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Seriously the Best Vegetarian Stuffing – Crispy Wild Mushroom Stuffing!
It’s no secret that stuffing – likely the most beloved of all the dishes on the Thanksgiving dinner table – has never been a favorite of mine. But(!!!) that all changed last year when I tried my Aunt Kari’s Sourdough Stuffing recipe. It’s the kind of stuffing that’s so good even I – a lifelong Thanksgiving stuffing skeptic – find myself dreaming about it throughout the year.
This year, I made it my mission to see if I could tweak this treasured family recipe ever so slightly for the veggie-lovers & vegetarians at our Thanksgiving & Friendsgiving celebrations. The result? The ULTIMATE Crispy Wild Mushroom Stuffing recipe. After all, it calls for both fresh & dried wild mushrooms for seriously rich, earthy flavor.
The best part, though? It’s basically a one-skillet dish. The mushrooms & aromatics are first deeply browned in a cast iron skillet, developing intense flavor. The stuffing is assembled & baked right in the same skillet, which creates the best texture. We’re talking seriously golden brown & crispy edges with a wonderfully creamy, melt-in-your-mouth center. I’m convinced that this is the vegetarian stuffing recipe to end all vegetarian stuffing recipes!
I love making this mushroom stuffing using my Staub Deep Skillet, an 11-inch enameled cast iron pan with especially deep sides. It’s my absolute favorite piece of cookware since it’s seriously high-quality & well-designed. Plus, it’s so gorgeous that it transitions from the kitchen to the table beautifully, making for an extra special touch at a holiday dinner table without the need for any additional serving ware (or extra dishes to wash!).
Wild Mushroom Stuffing Recipe Highlights
You’re going to love this vegetarian stuffing recipe because it’s….
- MEGA FLAVORFUL. Loved by vegetarians & meat-eaters alike, this mushroom stuffing does not skimp on flavor. Mushrooms introduce loads of savory, umami richness, while aromatic veggies & herbs add a dose of freshness to this classic Thanksgiving side dish.
- CRAVE-WORTHY TEXTURE. Aside from its flavor, this mushroom stuffing has amazing texture. The bread cubes get perfectly golden brown & crispy on both the top and the bottom of the stuffing – all thanks to our cast iron skillet! – while the center of the stuffing becomes melt-in-your-mouth creamy thanks to a few secret ingredients.
- VEGETARIAN! I love adding vegetarian side dish to my Thanksgiving menu & this mushroom stuffing checks all the boxes – it’s completely vegetarian & very easily dairy-free & vegan.
A must-have Thanksgiving side dish, for many years to come! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Crispy Cast Iron Skillet Wild Mushroom Stuffing, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
First, Thanksgiving Stuffing FAQ: Stuffing vs. Dressing: What’s the Difference?
First thing’s first, what is the difference between stuffing & dressing? Well, if we’re getting particular about things, stuffing is cooked inside the turkey while dressing is cooked separately. This vegetarian stuffing recipe is technically a dressing since it bakes on its own. Why call it a wild mushroom stuffing when it’s technically dressing, then? Quite simply, I grew up calling it stuffing! “Stuffing” is what most of us are probably used to calling the bready side dish on the Thanksgiving table, even when it’s technically a dressing.
Can you prep this Thanksgiving stuffing recipe as a “stuffing” in the traditional sense? Yes, but I don’t suggest it. Why? ⇢ First – & perhaps most obvious – baking it inside the cavity of your Thanksgiving turkey means that the stuffing is no longer a vegetarian stuffing. Second – & perhaps most importantly for meat-eaters – you inevitably end up overcooking a stuffed turkey. The stuffing inside the bird reaches a safe temperature well after the turkey meat does, causing your turkey meat to dry out. (Plus, stuffing a turkey eliminates your ability to spatchcock the turkey, my favorite way to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey!)
Mushroom Stuffing Key Ingredients
The most impressive thing about this mushroom stuffing recipe is how it transforms the most humble, simple ingredients into a dish that’s truly spectacular. Don’t you just love when that happens!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
You will need…
- Bread – I love making stuffing using sourdough bread since its tangy flavor provides a nice balance against the richness of the mushrooms. You can also make this recipe using a country-style loaf of French bread or Italian bread.
