This Traditional Stuffing with Leeks and Sage is not only comforting, rich, and so delicious, it’s easy too! It’s packed with day-old bread, plenty of celery and onion, melted butter, and all the classic flavors of Thanksgiving.
Traditional Stuffing with Leeks and Sage
My rank of Thanksgiving menu items goes likes this: stuffing, green bean casserole, potato (whether is be mashed, cheesy dauphinoise potatoes, or sweet potatoes), gravy, bread (if homemade), salad, corn, and finally, turkey.
Clearly, I’m all about those sides. I think we all are.
Stuffing, however, is the be all and end all of Thanksgiving sides. At least for me.
Over the years, I’ve fiddled with dozens of variations, and each November, I thrive on coming up with new creative ways to eat it. This year is different for a myriad of reasons, and in lieu of that, I want to keeps things simple and classic, which is exactly what this Traditional Stuffing with Leeks and Sage epitomizes.
Ingredients in Traditional Stuffing with Leeks
Best Bread for Stuffing
There are SO many choices when it comes to bread for stuffing.
- white bread
- wheat bread
I mean really, you could use practically anything. And as long as the bread is dry, it all works. I typically use a mixture of cornbread and ciabatta for this favorite stuffing recipe, but since we’re keeping things pretty classic today, I went with what I grew up with – plain white sandwich bread. Of course, if you want to class things up a bit, you can use retreat to a hearty ciabatta, Italian or French bread.
Onion and garlic, celery. These are the three ingredients you will find in pretty much every stuffing recipe on the planet. And there’s a reason, the combination of three, not only adds a lovely veggie factor, but it TASTES like thanksgiving.
Leeks. While our recipe is definitely traditional, we do veer a little off road with the additional of leeks. I love the subtle sweetness and extra boost of onion flavor they five the stuffing.
Herbs. My grandmother never used fresh sage or parsley in her stuffing recipe, and that’s shame, because the herb-forward flavor fresh sage and parsley bring to classic stuffing is perfect. For us, it’s a must, so I definitely recommend picking them up.
In addition to sage, my grandmother also always used poultry seasoning. If you’re not familiar, I’d describe poultry seasoning as a savory combination dried herb. It’s similar in taste to dried sage, but also has notes of marjoram, rosemary and garlic.
Butter. You know what elevates stuffing from a good to great status? Butter, and lots of it. It’s Thanksgiving guys, let’s overthink the butter aspect. You’ll need one stick, plus two tablespoons.
Eggs. Eggs are what bind a stuffing together, without them, you will just have soggy bread.
Chicken or turkey stock. Always use a low-sodium version, or even better, fresh.
Drying bread for stuffing
If I plan ahead, I cut my bread up in to a dice, and then let it set out overnight or longer. This is what you SHOULD do. However, if you live life by the seat of your pants as I often do, you can also cut the bread up into a small dice, toss it on a baking sheet and toast it in a 300-degree oven until the texture mimics day-old bread. It should take anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Make sure to toss a few time throughout the process.
Dressing vs Stuffing
I think this is different for everyone. According to tradition, stuffing is what you actually “stuff” in something. Here, it would be stuffing if you stuffed it into the cavity of the turkey. Dressing is baked in a casserole dish, so I guess technically, this is dressing. However, growing up, dressing was always much more moist and more of a soufflé texture. Stuffing was more bread-heavy, and crumbly, if that makes sense.
This, is about as classic as stuffing gets, so that’s what we’re calling it.
How to make Traditional Stuffing with Leeks and Sage
- Sweat onion, celery, seasoning, leeks, and sage in a little bit of butter.
- Pour the hot cooked vegetables over the dried bread.
- Drizzle more butter on top. We use a total of a stick butter, because it’s a holiday, and we should. Butter is always better.
- Whisk eggs and chicken stock together and pour over the vegetables and bread.
- Toss until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the baking dish, cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.
- Remove the foil and cook until golden brown and puffed.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- If you like your stuffing on the dry side, leave it be, if you like it on the more moist side, add a quarter cup or so of chicken stock, if you like your stuffing really wet, add another cup or so of stock. I personally like my stuffing to be somewhere in the middle. I love for the outside to get crisp, but I want the inside to be moist as can be, so I added about ½ cup more stock.
- Toss the ingredients together just until they’re combined. You want to avoid a mushy end product.
- Be sure to season with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Feel free to use all whole-wheat bread or all white bread.
- 16 slices day old white sandwich bread, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
- 2 leeks, split in half, cleaned and sliced
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups warm chicken stock, plus more if necessary plus more if necessary
- Baking dish
- Large skillet
- Mixing bowl
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Grease a 8x11 or similar sized baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
- Add diced bread to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until toasted and stale. Cool completely. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- While the bread toasts, heat a large skillet to a medium heat. Add butter. Once butter has melted, add onion, celery, leeks, sage and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute until leeks and onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add poultry seasoning and chopped parsley. Cook another minute. Remove from heat.
- Add chicken stock, melted butter, and eggs to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add toasted bread, warm veggies, and remaining 1/2 teaspoons salt on top. Toss until combined.
- At this point if you like a more wet stuffing, add a little bit more chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Trasnfer stuffing to prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crisp.