Crock Pot Stuffing

From-scratch effort might feel at its most worthwhile at the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for easy ways to simplify your cooking. Take advantage of your slow cooker and make this Crock Pot Stuffing with apples, cranberries, and pecans!

a crock pot full of slow cooker stuffinga crock pot full of slow cooker stuffing

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Not only is stuffing made in a slow cooker more low maintenance than traditional stuffing cooked in the oven, there’s a strong argument that it actually tastes better.

Crock pot stuffing stays more moist in the center and has more surface area for the delightfully crispy, golden edges.

Plus, outsourcing the stuffing to the slow cooker means your coveted oven space will be free for other endeavors on Thanksgiving and beyond.

And by “endeavors,” I mean whiskey pecan-topped Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Homemade Scalloped Potatoes, Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole, and Brussels Sprouts Casserole.

I suppose you might want to squeeze the turkey in the oven too.

uncooked holiday stuffing in a slow cookeruncooked holiday stuffing in a slow cooker

5 Star Review

“EVERYONE raved!! I definitely will bring this next year AND the next! It was so easy.”

— Sandy —

Crock Pot Stuffing – An Oven Space Saver!

Whenever someone tells me that they don’t care for Thanksgiving stuffing, a negative pronouncement I’ve heard with surprising frequency considering that the recipe’s primary ingredient is also one of the world’s most popular foods (bread), it makes me a little bit sad inside.

It also makes me want to demand in a tone that conveys shock-bordering-on-horror “HOW DO YOU NOT LIKE STUFFING???”

I do have a flair for the dramatic.

Nine times out of 10, anyone I’ve met who doesn’t like stuffing has only experienced the boxed stuff.

I have nothing against a quality shortcut every now and then, but boxed stuffing and real-deal, from-scratch stuffing couldn’t be more different.

Any of the boxed stuffing mixes I’ve tried are hard, dry, micro bread cubes that are doused in chicken stock, mixed with a bland spice packet, and emerge from the oven in one of two states: bone dry or unappetizingly soggy (and you can’t fix soggy stuffing).

No, thank you. My limited Thanksgiving stomach real estate is better allotted elsewhere.

Homemade bread stuffing, however? Now THAT is a completely different story!

Stuffing vs. Dressing

Technically, Thanksgiving stuffing is baked inside the turkey (hence the name “stuffing”), while dressing is baked in a separate pan.

  • Baking stuffing inside the bird is generally not recommended, as the turkey tends to dry out before the stuffing reaches a safe temperature to eat…and because if your family is anything like mine, the tiny bit of stuffing that fits inside the turkey is not going to be nearly enough to feed the crowd.
  • So, if you want to be technical, this recipe should be called “crock pot dressing” not “crock pot stuffing”. The two terms are used quite interchangeably, however. I grew up saying “stuffing,” and the habit stuck.
Crock pot stuffing with cranberriesCrock pot stuffing with cranberries

How to Make Crock Pot Stuffing

The beauty of homemade stuffing is all of the different, delicious ways you can elevate its flavor.

I’ve made a dozen different stuffing varieties over the years: Bacon Mushroom Stuffing, Crockpot Wild Rice Stuffing, Stuffing Muffins with Sausage and Apples, and Cornbread Stuffing. I adore each, but today’s crock pot stuffing is the combination of ingredients I return to again and again.


The Ingredients

  • Bread. High-quality artisan bread can make all the difference in a homemade stuffing recipe. Whole grain rustic bread or sourdough bread is the best bread for stuffing.
  • Pecans. I love adding pecans to this stuffing recipe. They add a wonderful nutty flavor and crunch.

Substitution Tip!

While pecans are my favorite for stuffing, both walnuts and almonds would also be tasty.

  • Celery. Crisp and fresh.
  • Herbs. Fresh sage and thyme add a cozy, subtle earthiness that tastes like pure fall goodness.
  • Apple. For the ideal texture, choose a crisp apple like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady.
  • Dried Cranberries. I love the touch of chewy sweetness that dried cranberries add to the stuffing.

Recipe Upgrades

If you’d like to take this crock pot stuffing with apples to the next level, you can turn this into a crockpot stuffing with sausage (I use turkey or chicken sausage) or sautéed mushrooms.

Just be sure to watch the capacity of your crock pot. You may need to cut down on the other mix-ins a bit to ensure it doesn’t overflow.

The Directions

Bread cubes on a baking dishBread cubes on a baking dish
  1. Toast the bread cubes in the oven at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.
Toasted bread cubes and pecansToasted bread cubes and pecans
  1. Add the nuts and continue toasting. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Onions and celery in a skilletOnions and celery in a skillet
  1. Sauté the onions and celery.
Onions being sauteed in a skilletOnions being sauteed in a skillet
  1. Stir in the herbs, then pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
Crock pot stuffing in a slow cookerCrock pot stuffing in a slow cooker
  1. Stir in the apple and cranberries. Whisk together the eggs and broth, then fold the mixture into the slow cooker.
  2. Lay a towel over the slow cooker, then cover with the lid (stuffing should be cooked covered). Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours. Top with fresh parsley and ENJOY!

