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Stuffing from a box -- best brand and how to spruce up?

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Hi All - I'm doing my first thanksgiving so I'm trying to manage what I'm cooking and make sure the risk reward is worthwhile. I've read a bunch of threads here saying that stuffing from a box is what people cheat on most, along with getting feedback from friends and family on it. So my question to you is, assuming I decide to make stuffing from a box, what is the best brand and is there anything that you do to "spice it up"? Thanks so much!

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  1. This may be an act of heresy for a foodie but I like it. I think Stovetop is actually pretty good. You can add some browned Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage and a few fresh onions and celery and it should be good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jpc8015

      Agreed I like maple breakfast sausage, dried sour cherries and pecans too!

      1. re: jpc8015

        What's so hard about making stuffing. I take my big pot and a stick of butter, melt, and add chopped onion and celery and cook until soft. Then I take an unsliced loaf of bread and rip it up in pieces and throw it in and mix the butter and veg with the bread. Then pour in a box of chicken broth and mix until the bread soaks it up (you may need another box, too) dump it in a casserole dish and bake until top is crispy. Better than any package mix. Don't forget a little S & P and a sprinkle of sage.

      2. My father in law uses Pepperidge Farm Stuffing (in a bag) and adds browned sausage and onions, an egg or two, poultry seasoning and spreads it in a casserole dish. Lay bacon slices over the top and bake until brown and crispy.

        4 Replies
        1. re: sadiefox

          I second Pepperidge Farm Stuffing. I sauté some onion and celery, then add in some chopped chicken/turkey livers (if you're into that sort of thing) and add it to the stuffing. The livers give it this amazing taste. I've fooled my husband for years with this. I broke down last Thanksgiving and told him what the "secret" was..let's just say he's a little hesitant this year.

          1. re: krisrishere

            Another vote for pepperidge farm. I like to add sauteed (in butter) onion and celery and mix in poultry seasoning.
            I add a lb. of cooked and drained ground beef and a cup of cooked white rice.

            1. re: laliz

              Yet another vote for Pepperidge Farm. Personally, I always cube my own thin-sliced white Pepperidge Farm bread. Do it the day before and put it back in the bag w/ diced onion, celery & fresh sage. Thanksgiving morning I melt some butter and toss the bread mixture w/ the butter, salt & pepper and stuff my turket. Voila. Too easy and MUCH better than Stove Top. (you can pour some chix stock on it too, for a moister stuffing).

              1. re: lynnlato

                For some reason Arnolds tastes so much better to me than Pepperidge. I only use the cornbread version though. Then add tons of stuff, like sausage, mushrooms, vermouth etc etc.

        2. I see that you are in the Boston area. You could call Great Harvest Bread Co (Newtonville or Lex) to reserve a loaf of the stuffing bread that they make only Thanksgiving and Xmas weeks. This is a wheat bread containing onion, celery, and sage. I make homemade stuffing but get this bread for sandwiches. It tastes just like good from-scratch stuffing. If you cube it and mix with some broth and a beaten egg, you'll have a stuffing that will fool everyone. My stuffing style of choice is added chopped apple and/or cider, and a handful of raisins or dried cranberries, and to saute, then dice, the liver ahead of time, mixing it into the stuffing before baking. Personally, I strongly dislike Stove Top and other shortcut stuffing mixes; they taste too much of additives and salt. I think the stuffing/dressing is the best part of a roast chicken or turkey, but would rather have the bird plain than with boxed stuffing.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            what a great idea!! thanks so much!!

            1. re: greygarious

              Wow, thank you for that tip!

            2. Yup, I obsess about kinds of fresh food, farmer's markets, locally grown this 'n that, lovely restaurants but boxed stuffing, even plain old stovetop, rules.

              Brown the liver from the turkey (finely chopped) along with more celery and onion than you think right. You can also add sausage, leaves and/or parsley. I usually bake some in the turkey and some in a casserole and then mix them together but a scoop of each is good too.