- Mushrooms – This mushroom stuffing recipe calls for a combination of fresh wild mushrooms & dried mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms provide irresistibly hearty & meaty texture, while dried mushrooms are a cost-effective solution of getting the big, bold flavor of wild mushrooms that are typically a little more expensive.
- Aromatics – Namely, the trusty combination of onion, celery, garlic & fresh herbs. A handful of finely chopped parsley brightens up the flavor of the stuffing with a little freshness, while a handful of finely chopped hardy herbs like rosemary, sage, & thyme add rich, woodsy flavor that complements the mushrooms beautifully.
- Cheese – The secret ingredient in this vegetarian stuffing recipe! You’d never guess it’s there, as the cheese doesn’t make the stuffing cheesy, but rather creates a melt-in-your-mouth custardy texture. I suggest using combination of asiago & parmesan, since their flavors complement mushrooms nicely.
- Other staples – Namely some butter to really brown up the mushrooms, plus some vegetable broth & eggs to bind everything together.
Best Mushrooms to Use in Vegetarian Stuffing
For maximum flavor & texture, this vegetarian stuffing recipe uses a combination of fresh wild mushrooms & dried mushrooms.
Best fresh mushrooms to use? ⇢ Feel free to use whatever mushrooms are most readily available to you. Because they’re the star of the show in mushroom stuffing, I like to splurge for really beautiful wild mixed mushrooms – oyster (pictured), maitake (aka hen of the woods), chanterelle, & shiitake are all great. You can also make this recipe using simple white button mushrooms or cremini (baby bella) mushrooms.
Why use dried mushrooms? ⇢ Dried mushrooms are great because you can reconstitute them to capture all of their flavor, but they’re typically a much more cost-effective option than fresh – especially when it comes to more expensive wild mushrooms.
Best dried mushrooms to use? ⇢ I also like to make this mushroom stuffing recipe with porcini mushrooms, an Italian variety famous for its especially rich & deep umami flavor. While fresh porcini mushrooms can be expensive & difficult to find, most grocery stores sell dried porcini mushrooms in their bulk or dry goods section.
How to Make Mushroom Stuffing
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
While it does require a little bit of time, this vegetarian stuffing recipe is really easy to make. It consists of 4 main steps – most of which happen in the same cast iron skillet – & many of the components can be prepped in advance for even easier Thanksgiving dinner prep.
Prepare bread cubes. There are a few different options for preparing bread cubes for this stuffing recipe, all of which are detailed in the Recipe Card below. The goal, though, is to dry out the bread, which helps it absorb all of the flavor of the stuffing without becoming soggy or falling apart. Stuffing Tip! ⇢ Don’t slice, tear instead! The rough edges of torn bread get perfectly craggy, crispy, & browned as the Thanksgiving stuffing bakes. It’s absolutely delicious!
Reconstitute. Add dried porcinis to a small stockpot with vegetable broth or stock, & let it all simmer for 10 minutes until the mushrooms soften. Why? ⇢ The warm broth softens the dried mushrooms, so you can chop them up & add them to the stuffing. Plus, as the mushrooms reconstitute, they infuse incredible rich umami flavor into the broth, which the bread soaks up as the stuffing bakes. It’s an easy way to add even more rich mushroom flavor to this wild mushroom stuffing!
Brown the fresh mushrooms & cook the aromatics. Browning the fresh mushrooms is the first step for building rich umami flavor straight in our cast iron skillet. Once the mushrooms have browned we set them aside & cook our aromatics (onion, celery, garlic, and fresh herbs) with a little more butter until fragrant – your kitchen will smell heavenly! Mushroom tip! ⇢ Resist the urge to add salt when you sauté mushrooms. Salt pulls out all of their moisture, preventing the mushrooms from browning. Instead, season the mushrooms once they’ve developed good color.
