How to Make Vegetarian Stuffing

How to Make Vegetarian Stuffing |

Stuffing is a perfect dish: Savory and sweet, crunchy and moist, hearty…and in this case healthy.

So why do we make it only once a year?

I really don’t know. But, because we tend to make stuffing infrequently, (and because there is a bit of pressure on making ‘perfect’ stuffing to worthily accompany the Thanksgiving turkey – or to make vegetarian friends feel especially welcome) a fair amount of thought goes into a recipe that is really as easy as tossing together bread cubes, seasonings and whatever mix-ins desired! But year in and year out, I always forget which is best:

Which makes a moister stuffing: Bread or cornbread?

Rosemary or thyme or sage?

How much broth? One recipe says 1/2 cup another 1 1/2 cup for the same amount of bread?

Eggs or no eggs?

Cover in the oven or not?

How to Make Vegetarian Stuffing |

So I set out to answer all these questions AND WRITE THEM DOWN for next year…in order to perfect a moist (but crunchy on top) flavorful (not bland) AND healthy vegetarian stuffing.

And because this recipe is chocked full of fruits and aromatic veggies – plus crunchy pecans and meaty mushrooms, it happens to be vegetarian.

So here are the tips I’ll remember for next year:

  • Use BOTH bread and cornbread! Since this is a healthy stuffing recipe, I used whole grain French bread – which could make for a drier stuffing. But cornbread soaks up the broth and eggs and then distributes throughout – so the stuffing is super moist with the sweetness of cornbread. Use whole grain cornmeal (Deanna explains here) in your cornbread recipe (or in super time pinch – hey, I know it happens – use that little blue Jiffy box.)
  • Rosemary, thyme & fennel seeds. My kids tell me sage “tastes like dirt”, so I use rosemary, thyme plus, because I think the best part of sausage is actually the fennel seeds, I throw those in too. The sweet fennel totally brings together the sweet apples and carrots with the earthy mushrooms.
  • Stir 2 beaten eggs into 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth and then toss with bread.┬áReserve 1/4-1/2 cup vegetable broth to drizzle on top if dressing seems dry (mine did). Or if you do make-ahead dressing, save it and definitely use 1/2 cup then.
  • Cover partially. To get a dressing that’s so moist it need not be drenched in gravy but still crispy on the edges, bake with a piece of foil (covered with cooking spray) that is about 1/2-1 inch too small for the dish on all sides. Remove it for the last 5 minutes of baking.

How to Make Vegetarian Stuffing |

Super Moist Vegetarian Stuffing

Makes 12-14 servings


  • 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large apple, skin-on, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 large stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
  • 8 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium, fat-free vegetable broth or homemade stock + 1/2 cup if needed
  • 5 cups whole wheat French bread, cut into 3/4-in cubes, toasted
  • 5 cups cornbread (cooked until very dry) crumbled
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted, roughly chopped


  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil; add onion, apple, carrot, celery and saute until tender - about 8 minutes. Remove veggies to a plate.
  2. Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in same skillet; add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, fennel and black pepper. Saute about 8 minutes or until mushrooms have released moisture and are cooked.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth. Add bread cubes and cornbread and mix gently to coat. Gently fold in onion mixture, mushroom mixture and pecans. Add 1/2 additional stuffing seems dry.
  4. Pour into cooking-spray coated 9 x 13-inch baking dish, or casserole dish. Place a piece of cooking-spray coated aluminum foil that is just smaller than the baking dish (about 8 x 12-inches) lightly over the stuffing. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until hot. Remove the aluminum foil during the last 5 minutes of baking to crisp the top of the stuffing.

And for more of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes, like Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Bake and Healthy Green Bean Casserole, click on our favorite healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup.

Do you make stuffing more than once a year?

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  1. Yum, this sounds so good! Love your photos…
    Meal Makeover Mom Janice recently posted..10 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes {Podcast #232}My Profile

  2. We only make stuffing once a year because I would WAY overdo it if we made it more. Plus, once a year makes it more special :) This stuffing looks soo beautiful!
    Sues recently posted..Mexican Pumpkin PunchMy Profile

  3. Great insights on stuffing. I was looking for ways to make it better this year. Thank you so much. :)

  4. This stuffing looks out of this world–I love all of the ingredients, and it totally looks like something I would want on my table! Happy Thanksgiving!!
    Ari @ Ari’s Menu recently posted..Caramelized Onion & CauliflowerMy Profile

  5. Ahh this stuffing looks marvelous! And great question – why do we make stuffing just once a year?! I just might make it a New Years Resolution to have more of this stuff throughout the year :)
    Ashley @ The Fresh Beet recently posted..Healthy Crustless QuicheMy Profile

  6. My family never makes veg stuffing for me (sad) so if I want it, I have to make it myself! Totally trying out your recipe. YUM.
    Joanne recently posted..Roasted Acorn Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Honey, Smoked Paprika, and Sage SaltMy Profile

    • Joanne, You have to tell me what you think of the fennel seeds. Seriously, I thought this was the most delicious stuffing EVER thanks to the way they complimented the sweet apples plus savory broth and mushrooms and herbs! Happy Thanksgiving to one of the BEST cooks I know!

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