While some people are content to prepare dressing as a separate dish, others love the Thanksgiving tradition of filling a turkey cavity with stuffing for the dinner table. Follow these tips to stuff a turkey for Thanksgiving to increase the elegance of your Thanksgiving table.
Prepare the Turkey for Stuffing
Remove your turkey from its packaging. Look it over for any small pinfeathers that may have been left behind when the turkey was plucked, and remove them. Take the giblets out of the cavity. Under your turkey’s tail, you will see an empty cavity. You’ll eventually stuff this cavity with stuffing. Remove the giblets (they are most likely inside of a paper package). The neck may also be inside the cavity; remove it as well.
Set the giblets in a dish or resealable plastic bag and refrigerate them if you plan to make giblet gravy later. Otherwise, just discard them.
Rinse the bird in a clean sink. You can also put a platter on the bottom of the sink to help support the turkey while you rinse it. Run some cool water over the outside of the turkey.
Turn the turkey over and rinse out the cavity that you just emptied. Sometimes, the juices leak out of the giblet package and pool in the cavity. You don’t want your stuffing to look bloody.
Take your turkey out of the sink and put it on a work surface. Blot it dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle your turkey liberally with salt and pepper. Make sure to cover both the outside of the turkey and the cavity with your seasonings. Stuff the Turkey
Prepare your stuffing recipe. Make sure that your stuffing uses only cooked ingredients including cooked vegetables, meat and seafood. If you use eggs, then you’ll need to use pasteurized eggs.
Preheat your oven to 325 F (165 C). Position your oven rack so that you can fit your stuffed turkey into the oven after it’s prepared.
Stuff the neck cavity of your turkey with prepared stuffing. Fold the neck flap down, and lift the wings up and over the closed flap. The wings will hold the flap in place without requiring trussing.
Fill the body cavity with stuffing. Make sure that you don’t pack stuffing into the cavity because it may not cook completely.
Tuck the turkey legs inside the skin flap for a neat appearance. Place the turkey into your roasting pan. Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of your turkey breast.
Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 F (82 C) at the thickest part of the bird. The stuffing inside should be 165 F (74 C). Remove the turkey from the oven. Place a tent of aluminum foil over the bird and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
Scoop the stuffing out of the turkey and into a clean bowl or dish. Present your perfectly roasted turkey to your guests. Carve it and serve it with the dish of stuffing.
Eat the stuffing within 1 to 2 days of Thanksgiving. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator.
Avoid stuffing a turkey if you’re cooking it on an outdoor grill or in a water smoker. Also, prepare dressing separately if you’re using a fast cook method that would cause the turkey to be done before the stuffing has completely cooked.
Things You’ll Need
Salt and pepper
Stuffing (prepared but not baked)
Serving dish for stuffing
Serving tray for turkey
Tools for carving the turkey
How to Carve a Turkey
How to Use Cranberries for Thanksgiving
How to Make Barbecue Turkey or Chicken Sandwiches
How to Use Turkey Left Overs
How to Make Turkey Soup
Sources and Citations
Let’s Talk Turkey: Facts for Food Safety