the cornbread texture.

  7. This looks delicious and I am going to try it this year since there is never enough oven space. I’m going to half the recipe since we only have 4 people. Should I reduce the cooking time or will it still need 3 hours?

    1. Hi Carla. Generally, I keep the time the same – the slow cooker is at such a low temperature that it doesn’t usually over-cook foods. Having said that, all slow cookers work best when full because their heating elements work assuming the vessel is full. Check it at 2 hours, but expect that you might need 3.

  8. This looks great and I am going to give it a try this year since there is never enough oven space. We have only a few people this year so I’m going to cut the recipe in half. Do you think it will still take 3 hours to cook or will I need to reduce the cooking time?

    1. Slow cookers always work best when full, but you could try to cut the quantity down. Because the temperature is so low in a slow cooker, the timing shouldn’t be too different. You can check it at 2 hours, but I would probably go for the full 3 hours.

    1. Sorry you didn’t have success with this stuffing, Kathleen. This is a really moist and fluffy stuffing recipe, but I’ve never had it turn out as “mush”. If you prefer a drier stuffing I would use less stock, or go back to your oven.

  9. 5 stars
    I made the crock pot dressing for Thanksgiving. I took a few short cuts while making it. It was a big hit, will make it again. It was moist and very delicious. I also made the cranberry sauce. Although we couldn’t be together my girls came by and picked up some of both dishes. Thanks for the recipes.

  10. 5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe. It never occurred to me that I could make it in the slow cooker…….genius……one less thing in the over. I ‘tweaked’ the recipe, like I usually do, to make it work for us. I skipped the mushrooms and chestnuts but added 2 cups shredded carrots….and SO GLAD that you included the measurements (12 cups) for the cubed bread. I left the cubes out the night before (spread out on a baking sheet) so they dried out a little more than toasting in the oven. I like my stuffing more firm, so the dried cubes always work better. This recipe is now a part of my ‘permanent’ collection of holiday recipes! I look forward to recipes……keep them coming! THANK YOU……

  11. On step 7, if I use a slow cooker liner, do I need to preheat the slow cooker or rub the butter inside the slow cooker? Should the butter be rubbed on the inside of the liner instead?

    1. Hi Susan. The butter is rubbed on the inside of the slow cooker just to make sticking less likely. If you’re using a liner, I don’t think you need to rub the liner with butter.

  12. Hi Meredith, my crockpot is a temperature setting. What temp is considered high to preheat and what should I put it on to cook on low setting? I have made many of your recipes and love them. Can’t wait to try stuffing in a crockpot to free up the oven and get it done ahead of time. 😊thank you

    1. Hi Lauri,
      Pre-heating the slow cooker is just to get it up to temp, so depends on whether you’re pre-heating it to low or high. Low temperature should be around 190˚F and high should be around 300˚F.
      ML

  13. Thanks for a great recipe! It’s very close to my own and I’m looking forward to trying yours this thanksgiving.

  14. 5 stars
    I made this last year and it was such a hit I am making it again this year. Spicy sausage was requested since I used basil sausage as suggested so I will spice it up but other than that I made it per Meridith’s instructions for day ahead and then finish on Thanksgiving. I may add fresh basil since my indoor garden is flourishing.
    Love all your recipes, have several of your books and many of your kitchen utensils now!

    1. Hi Carolyn. I think you could put toasted walnuts or toasted pecans in instead of chestnuts, OR leave the chestnuts out if you prefer.

  15. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! I didn’t have chestnuts so left them out, and didn’t add mushrooms. the Sage sausage added such great flavor, my entire family loved it! thanks for sharing!

  16. Best stuffing I’ve ever made…. I added a few ingredients … apples, dried cranberries and a little curry for seasoning along with the traditional seasonings .. IT WAS AMAZING… my family was beside themselves…. will always cooking stuffing like this… the slow cooker is an amazing thing and a must have in your kitchen. Thank you Meredith

  17. 5 stars
    I will never make another stuffing again! This was fairly easy to make. Love that I could leave in my crockpot. I thought I might have to use two crockpots, but I got everything to fit into one. I made everything on the stove & then transferred to the crockpot. I used canned chestnuts. Guest said it was the best stuffing they ever had. I agree! Thank you!!

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