17 easy ways to make stuffing better using things you might already have in your kitchen

cranberry stuffing
Stuffing with celery and cranberries. Peter Kim/Shutterstock
  • Stuffing is one of the most popular Thanksgiving dinner foods, and there are easy ways to make your favorite recipe even better.

  • Food writers told Insider that ingredients like cream-based soups, wine, bacon, or even saltine crackers can take your stuffing to the next level.

  • You can also switch up what kind of bread you use and opt for cornbread instead.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Everyone has their own preferred way of making Thanksgiving stuffing.

However, there are many unique, out-of-the-box ingredients that could take your stuffing to the next level — and most of them you already have in your kitchen.

Insider spoke to food bloggers about how to jazz up your stuffing recipes this Thanksgiving. Here are 17 easy ways to make stuffing better using things you already have in your kitchen.

Bacon will add a salty, extra savory element to your stuffing.

Bacon. grass-lifeisgood/Shutterstock

Rosie Mayes, the author of the blog I Heart Recipes, told Insider that bacon is an easy and delicious addition to any stuffing recipe.

“You can use many different kinds of meat in stuffing, from chicken to turkey and sausage,” she said. “However, you can also use crumbled bacon because bacon adds flavor to everything!”

Using the fat from whatever meat you cook will make your stuffing more moist and flavorful.

Stuffing in a dish. Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

“If you add sausage or any other ingredients that you are cooking up separately, it’s great to add the cooking fat or drippings to your stuffing for that extra moisture and flavor,” Chungah Rhee, the author of “Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes” and the blog Damn Delicious, told Insider.

Seafood is another surprisingly great addition to your stuffing.

oyster cornbread stuffing
Oyster cornbread stuffing. Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

In New England, it’s traditional to add seafood to stuffing.

“You can add oysters, shrimp, or some people even add scallops to their stuffing,” Mayes said.

You can also add turkey giblets.

Turkeys. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Instead of throwing away the turkey giblets as you normally might, try repurposing them.

“You can add giblets to your stuffing or browned liver in some dressings,” Mayes said.

Depending on what kind of sausage you use, you can change up the flavor of your stuffing.

virtual dinner party
Sauteed sausage. Erin McDowell/Insider

While most stuffing recipes call for sweet Italian sausage, you can also switch up the kind of sausage you use. For example, if you’re looking to give your Thanksgiving stuffing recipe an added kick, you could experiment with spicy Italian sausage like this recipe from chef Emeril Lagasse.

For a non-meat option, apple slices or cubes will give your stuffing a crisp, tart flavor.

Uncle John's Cider Mill
Harvested apples. Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Everyone from famous chefs like Ina Garten to bloggers like Rhee of Damn Delicious have shared their own recipes for apple stuffing.

Cranberries also add a fruity element to stuffing.

cranberry stuffing
Stuffing with celery and cranberries. Peter Kim/Shutterstock

Cranberries are already a holiday favorite, but they don’t need to be limited to just cranberry sauce. If you have some extra berries laying around, why not throw them into your stuffing?

The tartness of the cranberries will add flavor, while their bright color makes for a perfect Thanksgiving plate photo opp.

Feel free to switch up what kind of bread you use.

Sourdough bread. Chuah Chiew See/Shutterstock

“A mixture of breads such as sourdough, multigrain, whole wheat, or pumpernickel makes for a great stuffing,” Rhee told Insider.

However, no matter what bread you choose, make sure it’s slightly dried so the ingredients are properly absorbed.

“Bread should be dried out,” Rhee said. “If you use fresh bread, it will end up soggy or even soupy — we don’t want that!”

Cornbread makes for a super flavorful stuffing.

Cornbread. Janet Moore/Shutterstock

While sourdough or plain white bread is traditionally used in stuffing, many people opt to use cornbread instead. Cornbread makes for a super flavorful, Southern-inspired stuffing base, and soaks up the broth and other ingredients perfectly.

“I usually use cornbread in my stuffing and I always make it the day before,” Mayes told Insider. “If I forget to make it the day before, I just overcook it for about 10 to 15 minutes to help dry it out.”

You can also use crackers for a different texture.

Crackers. Juanmonino/Getty Images

“I usually use regular day-old white bread in my stuffing, but I love to add saltine crackers to give it a little more texture as well,” Mayes said.

Cream-based soups can be a flavorful addition.

cream of mushroom soup
Cream of mushroom soup. lingqi xie/Getty Images

Instead of using chicken or turkey broth, you can add a ton of flavor to your stuffing by opting instead for a cream-based soup. 

“If you use cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery soup, that’s going to add a little moisture and creaminess to your stuffing,” Mayes said. 

You can also add wine.

white wine
White wine. Takashi Images/Shutterstock

If you like a little wine on Thanksgiving, why not add it to your stuffing?

“You can absolutely use a dry white wine in place of stock or even incorporate half stock and half wine for some extra flavor,” Chungah Rhee told Insider.

Most people are traditionalists when it comes to spices, but there are some you can add for a more unique flavor.

Spices. Nate LaGasa/Getty Images

“I generally stick to the essentials — thyme, rosemary, parsley, and garlic,” Rhee said. “But you could even add some nutmeg or cardamom for a little kick.”

Bell peppers can also be added to stuffing for added crunch.

grocery store produce peppers bell peppers supermarket
Bell peppers in a grocery store. Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

Mayes said that while bell peppers are usually a go-to addition for her stuffing, she also likes to use classic vegetables like onions and celery, as well as kale or collard greens.

Pumpkin or squash also adds a nice autumnal flavor.

butternut squash
Butternut squash cubes. Causeway/Shutterstock

Pumpkin and butternut squash are two beloved fall vegetables and work exceptionally well in stuffing. To make the perfect pumpkin or butternut squash-filled stuffing, soften and roast your squash or pumpkin beforehand to make sure it cooks along with the other ingredients at the right time.

Brussels sprouts can also be added.

brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts. Klaus Hackenberg/Getty Images

While carrots, celery, onions, and leeks “cover the basics,” you can also add Brussels sprouts to any traditional stuffing recipe, said Rhee.

You can also switch up what you cook your stuffing in.

crock pot
Stuffing inside a Crock-Pot. benedek/Getty Images

While many cooks choose to stuff their dressing inside the turkey or bake it in a pan inside the oven, you can also make your stuffing in a slow cooker or Crock-Pot.

“Oven stuffing is always great but if you are trying to keep your oven and stovetop reserved for other dishes, a slow cooker version is another easy and delicious way to make your Thanksgiving stuffing without adding any more stress,” Rhee said.

Read the original article on Insider

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