With the holidays fast approaching, many will soon be stuffing their holiday turkeys. Today, I’m going to discuss a simple way to make a great homemade stuffing to put inside turkey — or that can even be used to stuff just about anything at all.
Some people prefer to make dressing to have on the side rather than stuff the turkey, but in our household we do both. We have a bread stuffing for putting inside the bird as well as a pan of Southern Cornbread Sage Dressing on the side. But today, its all about the stuffing!
Making stuffing to put inside your turkey is super easy to do and you can use a great many combinations.
I even have a basic formula that allows you make and create your own signature stuffing using any ingredients you like.
You can even cut back on the quantity of one ingredient and increase another in equal portions if desired.
The Formula To Creating A Great Stuffing:
You may cut back on the quantity of one ingredient and increase another in equal portions if desired.
For a 12 to 16 lb. turkey (double quantity if turkey is larger) the general ratio of ingredients needed is:
6 cups bread, 1 inch cubes, dried overnight on counter (* see note below)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
seasonings and herbs (dried and fresh)
1-1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh vegetables, fresh or dried fruits/berries, etc.
3/4 to 1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 lb. to 1 lb. meat (i.e. sausage, scallops, etc.)
1 to 1-1/3 cup broth, cooled to room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold
* Drying the cubed up bread overnight ensures that it will hold its shape better and gives better control over moisture content without risk of having it turn into a soupy, runny glop. It is particularly vital if using any bread other than a very dense, heavy bread such as sourdough or baguettes. The heavier and denser the bread and thicker and chewier the crust the less vital this step becomes. If not sure, place a few 1 inch cubes of the bread on a small plate, add enough boiling hot water to moisten the cubes, cover them with a small up-turned cup to hold in the steam and moisture, then come back in 2 hours and check the consistency.
Wait until turkey is otherwise fully prepared and ready to go into the preheated oven to make and add the stuffing.
For more about preparing the turkey:
To make the stuffing:
Slice the butter into pats then cut the pats into quarters (4 squares). Keep the cut up butter refrigerated until ready to use. It should actually go into the oven while still very cold.
Brown or otherwise prepare the meat and set aside to drain.
Spread dry bread crumbs out evenly onto a foil lined flat work surface or on a large baking sheet to drizzle with olive, then add seasonings and toss to coat.
If using a softer bread, toast the seasoned dry bread cubes in a hot skillet or oven.
In a bowl, toss remaining ingredients together — except the broth and cold butter.
Add seasoned bread cubes and toss to evenly mix.
Drizzle with 1/4 cup of broth at a time and toss after each addition to moisten.
NOTE: Do not be tempted to make it too wet or soggy. Between the additional juices released by the other added ingredients and the turkey during baking plus the melting butter, the stuffing will be steamed inside of the baking bird becoming even wetter and softer. That said, some actually like a very, very wet and much squishier and even soggy stuffing.
If the broth is still warm, it is important to allow the broth to cool fully before tossing in the cold butter at the very last.
Wait until ready to actually stuff and roast the turkey before tossing in the cold butter. Add little bits of butter at a time to ensure it is evenly distributed throughout the stuffing.
Stuff into the cavity of the turkey and roast the turkey.
You can even stuff it inside of chickens, pheasant, grouse, squab, or quail. You can also use it to stuff a goose or duck.
When stuffing a goose or duck, however, the result is very different because they are much fattier and oilier so produce an even wetter and oily stuffing than other types of poultry. You may want to use less broth and butter.
It is also great for stuffed beef and pork recipes.
You can use a variety of ingredients, seasonings, and even mix and match the types of breads used.
One year while in college I didn’t have enough of any one type of bread so I used a combination. The result was some of the best stuffing I’d ever eaten in both flavor and texture and everyone else was asking me for the recipe — so it became my traditional way of making stuffing for my holiday turkey. Some even like to crumble crackers into their stuffing or to use purchased croutons which can be plain or already seasoned.
My late husband preferred to just use Sourdough bread if he was making stuffing, but he combined it with one box of Stove Top brand Turkey Stuffing mix — without preparing it on the stove top. He never used sausage in his stuffing, but he did use scallops. He never dried or toasted his bread. He only used chopped walnuts. Otherwise, he made it pretty much the same way that I do.
If you do not want to use to any meat at in your stuffing, then simply increase the quantity of bread and/or other added ingredients by about 3 to 3-1/2 cups. If just increasing only the bread, then use about 4 to 5 more cups — especially if using a softer bread.
I personally love the following combination of ingredients, especially for stuffing turkey:
1 cup cheap white sandwich bread, dried, seasoned, toasted
1 cup cheap wheat sandwich bread, dried, seasoned, toasted
1-1/2 cup Sourdough bread, dried, seasoned
2-1/2 cups French baguette, dried, seasoned
Seasonings and herbs (fresh and dried):
onion powder, garlic powder, garlic cloves, rosemary, sage, parsley, paprika, ground black pepper, coriander, thyme, ginger, celery seed, a tiny pinch of ground cumin and a small pinch of ground cloves (cumin and cloves can get very overpowering very quickly so scant quantities)
Fruits and vegetables:
celery, red/purple and/or sweet yellow onion, green onion or scallions or leeks, apples, dried and fresh cranberries
Additionally, I always put thin slices of oranges and onion under the breast skin of the turkey itself and toss a few wedges of orange and onion into the cavity as well fresh herbs — even before making the stuffing and putting it inside the turkey. However, I totally ignore their existence when making the stuffing and make no decreases or compensations in the amount of seasonings or the amount of onions that I use for the stuffing itself.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup scallops sauteed in butter and garlic, 2-1/2 cups browned ground pork breakfast sausage or andouille sausage, plus 4 strips crispy fried bacon crumbled
For cornbread stuffing and dressing: