Best Stuffing Recipe and Tutorial (from my mom!)
Hello Festive Foodie Friend and welcome to my best stuffing recipe and tutorial. Stuffing is one of those essential holiday dishes and my mom’s is the best. That’s why I watched her make a batch and asked her to tell me her secrets. Once you know the steps to make my mom’s basic stuffing recipe, you can switch it up with different ingredients and flavorings.
I’ve heard that stuffing was invented to stretch a meal. Meat was expensive and hard to come by. Making a well-flavored carbohydrate-based dish supplemented the meat by adding something extra to the plate. Today when meat is often easier to come by and more plentiful, we make stuffing just because we love it.
I don’t know why stuffing caught on the way that it did, but for me it’s the browned crunchy exterior and moist interior act as the best sponge for gravy.
The method for making stuffing that I’m sharing with you today comes from my mom. Her stuffing recipe is the best I’ve ever had. And other people agree with me. For years she and my dad had restaurants and did a lot of catering throughout the holiday seasons. Her stuffing was raved about – I’m positive that it was the stuffing that made their lines for second helpings so long.
When I was in Canada earlier this month I watched my mom make a batch of her stuffing recipe and had her explain every step of her process to me.
This is what I learned from my mom about how to make the best stuffing recipe.
Step #1: Sauté lots of onions in lots of butter until very well softened.
Step #2: Cut or tear bread into bite-sized pieces. The bread can be day old but need not be. Whatever you do, do not use breadcrumbs. My mom once read that breadcrumbs make a nice stuffing and gave it a try. She says it was the worst stuffing she’d ever had. Toss the buttery onions with the bread. Make sure to scrape all the butter and onions onto the bread pieces.
Step #4: Add moisture mixed with beaten egg. You want to add enough liquid that when you take a ball of the uncooked stuffing into your hand and squeeze, liquid actually drips out in small droplets. It’s this moisture that keeps your stuffing…well…moist. If there’s not enough liquid, it will be dry. Don’t worry that the stuffing will be too moist. If you cook it correctly, the outside will be crisp and browned while the inside is soft and tender.
Step #5: Season well. VERY well. If you put your face about 6 inches above the bowl of stuffing, you should be able to smell the seasoning. That’s how you know there’s enough.
Step #6: Transfer the stuffing to a cooking vessel. You can stuff a chicken or turkey with this stuffing recipe. However, that won’t yield the crisp exterior I’ve mentioned. For that, you need to cook the stuffing outside of the bird. These days my mom cooks hers in muffin tins. She likes the presentation on her holiday buffet table and she likes that the portions are easy for everyone to transfer to their plates. But most importantly, she likes that everyone gets a bit of crunchy exterior as well as some tender insides. You can instead bake it in a casserole dish but it will require a longer cooking time.
I hope you’ve learned the basics of how to make stuffing. Now here is my mom’s stuffing recipe for you in a printable version.
- ¼ cup butter or margarine
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 tsp. poultry seasoning, divided
- 2 tsp. salt, divided
- 2 tsp. black pepper, divided
- 15 thick slices of bread (day old is best), in 1 inch cubes
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 and ½ cups milk or chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 12 non-stick muffin cups (size 2 and ½" by and ¼").
- Warm the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon of the poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper and cook stirring occasionally until the onions are very well softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes.
- Put the bread cubes into a large bowl. Scrape all of the onions and butter onto the bread. Stir well.
- Combine the eggs and milk. About half over the bread and stir. Snag a handful of moistened bread and squeeze. If droplets of liquid come out, you've added enough liquid. How dry the bread was to start and the type of bread used affects how much liquid you'll need. If necessary, add more liquid until the bread is saturated enough to yield small drops when squeezed. Stir in the remaining teaspoon of poultry seasoning, of salt and of pepper. Smell the stuffing. It should have a strong herby and peppery scent. If not, you may want to taste the stuffing. My mom and I taste it raw but you can alternatively microwave a bit until heated through and then taste it. Add more seasoning as needed.
- Divide the stuffing among the muffin tins. They will be well-mounded. Bake until brown and crunchy on top and heated through, 30-40 minutes. Run a plastic knife around the edges of each muffin cup and then gently remove the portions of stuffing.