5 Ways to Mix-and-Match Your Stuffing Recipe

By: Stacy Fraser  |  Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Save room for this! Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, there’s more than one way to make it better. Our master recipe helps you make a lightened-up version of this must-have holiday side.

1. Start With Dry (Not Stale) Bread

Dry bread (almost as dry as croutons) absorbs liquid and seasoning better than fresh (or even stale). To dry out your bread: Spread 10 cups 1/2- to 1-inch bread cubes (from 1-1 1/2 pounds) on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 275°F until dry to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let cool; transfer to a large bowl.
Breads:
Challah
Cornbread
French
talian
Multigrain
Pumpernickel
Rye
Sourdough
Whole-wheat

2. Load Up On Veg Or Fruit

A base of sautéed vegetables makes the best stuffing: Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups chopped onions (or leeks) and 2 cups chopped vegetables and/or fruit; cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add 2 minced cloves garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Vegetables/Fruits:
Apples
Brussels sprouts
Celery
Chestnuts
Fennel
Mushrooms
Pears
Shallots
Winter squash

3. Bring On The Seasoning

Once your flavor base is ready, it’s time add a layer of seasoning from fresh (or dried) herbs and a touch of decadence with a little butter: Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (or 4 tsp. dried) to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more. Scrape the mixture on top of the bread. Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in the hot pan, scraping up any browned bits. Scrape that into the bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. pepper.
Herbs:
Marjoram
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Thyme

4. Make It Moist … Or Not

Pour on some broth to moisten it all up—how much you use depends on how you like your stuffing. If you’re a super-moist-stuffing lover, go for 3 cups broth. If you like your stuffing a little bit squishy and a little bit crispy, stick to about 2 cups broth. Either way, use low-sodium broth (or homemade stock) so the stuffing’s not too salty.
Broths:
Chicken
Turkey
Mushroom
Vegetable
Seafood

5. Add A Little Indulgence

Sprinkle in just enough extra-special ingredients to flavor the stuffing without tipping the calories overboard—about 1 cup total does the job nicely. Gently stir until the bread is evenly soaked with the broth and the ingredients are well distributed.
Special bits:
Bacon, pancetta or prosciutto, cooked
Cheese, shredded
Dried fruit, chopped if large
Nuts, toasted, chopped
Oysters, raw, halved
Sauerkraut, chopped
Sausage, cooked, crumbled

6. Bake It Just Right

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; transfer the stuffing to the pan. Coat one side of a piece of foil with cooking spray; cover the stuffing, sprayed-side down. Place in a 350°F oven. If you’re the extra-moist-stuffing type, bake covered for 50 minutes. If you like some crispy bits on top, bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake about 20 minutes more.
These five recipes had us coming back for seconds, but to truly make it your own, mix-and-match your favorites at each step.
Squash & Oyster Stuffing
Bread: Sourdough
Vegetables: Leeks, Fennel, Butternut Squash
Seasoning: Parsley, Thyme
Liquid: Seafood Broth
Indulgence: Oysters
Apple-Sauerkraut Stuffing
Bread: Seeded Rye
Vegetables/Fruit: Onions, Apples
Seasoning: Parsley
Liquid: Chicken Broth
Indulgence: Gruyère, Sauerkraut
Mushroom-Cornbread Stuffing
Bread: Cornbread
Vegetables: Leeks, Mushrooms
Seasoning: Parsley, Rosemary
Liquid: Mushroom Broth
Indulgence: Pecans, Pancetta
Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Stuffing
Bread: Challah
Vegetables: Onions, Brussels Sprouts
Seasoning: Sage
Liquid: Chicken Broth
Indulgence: Bacon, Dried Cranberries
Sausage-Chestnut Stuffing
Bread: Whole-Wheat
Vegetables: Onions, Celery, Chestnuts
Seasoning: Sage
Liquid: Turkey Broth
Indulgence: Turkey Sausage