              1. You would be better off eating the box than the stuff inside. There is nothing that can come close to a nice stuffing in the bird. Nothing. If you are concerned about health issues because of eggs in the stuffing, follow the ATK suggestion of heating the stuffing in a microwave prior to stuffing the bird.

                1. almost as easy as a box: pepperidge farm loose stuffing -- two kinds, blended: herb and cornbread. add sauteed onions and celery, with chicken stock and an egg, and some poultry seasoning to taste. consistency needs to be like very thick mush. can add sage, or sage-flavored cooked and crumbled sausage. bake at 350 for maybe 45 minutes, till golden brown, and toothpick comes out clean. good and easy!

                  i think you can do the stuffing on the stovetop with dried onion flakes and celery salt, in addition to other seasonings. bring some broth to a boil, add in some butter till it melts, then toss in the seasonings and the dried stuffing. cover, and let sit for the flavors to meld for a few minutes. then fluff and serve.

                  this way you control the sodium. because stovetop is very high in sodium.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: alkapal

                    I'm pretty much with with Alkapal - We do the Pepperidge Farm Stuffing, browned bulk sausage, onions in celery sauteed oh so gently in butter - do not leave the butter out, chicken stock and eggs to moisten, and some poultry seasoning. We also sometimes add a chopped apple and a few raisins...it's up to your taste.

                    This year I am making a bread stuffing, basically instead of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing I am substituting torn up bread. Need to do this because I am making an organic Thanksgiving.

                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      I agree with the Pepperidge Farm or Brownberry stuffing, sauteed onions, celery and sausage. I also use a little bit of chopped Granny Smith apple. Just really love the flavor and it works so well with the sausage.

                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        I'm not going totally organic (but mostly) for Thanksgiving this year, and trying to figure out how to make something that tastes like Pepperidge Farms (but without HFCS and hydrogenated oil). Any idea on what seasoning mix? I can bake my own bread if needed.

                        1. re: firecooked

                          use the pepp farm bulk "herb" stuffing (not the mix) with a skilletful of day old cornbread, crumbled, poultry seasoning and the celery and onion aromatics, broth and egg -- see the first para. of my post above from nov. 12 -- it has instructions.

                    2. It's one of the easier dishes to cheat on. Usually I will buy the basic bread base from the store and add in some of my own bread (just to mix up the consistency). But really, you could buy Stovetop or TJ's cornbread stuffing and add whatever you like. Just make sure to add salt and herbs to taste as they probably already have quite a bit of salt in them (especially stovetop). Use low sodium broth or dilute with water. I'd start with celery/onions, and then add a meat (if you'd like). I don't add meat to my stuffing so I would do mushrooms and a nuts. I think I might even be doing this myself this year.....

                      1. In addition to adding livers, could one also add some cream cheese?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Joebob

                          no, don't add cream cheese.

                        2. Kellogg's stuffing Mix. My grandmother and my mother used it. After 26 years of trying everything else, I use it. Add onions, celery, chicken or turkey broth, and Bell's seasoning (or poultry seasoning). It's the best stuffing I've ever had. Everyone says Oh you made grammy's stuffing! My kid's and my husband won't have anything else.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: joan828

                            Once when I made turkey in the summer, all I could find was Bells stuffing in a box, it was very good all by itself (no additions).

                          2. How to spruce up stuffing from a box:

                            1 package of Stuffing In A Box (brand of your choice)
                            A loaf of your favorite white (or other) bread, cubed and dried
                            (can be spread on cookie sheet and dried in slow oven)
                            ½ lb bacon
                            1 large onion, diced
                            4 large ribs celery, cleaned and sliced thin
                            ½ cup chopped parsley
                            salt
                            pepper
                            1 Tbsp dried rubbed sage, or to taste
                            1 tsp crushed rosemary, or to taste
                            ¼ tsp thyme, or to taste
                            ¼ cup white vermouth
                            chicken or turkey stock
                            1 egg

