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Easy Ciabatta Stuffing with Pancetta

This Ciabatta Stuffing is PACKED with flavor! It's made with tasty, crispy pancetta, fresh herbs, gruyere and parmesan cheeses, and ciabatta bread. Using ciabatta instead of breadcrumbs makes such a delicious stuffing recipe, you've got to try it!

This stuffing will be the showstopper of your holiday dinner! This ciabatta stuffing can be prepared ahead of time and baked before serving, saving you time during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whenever you choose to make it.

Overhead shot of baked ciabatta stuffing

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Ciabatta stuffing

I know there are a billion stuffing recipes in the world, but when I say this one is the BEST, I truly mean it. Here's why:

  • It's not mushy (sooo important!)
  • It has a secret ingredient: Eggs! Eggs help the stuffing bake up nice and firm without getting mushy
  • Day-old ciabatta bread holds up so well to being used in a stuffing... a great way to use up leftover ciabatta!
  • All the delicious flavors!! Pancetta, Parmesan cheese, gruyere (we fancy!), fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes... YUM
  • The gruyere cheese is finely diced instead of shredded, so you get flavorful cheesy bursts of flavor in every bite
  • It's pretty easy to make and serves a crowd
  • It's great as leftovers too

We make this stuffing as a side dish all year long, not just for the holidays. It's amazing served with some baked breaded pork chops or dry brine turkey and a chopped salad or brussels sprouts salad with bacon.

Ciabatta stuffing on a plate with roast turkey breast.

Ready to make it??

Ingredients for ciabatta stuffing

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (½ cup)
  • 6 oz pancetta, chopped (bacon would work too, if you can't find pancetta)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • ½ cup dry sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), chopped - if you can only find oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, dab off as much oil as you can and maybe reduce the butter by ½ - 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 12 cups stale ciabatta, cubed (about 20 oz) or focaccia
  • 8 oz gruyere cheese, chopped (or fontina or gouda)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best!)

Special equipment needed:

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Instructions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl, keeping the melted butter and drippings in the pan. Set aside.

Step 3: Add 6 tablespoons butter to the pancetta drippings in the skillet, and add onion, celery, sun dried tomatoes, rosemary, sage, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Step 4: Add broth and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat.

Crisped pancetta in one bowl, and stuffing vegetables in another bowl.

Step 5: Whisk eggs and parsley together in a large bowl. Add cubed bread, pancetta, vegetable/broth mixture, and gruyere. Stir gently until just combined (avoid over-stirring so that that bread doesn't completely fall apart).

Step 6: Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Unbaked ciabatta stuffing ingredients in a baking pan.

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Use stale bread for the stuffing

It's best to buy the ciabatta bread a few days before you plan to make the stuffing and/or leave it open on the countertop the night before to dry out. This will allow the bread to absorb all of the juices and flavors without becoming too mushy.

It's the same technique I recommend for French Toast Bread Pudding, which uses day-old Texas toast.

Ingredient notes and substitutions

There are a variety of substitutions you can make in this recipe if you have trouble finding ingredients, or you want to use up things you already have:

  • Bread: In place of ciabatta, you could use focaccia bread or a combination of both ciabatta and focaccia.
  • Herbs: You can swap sage with fresh thyme or another herb.
  • Sun dried tomatoes: If you can't find the sun dried tomatoes that are NOT packed in oil, go ahead and use the oil-packed tomatoes. Just dab off as much oil as you can, and use a little bit less butter in the recipe.
  • Cheese: In place of gruyere, you can use fontina or gouda cheese.
  • Pancetta: If you can't find pancetta, you can use bacon as a substitute. Just be sure to render it down so that it's crisp and most of the fat is dissolved. Chopped prosciutto is also another substitution option.
  • Dry adding dried cranberries: ½ cup or so for a little sweet & savory flavor combination.

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Make vegetarian ciabatta stuffing

To make this ciabatta stuffing vegetarian, skip the pancetta, use a low-sodium vegetable broth, and use vegetarian Parmesan (that's one of the few cheeses that is not vegetarian by default!)

Make ahead stuffing

This recipe can be made ahead and stored in the fridge prior to baking. You can also bake it a day ahead and reheat in a warm oven before serving.

I promise that you'll fall in love with this recipe if you try it. It's the ultimate Thanksgiving comfort food.

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Ciabatta stuffing with fresh sage

Easy Ciabatta Stuffing

The most flavorful ciabatta stuffing ever, made with day-old stale ciabatta bread. It has crispy pancetta, fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and 2 kinds of cheese for lots of flavor. Read the notes below for make-ahead tips and substitutions.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 393kcal
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (½ cup), divided
  • 6 oz pancetta chopped (bacon or prosciutto would work too)
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 stalks celery diced
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 12 cups stale ciabatta cubed (about 20 oz) or focaccia
  • 8 oz gruyere cheese finely chopped (or gouda or fontina)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese freshly grated is best

Special equipment

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped pancetta and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
  • Add 6 tablespoons butter to the pancetta drippings in the skillet, and add onion, celery, sun dried tomatoes, rosemary, sage, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add broth and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat.
  • Whisk eggs and parsley together in a large bowl. Add cubed bread, pancetta, vegetable/broth mixture, and gruyere. Stir gently until just combined, avoid over-stirring so that that bread doesn't completely fall apart.
  • Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Notes

Make-ahead stuffing: You can prepare steps 1-6 ahead up to a day in advance and bake before serving.
Ingredient substitutions: 
  • Bacon: If using bacon, make sure to get it nice and crispy, and maybe reduce the butter by 1 tablespoon.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: If you can only find oil-packed tomatoes, you can dab them as dry as possible with a paper towel, and consider reducing the butter by ½ - 1 tablespoon.
  • Herbs: Feel free to use other herbs instead of sage and rosemary. You can also use dry rosemary and sage, just reduce the amount a little. 

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 409mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 985IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 318mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating




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Ann

Saturday 7th of December 2019

OMG, please pass me a fork. This is superb! It seems that I’ve just fallen in love with this ciabatta stuffing. I’m just imagining how fantastic this must taste. I should definitely give the recipe a try (hope this weekend). I’ve just bookmarked the page. Alyssa, thank you so much for sharing the idea and all of your useful recommendations. I hope the recipe will inspire many of your followers. Looking forward to your new awesome ideas. I’m lucky to have discovered your blog. You’re amazing! Keep up the good work!

Best wishes, Ann

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