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The Best Thanksgiving Dressing In The World

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Last Modified: November 13, 2020
Published: November 13, 2020

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Dressing or stuffing? What do you call it? When I was a kid, moms everywhere made stuffing the same way. Chopped up gizzards, liver, and turkey neck were added to a mixture of bread, onions, and celery. Then, it was all stuffed inside the Thanksgiving turkey and roasted with the bird.

I thought it was the grossest thing ever. I cringed when I watched them dig it back out of the turkey's rear end and put it in a bowl. And I still think it's gross. This recipe is NOT that kind of stuffing.

The Best Dressing Ever Is Not Stuffed In A Turkey

It seems that stuffing a turkey goes way back to the first Thanksgiving. Most likely, the Pilgrims made a wild rice mixture to put in the bird. Later on, they added chestnuts and oysters. IMHO they should have quit at wild rice.

A hundred and some years after Jamestown, the prudish Victorians shuddered at the vulgar term "stuffing." They declared it would be called "dressing" henceforth.

But we're still confused about what to call it. The packaged bread mixture we use to make it is labeled "stuffing mix." And the instant kind you can buy in a box is called "stovetop stuffing." But it's doubtful you will ever find that inside a bird. Go figure.

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, follows a recipe from her late mother-in-law called Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing so there you have it! It seems everyone is conflicted about what to call it!

In our family, this dish is essential to a successful Thanksgiving feast. It's simply not optional. It all began years ago when my husband's beautiful cousin Norma Jean, a legendary cook, taught me how to make it.

This Dressing Is Simple To Make And Simply Delicious

I've been serving this dish for over 30 years. This is the first time I have used an Instant Pot to make it. In the past, I simply simmered chicken breasts along with celery and onion in a big stockpot.

The great aroma was always part of my Thanksgiving preparations. And, it would still work just fine to do it that way. Today, however, I had frozen chicken at noon and a plan to serve it for dinner tonight. I'm still playing with my new gadget and admit it's a big time saver when I need one.

I used bone-in chicken breasts with the skin on. They were still frozen and as hard as a rock. They went right in the pot with half of a very large onion, cut in chunks.

Then I threw in the large outer stalks from a package of celery, leaves and all, cut into four-inch chunks. Two cups of water and a generous amount of seasoned pepper were the only other ingredients.

chicken for dressing

I set the pot on high pressure for 45 minutes and took a nap. I came back to perfectly cooked chicken. The pressure had dropped naturally and it was staying nice and warm.

From Here It's A Snap To Put The Dressing All Together

The cooked chicken smelled great. I removed the skin and bones easily and chopped the tender white meat into a casserole dish.

chopped chicken for dressing

Next, I used a wide slotted spoon to remove all the cooked vegetables from the broth and discarded them. I set the Instant Pot to the saute setting.

A stick of butter, two heaping tablespoons of my favorite paste-type chicken bouillon, and some parsley went into the Instant Pot. I let it all simmer a bit and added enough water so I had about three cups of broth.

While that was cooking, I dumped the whole bag of stuffing on top of the chicken in the casserole dish.

Finally, I ladled the broth over the chicken and bread mixture, stirring it lightly until everything was evenly moistened and mixed together.

Last, I added more parsley and covered the dish with foil. All that was needed was a short time in the oven for everything to get nice and warm.

This is a great do-ahead dish. It is a wonderful side for Thanksgiving, but there's plenty of chicken in it, so it can easily be a main dish on its own! It makes a big batch, a 13" x 9" casserole piled high.

Put Your Leftover Turkey On The Best Dressed List

Run out of ideas for leftover turkey? Tired of sandwiches? Substitute leftover turkey for the chicken in this dish. Add any leftover gravy to the broth. Simple and comforting, plus it's easy to put together.

Yield: 16 servings

Norma Jean's Chicken And Dressing Casserole

turkey dressing

A delicious chicken and dressing casserole made outside the bird but works great with everything on your Thanksgiving table! meaty enough to be a main dish on its own.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken breast with skin on. 
  • One 12-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
  • 6 large outer stalks of celery, leaves and all, cut into approximately 4" chunks
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • Seasoned pepper to taste. Be generous. I recommend Lawry's brand.
  • 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons paste-type chicken bouillon. I recommend Better Than Bouillon brand.
  • Lots of Parsley
  • Water enough to cover chicken if cooking on the stove. About 2 cups if using an Instant Pot.


  1. Combine chicken, celery, onion, and seasoned pepper in an Instant Pot.
  2. Add 2 cups of water and pressure cook on high for 45 minutes, then let the pressure drop naturally.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot. Remove the bones and skin. Chop or shred the chicken meat and put it in a greased 13" x 9" casserole dish or baking pan.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the vegetables from the broth and discard them, or puree them and use them as you like.
  5. You will need about 3 cups of broth. You may need to add water.
  6. Set Instant Pot to saute setting. Put butter, bouillon, and parsley in the broth and simmer until the butter is melted.
  7. Empty the bag of stuffing mix on top of the chicken in the casserole dish.
  8. Ladle the broth over the chicken and stuffing. Fluff lightly with a fork until everything is evenly moistened and mixed together. Top with more parsley.
  9. The mixture should be moist but not soggy. If it seems dry, you can make more broth to add or use milk.
  10. It is all fully cooked and ready to eat now. Cover with foil and heat in a low oven until nice and warm.
  11. You can make this a day or two ahead and refrigerate. Reheat in a low oven, covered, until nice and warm.


You can certainly simmer the chicken in a stock pot until it's nice and tender! I did it that way for thirty years before I got an InstantPot!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 271mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 31g

I hope you give this dressing a try. It's been a favorite of four generations in our family, and it would make me so happy to know if you enjoy it, too. I always love hearing about other families and their holiday traditions, so I hope you'll share yours with us!

What dish is so important at your house that it would simply not be Thanksgiving without it? Id love to hear your story about how it all came about. Blessings to all of you. Enjoy the holiday and remember there is always something to be thankful for!

If you enjoyed this recipe today, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’d sure be tickled and ever so grateful, thank you! 

Love, GB (Betty Streff)

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2 comments on “The Best Thanksgiving Dressing In The World”

    1. I am so sorry Ashley, I was so busy cooking today I didn't check my messages.
      I did a little research on cooking chicken in the instant pot and you can probably cut the time in half if they're thawed.

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