Stuffing is a centerpiece for holiday meals

Change the taste of traditional dressings by switching ingredients, using different spices, herbs, veggies

A favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table is stuffing. Everyone has their favorite recipe — many of them passed down through the generations.

But trying a new stuffing recipe allows you to change the meal while retaining the traditional character.

There are plenty of different types of stuffing, and many ways to prepare it.

First of all, the difference between stuffing and dressing is simple — it’s stuffing if it’s baked in the bird and dressing if it’s cooked outside the turkey.

The traditional way to make a dressing is to mix a dry base such as day-old bread with sauteed vegetables, meat, herbs and seasonings. Add a binder such as stock or eggs, and gently toss.

To change things up this year, try using rice, barley, fruit, nuts, bulgur or other grains as a base instead of bread.

Rice should be cooked before making a stuffing or dressing, and items such as onions, garlic, celery and mushrooms should be lightly sauteed.

If you’re using bread, dry it overnight at room temperature or slice it and bake it in a low oven for about an hour. If the bread’s too moist, the stuffing will be soggy and sticky.

If you plan to stuff the turkey, make the stuffing slightly dry because it will absorb juices from the meat and expand. And lightly stuff the bird. If it’s too tightly stuffed, it won’t get hot enough — 165 degrees or hotter — to be safe to eat.

Any stuffing that doesn’t fit in the bird can be baked in a greased baking dish after the turkey is pulled out of the oven. Just add more moisture to the dressing by adding a little stock, cold water or butter.

Or you can use a store-bought stuffing  and add extra flavor with a little stock and fixings like fruits or turkey bits.

The most common herb used in making stuffing is sage, but you can experiment with other herbs and spices, including parsley and thyme.

Used sparingly, dry mustard and cinnamon are interesting choices. Cayenne pepper and cumin add heat, whereas paprika and turmeric provide color.

You can also prepare your dressing in a crockpot or slow cooker.

In general, plan to make between a half cup and three-quarters cup of dressing per person.

Any excess dressing can be eaten with leftovers or used to stuff other foods, such as squashes.

Following are a few recipes from and


Slow Cooker Vegetable Stuffing With Sourdough

1 loaf day-old sourdough bread, roughly chopped into 1-1/inch cubes

1 cup butter

1 yellow onion, diced

4 stalks celery, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

8 ounce white button mushrooms, sliced

2 cups lacinato kale, stems removed, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups vegetable broth, more if needed

2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon sea salt, less if using salted butter

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add vegetables and cook five to seven minutes, until slightly tender.

Whisk together the eggs, broth, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.

Grease a slow cooker, then place a layer of sourdough cubes on the bottom followed by large spoonfuls of vegetables, then the rest of the bread and veggies. Pour egg mixture over the top and stir. Cover and cook on low for three to four hours or on high for two to three hours, checking periodically to see if it needs a dash of broth.

If desired, transfer stuffing to a baking dish and bake in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes to make the top layer crispier.



Stuffing With Cranberries, Kale, Pecans and Wild Rice

12 cups bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups onion, white or yellow, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock

2 large eggs

Place bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake in a 250-degree oven about 45 minutes, until dry. Set aside.

In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, sage, salt and black pepper and simmer five minutes, until vegetables are softened.

Whisk eggs and stock together in a large bowl. Add bread cubes, chopped water chestnuts and onion-sage mixture. Toss to combine, then pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that’s coated with cooking spray. Cover with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the moisture is absorbed and stuffing is setting.

Remove foil cover and bake 15 minutes to crisp the top. Serve warm.

This can be made through assembly in advance and then refrigerated. Bake when ready to serve.



Old Fashioned Sausage and Oyster Dressing

4 cups stale Italian bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage or country sausage

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large leek, cleaned and chopped into 1/2-inch slices

3 green onions, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

12 ounces fresh oysters in their liquor . 1 to 1-1/2 dozen in their shell

1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes

Place bread in a large wide bowl and leave out overnight to get stale.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the sausage. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon and brown. Stir in celery, bell peppers, onions and leeks and cook until softened and fragrant. Add green onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper, thyme and sage and stir, then cook two to three minutes, until very fragrant. Set aside.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl and pour oysters into the sieve. Reserve the oyster liquor and set aside.

