Turkey: Stuffing 101

Everything you'd want to know about stuffing is here: How to create your own stuffing from scratch, step-by-step guidance on how to stuff a turkey, how much you need to feed your crowd, plus answers to the most frequently asked stuffing questions. Consider this the complete guide for how to make stuffing for Thanksgiving.

Stuffing is a crucial part of any Thanksgiving feast, but it can be intimidating to make homemade stuffing from scratch. Lucky for you, everything you need to know about stuffing is right here. We'll teach you how to make stuffing for Thanksgiving, how to stuff your turkey, how to make sure your stuffing is completely cooked, and answer some of the most common stuffing-related questions. If you're still on the lookout for a stuffing recipe to use for the holidays, you can try our classic bread stuffing recipe, check out our suggestions, or create your own recipe! Don't stress about the stuffing this holiday season, because we've got all of your questions covered.

Stuffing, or dressing as it is also called, requires these elements:

Be creative with what you put into your stuffing -- you won't be disappointed.

Create your own recipe by keeping these proportions in mind:

How to Make Stuffing

Want to learn how to make stuffing from scratch? You've come to the right place! We have all the info you need on how to make a traditional bread stuffing, plus suggestions for other recipes to try for more dressed-up versions, like sausage stuffing and veggie-filled stuffing. Just follow these instructions to make our Thanksgiving stuffing recipe:

You'll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped or sliced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon of snipped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning or ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 12 cups of dry bread cubes (Tip: Try a mix of whole wheat, white, and multi-grain bread cubes for extra flavor!)
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth (Note: If you're using this homemade stuffing recipe for stuffing a turkey, reduce the broth to 3/4 cup to 1 cup)
  • Fresh sage leaves (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In a large skillet, cook the celery and onion in hot butter over medium heat until tender but not brown. Remove from heat and stir in sage and pepper.
  2. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the onion mixture. Drizzle with enough chicken broth to moisten, and toss lightly to combine.
  3. Place the stuffing in a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through. Top with fresh sage, if desired. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Optional Add-Ins:

  • For extra fall flavor, stir 2 medium cored and chopped apples into the bread cubes.
  • If you want to stuffing to taste a little meatier, omit 1 cup of the celery and substitute 2 cups of sliced mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms with the celery in Step 1, above.
  • Try stirring one 15-ounce can of chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped, into the bread cubes.
  • If you like rice in your stuffing, stir 1 cup of cooked wild rice into the bread cubes.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff

Stuffing baked inside the cavity of a turkey is generally moister than stuffing baked in a casserole. It may also contain more fat calories since the stuffing absorbs juices from the turkey as it bakes. If stuffing is baked inside the turkey, it is essential to check the temperature of the stuffing as well as the turkey. The stuffing must reach a temperature of at least 165 degrees F.

Safe Stuffing

  • Cook the stuffing separately in a covered casserole if you don't have an accurate meat thermometer, because there is no visual test for stuffing doneness.
  • Mix the stuffing just before you stuff and roast the bird.
  • Loosely spoon stuffing into the body and neck cavities rather than packing it. Otherwise it won't get hot enough by the time the turkey is cooked.
  • Spoon any remaining stuffing into a casserole; cover and chill until ready to bake.

Stuffing Steps

  • To stuff, first measure out the amount of stuffing that will go into the bird, allowing 3/4 cup per pound of bird. (That's 11 cups for a 15-pound bird.)
  • Release drumsticks from band of skin, unhooking the tail or leg clamp if one is provided.
  • The clamp may be removed if you prefer not to use it.
  • Remove neck and giblets. Check inside the neck as well as in the body cavity.
  • Spoon some stuffing loosely into neck cavity.
  • Pull the neck skin over stuffing; fasten to turkey's back with a short skewer.
  • Loosely spoon stuffing into body cavity to allow room for expansion during roasting. If the stuffing is too tightly packed, it will not reach a safe temperature by the time the turkey is done.
  • Tuck the legs under the band of skin that crosses the tail or reset the legs into the leg clamp. Or tie the legs to the tail with kitchen string.

Homemade Stuffing FAQs

Can I stuff the turkey the night before I roast it?

It is unsafe to stuff the turkey ahead of time. The chilled stuffing in the turkey will not reach a safe temperature before the turkey is done. To be safe the turkey should reach a temperature of 180 degrees F. and the stuffing in the body cavity of the bird should reach 165 degrees F.

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