Ah, stuffing I do love you so. One bite of this incredibly easy vegan stuffing recipe made with traditional sage and onion flavors from my childhood in Ireland, and you’ll be in love too. Your guests will find it hard to believe that it’s both dairy-free and eggless!
Back home no Sunday lunch or Christmas dinner was complete without some traditional stuffing, and as a vegetarian in a country that wasn’t very vegetarian friendly I always ended up eating roast potatoes, vegetables and some delicious sage and onion stuffing – not the most balanced meal, but delicious nonetheless.
(Of course this was in the past – Ireland is much more vegetarian and vegan-friendly now, especially Dublin)
The recipe was very easy to veganize and the whole recipe comes together in just ten minutes (or less if you can get your hands on a bag of fresh breadcrumbs).
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland, or in Spain where I live now, but this addictive recipe would also make a great side dish for that popular holiday.
You can use this recipe to make stuffing balls or a tray of stuffing, crisp golden stuffing or steamed delicious goodness.
Stuffing is best served alongside a hearty vegan main with roast potatoes or mashed potatoes and some other tasty sides. If you’re looking for recommendations I recommend it paired with the tasty dishes below.
- Healthy gluten-free green bean casserole
- Rustic rosemary thyme mashed potatoes
- Easy creamy vegan gluten-free mushroom gravy
- Best ever sweet potato casserole
- Roasted brussels sprouts with garlic
- Mushroom lentil loaf with cranberries
Stuffing: breadcrumbs versus cubed bread
While not a hard and fast rule, American style-stuffing tends to be made with cubes of bread, while for Irish stuffing (and British stuffing) fresh breadcrumbs are preferred.
The smaller size of breadcrumbs can allow for a better distribution of herbs and fats. Basically this normally means that you can get away with only adding some very simple ingredients.
You also don’t need to wait a day or so for the bread to become “stale” so you can cut it into cubes, and the fresh breadcrumbs give a softer end result.
Having said that you can make perfectly adequate “fresh” breadcrumbs out of slightly stale bread (e.g. a day old and a bit hard, not hard as a rock).
Vegan stuffing binder
In Ireland, melted butter is usually added to stuffing, and some recipes also call for an egg. These fatty liquids help the breadcrumbs to bind together and add flavour. In Ireland butter is usually always from grass-fed cows, and as such adds quite a bit of flavor.
In this recipe no egg replacer is needed (I always disliked sage and onion stuffing made with eggs, it gave it a heavy texture). You can use either tasty olive oil (the flavor pairs wonderfully with the sage) or melted vegan butter/vegan margarine.
I recommend Earth Balance or Flora if you go the buttery route. Just make sure it’s a brand you like the taste of.
Fresh breadcrumbs are very easy to make. In Ireland, you can buy a bag of fresh breadcrumbs in the supermarket due to stuffing’s popularity as a side for Sunday lunch. I live in Spain though, so no such luck.
I found out you can grate bread to make breadcrumbs. Note that this only works if the bread is slightly stale, otherwise you’ll end up desperately trying to squeeze a handful of mushed up bread through the holes on the grater.
The best and easiest way to make breadcrumbs is with a food processor, or failing that, a blender. Tear two-three slices of bread into bite-sized pieces, chuck them in, pulse a few times, and voila, fresh breadcrumbs.
Balls or tray-baked?
Personally I’m a fan of the non-golden tray bake version, but handsome hubby and the kids like golden slightly-crisp stuffing balls, so that’s the way I make it more often than not. I could literally eat just a bowl of stuffing (and I have) and be happy, that’s how much I love it.
This is really a matter of personal preference. You will get different results depending on how much liquid you add and whether you cover it for baking or not. I’ve tested different ways of cooking stuffing with different amounts of liquids and compiled the results in the table below.
|Tray or balls||Method||Result|
|Tray-baked||Covered and baked for 20 minutes||Perfectly moist stuffing with individual crumb preserved|
|Tray-baked plus 1 tablespoon vegetable stock||Covered for 20 minutes, uncovered for 10-20 more||Somewhat moist stuffing with a slightly crunchy top layer.|
|Balls||Covered and baked for 20 minutes||Perfectly moist stuffing but very delicate balls|
|Balls plus 1 tablespoon vegetable stock||Covered and baked for 20 minutes||Perfectly moist stuffing balls that stick together a little better|
|Balls plus 2 tablespoons vegetable stock||Covered and baked for 20 minutes, uncovered for 10-20 more||Somewhat moist stuffing balls that are reasonably sturdy|
My preference is the first method but you do you. A word of caution is that you should be very exact with measuring and adding liquids to traditional vegan stuffing.
Too much and you will have an unredeemable bowl of herbed bread paste, so follow the guidelines above and only add one tablespoon at a time before stirring to make sure that it is evenly distributed.
