When it comes to Thanksgiving, of course we’re looking forward to spending time with friends and family, but…. as food lovers, a lot of us are excited to cook and/or eat. Is this maybe at the forefront of our minds? Well, that’s for us to know and you to (maybe) find out.

While I love to cook a wide range of foods and have been appointed Thanksgiving Chef by my family, there’s one dish that is always my favorite to make (and eat). That’s stuffing of course. Why I love it so much is maybe because it’s literally a bread salad, but oh well. No one needs to know that.

What many don’t  know – and I had to teach my non-American parents – is that stuffing from scratch is about 1 million times better than that Stovetop crap.

However, there are so many different varieties of stuffing to choose from! There are sweet ‘n savory options like cranberry, apple, pecan recipes or heartier mushroom, cheese and walnut options.

Whichever direction you choose to go in, we promise the below ingredients are a great starting point.

1. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are my absolute favorite in stuffing, because well, I clearly love mushrooms. It adds a great earthiness, heartiness and all-around goodness that I can’t get enough of. The recipe I keep going back to year after year is this celery root and mushroom stuffing via Chowhound. Try it out this year. You won’t regret it.

2. Chestnuts

Who says chestnuts are just for Christmas? They make an excellent addition to stuffing because they’re nutty in texture but oddly meat-y, too – not to mention they’re full of flavor. The contrast between the bread and chestnuts is absolutely addicting.

3. Cornbread

Deep-frying your turkey this year? Why not keep it Southern Style with some cornbread stuffing too?

4. Ciabatta

When it comes to bread, ciabatta is my go-to for stuffing. It’s perfectly fluffy but gets crisp on the outside when baked correctly. It’s a great standard option that you can find virtually anywhere.

5. Pine Nuts, Walnuts, Pecans

We already mentioned chestnuts, but other great options include pine nuts, walnuts and pecans. They add an extra crunch thats great in any version of the classic.

6. Leeks

Leeks are a great subtle and seasonal way to brighten up an otherwise gray stuffing dish. They also add a wonderful onion-like taste.

7. Sausage, Bacon or Giblets

Ah, meat lovers probably won’t be deterred by the fact that the World Health Organization just said that processed meats have been linked to cancer – and neither will we. Sausage pairs well with leeks and sage while giblets can be easily added to a classic recipe.

8. Onion & Celery

This may be as basic as it gets, but it’s certainly worth noting. Onion and celery should be added to every stuffing recipe as a base. It adds texture and taste and probably the only greens you’ll see all Turkey Day…

9. Potato

Think potato and stuffing is pretty much overkill? Well then, you’d be right. It is, but it’s still delicious and who’s counting carbs on Thanksgiving? Not any normal person, that’s for sure.

10. Cheese

Cheese will never let you down. Mark my words. NEVER!!

11. Cranberry and/or Apple

If you like it sweet and savory, these Fall fruits are the perfect addition. Sometimes they’re even paired together with walnuts.

12. Jalapeno

Cornbread stuffing with jalapeño sounds right up our alley. Try it out to kick it up a notch. Your tastebuds will thank you.

For more Thanksgiving features, take a look at our articles here.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving stuffing recipe?