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The Best Turkey Stuffing

Stuffed Turkey

Stuffed Turkey

Turkey Stuffing Tips Revealed

No matter what recipe your family chooses, having the best information about stuffing the holiday meal with flavor and fun is a must! Has your Thanksgiving stuffing tasted flat, bland, or just plain weird in the past? Use a few of the pointers here and you might discover the best turkey stuffing you have ever made.

Today, we will be discussing expanding stuffing, toasting, actually stuffing the bird, bacterial safety, some smart stuff, and a couple of quick stuffing tips to get you through your holiday feast with flying colors. Make notes, bookmark, or email this article to yourself. Because this holiday stuffing stuff will be priceless when your making that big turkey dinner!

Turkey Stuffing Will Expand

How to Put the Stuffing Inside the Turkey

If you want to avoid Thanksgiving stuffing that comes out watery and flavorless, avoid compacting it too much. Don't jam as much stuffing into the turkey cavity as you possibly can fit in there, a chef certainly never would. Stuffing will ALWAYS expand from moisture in the mix, as well as from the bird's juices during cooking. By over stuffing it, you prevent all those wonderful flavors from getting into the bread mix where they need to be. So "tuck" the stuffing into the turkey's cavity, leaving enough room for the sponge-like stuffing to soak up all that good Turkey juice and savory flavor!

BELL'S POULTRY SEASONONG, 1-oz boxes (Pack of 6)

Toasted Bread Makes Better Stuffing

Should I Toast the Bread for Stuffing?

When making your stuffing, always use very dry bread, and preferably nicely toasted bread. The night before you are going to make your stuffing, toast up some bread in the oven. Place the bread in the stuffing recipe last, after all of the cooked vegetables and meats have been added. This will keep your stuffing as perfectly fluffy as you hoped it would be when it arrives to your holiday table!

Locating the Best Poultry Seasoning

Seasoning Your Thanksgiving Stuffing

Stuffing Seasoning Recipe Tip

A stuffing without poultry seasoning just isn't a stuffing! It is that one undeniable component that makes stuffing,..well...stuffing. But be very aware that not all poultry seasoning is created equal; a huge difference can be found in the freshness of the herbs and the methods that have been used to blend them together, as well as the manner in which the seasoning has been stored prior to shipping to your grocers shelves. In my opinion, the best and ONLY poultry seasoning I will use in my thanksgiving stuffing recipe is made by a company called Brady Enterprises out of East Weymouth, Massachusetts. Poultry seasoning was developed and perfected around 1864 by William Bell. Bell's Poultry Seasoning is quite a bit more potent than other brands you may have used in the past, so remember that a little of the good stuff goes a long way in your stuffing.

Cooking That Stuffing Stuffed Bird

How to Cook a Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey

Cooking your bird at anything less than 325°F can allow bacteria in the stuffing to multiply like the plague. Higher cooking temperatures may shorten the cooking time, which can leave your perfectly toasted and seasoned stuffing undercooked. The old school way of slow cooking the dressing inside the bird overnight has resulted in far too many cases of bacterial food poisoning throughout Thanksgiving History. You can protect your family from this ugly fate by checking the finished internal temperature of the stuffing once the bird is done. That stuffing temperature has to be NO LESS than 165°F to keep your holiday meal food-poison free.

What to do if the Bird is Done, But the Stuffing Isn't:

(If the bird is done but the stuffing is still below 165°F internal temperature)

  • Increase oven temp to 350°F
  • Immediately remove the stuffing from the bird cavity
  • Place stuffing into a baking dish
  • Cover baking dish with foil
  • Place the baking dish back into the oven (at 350°F)
  • Finish cooking the stuffing until it reaches at least 165°F internal temperature
  • Allow your turkey to rest during this time

Stuffed Turkey Cooking Times (at 325ºF)

Regardless of cooking time, a turkey is only safe to eat when the cooked temperature is 165º to 170ºF, Place an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh, without hitting or touching the bone; juices must run clear with no s

Turkey WeightTemperatureTime

8 - 12 Pounds


3 - 4 Hours

12 - 16 Pounds


4 -4½ Hours

16 - 20 Pounds


4½ - 5 Hours

20 - 26 Pounds


5 - 6 Hours 

How to Breed Your Very Own Thanksgiving Stuffing Salmonella

How to Prevent Bacteria from Growing in the Stuffed Bird

NEVER leave your stuffed or cooked poultry out at room temperature for more than 40 minutes prior to refrigerating. The nasty and very deadly Salmonella bacteria live and actually thrive at temperatures of 60°F - 125°F. You must remove ALL of the stuffing (every little bit) from the turkey cavity when the bird is ready to carve. A warm bird will keep that stuffing cozy warm, providing the perfect temperature for bacterial growth. Keep the holiday meal fun and healthy, get the stuffing out of the bird quickly!

