Baking for Thanksgiving with your Bread Machine

Anyone who has ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner knows what a challenge it can be. Here’s how your bread machine can help to make it easy.

stuffing 2

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition. For many people it’s their favorite holiday. It’s a time for family gatherings and there’s no stress related to gift giving. It’s all about food and family and more food.

Turkey is the star of the show, but bread has a dominant supporting role. Whether it’s stuffing or “dressing” served as a side-dish; bread-pudding as a dessert, or slices of rye bread for those who want a sandwich for the day-after leftovers.

It’s a bit contradictory to think about baking bread in your bread machine for something like dressing or bread-pudding, but the recipes we’ll explore have unique ingredients that lend themselves to excellent dressing recipes and bread puddings.

All of the recipes are designed to be made in the bread machine across the process. That’s helpful at Thanksgiving when we all have so much to do.

We’re also going to explore a rye bread recipe that’s great for those turkey leftovers. I like them with caraway seeds but that’s an option.

In addition to the bread recipes we’ll also include recipes for the dressing and the bread pudding. You can of course use your own recipe, but if you’re looking for something new, these are all kitchen tested and sure to please.


Thanksgiving Dressing

There are some unique herbs and spices that define a dressing. We don’t call it stuffing anymore because stuffing bread into a turkey cavity has proven to be a risk from a food safety standpoint. Now we bake it in a separate baking dish.

The herbs that define a classic dressing always begins with sage. It’s the signature flavor note that defines the smell and taste of a dressing. In addition there’s black pepper, parsley, thyme and a pinch of rosemary. We’re going to add all of these to our recipe.

You can of course simply slice and serve this bread, but we’re going to cut it into cubes and then bake the cubes in the oven to make our dressing. Let’s start with the bread recipe.


Thanksgiving Dressing Bread Recipe:

(Makes a 1 1/2 pound loaf)


  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon of dry sage
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • 2 teaspoons of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast


Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order indicated and choose the basic bread or white bread setting; 1.5 pound loaf and medium crust.


The Dressing Recipe:

stuffing 2
When the bread is done and has cooled you should definitely enjoy a slice or two. But not too much. Slice the bread thinly into cubes about 1/2 inch in thickness and then cut the slices into cubes about 1/2 thick. They can be larger or smaller. Don’t fuss about it. Here’s how to proceed:

1 - bread cubes chunked and ready for roasting


  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 8 cups of large, cubed bread (fresh white or wheat baked at 250 for 45 minutes)
  • 3 cups chicken or turkey broth (and not a tablespoon more or less)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage sautéed and browned (This is optional, but I use whole, fresh links, steam them in some water and brown and then chop them up and brown the pieces some more)
  • 1 larger Spanish onion diced
  • 1 apple peeled and diced
  • 6 stalks celery sliced
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

It may seem redundant that you’re adding more spices on top of what you’ve already incorporated into the bread, but this adds more flavor to the overall dressing.


  1. Take a loaf of bread and gently cut it into 1 inch cubes with a bread knife. Put on a cookie sheet and bake in an over at 250 for about 45 minutes… Toss them about half way through. While the cubes are in the oven, brown the sausage. I prefer whole links of Italian sausage. I cook them in about a cup of water in a frying pan on medium heat to cook them through, brown them after the water cooks off, chop them coarsely and return them to the pan to brown them a bit. Then I put them aside while I do the rest of this stuff. You can also omit the sausage or substitute your favorite
  2. In a saucepan add the butter, the olive oil and the onions, celery and apples. Add the seasoned salt. The salt will help them sweat and cook until onions are translucent. Add the sausage and cook another minute or two. Add the sage, the parsley and the cracked black pepper and stir it all around. Add the 3 cups of broth and simmer for about 20 minutes.