Assemble & Bake. Add the bread cubes, gloriously browned mushrooms, & softened aromatics to a large mixing bowl. Mix it all up with the cheese, some eggs, & the porcini-infused broth. Transfer the entire mixture back to the same skillet used for browning the mushrooms & cooking the aromatics (that’s where all the flavor is!). Once complete, the mixed mushroom stuffing ready for the oven!
Mushroom Stuffing Meal Prep Tips
I love breaking up holiday meal prep across a couple of days to cut down on day-of kitchen work & allow for more time to enjoying the holidays with my friends & family. Due to the eggs in this mushroom stuffing, I don’t suggest assembling the wild mushroom stuffing ahead of time, but you can prep many of its components 3-5 days in advance:
- Prep the bread cubes.
- Chop the veggies & herbs.
- Grate the cheeses.
Be sure to out the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
Serving Suggestions + Other Tips & Tricks
Once your mushroom stuffing is baked to crispy, golden brown perfection, all that’s left to do is serve & enjoy!
Since stuffing begs for gravy, I like to serve this vegetarian stuffing with caramelized onion gravy or mushroom gravy. Doing so, doubles down on its rich, umami flavor. If you don’t need to keep things completely vegetarian, try tying your entire holiday meal together with my easy turkey gravy!
Other Tips & Tricks:
Dairy-Free & Vegan Mushroom Stuffing
You can easily tweak this vegetarian stuffing recipe to be completely vegan & dairy-free.
- Replace butter with your favorite dairy-free butter substitute or plant-based cooking oil.
- Replace cheese with your favorite dairy-free cheese that melts well.
- Replace eggs with your favorite vegan egg substitute.
Storage & Reheating
It’s not Thanksgiving without leftovers! Leftover mushroom stuffing will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through.
You can also freeze leftover mushroom stuffing to enjoy later. Transfer any leftover stuffing to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the microwave or oven, until warmed through. Easy as that!
I can’t wait for you to try this Cast Iron Skillet Crispy Mushroom Stuffing recipe! It’s the best vegetarian stuffing I’ve ever had, & I know it’ll be a hit at your Thanksgiving table – with vegetarians & meat-eaters alike!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!
Looking for more vegetarian-friendly dishes for your Thanksgiving table? We’ve got you covered!!! Try this Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Brown Butter Sage Breadcrumbs, this Easy Candied Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole, or this (No-Stir!) Pumpkin Risotto next. ♡ Happy cooking!Print
This wild mushroom stuffing recipe is made with fresh & dried mixed mushrooms for seriously hearty texture & rich, earthy flavor. Plus, it’s baked in a cast iron skillet, which creates the perfect crispy exterior with a center that’s so creamy it nearly melts in your mouth. This vegetarian stuffing recipe will be the star of your Thanksgiving table – with vegetarians & meat-eaters alike!
- one 16-ounce loaf bread, sliced or torn into ½-inch cubes (see Recipe Notes)
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- one 1-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 24 ounces wild mushrooms, trimmed & cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, finely diced
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped hardy fresh herbs (e.g. a combination of rosemary, sage, & thyme)
- 6 ounces finely grated asiago (roughly 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 ounces grated parmesan (roughly 1/2 cup)
- 3 large eggs, whisked
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Prepare bread cubes. First, you’ll prepare the bread cubes. There are a couple different approaches you can take in preparing the bread cubes, each of them work well. Take your pick from the bullet list below. Once the bread cubes are prepared (time varies based on option chosen) transfer them to a large mixing bowl & proceed with the following steps assemble & bake your mushroom stuffing.
- Option #1: Make-ahead bread cubes at room temperature: 2-3 days before you plan to make & serve your mushroom stuffing, slice or tear the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Set the cubes on a baking sheet, spreading them out in an even layer. Set aside, uncovered, for 2-3 days or until the bread is dried out. (Tip: Provided I’m not planning on baking anything, I like to set the baking sheet of bread cubes in the oven to keep it out of the way.) Once dried, transfer to an airtight bag & set aside until you’d like to prepare your mushroom stuffing.
- Option #2: Day of bread cubes in the oven: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice or tear the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Set the cubes on a baking sheet, spreading them out in an even layer. Transfer to the oven to toast until dried out, 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool before mixing the bread cubes in the stuffing.
