This homemade stuffing is the perfect autumn side dish for Thanksgiving! Stuffed with butternut squash, cranberries, and (surprise!) lentils! This may sound like a weird combination, but stay with me guys. It’s so good!

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

If you had to pick your TOP Thanksgiving dish, what would it be? Turkey? Stuffing? Mashed potatoes? Cranberry sauce from a can?? <<that was totally my favorite when I was a kid. All neatly sliced up, like we were going to slap it on a sandwich or something. (The idea of adding a slab of canned cranberry jelly on a turkey sandwich still sounds good to me, a testament to the power of food nostalgia.)

I think I would have to pick mashed potatoes as my number 1. With tons of gravy.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

You know what is at the BOTTOM of my list, like, even below the can of cranberry jelly? STUFFING. What is it with the soggy bread, people?? There are ZERO recipes for stuffing on my blog.

I always add it to my plate, of course. It’s a crime not to, it’s Thanksgiving for heaven’s sake, you can’t NOT eat the stuffing. But usually while I’m eating it, my mind wanders: “why isn’t this mashed potatoes” or “I could be eating a 3rd yeast roll right now,” or “seriously, why so soggy.”

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

And then there are the recipes that try to jazz up regular stuffing by adding sausage. This is not a solution in my opinion. I’m here to eat TURKEY, thankyouverymuch, take your sausage and go home. No meat competitions, please.

But, guys. I think I’ve done it. No, I know I have. A stuffing that I actually like. A stuffing that I LOVE, even. A stuffing that I would make on Thanksgiving and also a day that is not Thanksgiving. A stuffing that I will happily eat an entire plateful of for lunch 2 days in a row because that’s how many days I spent testing this recipe.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

First, there has to be something more interesting that onion and celery, the base of every stuffing ever. To me, those flavors are meant to be background flavors. They enhance whatever ingredient comes next, and in this case I chose butternut squash. What could possibly be more Thanksgiving-y than butternut squash?

Next we add the cranberries. I learned years ago from making this Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Goat Cheese Crostini that butternut and cranberries were meant to be.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

Next come the lentils. Lentils make sense here because try as I might, I just need more than bread in my stuffing. I need something else for my teeth to sink into. I think lots of people do, which is where the sausage idea came from most likely. But lentils are a way better choice, in my opinion. They are not too heavy. They add a bit more substance and protein without being “meaty.” And when you cook them with sage and thyme, oooh boy are they delicious.

I’m partnering with USA Pulses and Pulse Canada for this post. “Pulses” refers to dry peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans. (Did you know that?? 100 points! I did not!)

Pulses are super good for you, making this stuffing basically a health food. Tons of protein and fiber. (How much protein and fiber does soggy bread have? How much??) The folks over at have a Half-Cup Habit challenge going on. See if you can add a 1/2 cup serving of pulses to your diet 3 times a week. If I can add lentils to stuffing, people, it can totally be done. Check it out!

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

You can use fresh herbs or dried herbs for this recipe!

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

Make sure you peel your butternut well. You need to peel all the way to the really orange part, like on the bottom of the photo on the right.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

(You might think you don’t need to add this butter. You’re wrong.)

Now I did add lentils, but I didn’t kick out the bread entirely. We’ve got a solid 8 cups of rustically torn French bread to work with, for all you traditionalists out there. I tore the bread instead of chopping because I like to have bigger pieces. This way they are a more chewy and interesting piece of the stuffing, instead of just being mushy background.

I chose to bake my stuffing for almost a full hour, covered and then uncovered. If you prefer a very moist stuffing, don’t take the foil off.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing from The Food Charlatan

Will you be hosting Thanksgiving this year? I’m actually not sure if I am or not. (Mom?? We should talk??) I do know that I’ll be taking my parents to the airport that night. They are going to Fiji and New Zealand. TAKE ME WITH YOUUU!!

This post is sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep The Food Charlatan chugging along! You guys are the best!

