Stuffing is a crucial part of any Thanksgiving feast, but it can be intimidating to make homemade stuffing from scratch. Luckily for you, everything you need to know about stuffing is right here. 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 flavor variations, 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:
If you just want stuffing, there's no requirement for a bird. You can bake most stuffing recipes separately in a casserole dish then serve them alongside dinner. (This separately baked version is generally deemed "dressing.")
Be creative with what you put into your stuffing—you won't be disappointed.
Create your own recipe by keeping these proportions in mind:
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:
Stuffing baked inside the cavity of a turkey is generally moister than stuffing baked in a casserole (thanks, drippings!). That means it will likely 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.
If you prefer not to stuff, place quartered onions and celery in the body cavity to add flavor to the drippings that can then be used in gravy. Pull the neck skin to the back; fasten with a short skewer. Then bake an entire recipe of stuffing in a casserole dish instead of using it to stuff the bird. Bake the casserole, covered, in a 325-degree oven 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through.
Q: Can I stuff the turkey the night before I roast it?
A: 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.
Q: Can I just make the stuffing and chill it?
A: It's fine to make the crumbs or bread cubes ahead, but the stuffing should not be completely prepared ahead if it will be used to stuff a turkey. If the stuffing is to be baked in a casserole, it can be prepared in advance and chilled. The baking time will need to be increased by about 15 to 20 minutes if you're starting with chilled stuffing.
Q: I have lots of turkey and stuffing left over. What should I do with it?
A: Before carving your turkey, be sure to remove all stuffing. The leftover stuffing can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Stuffing must be heated to at least 160 degrees F.
After dinner remove all meat from the carcass (this should be done within 2 hours of the turkey's removal from oven). Leftover turkey can be refrigerated and used within 2 days, or frozen in small portions.
Be sure to label and date the wrapped packages and use within 6 months. Leftover turkey can be used in any recipe calling for cooked chicken or turkey.
Q: Why do recipes say to spoon the stuffing into turkey loosely?
Stuffing will expand as it roasts. If stuffing is too tightly packed, it will not reach a safe temperature by the time the turkey is done.
Q: How do I get stuffing crispy on the top?
If the stuffing you've baked outside the bird in a casserole dish isn't crisp on top when it's done baking, put it under the broiler for a minute or two. You can do the same thing with the stuffing that's been baked inside the turkey; after it's done, just transfer it to a large oiled baking dish.
Bake it at 450 degrees F about 10 minutes, then broil it for a minute or two. It will be crisp on top and moist inside.