Like a savoury bread pudding, stuffing is a traditional holiday side dish in the UK and North America. This is a vegetarian stuffing made with quite typical ingredient, but includes a number of fresh herbs and a whole head of roasted garlic alongside whole grain bread and vegetable broth. Sage is quickly fried before the onions and mixed in with thyme and oregano. Einkorn bread is pictured, but any will do (sourdough is particularly nice).
I did not grow up eating stuffing, but Graham is from a semi-Scottish household (clearly, with a name like Graham) and it has always been a staple for his family. I want to say that this recipe is based off his gran’s, but we’re pretty sure she only ever made the boxed stuff, so this is essentially a homemade version of stove top stuffing that you buy from the store.
Stuffing can be a little overwhelming on a vegetarian holiday table, which usually includes a number of carb-heavy dishes like veg pies, potatoes, and so on. We embrace it and include a veg stuffing alongside lentil cottage pie or mushroom pot pie, adding a fresh salad or other lighter dishes to break it up a bit.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Bread: I used einkorn simply because when I photographed this recipe, I was trying to use up a 5 kilo bag of flour before moving. I would more typically use something like spelt sourdough. Stale bread is best for stuffing.
- Roasted garlic: the recipe card includes a quick outline on how to roast garlic. I recommend including it, as it does add a nice slight sweetness and rich flavour.
- Vegetable broth: a homemade version – especially one made with lots of herbs – is good here, as it’s a main flavour element. Store-bought can be used but note that you will taste the broth.
- Herbs: you can use dried in a pinch, in half the amount called for.
- Celery: substitute leek for celery.
- Eggs: I have not tried to make this recipe vegan, and suggest seeking out a vegan-specific recipe if you don’t want to use eggs.
- Olive oil: substitute butter for the oil if preferred.
Step by Step
Step 1: cut or tear the bread and either let it dry overnight, or toast for about 20 minutes.
Step 2: fry the sage, then the onions and celery. Add to a mixing bowl the the bread, herbs, spices, and broth.
Step 3: mix well to combine.
Step 4: add the egg to the bowl (if you prefer, whisk in a separate dish first).
Step 5: mix again to incorporate the eggs. If the mixture looks too dry, add another splash of broth.
Step 6: press the stuffing mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake until golden.
If you want this to be even more similar to boxed stuffing, you may want to cut the bread into even smaller squares (1-2 cm, rather than 3 cm). The texture will be closer to the crouton-like bread used in the packaged version.
On the other end of the bread spectrum, if you want an even craggier stuffing, you can tear the bread into uneven chunks rather than cutting into cubes. Some people prefer the less even texture this provides.
Because I don’t have aluminum foil, I cover anything as needed with a baking sheet or similar. Simply invert over the dish and use that instead of disposable foil.
Different types of bread will need slightly different amounts of broth, so a range is provided. The mixture should be moist but not too liquid – you should be able to press it into the baking dish without it crumbling apart, but it shouldn’t look soupy.
How to Store
Storage: keep any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a day or two after baking. I recommend reheating in the oven.
Freezing: transfer fully cooled stuffing to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating in the oven. Unbaked stuffing can be frozen in the same way for up to a month, and baked as usual.
- Dry out the bread: this is key. If you don’t have the time needed to dry the bread out overnight, toast it instead. Fresh bread won’t absorb the broth and eggs effectively. To dry it out overnight, place it on a baking sheet and leave it in the oven to prevent anything getting into the bread while it’s out.
- Add some extras: if you like a little sweetness, add a small diced apple or a handful of dried cranberries to the mix. Cooked veg ground round can be added as a sausage sub if you’re into that too.
- Make it ahead of time: the unbaked stuffing can be kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 24 hours before baking.
If you make this Vegetarian Stuffing recipe or any other vegetarian side dishes on Occasionally Eggs, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more OE, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, purchase the Occasionally Eggs cookbook, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Vegetarian Herb Stuffing
- 1 loaf stale bread approximately 500 grams (1 lb), cut into 3 cm (1-inch) pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 leaves fresh sage
- 2 medium onions diced (200 grams)
- 4-6 stalks celery finely chopped (150 grams)
- 1 head roasted garlic * cloves only
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste (amount will depend on saltiness of broth)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper to taste
- Handful fresh parsley finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano finely chopped (substitute 1 tablespoon rosemary)
- 300 ml vegetable broth
- 2 large eggs
- Prepare the bread and place the pieces onto a baking sheet. Either let the pieces dry out overnight, or toast in a 200°C (400°F) for 20 minutes to reduce the moisture content. Roast the garlic as directed in the notes below.1 loaf stale bread, 1 head roasted garlic *
- Add the oil to a frying pan and heat over medium. Once hot, add the sage leaves and fry until golden, just a minute or so. Remove from the oil and set aside for later.2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 leaves fresh sage
- Add the onion and celery (and fresh garlic, if using) to the pan. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly golden.2 medium onions, 4-6 stalks celery
- Set the onion mixture aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a 23cm (9-inch) or equivalent baking dish with olive oil.
- While the oven is heating, add the bread, onion mixture, spices, herbs, and broth to a mixing bowl. Mix well to combine. Taste a piece and adjust the seasoning as needed.½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, Handful fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, 300 ml vegetable broth
- Add the eggs into the bread mixture. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix very well. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish.2 large eggs
- Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes or so, until the stuffing is as golden as you'd like.
- This is best served immediately, but leftovers can be kept refrigerated for a day or two.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.