Thanksgiving Tips: How to avoid 5 common stuffing mistakes

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Holiday Cornbread Stuffing_446428

A small casserole dish of cornbread stuffing on a rustic wooden table with autumn leaves and pine cones

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Stuffing? Dressing? Whatever you call it, this bread-based dish is a beloved accompaniment to the Thanksgiving turkey. But while its contents are pretty basic (bread, onions, celery, and herbs), it can be easy to mess up.

Here are some tips to fix 5 common stuffing mistakes:

  1. MISTAKE: Not drying out the bread

You can’t have stuffing without bread. And while it doesn’t matter what kind of bread you use (bagels, cornbread, white bread, rolls, and more), one crucial step is drying it out. If you forget to completely dry or “stale” your bread, your stuffing could end up a soggy mess.

TIP: Either start drying out your bread a few days before you plan to use it by letting it sit out or if you’re crunched for time, cut the bread into cubes then toast over low heat in the oven until dry.

2. MISTAKE: Including too many add-ins

While bread is the star of the show, you can’t have stuffing without all the extras. Celery, onions, sausage, herbs, and peppers are among the most popular add-ins, but have you ever the saying “too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing?” That’s certainly the case with stuffing as too many add-ins could mean your dish has trouble sticking together.

TIP: Proportions matter! Use about twice as much bread as whatever other ingredients you add.

3. MISTAKE: Using too much (or not enough) liquid

The perfect stuffing can be hard to get right, especially when it comes to consistency. Use too much stock and it could end up soggy. Use too little and it might be too dry.

TIP: The key to a perfect stuffing is having a good mix of soft and firm pieces. To achieve this, add in the liquid little by little (about 1/2 cup at a time) until the bread is soaked but there’s no puddle at the bottom of the dish. Remember, you can always add more but you can’t remove too much.

4. MISTAKE: Not pre-cooking your add-ins

No one likes a crunchy stuffing. You may think adding in raw vegetables is fine because the whole dish will go in the oven. But failing to pre-cook your veggies means they won’t be as soft as you want after baking.

TIP: Chop up your onions and celery and throw them in a pan with a little butter. Saute until they are tender and aromatic.

5. MISTAKE: Actually stuffing the bird

I know, it’s confusing. It’s called stuffing after all right? But, contrary to the name you shouldn’t actually stuff the bird. Doing so could result in an overcooked bird or an undercooked stuffing, ruining not one but two of the most important parts of Thanksgiving dinner.

TIP: Assemble your stuffing in advance and bake it while the turkey rests.

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