Old-fashioned Celery Dressing

Celery Dressing in Bowl

Dressing (or stuffing as I often call it) is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal, so when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Celery Dressing I decided to give it a try. This recipe makes a bread dressing that is embedded with lots of celery, and is nicely seasoned with sage.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

Most times when I make hundred-year-old recipes, I try to follow the recipe as closely as I can, but with this recipe I ended up making several adaptations. When I updated the recipe, I quadrupled it.  The original recipe didn’t make much stuffing.

I used 1-inch soft bread pieces rather than dried bread crumbs.  This recipe called for an awfully lot of butter (3/4 cup of butter for every 2 cups of bread crumbs), so I reduced the amount when updating the recipe. Maybe the very large amount of butter would work if I’d used dried bread crumbs – but even then it seems like it would be too much.

Finally, I didn’t have any onion juice, so instead of using the juice, I used finely chopped onions.

This dressing can be stuffed into a turkey. Addiitonal adaptations may need to be made (such as addiing both or other liquid) if cooked in a casserole dish.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Celery Dressing

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

This recipe makes enough for a 9-10 pound turkey.

8 cups 1-inch pieces of bread or bread cubes (I tore bread into small pieces.)

1 cup butter

4 cups chopped celery

4 teaspoons onion juice or 1/2 cup finely chopped onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons ground sage

Melt butter in a skillet, stir in the celery (and chopped onions, if used). Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the salt, pepper, and sage (and onion juice, if used). Pour over the bread pieces and stir to combine. Stuff turkey with the dressing, then roast turkey.


19 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Celery Dressing

        1. I found newspaper items as recent as the late 1990s that still used “filling” but I was focused on seeing when it was earliest used. It could have been earlier than the 1880s, but it did not show up in the 1870s decade newspapers.

    1. When I was a child in central PA, we also always called it filling. I guess that I’ve been away from the area for enough years now that I call it stuffing. It’s interesting how different regions apparently have different terms for this dish – filling, stuffing, dressing.

        1. My vocabulary has also changed across the years – though I’m often surprised when visiting central PA how quickly I start once again using words I hadn’t used in years.

  1. My mom made the BEST stuffing…. she never stuffed the turkey, she made a huge Pyrex dish of stuffing. I could eat it cold right out of the fridge! I may use your recipe to try to make it myself. Thanks!

  2. Your adaptations is almost exactly my mother and grandmother’s recipe – the only difference the addition of one egg. As a kid I hated the celery but now I’m good with it!

    1. I’m guessing that if an egg is added that the pieces of bread would cling together a little more – though it didn’t really seem like it was needed. It’s interesting how some foods grow on us over the years.

  3. We (in northwest Texas) called it dressing if it was a side dish cooked separately, and stuffing if cooked inside the bird. No one in my family ever cooked it inside the bird.

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