15 Mistakes That Ruin Thanksgiving Stuffing

Emily Abbate | Nov 12, 2017 Food & Party
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  • You overcook it.

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    Overcooking stuffing means it will be very dry. Undercooking, however, isn't great either -- it could be too soggy. With stuffing you have to get it just right. If you are making stuffing to bring with you to someone else's house for Thanksgiving, undercook it just a bit so when you pop it in the oven to heat up once there, it doesn't dry out.

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  • You take the lid off too soon.

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    Many of us love a crisp topping on stuffing -- with the rest of it moist, of course. To get a crisp top, remove the lid or cover on the stuffing before it finishes the cook. The last 10 minutes of cooking is usually best with the lid off to get this crunchy top without drying out the whole dish.

  • You make it ON Thanksgiving.

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    If you're making your stuffing from scratch, the bread you're using needs time to dry out. If the bread is more than a day old, then it will be stale, better for use, and your stuffing won't dry out.

  • You try to make it 'skinny.'

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    Oh come on, Thanksgiving happens once a year. If you try to reduce the amount of butter you use for your stuffing recipe, you'll be majorly sacrificing on taste.

  • You cut up the bread with a knife.

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    It may seem efficient to turn the bread that's going to become the stuffing into perfect little cubes with a knife, but this actually works against you. Ragged pieces of bread have more surface area and offer a better texture.

  • You add all the stock at once.

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    Because you want the texture of the stuffing to be just right, you need the bread to be both crispy and soft. For that reason, you'll do well to add chicken stock a little at at a time (1/2 cup to 1 cup) as opposed to all at once. Wait for bread to soak up the broth before adding more. Then when the bread is moist (but not drowning!), it's done.

  • You skip the all-important 'binder.'

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    There's really no end in sight to to the number of variations on the standard stuffing recipe. You can add all different ingredients, from dried fruit to sausage, nuts, etc. But one thing needs to remain constant: a binder. Without it, the stuffing won't stick together. So even if you're shooting for a low-carb or gluten-free version, you need to have bread or something like bread -- which, when it soaks up moisture and breaks down, acts as a glue for the rest of the dish.

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  • You don't sauté your veggies first.

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    Putting veggies into the mix raw will leave your stuffing devoid of important flavor and texture. So be sure to sauté them in butter to soften them before adding them to the bread.

  • You use too much salt.

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    Whether you are using a packaged stuffing mix or making it from scratch, you run the risk of ending up with stuffing that is just way too salty. Prepared mixes are already high in sodium, but even when you are making it at home, the ingredients you use may be replete with it. For this reason, it may be smart to go lightly with any extras (like sausage) and use a low-sodium stock. And you don't necessarily need to add extra salt because there may be enough already!

  • You cook it in the turkey.

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    Whatever stuffing you make inside your turkey is totally NOT the kind of stuffing you want to serve your guests. Why's that? Because in order for the stuffing to cook, in the center of the turkey, the temperature needs to be at 165°F. You know what that means? By the time you get the right temperature for your stuffing, your bird is kaputz. Overcooked. In other words, not tasty.

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  • You forget to take its temperature.

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    With that said, taking the temperature of your stuffing IS important because there's usually raw egg in there. Like I said, the temperature should be 165°F.

  • You don't make enough.

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    This is the WORST. Everyone loves stuffing. And when you run out, you essentially ruin Thanksgiving. Don't be the person who ruins Thanksgiving!

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