- Option #3: Store-bought bread cubes: Let the store do the work! Buy a bag of prepared bread cubes. You’ll need 16 ounces for this mushroom stuffing recipe.
- Reconstitute the porcini mushrooms: Add the vegetable broth, dried porcini mushrooms & bay leaf to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil & reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer 10 minutes to reconstitute the mushrooms. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to remove the mushrooms & bay leaf from the pot, allowing all excess liquid to drain back into the pot. Transfer reconstituted porcini mushrooms to a cutting board & finely chop. Transfer the chopped mushrooms to the bowl with the prepared bread cubes. Discard the bay leaf & remove the porcini-infused stock from the heat. Set aside.
- Brown the mushrooms: Meanwhile, as the porcini mushrooms reconstitute, brown the fresh mushrooms. Add 4 tablespoons of the unsalted butter to an 11-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned & golden, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer the browned mushrooms to the bowl with the bread cubes. Season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Return skillet over medium-high heat.
- Cook aromatics: Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the cast iron skillet. Once melted, add the onion & celery, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened & fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. Add in the garlic & fresh herbs. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat & transfer to the bowl with the bread cubes & mushrooms.
- Mix & assemble the mushroom stuffing: Add the grated asiago & grated parmesan to the mixing bowl with the bread mixture. Pour the eggs over top. Toss well to combine. Pour in 1 cup of the porcini-infused stock & toss well to combine. The egg & stock should rehydrate the bread cubes such that they’re softened but not soggy. If they seem a little too dry, add in 1/2 cup more stock & toss well to combine. Repeat once more with the remaining stock if needed. Transfer the mushroom stuffing to the same skillet used to cook the aromatics.
- Bake the sausage stuffing: Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, until the top of the stuffing is crispy & browned. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Best bread for mushroom stuffing: I love making this mushroom stuffing with sourdough bread – its tangy flavor balances out the richness of the mushrooms beautifully. You can also make this mushroom stuffing recipe with “country” style French bread (a large loaf, not a baguette) or Italian bread.
- Wild mushrooms: You can make this mushroom stuffing with whatever mushrooms are most readily available to you. I like to splurge for really beautiful wild mushrooms – maitake (pictured), oyster, chanterelle, & shiitake are all great. You can also make this recipe using simple white button mushrooms or cremini (baby bella) mushrooms.
- Porcini mushrooms are an Italian mushroom with especially rich & deep umami flavor. They are the star ingredient in this mushroom stuffing! Dried porcini mushrooms are more readily available throughout the year here in the States, which you can typically find in the bulk section or in 1-ounce packages at grocery stores or natural food stores that stock dried mushrooms. You can also purchase dried porcini mushrooms online.
- Storage & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover mushroom stuffing will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven, until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: You can also freeze leftover mushroom stuffing. Transfer leftover stuffing to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the microwave or oven, until warmed through.
- Meal Prep: A little meal prep goes a long way in pulling this homemade mushroom stuffing together on Thanksgiving day! Between prepping the bread cubes, chopping the veggies & herbs, & shredding the cheese, there are many components of this sourdough stuffing that can be prepared 3-5 days in advance. Pick & choose from the below list, or do it all ahead of time & all you have to do on Thanksgiving is toss it all together – easy!
- Bread cubes: Prep according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active prep)
- Chop veggies & herbs: Finely dice 1 large onion, 2 ribs of celery, & 8 cloves of garlic. Finely chop 1/3 cup fresh parsley & 1/3 cup hardy fresh herbs (e.g. rosemary, sage, thyme). Clean & cut 24 ounces mushrooms into 1/2-inch pieces. Store in individual airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (20 minutes active prep)
- Grate cheese: Grate 6 ounces asiago cheese & 2 ounces parmesan. Store in individual airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active prep)
Keywords: wild mushroom stuffing, crispy stuffing, cast iron skillet stuffing, vegetarian, easily vegan, homemade, traditional, easy, Thanksgiving, side dish, mushrooms, Thanksgiving stuffing
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
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