Slow Cooker Stuffing will forever change the way you make your holiday stuffing. This is simply, hands down, the best crock pot recipe to make your holiday meal prep easier!

One of the questions I am asked most often (and struggle the most to answer) is “Do you have any kitchen hacks?” Now thanks to this Slow Cooker Stuffing, instead of mumbling something about using a water bottle to separate eggs or a butane torch to open a bottle of wine (has anyone actually tried this?), I finally have a helpful response.

a crock pot full of slow cooker stuffing

Make your bread stuffing in the crockpot.

Not only is stuffing made in a slow cooker more low maintenance than traditional stuffing cooked in the oven, it actually tastes better. The Slow Cooker Stuffing stayed more moist in the center yet still took on the delightfully crispy, golden edges I adore.

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 with Goat Cheese, Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole, and Pumpkin Pecan Pie.

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

Slow Cooker Stuffing – An Oven Space Saver!

uncooked holiday stuffing in a slow cooker

Whenever someone tells me that they don’t care for Thanksgiving stuffing, a negative pronouncement I’ve heard with surprising frequenting 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.

I’ve improved my ability to keep my stuffing-related emotional outbursts in check, replacing them with a polite, civilized follow-up question instead: “Oh really? Why not?”

Nine times out of ten, anyone I’ve met who doesn’t like stuffing has only had 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. No thank you. My limited Thanksgiving stomach real estate is better allotted elsewhere.

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

slow cooker stuffing being stirred with a wooden spoon

Important Ingredients for the BEST Slow Cooker Stuffing

The beauty of homemade stuffing, in addition to the fact that you can (and should) use a good-quality artisan bread (may I suggest making a loaf of Angie’s Homemade Artisan Bread?) , 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, Crock Pot Stuffing with Wild Rice, Stuffing Muffins, Cornbread Sausage Stuffing. I adore each, but today’s Slow Cooker Stuffing is the combination of ingredients I return to again and again.

  • Apples
  • cranberries
  • fresh sage

These are my core stuffing flavors, and I’ve found them to be the most universally crowd pleasing too. If you’d like to take this Slow Cooker Stuffing with apples to the next level, you can add any mix of:

  • sautéed sausage (I use turkey or chicken sausage)
  • toasted chopped pecans, 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.

wooden spoon scooping a serving of slow cooker stuffing from a crock pot

Inquiring minds want to know: what is the difference between stuffing and 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.

Wait, so shouldn’t this recipe be called “Slow Cooker Dressing” not “Slow Cooker Stuffing”?

If you want to be technical…yes. The two terms are used quite interchangeably, however. I grew up saying “stuffing,” and the habit stuck. If you’d like to be particular, you may call this recipe Slow Cooker Dressing. It will not offend me. I’m going to be far too occupied swooping in for a second helping of Slow Cooker Stuffing (er, dressing?) to be bothered in the least.

Tools I used to make this Slow Cooker Stuffing recipe:

slow cooker stuffing in a crock pot
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Slow Cooker Stuffing with Apples

Yield: 12 servings, about 14 cups total
Prep Time:
20 mins
Incredible Slow Cooker Stuffing with Apples, Cranberries, and Pecans. Easy crockpot method that frees up the oven on Thanksgiving 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.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf whole grain rustic bread — or sourdough bread (16-18 ounce loaf), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans — walnuts, or almonds (pecans are my favorite for stuffing)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions — diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 large stalks celery — diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 6 sprigs thyme — leaves stripped off (discard the tough stems)
  • 1 crisp apple — such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady (I left the peels on, but you can peel if you prefer), medium diced
  • 1 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
  • 2 large eggs — lightly beaten
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium turkey broth — or chicken broth
  • Fresh parsley — optional for serving

Instructions

  1. 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. 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.
  2. 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. Stir in the sage and thyme and let cook 1 additional minute. Add to the slow cooker with the bread cubes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Recipe Notes

  • Make it 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.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Healthy Slow Cooker Recipe, Slow Cooker Stuffing with Apples

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 12), about 1 heaping cup) — Calories: 221, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 34mg, Sodium: 331mg, Carbohydrates: 27g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 7g

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