Tip!

I do not recommend cooking this recipe on HIGH, as it may not cook all the way through before the edges begin to burn.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate stuffing in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F. You can also keep stuffing warm in a slow cooker on the “warm” setting.
  • To Freeze. Freeze stuffing in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Make Ahead Tips

You can individually prep all the stuffing components (bread and nuts, vegetables, egg-and-broth mixture), then store them separately, keeping the bread and nuts at room temperature and the rest in the refrigerator. Combine just before cooking.

Leftover Ideas

Use leftovers to make these simple and delicious Cheesy Breakfast Stuffing Cakes.

A wooden spoon stirring ingredients in a slow cookerA wooden spoon stirring ingredients in a slow cooker

What to Serve with Crock Pot Stuffing

In addition to turkey, crockpot stuffing and chicken or pork is also a delicious combination. Or serve this stuffing with a hearty vegetarian main.

Recommended Tools to Make Crock Pot Stuffing

  • Slow Cooker. A must-have in every kitchen!
  • Baking Sheets. Getting the bread cubes nice and toasty first is critical, and these baking sheets are perfect for the job.
  • Non-stick Skillet. No more stuck-on bits of food with this skillet.

Programmable Slow Cooker

One of my favorite kitchen appliances for making stuffing, soups, casseroles, and so much more!

slow cooker stuffing in a crock potslow cooker stuffing in a crock pot

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

More Flavorful Thanksgiving Sides

If you’re looking for other holiday side dishes, this dish is just one of the many healthy Thanksgiving sides on my site.

slow cooker stuffing in a crock potslow cooker stuffing in a crock pot
ReviewPrint

Crock Pot Stuffing with Apples

5 from 4 votes
Best ever Crockpot Stuffing with apples and herbs! The slow cooker keeps the stuffing warm, frees up the oven and is great for a crowd.

The edges of this stuffing become delightfully golden and crisp all the way around while cooking, so be sure to scoop the servings so that you get a bit of them with every bite. The top of the stuffing won’t be *as* crisp as stuffing baked in the oven (though placing a towel under the slow cooker lid to absorb moisture as the directions suggest helps), but the stuffing’s large expanse of golden edges, in my stuffing-loving opinion, make up for it.

Prep: 15mins
Cook: 3hrs20mins
Total: 3hrs35mins

Servings: 12servings, about 14 cups total
ReviewPrint

Ingredients

  • 1loafwhole grain rustic breador sourdough bread (16-18 ounce loaf), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
  • 1cuproughly chopped pecanswalnuts, or almonds (pecans are my favorite for stuffing)
  • 1tablespoonextra-virgin olive oil
  • 1tablespoonunsalted butter
  • 2medium yellow onionsdiced
  • 1teaspoonkosher salt
  • ¼teaspoonblack pepper
  • 4large stalks celerydiced
  • ¼cupfinely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 6sprigs thymeleaves stripped off (discard the tough stems)
  • 1crisp applesuch as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady (I left the peels on, but you can peel if you prefer), medium diced
  • 1cupreduced-sugar dried cranberries
  • 2large eggslightly beaten
  • 3cupsreduced-sodium turkey broth or chicken broth
  • Fresh parsleyoptional for serving

Instructions

  • Lightly coat a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on two large, rimmed baking sheets.
    Bread cubes on a baking dishBread cubes on a baking dish
  • Bake for 12 minutes, then stir the bread cubes and sprinkle the nuts over the top. Continue baking until the nuts are toasted and crisp and the bread cubes are dry, about 5 to 8 additional minutes. Watch the nuts very carefully towards the end so that they do not burn. Remove from the oven and place immediately in the prepared slow cooker.
    Toasted bread cubes and pecansToasted bread cubes and pecans
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Once the oil is hot and the butter is melted, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking until the celery is soft and the onions are golden, about 5 to 8 additional minutes.
    Onions and celery in a skilletOnions and celery in a skillet
  • Stir in the sage and thyme and let cook 1 additional minute. Add to the slow cooker with the bread cubes.
    Onions being sauteed in a skilletOnions being sauteed in a skillet
  • Add the diced apple and cranberries to the slow cooker, then with a large spoon, very gently stir to evenly distribute. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and broth until well combined. Pour over the bread-cube mixture, then fold gently to combine. Let the mixture sit a few minutes, then fold again so that the bread is evenly moistened.
    Crock pot stuffing in a slow cookerCrock pot stuffing in a slow cooker
  • Lay a clean kitchen towel or a double layer of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker so that you have overhang on all sides. This will help absorb moisture. Cover, letting the paper towel poke out the sides of the lid, and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, until lightly crisp around the edges and set in the center. If desired, sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve warm.

Notes

  • TO MAKE AHEAD: You can individually prep all the stuffing components (bread and nuts, vegetables, egg-and-broth mixture), then store them separately, keeping the bread/nuts at room temperature and the rest in the refrigerator. Combine just before cooking.
  • I do not recommend cooking this recipe on high, as it may not cook all the way through before the edges begin to burn.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 12), about 1 heaping cupCalories: 221kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 34mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5g

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