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One year ago: Pan-Seared Chicken and Broccolini in Creamy Mustard Sauce
Two years ago: Bacon Blue Cheese Brisket (Slow Cooker!)
Five years ago: Chipotle Chili with Steak


Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Lentil Stuffing

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 10
This homemade stuffing is the perfect autumn side dish for Thanksgiving! Stuffed with butternut squash, cranberries, and (surprise!) lentils! This may sound like the weirdest combination, but stay with me guys. It's so good!


For the lentils

  • 1 & 1/2 cups dry green lentils
  • 2 & 1/4 cups cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and minced (or 1 teaspoon from a jar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage*
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme*
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, add after lentils are cooked

For the rest

  • 3/4 loaf day-old French bread, torn (about 8 cups)*
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 5 cups butternut squash, chopped bite size
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley*
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage*
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 cups chicken broth


  •  Rinse and pick through the lentils. Place them in a small pot and add 2 and 1/4 cups of water, the bay leaf, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, and some pepper. (NO SALT!)
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and cover the pot. Set a timer for about 10 minutes and leave it alone. 
  • Taste test the lentils. They should be tender but still a bit firm. You don't want them turning into mush, mushy lentils are a mess. If they taste at all chalky, keep cooking. 
  • When the lentils are tender, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove the bay leaf and set aside. Leave the lid on.
  • Meanwhile, toast the bread. (You can skip this step if you left your chopped bread out overnight. It needs to be nice and dry so that it can absorb all the chicken broth we're about to pour all over it.) Heat your oven to 300 degrees F. Tear or chop your bread into bite-size pieces, it doesn't need to be perfect. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 300. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven up to 350.
  • In a large high-sided skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. When it is hot, add butternut squash, onion, and celery. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pepper, parsley, and 2 teaspoons dried sage.
  • Saute for about 10-15 minutes, until the butternut is fork tender but not mushy. Taste it and adjust seasonings to your taste.
  • Stir in 2 cloves garlic, dried cranberries (if using fresh herbs, add them now), and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Stir in 6 tablespoons butter until melted. Turn off the heat.
  • Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. 
  • In a very large bowl, add the toasted bread, lentils, and butternut squash mixture.
  • Pour the chicken broth over the stuffing and stir. 
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared 9x13 inch pan. 
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, until the top has browned. I broiled the top of mine for about 2 minutes, but that's only because I'm obsessed with crispy toppings. Totally optional. 


I haven't tried it yet, but it would be really easy to make this recipe ahead of time. Toast bread up to 1 week ahead and store in large sealed ziplock at room temperature. Up to 2 days ahead, prepare butternut squash mixture and lentils; toss with bread and broth. Transfer to greased baking dish; cover with foil and refrigerate. When ready to heat, bake in a 325°F oven on the bottom rack (below the turkey) for 35 minutes covered, then 35 minutes uncovered. 
*I put the measurements for dried herbs, but you can easily use fresh herbs. I tested it both ways and thought they were both great. When cooking the lentils, add 1 sprig of thyme before cooking (in step 1). Add 1 tablespoon fresh sage after the lentils are cooked (when you add the salt in step 4).  To add fresh herbs to the butternut squash mixture: when you add the garlic and cranberries in step 8, also add 3 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons sage, and 1 tablespoon thyme.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 1099mg | Potassium: 715mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 7839IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Calories: 372
Keyword: Butternut Squash, Cranberry, lentil, stuffing
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

More lentil recipes you will love!

Fresh Bruschetta and Lentil Dip: << This recipe is so delicious! A great healthy appetizer idea!

Fresh Bruschetta and Lentil Dip from


Greek Lentil Tacos with Cucumber Pico de Gallo:

Greek Lentil Tacos with Cucumber Pico de Gallo from


More butternut!!

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Goat Cheese Crostini << this is such a fun appetizer for fall!

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Goat Cheese Crostini from


Slow Cooker Risotto with Italian Sausage and Butternut Squash:

Slow Cooker Risotto with Italian Sausage and Butternut Squash from The Food Charlatan


More stuffing to love! Lentils, Farro, and Barley, oh my! Just look at all this creativity:

Lentil and Mushroom Stuffing from Foxes Love Lemons
Farro, Butternut Squash, Sausage and Dried Cherry Stuffing from FoodieCrush
Butternut Squash and Barley Stuffing from Country Cleaver

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    1. Hi Lindsay! Just like rice, the lentils should have absorbed all the liquid. If the lentils are tender and there is still water then yes drain them, but it should be all absorbed. Enjoy the stuffing!

