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Stuffing in the bird or outside?

I'm sure this must get discussed every year, but since it's that time again, I will bring it up. I have been eating stuffing baked inside the bird all my life (and I'm no spring chicken). Yes, with raw eggs. It is so much better in the bird (IMO) and I have never gotten sick. But there's always someone (when we're going a large gathering), that will bring a casserole of stuffing to be cooked out of the bird. Bleck. So what's your preference. And if you cook it in the bird, do you precook it in the microwave to make it a safer stuffing. If so, how do you get it in the bird without scorching your hands?

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  1. I prefer the stuffing outside of the bird in a casserole dish. Now, that would be the only way i could eat it considering i'm vegetarian, but even as a child i preferred the stuffing in the casserole dish. It gets all crunchy on top and delicious.

    1. i usually make too much stuffing so end up cooking most of it in the turkey and some outside of the turkey. For sure, the stuffing in the bird tastes better. However, my cousin makes the stuffing outside of the turkey and it is still delicous. So i guess it is all in the recipe!

      1 Reply
      1. re: meb903

        I used to do it that way, accidentally on purpose really, since different family members like it different ways and I like both. Now I no longer stuff the cavity, since you really can't clean it completely from there and it can sour the whole carcass. I do stuff a good bit under the breast skin to insulate and moisten it, and that keeps the breast from cooking faster than the (precious) dark meat. The subcutaneous stuffing is almost as moist as that cooked in a cavity, and just as delicious in its way, and a heck of a lot easier to remove.

      2. Inside always. Tastes so much better. But I believe that giblets and the neck should be used to make a broth for the gravy. So no worries for my stuffing. I use plenty of butter, celery, onions, seasoning crumbled homemade cornbread (leftover from Thanksgiving Day breakfast and whatever mix of white and whole wheat bread I have torn apart. So my stuffing only has butter in it to moisten it before it goes in the bird, no broth or eggs. Easy enough to let the stuffing cool before jamming it into the cavity.

        1. Always in the bird. Same with my mom and her mom and probably before that. Somehow, we've all survived and thrived. We even leave the bird out late into the night for anyone who wants to slice off some meat or try to get more stuffing.

          1. I tried cooking stuffing inside the bird once but it took forever to fully cook both even though I was using an oven bag. While a stuffed bird looks gorgeous, and the idea of cooking the stuffing and turkey as one is appealing and seems traditional, I cook the two separate. However, I don't start baking the stuffing until the turkey has been in the oven for a while...long enough to get the perfect amount of those juices for moistening the stuffing. Best of both worlds.

            1. I do both. My recipe uses bulk pork sausage, sauteed until no pink left, then I toss in chopped onions and fry until the onions are softened. Toss in a large bowl with chopped apples, torn up dried bread, and spices. By this time, the sausage/onions have cooled enough to be handled easily. Some is stuffed into the bird; the rest goes into a casserole. The bird stuffing is very moist when done; the casserole, as Marie says, gets crunchy. (In fact, I take some of the stock made from the neck and giblets and moisten the casserole slightly while it cooks.) There are different preferences around the table, but somehow, it all gets eaten over the next few days. (White meat sandwiches with cranberry, mayo, and stuffing - yum!)

              1. the only way to do it is in the bird. the stuffing absorbs the flavour of the bird ande vice versa. in my mind, this question is blasphemous in the first place. this is truly the traditional way to do it and i do believe that you miss out on a lot of flavour if you do it any other way. of course some of the stuffing ends up being baked seperately for me as well, i always make too much, and it's nice to have some on the side for vegetarians (if applicable)

                putting it in an oven bag probably isolates all the heat on the outside, which might be the root of your proble, cymry.. maybe if you cook the turkey at a low enough temperature for a longer amount of time, that may alleviate the problem as well.

                also, i've had more success with a moist and even cooking bird when i brine store-bought conventional birds.

                4 Replies
                1. re: tinymango

                  I totally agree with you (obviously), and sorry for the blasphemy, but as you can see from the other posters, there are many who disagree.

                  1. re: tinymango

                    Amen. Totally agree. I LOVE STUFFING! I'm so excited. Not sure I'll make it to next Thursday.