Celebrate Thanksgiving with These Decorating Ideas!

  • Thanksgiving Decorations and Décor
    The great thing about fall decorations is you can keep them up so long. If you put them out at the beginning of September, leave them up until Thanksgiving! You get almost three months of enjoyment from just one decorating session!

A Great Turkey Stuffing Safety Tip!

The Smart Way to Stuff a Thanksgiving Turkey

When you shop for your Thanksgiving bird this year, check the "turkey roasting accessories" section. You want to find "stuffing bags." Grocery stores are now selling these wonderful little bags designed for easy stuffing removal. Before roasting the bird, stuff it on of two ways:

  1. Place your prepared stuffing recipe into the bag and then place the bag in the bird
  2. Place the bag in the bird and then add your prepared stuffing recipe into the bag

Option 1 or 2 both work, you will have to find which one works best for you. I find option 2 keeps me from over stuffing the bird. These bags provide easy removal of the cooked stuffing and that means a greater level of bacterial safety for your family. (A much less expensive piece of cheesecloth works just as well, and it allows the juices to better season the stuffing.)

What about Left Over Turkey?

Extra Turkey Stuffing Tips

  • When stuffing your turkey, the opening can be sealed by using a piece of raw potato.
  • Make sure all of the ingredients added to the stuffing recipe are fully precooked.
  • If you use the giblets (precooked of course) in your stuffing, eliminate the liver organ, as it can make the stuffing bitter to those who are not wild about the taste of liver to begin with.
  • The neck, gizzards, heart and liver are the giblets and are quite high in cholesterol. So if you add them to your stuffing be sure to let anyone who is on a low cholesterol diet know about it.
  • Never wrap warm poultry (or any meat) in aluminum foil and then place it in the fridge. Foil acts as a very efficient insulator and will keep the food too warm for too long; allowing our old nemesis bacteria to thrive. Use plastic wrap instead or a sealed plastic container.

Comments for "The Best Turkey Stuffing"

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 26, 2011:

adrienne2~ So glad you found the stuffing tips informative. Nothing makes the holiday feast more memorable than a great stuffing! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and I hope you find a great vegetarian thanksgiving recipe for you to enjoy! If you don't already have one check out these hubs by Betty Reid and Om Paramapoonya!



Wishing you the best of the Holidays!



Fierce Manson from Atlanta on November 26, 2011:

Wow, I thought all poultry seasonsing was the same. Will have to pass this info along to my mom, be it that I am a veggie. Very informative.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 17, 2011:

GORDON! Thanks so much for stopping by--I am now smiling! I am also so honored that you found the hub helpful. Stuffing can be the best part of a holiday meal and the worst part of the holiday evening if not done safely! I sure appreciate you sharing your story here, your Da' sounds like one great father!

HubHugs my dear friend~


Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on October 14, 2011:

K9! - Absolutely fantastic! This actually brings back a lot of childhood memories for me. When I was very young, it would always be my Dad that made Christmas dinner and cooked the turkey. I always wanted to help and the stuffing was the first thing I was ever allowed to get involved in. He used to tell me a lot of the things you have included here and ever word is of course excellent advice.

A very substantial, enjoyable, useful and beneficial guide, my friend,


India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

Chatkath~ I know what you mean about being surprised at never getting sick! I think as we use more and more anti-bacterial agents the germs get stronger, so our immunities don't stand a chance any more, making hoilday food-safety measures even more important then before.

I am impressed at your dads stamina at 77 (my dad is right there with him) what a stud! You are right though, he deserves to pass the tradition on. I am certain you will manage the job in a first class manner! I am so happy to see you today, a big smile for K9! Thank you for sharing your story here, it is a special one to be sure!

Huge HubHugs my friend~


Kathy from California on October 13, 2011:

Very informative K9, I can't believe that I have never been sick because I am not at all sure that we have taken the precautions you have shared! Thank you ;-)

My Dad built a smoker out back so he still makes the TDay bird each year, and because my sibs are all vegetarian their dressing is always made separately...At 77, I must say that my Dad has always done a great job but he is starting to hint that someone else needs to take over so I think your Hub will be most useful when I give it a go! Great job as always-Up Useful Interesting!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

randomcreative~ I sure appreciate you leaving your comments here today. I hope you do give the pointers a try should you stuff your thanksgiving bird this year. When done safely, the results are impeccably flavorful! Best of the holidays to you!



Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 13, 2011:

Great topic for the upcoming holiday! Thanks for all of these helpful tips. I have made turkey a couple times now but have always cooked the stuffing separately. I'll have to try actually stuffing it sometime.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

Simone~ Humbly blushing...Thank you for such high praise. I find your visits inspiring. As I mentioned to livelonger, for the sake of vegetarians everywhere, we must call the tofurkey (tofu turkey) makers and see if they can make a holiday version that has a cavity that can be filled with yummy stuffing! What do you think?

