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Holly's Pilgrim Stuffing

Reprinted with permission from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books,

My dear friend Holly and I make this stuffing almost every Thanksgiving.  My family begs for it. The better the bread that you use, the better the stuffing will be.  Choose bread that is savory or neutral, not sweet. Ask a friend to help and make a lot – it is so good.

8-10 whole chestnuts
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 loaf whole grain bread
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries
Fresh thyme
Fresh marjoram
Fresh sage (lots), chopped
Black pepper (lots)
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut an x on the flat side of each chestnut.  Place in a baking dish and bake about 20 minutes, until the shell comes away from the meat.  Set aside and let cool.

Melt butter in a large skillet.  Add onions and sauté until soft. Cut bread into small cubes and place in a large bowl.  Add celery, apples, cranberries, and toss.  Add butter and onions and work fat into the bread mixture. 

Put ¼ - ½ cup hot water into skillet used for butter and onion and heat water.  Pour this over bread mixture and work in with hands.  Peel chestnuts, cut into pieces and add.  Add all herbs, salt and pepper. Taste the mixture.  Make sure the taste pleases you.  If needed add more seasonings.

Stuffing is ready to be put into the turkey cavity.  You can also put it in a covered 9x13 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 45 minutes to use as a side dish.

Preparation time: 1 ½ hour
Makes enough to stuff 2 12-15 pound turkeys or 1 9X13 pan

FOR BABIES 6 MONTHS & OLDER:  Steam some apple slices until they are soft and mash into apple sauce.


Sarah Kingston
I love stuffing more than any other thing at the Thanksgiving table (except the pies and the turkey and the squash and the mashed potatoes and the gravy...OK, I love it all) but I can't figure out why people don't eat it more often. I think I may start doing it every other week or so, because after watching that, I'm drooling.
November 18, 2008, 12:56 pm

Cynthia Lair
Thanks Sarah. It IS good! Let me know if you make it and how the reviews go.
November 18, 2008, 1:40 pm

Angie Schertle
What do you think about substituting another type of nut? Dried cranberries? I love stuffing, too, and this could be my year round recipe since it's a bit more healthy than my current one, if all the ingredients are easy to get.
November 18, 2008, 5:39 pm

Cynthia Lair
Walnuts or pecans might work nicely. Just toast them a in a 300 degree oven until they smell nice before adding. Dried cranberries would work but wouldn't add quite the flair or color that fresh ones do. Fresh cranberries should be widely available for the next month or two.
November 18, 2008, 5:53 pm

Matty Whitman
I think I could even make that! And don't worry I forget the turkey all the time. Can't wait to try it YUM!
November 25, 2008, 11:52 pm

Kyna Moser
Looks yummy & I love that you use fresh cranberries. I'm going to give it a try.
November 21, 2009, 2:28 pm

Penny Grace
I love Cookus Interruptus! What a treasure trove of wonderful recipes. Now here's my problem: I have a new daughter-in-law and want to give her a collection of Cookus recipes. Sadly, she and my son will not have any children - and I hate to give her your book, Cynthia, because it has so many reminders of sweet babies in it. Is it possible to find a book, or some kind of collection of these wonderful recipes for her Christmas present this 2009 holiday? Thank you so much for constant fun and delectible adventures. Penny
November 23, 2009, 10:25 am

Penny Brewer
I'm so excited to make this for Thanksgiving!! It sounds AMAZING!
November 23, 2009, 10:53 pm

sarah Doggett
Has anyone tried gluten free bread for stuffing? I want to make a GF bird but i'm afeard the stuffing will be mushy yuck.
November 18, 2011, 3:48 am

I'm not fond of traditional stuffing, I might try this recipe, but leaving out the black pepper (which I do not like the taste of), and use less sage. and less celery. Love the fruit and nuts in there!
November 18, 2011, 10:48 am

Jean Stangarone
Hi Cynthia, Always enjoy your website and recipes. Do you have an approx qty for the bread? cups? oz? Is it best to prep and bake then reheat or can you prep and cook the next day? Just curious. Thanks for all the laughs too.
November 18, 2011, 3:53 pm

Cynthia Lair
Thanks Jean! I'd say about 5-6 cups of the torn bread.
November 18, 2011, 5:37 pm

caroline lawless
can this stuffing be made in advance and frozen?
December 19, 2011, 7:54 am

Jennifer Oslund
Does the bread need to be dried out before using it in this recipe?
November 22, 2015, 9:27 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Jennifer, The bread does not have to be dry. I have done it with both fresh and dry. (Dry needs more liquid!)
November 23, 2015, 10:16 am

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