                    Incidentally, my in-laws do it both ways and MIL loves it crunchy like croutons - BLECH! I'm not sure why folks keep saying that the stuffing takes longer to cook in the bird and therefore, by the time it's done, the turkey is overcooked. What exactly are they putting in the stuffing that it requires it to be "cooked" for so long?

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      I like my stuffing/dressing crunchy on top, hence the casserole method. Thing about stuffing taking longer to cook is that when you fill a bird up you basically turn it into a giant solid mass. The cavity allows the hot air to circulate, essentially making it a fraction the thickness of a fully stuffed bird. Imagine roasting a prime rib of beef then imagine roasting a prime rib of beef with a huge piece gouged out of the middle. The second piece of beef will cook through faster while the first piece will have a well-done outside and a less done inside.

                      1. re: Blueicus

                        What I meant was what is in the stuffing that requires it to cook for so long (i.e. eggs, raw pork, etc). I understand the solid mass vs. open cavity.

                  2. We do it outside--makes it crispy.

                    1. In the bird. The only reason it would be outside in a casserole dish is if I had too much stuffing and needed to cook the leftover that didn't fit inside the bird.

                      1. If its not in the bird, it isn't stuffing... its dressing. I like both.

                        1. Really enjoy the stuffing done in the bird and have for many years. However this year to try out something different..I prepared the stuffing and scooped it into muffins tins to bake.(Big ice cream scoop full)
                          Turned out really good...nice and crunchy on the outside and everyone got their own individual serving of stuffing. Would definitely try this again!

                          1. Outside always, yes dressing not stuffing. Do with turkey stocks o tastes wonderful, but the real reason is that way the turkey can be cooked perfectly( Use Alton Brown's recipe). If you cook the stuffing in the bird, l found that when the stuffing was done the turkey was way too done and l really like turkey.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Did anyone catch Alton on "Turkey Town Hall" molesting his cooked turkey with the push-cup full of stuffing? Hilarious!

                              And yes, dressing, and not outside but in place of the bird. This year we're trying a Food Network sourdough dressing recipe with faux sausage substituting for sweet Italian. Don't cringe--it's all about the spices and a load of sauteed onions and celery. And a bottle or two of "Great with turkey".

                            2. Within 48 hours, I saw people stuffing birds and making the stuffing outside on Food Network. Me, I prefer stuffing the bird. Just cook slowly and don't be afraid of dry turkey. If you brine it, and cover it with foil at some point during the cooking process, it will be fine. Take the temperature of the stuffing before pulling it out. It needs to be at least 155 degrees, and carryover cooking will finish it off.

                              IMO, nothing affects the flavor of the stuff quite like putting it inside the bird. Haven't lost a guest to the ER yet.

                              1. Outside, because it's just the two of us, and with a 12 pound bird, there's not enough room for as much stuffing we want to eat!

                                1. I always bake it outside. To make the stuffing more moist, I have tried a variety of approaches: adding condensed cream of mushroom soup, or basting the dressing in a combination of pan drippings and stock. However, there is something to be said for the turkey marrying with the stuffing. An easy way would be to bake the turkey in parts, then add it to the stuffing pan and let all those natural juices flow into the stuffing. I do admit that the stuffing inside is better, but it tends to slow down the cooking time. I'd rather have a flavorful turkey than "to-die" for dressing.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: my3cflvi

                                    does slow down the cooking time a bit, but i suppose that you could also try to make it quiche-like at home and instead of stock i moisten it with eggs and milk or heavy cream, whipped into a custard seasoned with salt and pper etc.

                                  2. Outside, cooking inside, it's a lot riskier to breed bacteria since you are stuffing it inside a raw bird, then unless it gets to the correct temperature inside which by then the stuffing will be really dry. And all the juices soaking into the stuffing...it's not properly cooked first so...>.>"

                                    If you want the flavor of the bird just pour some of the jus from the turkey and cook it with the dressing.

                                    I'm probably explaining it badly...hehe...I got it from watching good eats though ^_^!

                                    1. Although stuffing cooked inside the bird is yummy, it makes the 475-degree 2-hour turkey impossible (I may be wrong, but I think so).

                                      Also, I did get sick from it once, and I'm wary.

                                      1. i use a convection oven that cooks my bird, stuffed, in about 2 and a half hours