Honored you made it by today.



Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on October 13, 2011:

Gosh, K9keystrokes... your recipe Hubs are just... well, they inspire even the best of us to kick our own writing up a notch! This is an awesome guide. I've never made any sort of stuffing before- bird or no bird- so I gained a lot from your advice!! Thanks so much!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

Flora~ Mission accomplished! ;)



FloraBreenRobison on October 13, 2011:

I had to laugh at your title.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

Maddie~ Thanks so much for sharing your stuffing thoughts here! I couldn't agree more, without stuffing (dressing) Thanksgiving Dinner is just another big meal. Yummy sage seasoned stuffing with rich Turkey juices throughout; man...I can hardly wait for it to get here this year!

Always a joy to see you have stopped by the HubHood!

Big HubHugs~


Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on October 13, 2011:

These are fantastic tips. I just made stuffing (sans bird, so I guess it's really "dressing") on Monday for Canadian Thanksgiving, and it's already gone! I think it's the most important part of a holiday meal, personally. The information in this Hub will really help anyone who's never actually stuffed a bird before... or who hasn't enjoyed a lot of success with it in the past!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

livelonger~ How lovely to find your comment here today, always warms my heart. Hmmm...vegetarian huh? How cool would it be if they sold a tof that actually had a cavity for stuffing...and tasted any kind of good? I may need to make some calls about this to the tofurkey board or R&D department. As for the gummy outcome of your dressing, I think the toasted bread crumbs are the trick. Also, if you cook stuffing at a higher temp it causes the steam to break-down the bread faster, resulting in that gummy end. Try slow cooking it after toasting your crumbs. Hope this helps my friend!

hubHugs and Shalom~


Jason Menayan from San Francisco on October 13, 2011:

Great stuff, K9. As a vegetarian, I'm not involved with the actual turkey-stuffing part, but I do like to make my own veggie stuffing as a side. I like the idea of toasting the bread, and adding it last, because the only problem I have to deal with typically is gummy stuffing. :) Shalom, my friend!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

Teresa Coppens~ I bet those farm fresh chickens are out of this world good! Interesting that they take so much longer to cook than the store bought production birds. I am so glad that you have never had any illness caused by stuffing your birds. Just goes to show ya, follow a few safety rules and all is well,...literally! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here today.



India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 13, 2011:

gryphen423~ Thank you. I am pleased you found the stuffing tips helpful. Happy Thanksgiving!



Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on October 13, 2011:

Awesome article K9. I have been stuffing my own chickens for years never having any sick folk. My home grown birds take on average a half to one hour longer to cook at 325C than store bought. Thanks for the tips. I'll be trying them out at Christmas as we in Canada have already celebrated our Thanksgiving. Keep up the good work.

gryphin423 from Florida on October 13, 2011:

Unbelievably useful article! Thanks for sharing :-)

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 12, 2011:

RedElf~ My dad has always been the main chef in our home as well. He also would lay out the bread and toast it, then use careful measurements for internal temperature safety during the roasted turkey process. His stuffing was always the best. I am honored you made it by today for a thanksgiving stuffing read!



India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 12, 2011:

Sinea Pies~ Oh my gosh! You guys must have dreaded the thanksgiving meal as kids! It takes awareness to remain in the safe-zone when it comes to in-turkey stuffing. My hope is that the tips in the article will prevent sickness after this years holiday feast. I sure appreciate you sharing your story here, it is such important information for turkey stuffed consumers to consider. Thank you for stopping by.



RedElf from Canada on October 12, 2011:

We always cooked the stuffing inside the bird, but were very careful with the cooking time and temperature. Dad always used oven-dried bread for his stuffing. He would lay it out on baking sheets the night before, and dry it thoroughly in a slow oven. He made the best, fluffiest dressing! Thanks for all the solid info!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 12, 2011:

homesteadbound~ Thanks for leaving your thoughts here today. For the sake of safety, if it were not for the extreme flavor boost, baking the stuffing separately would be my first choice. But, by following the rules, the joy of rich turkey flavor running through my stuffing is quite the reward! I am thrilled you made it by today!



Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on October 12, 2011:

Oh, when I was a little kid we'd get SO sick at Thanksgiving. After a few years, the grownups figured out it could not have been the flu every time, it had to be food poisoning. They actually stopped stuffing the turkey and baked it separately in the oven. We never got sick again.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 12, 2011:

This is a great hub with lots of good tips. I have never cooked the stuffing in the turkey, but with some of these tips, I think I will be more willing to do it, and the flavors cooked into it can't help but make it taste better.

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