PA dutch bread filling

Basic Pennsylvania Dutch Bread Filling

Here in the PA Dutch and Coal Region area, we (especially us “Dutchies”) refer to “stuffing” as “filling”. There is no real debate about whether it’s “stuffing” if it is made/baked one way versus “filling” another way in MY kitchen.  Nope. It’s always, no-doubt, will-never-call-it-anything-else “FILLING”. Has been to me for as long as I remember and always will be. 

Mom made her filling in a big huge bowl for holiday dinners during which several dozen family members descended on our house and laughter filled the air (along with cigarette smoke because…well…seems more people smoked than not “back then”.)

Sometimes some filling went into the bird, but there was ALWAYS a dish full baked in a buttered casserole. I loved that version because I just love the “crust” the filling makes along the bottom of the dish. My Aunt adored an evening snack after a holiday dinner consisting of turkey on white bread, a slab of mom’s bread filling, mayo, and cranberry sauce.

Mom did not use any potatoes at all in her bread filling nor much poultry seasoning but you should adjust it to your own taste (more or less celery/onion, butter…).  Mom used milk in hers, you can use stock if you like.  Me, I keep it “Mom’s” and make it like she did! If you would prefer a Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling, you will find my recipe here.

This is a moist mixture prior to baking, not one that keeps the bread cubes in big pieces and barely wets them. I like to cut a slice of this once it is cold and fry it in a little butter, browning the “patty”  on both sides.

Basic Pennsylvania Dutch Bread Filling

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: SidesCuisine: Pa. DutchDifficulty: Easy


  • 8 cups cubed white bread (stale or left out to dry overnight)

  • 4 eggs, beaten well

  • 3 large ribs of celery, chopped (with some chopped leaves if possible)

  • 1 – 2 large onion, chopped (about the same amount as the chopped celery)

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • OPTIONAL: Sage and/or savory and/or poultry seasoning and/or Bell’s Stuffing seasoning to your taste

  • Milk or chicken stock as needed (mixture should be wet, but not “really soupy”).


  • Break up or cut bread into cubes. I use stale bread and leave the cubes out uncovered over night spread out on a tray or baking sheet, or you can even dry them on low in the oven. Place dried or stale cubes into large bowl.
  • In frying pan, melt butter, add chopped celery and onions and saute on low until soft. I like to actually brown the veggies some, I think it adds to the flavor and color of the filling. Set aside to cool.
  • Beat eggs, add to bowl with bread cubes. Pour cooled butter and cooked celery and onions over the cubes. Toss lightly to start to mix.
  • Add the milk or stock and gently toss and mix. It should be moist but not soupy. How much liquid you use depends on the bread, butter amount, etc. Start with less – you can always add, but you cannot take it out.
  • Season as desired. I usually add about 1 – 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning or Bell’s seasoning. Sometimes, I do not use anything other than salt and pepper – it depends on who will be eating it!
  • Turn out into a well buttered casserole baking dish.
  • Bake at 350F until set and browned – 45 minutes or so. You can stir the filling part way through if you desire, but I do not because I like the “crust” to form along the dish sides and bottom.
  • Serve.