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Butternut squash stuffing in a glass baking dish with leaves of sage and a wooden bowl with salt.
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Butternut Squash Stuffing

Butternut squash stuffing is the best Thanksgiving side dish! Made with challah bread and fall inspired ingredients, like apples, cranberries, and leeks, it's just like your traditional stuffing, but with an added twist. Whether you call it stuffing, dressing, or casserole, this recipe is a must make for all!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Cost $15

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • sheet pan
  • baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf challah bread (around 1 pound) cubed
  • ¼ cup pecans chopped
  • 1 onion around 2 cups chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 leeks, white only cleaned and sliced
  • 2 apples (preferably granny smith or honey crisp) peeled and chopped
  • 1 butternut squash (small to medium sized) peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 ½ cups warm chicken broth
  • ½ cup turkey gravy or drippings
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 sage leaves chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Cut the challah bread into 1 inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan with the chopped pecans and toast them in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, giving them a toss halfway through. 
  • While the bread and pecans are in the oven, cut and prepare the rest of the vegetables.
  • Once the bread is lightly golden brown and toasted, remove the sheet pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for about a minute, then add the leeks, celery, and apples. Stir to combine it all and cook until it all softens.
  • Prepare a large baking dish by spraying it with nonstick spray. (Mine was 11 inches by 13 inches, but you can use two smaller baking dishes if you don’t have one large one.) 
  • To create layers, add half of the bread, pecans, and squash to the dish. Top with half of the dried cranberries and cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with half of the chopped fresh herbs and another pinch of salt. Continue that process again until everything is placed in the dish.
  • Beat the eggs and pour them over everything, along with the chicken broth and turkey drippings. Give the baking dish a slight shake to coat all the bread and squash in the juices.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the top pieces of bread turn beautifully golden brown.

Notes

  1. What is challah? Challah is a Jewish egg bread that can often be found in the bakery section of your local grocery store. It is typically braided and has a shiny brown color. Some challahs are topped with sesame seeds and some come plain. Either will do for this recipe. If you can’t find challah, fresh baked brioche bread or a hearty, yet fluffy bakery bread will work instead.
  2. What are leeks? Leeks are a part of the onion family. They look like a larger scallion (or green onion) and have a white flesh with a leafy green top. If you can’t find leeks at the store, you can substitute with just a bit more onion in this dish.
  3. Turkey drippings (or gravy) help to add flavor to the dish, but are not entirely essential. If you don’t have any turkey drippings on hand, you can add an additional half cup of chicken broth instead.
  4. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute with dried.
  5. See notes in the above post for instructions on how to freeze and make this stuffing ahead of time.
  6. If you’re looking for a vegetarian stuffing: Instead of including chicken broth and turkey drippings, opt for vegetable broth. The flavor may change a little bit, but the comforting Thanksgiving flavors, like apples, cranberries, sage, and thyme, will still remain!