Pick through oysters to remove any shells. If the oysters are large, roughly chop into 1-inch pieces. Add the oysters to the sausage mixture and stir just to combine. Add sausage mixture to the stale bread and toss well. Drizzle with reserved oyster liquor and toss. Add half the chicken broth and toss well so bread is moist. Add more chicken broth as needed.

Transfer dressing to a two-quart casserole dish and spread evenly. Dot the top with cubes of butter and bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the casserole is golden and fragrant.



Vegan Mushroom Stuffing

3 tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter

1 large onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1/3 cup dry white wine, optional

16 ounces sliced mushrooms

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1-1/2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 loaf day-old bread

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 to 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth

Cut bread into small cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and celery and sauté seven to eight minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent. Add wine and sauté four to five minutes, until mostly cooked off. Add sliced mushrooms, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, eight to 10 minutes, until softened and fragrant.

Add cooked vegetables to the bowl of cubed bread and mix thoroughly. Add one cup vegetable broth and mix again, making sure the entire mixture gets moistened. If it looks too dry, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, taking care it’s not too wet. Add \ parsley and mix well to combine.

Transfer mixture to a rectangular baking dish, cover with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, just until the edges get a bit crispy. Serve.



Healthy Vegetable Thanksgiving Stuffing

3 tablespoons butter


1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 large carrots, diced small

1 celery stalk, diced small

1 small onion, diced

2 cups white button mushrooms, diced

3 cups Brussels sprouts, diced small

For breading:

2 cups chicken broth

2 eggs

3 cups grain bread/gluten free bread, diced

2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced, or 2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Set oven broiler to low. Place bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake eight to 10 minutes, flip bread cubes and bake another five minutes, until golden brown.

Place butter, celery, onion, carrots and Brussels sprouts in a large pan or medium pot over medium heat and saute eight to 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

In a large bowl, mix stuffing bread, sautéed vegetables, two cups chicken broth, two eggs and herbs, then place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with fresh herbs and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds and serve.



Apple Walnut Sausage Stuffing

6 cups plain croutons or 1 baguette, cubed

1 pound pork sausage

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil

2 red apples, peeled, cored and diced

1/2 onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

2 eggs

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

If using baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until dried and lightly toasted, tossing as needed. Set aside.

Place sausage in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Break into small pieces and cook until no longer pink, stirring as needed. Transfer to a mixing bowl, drain grease and set aside.

In the same skillet on medium-high heat, melt butter, then add onion, apples and celery. Sauté until tender, stirring as needed.

Fold croutons and cooked sausage into the vegetables.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk broth and eggs until well-combined. Pour over vegetables and cubed bread, stirring to coat. Add extra splashes of chicken broth as needed to moisten the bread cubes if they feel too dry.

Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove cover, top with walnuts and bake 10 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.

Allow stuffing to rest 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.


Baked Apple Cranberry Stuffing

12 ounces herb cubed stuffing mix

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 large honeycrisp apple, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Place stuffing mix in an extra-large bowl.

Heat butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in broth, apple and dried cranberries, then season with cinnamon and black pepper. Pour over stuffing mix.

Whisk egg, then add to bowl and mix until bread is coated.

If desired, sprinkle the top with additional cinnamon.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, until hot. Drizzle a little melted butter on top and garnish with parsley before serving, if desired.

For slow cooker version, cook vegetables and fruit, then place in a six-quart low cooker that’s lightly buttered on the sides and bottom. Top with dry stuffing mix and whisked egg and mix well. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired, cook on low for 2-1/2 to three hours.


Mom’s Turkey Stuffing

1 loaf of day old French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 cup walnuts

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

6 tablespoons butter

1 green apple, peeled, cored and chopped

3/4 cup currants or raisins

5 to 10 chopped green olives with pimento

1 to 2 cups stock from turkey giblets

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or ground sage


Freshly ground pepper

Toast walnuts by heating them in a frying pan on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring until they are slightly browned but not burned, or put them in the microwave on high for a minute or two. Cool, then roughly chop nuts.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons butter, add the bread cubes and stir to coat the cubes with butter. Let them toast, turning them only when they have become a little browned.