  1. Excellent stuffing!! Our family and friends thoroughly enjoyed it and it was super easy to veganize! I’ll be making this at Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years to come!

    1. I’m so happy you loved the recipe Chantelle! And I’m so glad it was easy to switch to vegan using this recipe, that is awesome. Thank you for commenting!

  2. Oh wow! What a great combination of flavors and textures! I never would have thought of such an amazing combo!

  3. Stuffing has never been the main event for me either….it’s taking up prime real estate for mashed potatoes and turkey. I will not eat whipped stuffing (my husband’s side!) eeeww, or stuffing so dry it’s like croutons!! I love the flavor combos you have in this stuffing and with adding in the lentils I could eat this as a main meal!!!! Love it Karen!

  4. Eeee!! I love this recipe! Can I come over for Thanksgiving? (Also Stuffing is my #1 – but only good cornbread stuffing…and maybe this one now). (PS. I love that baking sheet!)

    1. Oh man, cornbread stuffing is delicious, even I, a declared non-stuffing person, admit that. And thanks the baking sheet is from Eric’s grandma from the 70s. It’s bright yellow on the outside!

  5. This looks so delicious Karen. I think it would make just a really great no-meat meal – regardless whether it’s Thanksgiving or not! Mix toasted bread and poultry seasoning with just about anything and I’ll eat it. I LOVE stuffing! I would say it’s the main event at Thanksgiving for me!

    And just a slight correction – my mom makes the Pate – not me, but I do love the stuff. She makes it with braunschweiger and cream cheese. She doesn’t actually cook the liver, etc. I HATE liver by itself, but put it in braunschweiger and add cream cheese, then serve it on Swedish Rye Bread and I’m in love . . . .

  6. I’m the Carb Queen on Thanksgiving. Give me stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, and sweet potato casserole, and I’m good to go. Turkey-smurkey! I do like turkey sandwiches for several days after Thanksgiving though…….with homemade cranberry sauce. 😊 I must confess that I add sausage and apples to my stuffing and LOVE it!
    Thanks for the recipe. I’ll give it a try because I trust your recipes!

    1. I like your style Collette! Carbs are totally the way to my heart! And I’m with you, turkey sandwiches for daaaaays! I hope you try this stuffing out and love it Collette! I’m eating it again for lunch right now :) Thanks for trusting me, you are the best!

  7. stuffing has always been my favorite part of the meal. you know me and bread go WAY back :) but i love love love lentils so this stuffing is over the top delicious in my book

    1. Yes Heather, your relationship with bread is SOLID!! haha!! If you are a lentil lover you will adore this stuffing Heather! Thanks for stopping by!!

  8. Gee wiz! You couldn’t have done this post a few weeks ago as we have already celebrated Canada’s Thanksgiving? Geesh! Lol
    Butternut squash, oh my. What a great idea and I love the pairing of it with cranberry. Who doesn’t want a touch of sweet with their savoury!
    My sister’s MIL puts ground liver (eeeew) in her stuffing. It was actually tasty but really, liver? Couldn’t do that to stuffing, as stuffing (with oodles of gravy) is almost more important than the turkey in our house.
    Happy American Thanksgiving when it arrives folks!

    1. Oh my gosh Lorna! How inconsiderate of me!! Making a note for next year–start posting Thanksgiving recipes in September for all my Canadian friends!

      LIVER!!! Oh my goodness! That’s exactly how I feel about pate. My mother in law always makes it for our traditional Swedish Christmas eve dinner and every year I think, even if it’s delicious, I just can’t, because LIVER. Gah! I wonder if adding liver to stuffing is the same idea as adding anchovies to marinara sauce. Umami flavor, you know? Interesting!!

      Happy late Thanksgiving to you too Lorna! Thanks for taking the time to comment, I love hearing from you!

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