Homemade Chestnut Dressing

This weekend, I received an email from my young friend, Molly. Molly is the same age as my oldest son and she is already a great cook. She offered to share two of her signature recipes for the Thanksgiving season with us and I’m delighted! Since I’ve never made Chestnut Dressing to accompany a Thanksgiving turkey, I was very excited to learn  more about this. Molly writes:


This stuffing recipe is one that I found in a “Taste of Home” cookbook about 7 years ago. I was fourteen at the time, and it was my first attempt at making stuffing. My family loved it, and I have been in charge of the stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner ever since! I like this recipe since it starts with the basic stuffing recipe, but add the chestnuts and stuffing and you have something special!

Chestnut Stuffing

  • 1 pound chestnuts
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 package (16 ounces) bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained
  • 1 package (16 ounces) crushed seasoned stuffing
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1 cup water

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring 2 qts. of water to a boil. Cut an “X” in each chestnut; drop into boiling water. Return to a boil; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; peel outer shell and inner layer. Coarsely chop chestnuts; set aside. In a large skillet, saute celery and onions in butter until tender. Transfer to a large bowl; add sausage, stuffing, and chestnuts. Add broth and water; toss to mix. Place into a greased 9×13 pan, covered, and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 10 minutes until the top is browned.

This is truly my favorite dish at Thanksgiving, and I always look forward to making it on Thanksgiving morning. I find that the chestnuts add a slightly sweet flavor, and a bit of a crunch. It’s fantastic!

Thanks, Molly! I’m excited to live in a  part of the country  where chestnuts are common enough  that people gather them up and share them with friends! I have been warned by a different friend that it’s very important to make sure that you’re not gathering buckeyes because those are poisonous.

If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, leave out the sausage and substitute vegetable broth or warm water for the chicken broth.


Excellent Victorian Stuffing

I found a recipe for Victorian stuffing in my Rodale Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, which I received as a wedding present 18 years ago. I was looking for a recipe that was slightly different than the usual stuffing, and this was lovely. I did make a few modifications, though. I still love it–the chestnuts and mushrooms add a lot to the texture, and the nuts are GREAT. And by the way, I can’t say enough good things about the Rodale book–I’ve worn it out over the years, and some of my family’s favorite recipes come from it. Continue reading

Mom’s Thanksgiving turkey stuffing

This Thanksgiving stuffing recipe is one that my mother does perfectly–a really basic recipe that everyone should have in their repertoire. Every childhood Thanksgiving memory that I have starts out with the fragrant aroma of my mom sauteing onions and celery in butter for this dressing:

Classic Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 c.)
  • 2 c. chopped celery
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 2 tsp. powdered sage
  • 10 c. dry bread, torn into bite-size pieces or cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2-4 c. chicken stock

In a large stock pot, melt the butter, then cook the onions and celery for several minutes until soft. Add the sage and stir for 1 minute. Add the bread chunks and stir into the onions/celery. Add the stock a little at a time, turning the bread constantly. The amount of stock will vary, depending on what kind of bread you use. I like to use a crusty French bread. When the bread is nice and moist, put the mixture into a large sprayed casserole and bake covered for 20 minutes at 375ºF, then 10 minutes uncovered at 400ºF.


You can do a quick and easy variation of this by buying the stuffing mix bags in the store–if you buy the “traditional sage” flavor, you substitute a bag of stuffing mix for the sage and bread above. It makes a FAST and hearty side dish for a quick dinner (or if you have chunks of chicken or turkey, you can heat those up and throw them in with the stuffing and call it a meal!)

We have edited this post to remove the recommendation to use the stuffing to stuff the bird.  See Kate’s comment below, which reflects the prevailing thought on the safety concerns of that method.  We grew up eating inside-the-turkey stuffing with no ill effects, but we both now keep the stuffing separate, not being fans of food-poisoning, or even the possibility thereof.

Note: If you use homemade stock that has no added salt, you will probably need to add a little salt to this recipe. Also, changing up the bread (to cornbread or sourdough) will yield very different, but tasty, results. This dressing is very easy to keep vegetarian. If you use vegetable stock, you’ve got it. In contrast, I have a friend who also adds cooked and crumbled sausage to her stuffing.

We’ll be posting two more stuffing (or dressing as it’s called in some parts) recipes today. We hope that by posting some of the traditional Thanksgiving recipes early, you’ll be able to make your shopping list early!