In a large Dutch oven, sauté chopped onions and celery on medium-high heat with the remaining butter for 5 to 10 minutes, until cooked through. Add bread cubes, walnuts, green apple, currants, raisins, olives and parsley.

Add one cup of stock to keep the stuffing moist while you are cooking it, adding more if needed. Add sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

Cover pan. Turn heat to low and cook for an hour, until apples are cooked through. Check every 10 minutes or so, adding water or stock as needed to keep stuffing moist and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

To make stock, place turkey giblets and neck, if desired, in a small saucepan and cover with water and a little salt. Simmer for about an hour, uncovered. Strain the stock.



Wild Rice Dressing

2 cups wild rice


3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup walnuts

1-1/2 cups dried cranberries

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

4 cups bread croutons

2 cups chicken, vegetable or turkey stock

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add wild rice, cover, turn heat to low and simmer about 25 minutes, until rice is tender.

Heat a large sauté pan on high for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and shake the pan a little. Dry sauté the mushrooms, stirring often, until they release their water. When most of the water has burned off, sprinkle salt over the mushrooms, add 3 tablespoons butter, onion and celery. Toss to combine. Sauté 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often.

Drain rice, then add rice to the mushroom mixture. Turn off the heat and add sage, croutons, dried cranberries and walnuts. Sprinkle a little salt over top. Stir to combine.

Put the dressing into a large, oven-proof pot with a lid. Dot with the remaining butter. Add chicken stock, cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the cover off for the last 15 minutes to brown the top, if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

If you can’t find dried cranberries, use fresh berries and add 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar to the mix.


Mushroom Stuffing

1 pound whole-grain bread

4 slices bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 8-ounce packages sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-3/4 cups chicken broth

Cut bread into 3/4-inch cubes and place in 15-1/2-by-10-1/2-inch jelly-roll pan or large cookie sheet. Toast bread in 325-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and dry, stirring halfway through toasting. Cool bread in pan on wire rack.

Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. In 12-inch skillet, cook bacon on medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to very large bowl.

Add onion, celery and poultry seasoning to bacon drippings in skillet and cook on medium-high for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Add bread, vegetable mixture, parsley, salt and pepper to bacon. Gradually drizzle in chicken broth until cubes are moistened.

Use stuffing to fill cavity of 12 to 16-pound turkey or spoon into greased 2-1/2 to 3-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover dish with foil and bake in 325-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, until heated through and lightly browned on top.



Cornbread, Quince and Pecan Stuffing

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound pork sausage, casings removed

1/4 cup olive oil

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 large quinces, peeled and chopped

4 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano

10 cups crumbled cornbread

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until cooked but slightly pink. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to drain.

Combine olive oil and 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes, until softened. Add quinces, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook about 15 minutes, until the quince is soft. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and oregano. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add sausage and set aside.

Cut remaining butter into small pieces and toss with quince-and-sausage mixture. Add crumbled cornbread, chicken stock and pecans and gently stir to combine.

Fill a greased 9-inch-square baking dish with 8 cups of dressing, reserving the remainder to stuff the turkey. Bake, uncovered, in 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes. Serve hot.



New England Apple-Nut Stuffing

1/2 cup margarine or butter

3 large celery stalks, diced

1 large onion, chopped

3 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced

1-1/2 loaves firm white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and lightly toasted

1 14-1/2-ounce can chicken broth

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Melt margarine or butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add apples and cook 5 minutes longer.

In large bowl, combine celery mixture with toasted bread cubes and remaining ingredients. Toss to mix well. Spoon stuffing into greased 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in 325-degree oven for 45 minutes, until heated through.


Northwest Fruit Stuffing

1/2 cup margarine or butter

1 large red onion, chopped

1 large  fennel bulb, trimmed and diced

2 large pears, peeled, cored and diced

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced

1-1/2 loaves firm white bread, sliced, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and lightly toasted

1 cup chicken broth

2/3 cup dried tart cherries

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

In 12-inch skillet, melt margarine or butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and fennel and cook 10 to 12 minutes, until golden, stirring occasionally. Add pears and apple and cook 5 minutes longer.

In large bowl, combine onion mixture with toasted bread cubes and remaining ingredients. Toss to mix well. Use mixture to stuff 12 to 16-pound turkey or spoon into 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in 325-degree oven for 45 minutes, until heated through.



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