The Best Things To Happen To Stuffing (Since Sliced Bread)

Let me begin by saying that while you’re deep in Thanksgiving prep and decide to crack open a box of Stove Top rather than make your grandma’s oyster dressing I won’t be mad at you. I love the red box and I don’t care who knows it. I love cooking and serving a giant, gleaming turkey, but I’d rather eat it late night with great swaths of mayo and iceberg lettuce as a sandwich. The creamed veggie side I’m going to be dipping into every day for the next week. The idea of pie is charming, but I don’t care so much about dessert. I don’t take sides when it comes to the great cranberry debate. But stuffing. My Sweet Lord, I love stuffing. It can be made a million ways, so much room for variation, tradition, and wit. Plus, you can cook it in the cavity of a bird. Terrifically creepy. Hooray for fall, harvest, parades, family, abundance, holidays, giving thanks, overeating, multiple bottles of wine, board games, pilgrims, and naps. We’ve rounded up some of the most gorgeous stuffing recipes, some innovative, some classic. Read on.

Presented in a Pumpkin!


Can we give a collective “Thank, you, Martha” for this recipe, all holiday ideas, elegant crafts no mortal can replicate at home, and the continuance of gentility and manners in American life? This stuffing may be the apotheosis of the Thanksgiving meal. If you grace your table with this lustrous, bubbling beauty, you could get everything else wrong and still win the day. It’s no secret around here that I love food that comes inside other food. Soup in bread bowls is the prototypical example, but this bad boy is close behind. (I will also accept taco salad in a giant shell, and little ham cups filled with baked eggs.) This recipe is a WASP classic, containing both Pullman bread and chestnuts with apples, herbs, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms rounding out the ingredient list. It could even serve as the centerpiece of dinner, rather than your traditional big game bird. It’s sweet and savory, gorgeous and satisfying.  I love, love, love this idea. Amen.

Two Words: Stuffing Waffles


You can count on the inimitable J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for crazy cool concepts that work. His recipes are always thoughtful, not merely outrageous for the sake of clicks. Kenji argues here that the crisp and browned edges are everyone’s favorite part of stuffing and by filling a waffle maker with the mixture you achieve an all-over crust that deeply satisfies. This would be a tremendous addition to a Friendsgiving feast and will going to be the dish that blows guests minds for next day leftover brunch. Imagine putting a poached egg on top? Breakfast nirvana. p.s. Kenji suggests serving these filly foals with syrup and gravy. JUMP BACK.

Everything Bagel Style


Malcolm made this for our Thanksgiving dinner in 2013. And he claims he doesn’t have a story for it or reason behind his choice. But I can tell you that bagels, specifically everything bagels are one of those foods for him. From the years he lived in New York after college and worked as a graphic designer at an internet company and carried a messenger bag and had floppy hair and glasses and lived in Astoria and Brooklyn and rode the N train and had cool apartments by himself and hung out until the bars closed on the Lower East Side and then went to work the next morning, not exactly hungover because I’m pretty sure you can’t actually suffer a hangover in your twenties but definitely sleep-deprived, and that is the moment you need a bagel most. New York gives this to you. It’s one its many gifts. Great bagels smeared with cream cheese, lox and all the trimmings, bad bagels from the bodega griddled with butter and served with a weak coffee in one of those blue cups with the Greek lettering. Making stuffing from this flavor punch of bread stuff triggers happy memories from a simpler time. A time when a stranger just might full-on hurl a loaded bagel at you during the morning commute for being in her way on the sidewalk in Midtown.

Bundt Pan Fancy


I don’t know Kim, author of this recipe and new personal hero, or if she believes stuffing is a health food, though I would love to live in that beautiful reality with her. Most likely, this jazzy lady eats shredded carrot salad 364 days of the year and then on one crisp, indulgent day she tucks in to a fancy ring of stuffing and stuffs herself silly. It’s basically a savory cake. Come on! It’s genius. Let’s face it, stuffing, though impossibly delicious can look a little pre-digested on the plate. But bake it in a bundt pan and you wind up with a dish that is as aesthetically respectable as it is awesome. This is dressing dressed up in its Thursday best, stuffing fit for a Barister in his powdered wig. One of Kim’s commenters then takes it to a new level by suggesting filling the center with cranberry sauce. Drop the mic. She uses a straightforward bacon and sage recipe, to which I say, “Yaaaas, Queen.”

Sage and Sausage Simplicity


This one’s mine, from way back in 2010, when we first moved to Portland, Maine from Chelem, Yucatan, Mexico and started this here blog. We had a cute apartment and cooked a lot, because we had time and money and hours and hours of leisure (that’s pronounced lehzure). This recipe is packed with herbs and white wine. So it’s moist. You don’t have a problem with the word moist, do you? I was riffing on my beloved Stove Top. To quote myself, “I would rather eat a furry hand than a hot oyster,” which I totally stand by. If you want a simple, easy, totally delicious stuffing that’s a step up from boxed this is the recipe for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stuffing roundup. Good luck with your side dishes and don’t be afraid to undo your pants. Carb up, Americans!




Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road. She creates content on the internet, on subjects ranging from summer camps to semi-precious stones to the folklore of food. With Malcolm, Jillian was one of the original "Insiders," for the Visit Maine tourism campaign. She loves telling the stories of her adopted state, finding out-of-the-way places, and people making interesting things. Watching her daughters play in the wild woods and fields of Cushing makes her very happy.

1 Comment

  1. great post – I am with you all the way. my favorite way to eat turkey is also in a sandwich. And I adore stuffing, the more sage the better. I don’t like meat in the stuffing, but I need that sage flavor. Weirdly, my husband’s family, with whom (grammar?) we spend Thanksgiving, are not stuffing people!! Yikes! Their side dishes are all variations on a potato. I may have to contribute a stuffing dish this year. BTW, I was reading an article about descendants of the pilgrims (of Mayflower fame), and the article mentioned a woman – I am going to be annoyingly vague, as I cannot remember the details – who lived in California, was a descendant and had a brother named Malcolm who has a food truck in Maine. Is that your Malcolm? surely there couldn’t be two!!! How cool!!!!

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