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Making Stuffing for Turkey:
Putting Together a Great Turkey Dinner with Dressing

In some homes the recipes used for making stuffing for turkey are considered family treasures, secret to all but a few privileged cooks. Other people love to share their Thanksgiving stuffing ideas.

Whether your family has been making the same turkey dinner with stuffing for decades, or you love to share and experiment with stuffing recipes, there are always some great things you can do to make sure your stuffing or dressing comes out perfectly.

This page is all about how to make a stuffing for a holiday turkey. If you're looking for some specific recipes for turkey stuffing, check right here.


THE Four Turkey Dressing Ingredients

Turkey Dressing or Stuffing, HomemadeFor making turkey for stuffing really great, you need to have four basic components.

1. Starch: This is the cornerstone of any turkey dinner with stuffing. While white bread is by far the most popular stuffing other options include cornbread, pasta, rice, grains (like barley and the like), and vegetables.

2. Herbs & Spices: unless your starch came pre-seasoned, you'll need a smattering of herbs and spices to round out the flavor of your stuffing. Common choices include sage, thyme, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, hot pepper flakes etc. The mixture of spices varies greatly depending on the other ingredients in the dish.

3. Personalized Traditional Flavorings and Additives: This is where making stuffing for turkey can get really creative. The additive options are as limitless as your imagination. Typically additives include one or several of the following:

  • Meats, such as bacon or the ever-popular sausage stuffing
  • Fruit, fresh or dried (apricots, plums, cranberries, and figs are popular, as in this apricot stuffing)
  • Nuts (Hazelnuts, Chestnuts, and Pecans are most popular)
  • Sautéed vegetables (like celery, onion, or wild mushroom stuffing)
  • Shellfish (like oyster or shrimp)
  • Liqueurs (like brandy or Grand Marnier)

These elements provide the stuffing with a wholly unique flavor and texture profile.

4. Moisture: Liquid keeps stuffing moist. As with additives there's a lot to choose from in this category -- broth, sauces (soy, Worcestershire), beaten eggs (eggs help to keep the stuffing together), fruit juice, beer or wine, liqueur, or a combination of them all. The only caution is not overdoing your liquid content. Stuffing should never be gooey or mushy!

The Finished Product

No matter what you put in it, the best turkey dressing recipe is one that results in a stuffing with a crisp top, a soft center, and a whole host of flavors that balance in perfect harmony with the rest of your meal. Additionally, a good recipe leaves room for leftovers – everyone loves snacking on stuffing after the holiday is over!


Making Stuffing for Turkey:
How Much to Make?

So how do you judge how much to make? That depends, generally, on whether you choose to stuff the bird, or leave it unstuffed.

Cooking Your Stuffing Inside the Turkey

A Stuffed Turkey with Dressing- TUrkey Dinner with StuffingWhen making stuffing for turkey, you can make on average about one cup of stuffing per one pound of bird. But be sure not to pack the stuffing too tightly. It will expand as it cooks inside the turkey, and get dense and strange if it's over-packed.

You should probably plan about 3/4 cup of stuffing for each guest, then up that amount for however much extra you want for leftovers. It's much better to overestimate than underestimate... leftover stuffing always gets eaten!

And remember, you'll need to cook your bird an extra 30-40 minutes if you stuff it. Check here for specific cooking times for stuffed turkey. And if your turkey is too small to fit as much stuffing as you'd like to make... compromise! Many years, I do both.

Cooking Stuffing Outside of the Turkey

When making stuffing for turkey dinner, cooking the stuffing outside the bird is becoming a more and more popular choice. Note, however, that stuffing that's headed for a baking dish needs a little more moisture than the mix you put in the bird. You can get this by waiting until your turkey's cooked awhile and adding some drippings to the dish before you put it in the oven. Also cook the stuffing with aluminum foil over top until about 15 minutes before serving. That will help keep it from drying out. You know your stuffing is done when it reaches 165 degrees.

Check here for some great recipes for turkey stuffing.


Leftovers for Later:
Too Much of a Good Thing?

Whether making stuffing for turkey that's stuffed into the bird or cooked outside, your favorite turkey stuffing recipes are safe to eat for about four days when stored in the refrigerator. When frozen, however, stuffing keeps for up to six. months. Make sure to carefully label your packages with the date of preparation.


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