If baking uncovered to get a golden outer layer, 10 minutes will give a slightly harder and pale gold layer while 20 will give a crunchier deeper gold.
Make it ahead
Whether for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Sunday lunch, you’re going to be very busy cooking so I highly recommend making this vegan stuffing ahead if you get the chance.
It will keep covered in the fridge for up to five days. The longer it sits the more flavor the dried herbs will release into the breadcrumbs, although cooking it straight away will also yield delicious results.
If you’re going to be adding any vegetable stock, however, hold off until just before baking and check the texture. This is because the onions will release more moisture into the stuffing while it sits so you may not need to add any stock.
Just cover your delicious vegan stuffing with some aluminum foil or pop into a Tupperware container and leave in the fridge for up to five days. Leftover stuffing is delicious either cold or heated up.
Don’t judge me too harshly but my favorite thing to do with leftover stuffing is to crumble lots of it into a sub which has been spread with vegan mayo, and top with sliced onion, tomatoes and peppers, with a final sprinkle of cheddar cheese style shreds.
How to make it
This is such an easy recipe that you barely need instructions but I’ve included this section along with some process photos so you can check in on the progress of your vegan stuffing if you’re not sure all is well.
Finely chop the onions and add to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for four minutes (image 1 below).
If you haven’t been able to buy fresh breadcrumbs, whip out your blender or food processor and make them while the onion is in the microwave by blending two-three slices at a time (image 2 below) and tipping the crumbs out into a large mixing bowl (image 3 below).
Note I will only use regular white sandwich bread (you basically need soft bread without a strong flavor) for making breadcrumbs for stuffing, and it’s perfectly fine to include the crusts.
Baguettes or rolls can give blenders trouble because of the hard crust. I also don’t recommend using brown, wholegrain, or artisanal bread as the flavor will overpower the herbs.
Once you have the breadcrumbs prepared, add in all the dried herbs (dried ground sage, thyme, and parsley), salt, and pepper (image 4 above).
You can substitute fresh herbs in half the amounts given for the dried but I prefer not to as the tiny dried herbs give a more consistent taste. Whichever you use, mix well with the breadcrumbs (image 5 below).
Next, add in the onions and any juice that may have collected in the bottom of the bowl and mix very well (image 6 below).
Add the olive oil or melted vegan butter one tablespoon at a time (image 7 above). Mix it in quickly and vigorously, using the back of a wooden spoon to drag it over the breadcrumbs as well.
Don’t be tempted to dump all the oil or butter in at once, or the top layer of breadcrumbs will soak it up quickly and you’ll have some very oily breadcrumbs, and some dry ones.
Taste and check for seasoning. The texture should clump easily (image 8 above) and you can make stuffing balls now if that is your preference (will make around 12). If the mixture does not clump together when you grab a handful and squeeze, this is when you may need to add in vegetable stock.
Add in the vegetable stock, if you are going to add any, just before baking, and only a little at a time as the crumbs will soak up the stock even faster than oil.
Do not exceed the maximum of two tablespoons of stock or your stuffing will be ruined – fresh breadcrumbs absorb the liquid much faster than cubes of stale bread and become pasty.
Add to a baking pan or tray with a lid or cover your stuffing with aluminum oil for twenty minutes at 350F/320F fan. Bake an additional 10-20 minutes uncovered if you’d like a crispy exterior layer. Done!
If you make this recipe I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Or you can take a photo and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian). If you’re a Pinterest fan like me, follow me on Pinterest for more recipes, or sign up to my mailing list and never miss out.
- 12.5oz fresh breadcrumbs (7 cups/350g)
- 2 medium onions, chopped finely
- 2.5 tbsp dried chopped sage
- .5 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp salt (don't add if adding stock)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil (or melted plant-based butter/margarine)
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable stock (optional)
- Microwave the chopped onions in an uncovered bowl on high power for four minutes.
- If you're using sliced sandwich bread to make the breadcrumbs, use a blender or food processor to make them now. In batches of 2-3 slices tear up the bread and pulse in the processor or blender.
- Mix all the dried herbs and seasonings into the breadcrumbs.
- Mix in the onions and any liquid that may have collected at the bottom of the bowl.
- Drizzle one tablespoon oil or melted vegan butter at a time over the breadcrumb mixture before quickly mixing the crumbs to distribute the oil.
- Repeat with the remaining oil/butter.
- If you are adding the vegetable stock, mix it in little by little just before baking.
- Place the mixture in a baking dish or shape into balls and place them in the dish.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350F/320F fan/ (180C/160C fan) for 20 minutes. Done, or you can continue to point 9.
- If you would like a crispy exterior after 20 minutes remove the aluminum foil and bake an additional 10-20 minutes.
You can use any bread to make breadcrumbs, but I prefer to use regular white sandwich bread as it gives the softest crumbs.
Amount Per Serving Calories 249Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 409mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 3gSugar 4gProtein 6g