4 Mistakes That Ruin Stuffing (And How to Fix Them) (2024)

What's the best part of Thanksgiving? The turkey? No way. It's the stuffing. And to think there was a time when I thought stuffing could only be made from a box! Don't get me wrong—boxed stuffing is good, but premade packages of stuffing are a real damper in the creativity department. (Not to mention they're loaded with sodium and other not-so-wholesome ingredients in the form of preservatives.)

Homemade stuffing is ridiculously easy to make, but there are a few things you can do that would ruin a perfectly good stuffing. Here are a few mistakes to avoid when you're making stuffing from scratch and tips to fix your stuffing.

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Pictured Recipe:

Mistake to Avoid No. 1: Cooking Your Stuffing in the Turkey

OK, so this tip really applies to any stuffing, but it's worth mentioning because it could destroy the potential to ever allow stuffing to cross your lips again. Don't cook the stuffing in the turkey! What about those iconic images of a turkey brimming with stuffing, you ask? Forget about them. You are looking at either (a) a turkey that has been cooked to oblivion or (b) stuffing that's basted in raw turkey juices, a real food-safety hazard.

Here's why: In the time it takes a stuffed turkey to get up to 165°F in the center of the cavity (the "safe" temperature for poultry), the breast meat and possibly everything else will be overcooked. Even if the stuffing is fully cooked beforehand, if you take the turkey out of the oven with the stuffing just "warmed," you'll run the risk of eating stuffing contaminated with raw turkey juices. Everything, even the stuffing, has to reach the recommended 165°F if it's in the bird, so cook it in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish instead.

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Pictured Recipe:

Mistake to Avoid No. 2: Stuffing That Falls Apart

When you're creating your own stuffing, the sky is the limit when it comes to ingredients. You can add dried fruit, fresh fruit, vegetables, sausage, nuts, grains, whatever. But you want to make sure there is an element that keeps it all loosely sticking together. That's called a "binder," and bread is really great at this. To work its magic, the bread needs a little liquid. (How much? See below.) Bread that's slightly dry sucks up moisture like a sponge and once it's tossed with other ingredients it starts to break down slightly and acts like the glue for everything else. Any kind of bread will work—wheat bread, sourdough, rye—even cornbread and gluten-free bread. Experiment with different flavors to find the one you like best.

Healthy Stuffing Recipes

Mistake to Avoid No. 3: Soggy or Dry Stuffing

How to make dry stuffing moist? Stuffing needs moisture to prevent it from drying out, but knowing how much liquid to add can be tricky. You want your stuffing moist but not soggy and certainly not dry. The bread in the stuffing absorbs moisture, but if it's dry (as it should be, see above), it takes some time for the liquid to settle in. I suggest adding a little at a time, say 1 cup of broth for every 4 cups of dry mix. Give it a good stir, then let it sit for a minute. The stuffing should be moist but not wet. If there is a puddle of broth at the bottom of the bowl, you've added too much. Add more bread to soak up the excess moisture. If the mix is still dry and crumbly, add more liquid and toss gently until it starts to clump together.

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Pictured Recipe: Vegan Cornbread Stuffing

Mistake to Avoid No. 4: Too Much Salt

One of the pitfalls of packaged stuffing is copious amounts of sodium. When you make stuffing from scratch, you can control how much salt you add—to a degree. Unfortunately, common stuffing ingredients like bread, sausage and broth have a good amount of sodium in them. Manage sodium levels by being judicious with "extras" like sausage (just a little goes a long way) and choosing low- or reduced-sodium broth. And you don't necessarily need to add salt to stuffing. Taste it before you bake it (as long as there isn't raw meat involved) to see if you really need to add extra salt.

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4 Mistakes That Ruin Stuffing (And How to Fix Them) (2024)

FAQs

4 Mistakes That Ruin Stuffing (And How to Fix Them)? ›

Your Bread Is Too Fresh

There's nothing better than soft, fresh bread—except for when it comes to stuffing. If you want your stuffing to hold up and not end up a soupy, soggy mess, make sure your bread is dried out or staled for a few days.

Can you mess up stuffing? ›

Your Bread Is Too Fresh

There's nothing better than soft, fresh bread—except for when it comes to stuffing. If you want your stuffing to hold up and not end up a soupy, soggy mess, make sure your bread is dried out or staled for a few days.

How do you revive stuffing? ›

Heat the oven to 350°F and transfer the stuffing to an oven-safe dish (or, you can keep it in the dish that it was originally cooked in). If it seems dry, you'll want to add a splash of broth. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake again until crisp, 15–20 minutes.

How do you fix gluey stuffing? ›

If your stuffing is too wet and gummy, turn it out onto a baking pan or cookie sheet. Break it up and spread it in an even layer. Then bake until dried to the desired level.

Why does my stuffing come out mushy? ›

If the stuffing came out too wet and soggy (aka bread soup!) try not to over mix it, otherwise it'll turn into mush. Curtis Stone says to pour it on a large sheet tray and spread it out. Bake it on high heat to crisp it up, but make sure it doesn't burn.

Why add eggs to stuffing? ›

Broth: Chicken broth keeps the stuffing moist without making it soggy. Eggs: Two lightly beaten eggs help hold the dressing together and add moisture. Water: You can add a few tablespoons of water, if you'd like, to achieve your desired consistency.

How wet should stuffing be before baking? ›

The stuffing should be moist but not wet. If there is a puddle of broth at the bottom of the bowl, you've added too much. Add more bread to soak up the excess moisture. If the mix is still dry and crumbly, add more liquid and toss gently until it starts to clump together.

Is it better to use broth or stock for dressing? ›

You can use either stock or broth for keeping dressing moist or as a basis for gravy, but a strong flavor will give you better results.

Is it better to make stuffing with soft or dry bread? ›

Any attempts to make stuffing with soft, fresh baked bread will result in a bread soup with a soggy texture. Follow this tip: Stale, dried-out bread makes the best stuffing.

Is stuffing better with or without eggs? ›

Eggs add richness to the stuffing, and makes it cohere better. I'd use two eggs per pound of bread.

Why does stuffing go bad? ›

Once opened, a stuffing mix's shelf life is reduced, generally lasting only 2 to 3 months. Moisture, air, and contaminants are critical factors here; improper storage can allow these elements to compromise the mix's freshness and flavor.

How to crisp up stuffing? ›

Baking Dish: The first oven option is to move leftover stuffing to a baking dish, add broth and butter, and heat at 350°F for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes so you can get some crispy, crunchy bits on top.

What texture should stuffing be? ›

Speaking of texture, that's what stuffing is all about--you want a mix of crispy and soft pieces. We recommend adding stock a little at a time--1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on how much stuffing you're making--and waiting for the bread to absorb the liquid before adding more.

Why can't you refrigerate uncooked stuffing? ›

USDA recommends that you never refrigerate uncooked stuffing. Why? Remember, stuffing can harbor bacteria, and though bacteria grow slower in the refrigerator they can cause problems because stuffing is a good medium for bacteria growth, therefore a higher risk food in terms of cooking safely.

How can you tell if stuffing is bad? ›

The simplest way to tell if your stuffing has gone bad is to sniff it and see if the appearance looks off. “You will know if your stuffing has gone bad if it has a bad odor or there is visible mold growing on it,” Dankosky advises. “It may also taste unpleasant, have a slimy film, or mushy appearance.

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