    2 - vegetables sauteeing3 - broth and herbs simmering in the pan

  3. Put the bread cubes into a large mixing bowl and spoon out the solids from your pot with a slotted spoon (onion/celery/sausage/apple) on top of the bread crumbs and toss. Slowly add the broth and toss as you go. You want to distribute the broth evenly over the bread cubes. If you just dump it all in you’ll have some sludge with hard bits of bread. Try to share the moisture with a slow and measured mixing of the liquid and tossing.
  4. When your mixture is done, butter the inside of a baking dish that will fit all this stuff and pour it in. Bake covered at 325 for 45 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes more. Serve in the dish and you’re done.

4 - final stuffing plated


Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a recipe traditionally associated with the Amish, also known in the U.S. as the Pennsylvania Dutch. It’s a mixture of bread chunks in an egg custard combined with traditional baking spices like cinnamon, mace, cloves and sugar. It’s usually baked in a baking dish that is inserted into a second and larger baking dish filled with some water. Sometimes referred to as “Spoon Bread,” it’s a warm and comforting dessert commonly associated with Autumn and Winter. It’s also a traditional dessert at Thanksgiving on many family tables.

We’re going to explore a bread recipe that is made for the best bread pudding. It’s essentially a white bread recipe but many of the spices commonly associated with bread pudding are part of the bread recipe. Once again, you can serve this sliced but our intent is to bake the bread and then chunk it up for the bread pudding. Unlike stuffing, we won’t be drying the bread chunks but simply cutting them up and covering them with the custard-like topping.

Much like stuffing, bread pudding does not keep well although it’s good for up to two days in the refrigerator and some people actually prefer eating it chilled.


Bread Pudding Bread Recipe:

(Makes a 1 1/2 pound loaf)


  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of mace
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast


Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order indicated and choose the basic bread or white bread setting; 1.5 pound loaf and medium crust.


Bread Pudding Recipe:


  • 2 cups half & half
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups bread, torn into small pieces


In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk and half & half just until a film forms over the top. Watch carefully and don’t burn the milk. Combine the butter into the milk, stirring until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Combine the dark brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes and then slowly add the milk mixture. Lightly grease a 9 x 12 baking dish with soft butter. Put the bread into the pan and pour the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle the top with the 1/3 cup of light brown sugar.

Now comes the tricky part.

This is best baked in a water bath. A water bath is a pan that is larger than your baking dish. The idea is to put some water into this pan and then place the baking dish into the water pan while baking. A large cookie sheet with high sides, or a larger baking dish should do the trick. Put the baking pan with the bread pudding mixture into the dry pan and slowly add hot water to the water pan. This way it won’t overflow when you put one dish into the other. The water surrounding the baking dish will cook the bread batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Stick a toothpick or knife into the center and if it comes out clean it’s done. Serve warm. I like it with vanilla ice cream but it’s good plain and also good chilled as a leftover with our next recipe -turkey sandwiches on rye.


Turkey Sandwiches on Rye Bread

Rye bread is ubiquitous in many parts of Europe. This recipe is perfect as a bed for a leftover turkey sandwich either served open-faced and topped with leftover gravy, or as a traditional sandwich for all of those football games that follow Thanksgiving.

I’ve added caraway seeds to this recipe, but they’re an option you can easily remove without affecting taste or final result. We’re offering some serving suggestions but making a sandwich is pretty much understood by everyone.


Rye Bread Recipe:


  • 1 1⁄2cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1⁄3 cup brown sugar (I use the granulated type)
  • 1 1⁄2teaspoons salt (I use kosher salt)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 2 3⁄4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 1⁄2teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast


Place ingredients in the bread pan in the order indicated and select whole wheat course. When done, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and slice.


Turkey Sandwich Options

It’s fairly simple to slice the bread and top with leftover turkey. I like it with a smash of mayonnaise and some cracked black pepper. You could also place the bread slice on a plate, top with turkey and smother with reheated gravy and some dressing on the side. Maybe a little cold bread pudding in a bowl would help you get through that second football game.

Steve Nubie

Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a Chef and has traveled across Asia and Europe studying language, culture and cuisine. He instructs culinary classes in the Culinary School at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and has written extensively on cuisine, cooking, diet and nutrition. He is a published author of 10 books including a cookbook and continues to write on subjects related to culinary trends.

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