                            Cut rashers of bacon in ½ inch wide strips and render in large cast iron skillet. When enough rendered fat is available, add chopped onions and celery, reduce heat to medium low, cover pan and sweat until transparent. Add cubed bread and parsley, stir or toss to mix well. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme) and toss/mix well. Distribute white vermouth over entire contents and toss. Add stock bit by bit to moisten, but don’t over moisten. Taste and correct seasonings. When you’re happy with the flavor, beat the egg in a small bowl and stir/toss with the dressing. This helps bind it during roasting. Stuff bird’s neck and body cavities and place remainder in buttered baking dish, or place it all in a buttered baking dish if you prefer to roast bird unstuffed. Put baking dish of stuffing in oven for the last 45 minutes to half hour of roasting the bird.

                            Open boxed stuffing mix and either spread the contents over the back yard for birds and squirrels, or mix with water and put in the dog’s bowl.

                            Happy Thanksgiving!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Caroline1, you made the point better than I ever could have!!!

                              Honestly, by the time you finish sauteeing the celery and onions, adding in the chopped apple, browning the sausage... you could have just easily made your own stuffing!

                              Boxed stuffing is basically bread chopped up and added poultry seasoning.... that part isn't what takes up your time!

                              This comes from someone who as a little girl watched mom use boxed stuffing, as a teen learned each year that boxed stuffing tasted better with more and more additions... and not to long ago figured out how really easy it is to just make your own!

                              You can have the bread chopped days in advance. You can also saute celery, onions, and sausage days in advance. Then on T-day, just dump it all into a bowl and moisten with stock (plus or minus egg).

                              1. re: Mellicita

                                There was a blog on seriouseats.com recently and i think pepridge and stouffers won go to the site to see.

                              2. re: Caroline1

                                you made me laugh! Point taken.

                              3. I'm another Pepperidge Farm user. I also do the sauteed onion and celery, and add chicken sausage, a mix of mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, portobello, and whatever else is on hand at the grocery store), and soaked dried porcini. If I have some on hand, I'll through in some chestnuts. For moistening, I use the porcini soaking liquid (in addition to the butter used in the sautee).

                                1. my mom used this pep farm herb stuffing, plus a skillet of day-old cornbread. http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/Product...
                                  plus my recipe mentioned above. home-made cornbread subs for pep farm cornbread stuffing.

                                  ----------
                                  if you're going to spiff up a box mix, just make the stuffing from scratch. same effort in essence. oh, and in the south, we called it "dressing" and didn't cook it in the bird, but in a big corningware baking dish that isn't made anymore -- about 3" deep and maybe 15" x 24".

                                  1. We do the Pepperidge Farm mix, again with the broth, poultry seasoning, onion and celery. We mix in some chopped pimento stuffed olives and some Jimmy Dean cooked and crumbled sausage..
                                    Or sometimes we leave out some Pepperidge Farm white bread spread on a sheet overnight to get stale. Tear it up and then add all the sauteed ingredients, broth, egg, etc.
                                    Is there really such a thing as bad stuffing? It's the best part of the holiday.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: mschow

                                      "It's the best part of the holiday." Amen, sistah!

                                      I'll even make a stuffing sandwich (with mayo and some cranberry stuff). Yummy!
                                      but my niece always jokes that i can make a sandwich out of anything, which is pretty much true!

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I mentioned this somewhere else, but if there's a bakery in the Great Harvest Bread Company franchise near you, they make Stuffing Bread during Tkgvg and Xmas weeks only. It's whole wheat including sage, celery, and onion - tastes just like a good homemade stuffing. But since I do just that, I buy the bread for making turkey sandwiches. Now if you made your stuffing sandwich on THAT..... You need to call in advance for this bread.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          i'll be on the lookout. oh, there are some close to me! http://greatharvest.findlocation.com/...

                                          that bread would be great for a smoked turkey sandwich!

