How To: Make Dressing with the Stuffing Flavor, Cooked Outside the Turkey

Photo by Molly Dunn
The dressing is always my favorite dish at Thanksgiving.
Let me start first by clearing up a debate between the terms dressing and stuffing. Stuffing is made inside the turkey and dressing is made outside the turkey. Now that that debate is settled, here's a simple way to make dressing that tastes just like it was stuffed in the bird.

The best part of stuffing is that when you stuff it inside, it soaks up all the wonderful flavors from the turkey and therefore tastes great. Unfortunately, there are two main downsides to making stuffing: (1) You can only stuff so much stuffing inside the turkey and (2) you have to make sure your turkey is fully cooked, so the stuffing tends to dry up. These are reasons most Americans resort to making large batches of dressing instead.

But there is a way to make dressing with all the flavors of stuffing. Last Thanksgiving, my mom decided to cook pieces of a small turkey in the trays of dressing to ensure the flavors of the turkey spread through the dressing, and it worked wonderfully.

See also:
- Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: Creamy Corn Casserole
- Thanksgiving Alterna-Recipe: Savory Bacon-Chive Pumpkin Quiche
- Say "No" to Dry Turkey: Our Top 5 Thanksgiving Alternatives

Photo by doggybytes
Simply buy prepackaged turkey wings for the dressing.
My mom always makes her dressing with day old bread mixed with lots of butter, onions, celery, bacon, chicken broth, eggs, salt and pepper and fresh herbs.

Meanwhile, she precooks the turkey wings and legs about halfway. Once everything is mixed together and the turkey is halfway done, she places the dressing in a buttered Pyrex dish and tops with turkey wings, turkey legs and the juice from the turkey itself. Before you do this, though, make sure the turkey is fully cooked. This should take about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Photo by Molly Dunn
That indentation was from the turkey wings, but someone decided to eat them.
You can cut the wings and legs from the turkey you are using and just serve roasted turkey breast at Thanksgiving, or buy a package of turkey wings or legs just as you would for chicken if you want to serve a full, not-yet-carved turkey for Thanksgiving.

This recipe tastes so much better than an ordinary dressing because of all that rich turkey flavor. And you don't have to alter your recipe at all; just add the turkey wings and legs and you'll have one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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My Voice Nation Help
texmex01 topcommenter

mmmmm, bacon, I am assuming you precook it before it goes in?


I would recommend going with cornbread versus bread. It adds a bit more texture to the dish. Like @CamByars  we use Chicken "Roasters" or Duck. We only use the drippings and since I stuff my chicken with goodies like yellow onions and bell peppers, all that flavor just kicks it up a notch! ~ UG


We cook a chicken or two the day before and use the drippings and meat from the chicken. Most important to me is the delicious golden hue it gets on top when baked. The above looks mushy :(


we just use the juices from the turkey that collect in the bottom of the roasting pan



 Oh heck yea, cornbread is the way to go! I couldn't imagine life without cornbread stuffing.

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