Cooking your stuffing inside the Thanksgiving turkey gives it an unparalleled flavor and texture. As the bird roasts, its juices are absorbed into the stuffing, resulting in a savory, moist, delicious mixture that’s hard to achieve any other way. Here’s a foolproof how-to (along with our best tips) for stuffing a turkey.
What to Keep in Mind When Stuffing Your Turkey
- Temperature before roasting. Your turkey should be at room temperature for an hour before you stuff it. The stuffing should also be at room temperature.
- Timing. Stuff your turkey right before it goes into the oven to avoid risk of contamination.
- Space. Pack the stuffing loosely inside the turkey, because it will expand during cooking. Bake any stuffing that won’t fit in a covered casserole alongside the turkey.
- Trussing. Truss your turkey after stuffing so it will stay put while the bird roasts.
- Temperature after roasting. The most accurate way to know if your turkey is cooked is to take the internal temperature using a thermometer. The breast needs to register 165°F and the thigh, 175°F. When a turkey is stuffed, the stuffing needs to reach 165°F as well.
Roasting a Stuffed Turkey
- Don’t stuff your turkey too early! Stuff the turkey just before putting it in the oven. Spoon the dressing loosely into the body and neck cavities. Do not overfill, as the dressing will expand during roasting. Truss the turkey.
- Line the cavity. To facilitate removing the stuffing, first line the inside of the cavity with a double layer of cheesecloth, allowing it to extend beyond the cavity by a few inches. Then spoon the stuffing inside. After roasting the bird, gently pull the overhanging cheesecloth and the stuffing will slip out easily, neatly tucked inside the cheesecloth.
- Roast lower and slower. To ensure that a stuffed turkey cooks evenly, roast the bird slowly, breast side up, at 325°F, covering the breast loosely with foil for the first two-thirds of the roasting time. Using this chart, add about 30 minutes to the total cooking time for stuffed birds weighing 16 lb. or less, and about 1 hour for birds weighing more than 16 lb.
- After taking the turkey out of the oven, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows time for some of the juices to be absorbed back into the meat, which makes it easier to carve and more moist.
- If roasting a stuffed bird, remove all of the stuffing at serving time.
- After dinner, remove any remaining meat from the bones and refrigerate the leftovers, which will keep for approximately 3 days.
When You Shouldn’t Stuff Your Turkey
- You’re short on time. A stuffed turkey can take up to an extra hour to roast.
- You plan to brine your turkey. The brine solution may make your stuffing taste too salty.
For more, check out our YouTube video on how to stuff a turkey, and see all of our delicious stuffing recipes.