                                    2. Thanks so much everyone for the great ideas!

                                      1. Why buy box stuffing?
                                        Just buy a few corn muffins, Break them up coarse and toast in oven but not to dark.
                                        The grind up in food processor 1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, and a few cloves of garlic.
                                        Sweat till soft and slight brown.
                                        Add to toasted corn muffins, and for every 2 muffins add 1 egg. Then enough stock to make sure its wet.
                                        Then into a buttered baking dish and in 350 oven for 1/2 or so depends how much you make. Make sure its brown on top.
                                        Serve hot....I make this all the time.

                                        1. The best stuffing in a box -- is in the bag... Pepperidge Farm. I'm glad to see it got the overwhelming vote in this thread.

                                          Add the onions, celery and lots of butter!

                                          And happy Thanksgiving!

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: shaogo

                                            I often buy sourdough bread cubes (can't remember the brand) and use that.Boxed and bagged types aren't bad, but they are loaded with salt. That said, I noticed when I was in my neighborhood supermarket that the Pepperidge Farm was $4.50 or so a bag (and the sign said it was on sale!) whereas various boxed varieties (store brand, Mrs Cubison, etc) ranged from $1.50 to $2 a bag. Same or more volumne in the box. All I have to say: if it is that much more expensive, it had better be REALLY better!

                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                              pepp farm in the bag is much more in volume than the boxes. and as far as i know, there is not added sodium as much as in the boxed "ready made" varieties.

                                              http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/Product...

                                              Pepperidge Farm® Meals & Accompaniments
                                              Herb Seasoned Stuffing
                                              Nutrition Facts*
                                              Amount per Serving (serving size) = 3/4c

                                              Calories 170 Sugars 2g
                                              Total Fat 2g Protein 5g
                                              Sat. Fat 0.5g
                                              Trans Fat 0g % Daily Values**
                                              Cholesterol 0mg Vitamin A 0%
                                              Sodium 600mg Vitamin C 0%
                                              Total Carb. 33g Calcium 4%
                                              Dietary Fiber 3g Iron 10%
                                              * The nutrition information contained in this list of Nutrition Facts is based on our current data. However, because the data may change from time to time, this information may not always be identical to the nutritional label information of products on shelf.

                                              ** % Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                alkapal, I'm confused. Is that sodium level for the boxed PF or the bagged?

                                                The sodium is the main reason I start from scratch with stuffing. One exception recently...I happened to buy a brand of Panko (don't remember the brand) in which the crumbs were especially large, so I made a quick stuffing out of that one weeknight for dinner. It was very good, and low in sodium, but most Pankos I've seen feature smaller crumbs.

                                                1. re: Normandie

                                                  the nutritional info is for the large bag of stuffing (as pictured in the link). note, everyone, that this is not a stuffing "mix," per se, but seasoned bread crumbs with which you make your own recipe.

                                                  ~~~~~~
                                                  their site has lots of tasty-sounding recipes, too -- and for lots of different pepperidge farm products (including puff pastry, e.g.). http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/holiday...
                                                  the cranberry pecan stuffing looked like a good stuffing, for example. http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/RecipeD...

                                                2. re: alkapal

                                                  Even if it was the larger size (16 oz) bag I was looking at, it sure didn't look like more volume...I think those boxes (of the other brands) are 16 oz too. I am not talkng Stovetop, the boxes I saw at half the price of the PF were twice the size of your average box of Stovetop...I guess the way to tell is to look at what size turkey it is supposed to stuff. I may look tomorrow....

                                            2. Since you are in the Boston area, I'll also suggest the fresh, ready-to-eat stuffing at Trader Joe's. They were giving out very generously-sized samples of it last week and I must say, it was absolutely delicious. It was simple, I believe had walnuts, sausage and sage. It is a fresh item located in the refrigerated case. I did not buy any (not cooking this year), so I didn't see the price. If you really want something simple, you could do much, much worse than this product, IMHO.

                                              1. I'm a big fan of Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing, to which I add fresh sage, chopped celery, pecans or almonds, depending on my mood, and currants and dried cranberries. My daughter adds sausage to hers and says it's amazing.