Hundred-year-old Recipe for Bread Stuffing

bread stuffing in bowl

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to stuffing, and I still use the bread stuffing recipe in my 1976 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Betty Crocker calls for combining bread crumbs with lots of butter, minced onion and celery; and then seasoning with sage and thyme. That recipe is tasty – but this year I wanted to make an authentic hundred-year-old recipe, so was thrilled to find a Bread Stuffing recipe in a 1919 magazine.

The hundred-year-old recipe skips the onion and celery – and uses poultry seasoning instead of the individual spices that I usually use. It also calls for an egg that acts as a binder to help keep the stuffing from falling apart.

The seasoning for the old recipe was just right, and is perfect for those who want an authentic, old-fashioned bread stuffing recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

bread stuffing recipe
Source: American Cookery (November, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Bread Stuffing

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Note: This recipe makes enough stuffing to stuff a 2-3 pound chicken. Double recipe for a 5 – 6 pound chicken; quadruple for a 10-12 pound turkey.

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 cups soft bread crumbs (tear bread into 1-inch pieces)

1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl stir together, butter, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add bread crumbs and egg; stir gently until thoroughly combined. Scoop stuffing into chicken or turkey body and neck cavities. Cook poultry thoroughly. Remove stuffing from poultry, and place in a bowl. Fluff with a spoon or fork, and then serve. May also be served cold.

67 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Recipe for Bread Stuffing

  1. My mother always used Bell’s Seasoning, and used it for her stuffing, and I always have some among my own herbs and spices. It’s great for flavoring chicken broth when making soup as well!

    1. Poultry seasoning is a spice mixture that is available in the U.S. The exact spices vary from brand to brand, but poultry seasoning typically includes thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, and pepper.

  2. I understand not adding celery one hundred years ago, especially in Rural America where it must have cost a pretty penny, if you could even obtain it! But….EVERY rural home had bags and bags of onions in the root cellar that they bought or grew themselves! All that I can think of, as to the exclusion of onions, is that 100 years ago, food was VERY SIMPLE and wasn’t seasoned the way that we’re used to doing, now.

    1. I had similar thoughts. My sense is that foods were often seasoned less a hundred-years-ago than what they are now. I also think that some people back then worried about onions causing gas and bloating.

    1. Funny my mom used Pepperidge Farms bagged stuffing crumbs as a base and then augmented it. I still do the same. Whatever we had growing up seems to be how we expect stuffing to taste. I did have to wean my Southern husband off cornbread stuffing though since I do the cooking.

    2. I remember my mother tearing bread heels into small pieces. She’d put the pieces in an open canister to dry, and then she’d use them later to make stuffing, apple betty, and other dishes that used bread crumbs.

  3. My Dad did not like onions or celery, so it was never in the stuffing. Did your PA family ever call it filling? I’ll bet we have the same Betty Crocker cookbook. My Mom gave me one around that time and I still use some of the recipes.

    1. Yes, my family called it filling. I’ve lived enough other places over the years that I now refer to it as stuffing – but back when I was a kid it central PA, it was definitely called filling.

    1. One of the oldest spice mixes in the country, Bell’s dates back to 1867, when William F. Bell of Newton, Massachusetts created the blend from an old family recipe. Since then, nothing has changed…and come to think of it, neither has the box. Immediately recognizable with its colorful, (now) vintage looking label, lettering, and hand-drawn turkey, Bell’s is the throwback that never left.

      So what’s in Bell’s Seasoning? Each box contains a savory, salt-free, and all-natural blend of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram, thyme, and pepper with no added preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients. Combined, the aroma is pure Thanksgiving.

  4. The stuffing is very like one that my family has used for years. Usually we leave out onion and celery but we added fresh chopped ginger. It was interesting to learn why the egg is added to stuffing.

    1. I’m intrigued – I never would have thought of adding ginger to stuffing, but it sounds good. The egg definitely did help the stuffing maintain its shape.

  5. I am not a big stuffing eater but this sounds like the dressing my friend has always used and I liked hers. So maybe this year I will try it. I do not buy a whole turkey but the turkey roast that Butterball makes – fresh turkey boneless breasts put together. So I am thinking this will still be ok to make by putting it in a pie pan and baking. My dad did that with his leftover stuffing that would not fit in a bird.

    1. It should work fine if you make sure the stuffing is moist. You may want to use some chicken or turkey broth for the added liquid for more flavor.

  6. My husband doesn’t care for it but the stuffing / dressing is one of my favorite dishes during the holidays. I love how it pairs well with the cranberry sauce! I always have onion and celery in mine, which has been tradition in our family. I’m sure your family looks forward to enjoying your tried and true stuffing at your holiday table!

    1. Stuffing has really grown on me over the years. When I was a child, I didn’t care much for it. Now, similarly to you, it is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

  7. Poultry seasoning ,onions and celery all go into my dressings unless it’s an oyster dressing. I can imagine though that celery may not have always been available back then.

  8. I do end up with some drool on my laptop reading your posts, Sheryl:) Traditional, simple recipes that have withstood the test of time are often the best. Thank you for sharing🙂

    1. I think that I’ve read through all the comments but I may have missed one or two.

      What I have NOT seen is anyone adding giblets to their stuffing! My Gran added them all the time, mincing them up very fine and sauteing them in butter, and then added to the bread cubes. She’d use the turkey neck to make a rich broth and would use THAT to moisten the stuffing before it went into the turkey.

      1. My mother also cut giblets into very small pieces and put them in the stuffing. She seemed to think that we won’t notice the giblets if they were cut small enough – but we always found them. As I child, I think that the giblet pieces in the stuffing was a reason that I didn’t care much for stuffing. Now as an adult, I want to try making giblet stuffing. I might discover that I actually like it. 🙂

  9. Looks yummy. A perfect dish for this time of year.
    I like all types of dressing. I’m partial to cornbread dressing though.
    I use ‘Poultry Seasoning’ all through the year in several different recipes. It’s one of my favorite seasonings.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link. It’s fun to read about how celery was considered a luxury vegetable during the Victorian era, and then became very popular before falling out of favor. Food trends are so fascinating. I personally like celery, and am glad that its popularity seems to currently be on a bit of an uptick.

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