Here are a few helpful hints to make stuffing from day-old white bread, store-bought croutons, cornbread, rice, and grains.
Use a day-old loaf of firm or dense European-style bread instead of a soft and gooey white bread. Leave the crust on; cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes and air-dry overnight.
If you add vegetables or meat to your dressing, be sure they are cooked and cut in relative proportion to the bread cubes.
Add enough liquid to keep the dressing moist but not soggy. Fresh turkey or chicken broth adds a wonderful flavor.
For some folks, if it isn't made with cornbread it isn't stuffing. If you're in a rush, packaged cornbread stuffing can be used.
Make a couple pans of cornbread at least a day in advance--or weeks ahead and then freeze. Cut the bread into cubes and allow them to air dry overnight before proceeding with your stuffing recipe.
The Creole Cornbread Stuffing recipe provides an excellent recipe and easy instructions. Once you've got the process down try adding the richness and full flavor of crisp cooked bacon, sausage, or smoked ham, for a more robust filling stuffing.
Rice and Grain Stuffings
Rice and grains provide excellent foundations for creating non-bread stuffings.
Rice stuffings, known to some as "dirty rice," often appear on holiday or Sunday dinner tables. These stuffings are usually cooked with onions, peppers, poultry giblets, or livers, and plenty of seasonings. It's these ingredients that give the rice a 'dirty' but tasty appearance. Wild rice can be added to any stuffing recipe, be it white rice, brown rice, or bread. Wild rice adds a wonderful chewy texture and nutty flavor.
For added protein try experimenting with legumes and hearty grains such as lentils or rye. The key to success when using grains is to avoid over cooking them. Like pasta, cook all grains al dente, that is, tender yet still firm and a little chewy. They will finish cooking in your turkey or casserole dish. For a great rice stuffing recipe check out Dad's Oyster Dressing.
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