Homemade stuffing recipe to please losers who love Stove Top
November 23, 2016 10:16 AM   Subscribe

We're going to a group Thanksgiving and need to make the stuffing. My spouse loves to go nuts with elaborate recipes but none of the ones we've tried taste half as good as plain old Stove Top stuffing. And when we asked our friends they admitted the same. What's a recipe that will give that very basic kind of generic stuffing goodness but with a homemade flair? Or is there a way can we make Stove Top but make it less depressing and show some effort?

Please help. If I can't come up with a plan soon, DirtyOldTown is threatening to make this.
posted by Comrade Doll to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Buy jarred oysters. Cut them up very small. Cook them in their own juice in the pot you're going to make the Stove Top In. Then pour the juice into your measuring cup, and add the water or broth you're using for Stove Top, then pour it back into the pot and cook your Stove Top. Voila! Fancy Stove Top.
posted by corb at 10:20 AM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Joy of Cooking recipe for "Bread stuffing with giblets" meets your criteria and is delicious. It's also very adaptable, and allows you to throw things in or leave things out depending on tastes and dietary preferences. I personally like to make it with matzo instead of bread, but bread works fine. The giblets will add a taste that Stove Top cannot match, though I recommend leaving out the liver unless you really like it.
posted by ubiquity at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2016

If your homemade stuffing isn't "as good" as Stovetop, try adding a little sugar, and maybe some more salt. Experiment on small quantities of stuffing until it tastes "right".

You can also try making it with more moisture than usual.
posted by amtho at 10:26 AM on November 23, 2016

Throw in chopped fuji apples, celery, raisins and slivered almonds.
posted by sageleaf at 10:29 AM on November 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I doctor up Stovetop Stuffing. Saute onion, celery, a chopped, mostly peeled apple, garlic in olive oil. Then add the crumbs and seasoning. Use chicken and vegetable stock instead of water. Season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add a little parmesan cheese. You could probably add sausage but I've never done that. I think this tastes homemade but better than the regular box recipe.
posted by Aquifer at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2016 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Make whatever wild, from-scratch stuffing you want (that White Castle one sounds hella good) and also bring a whopping batch of out of the box Stove Top.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:32 AM on November 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

Our go-to is just Stove Top with a bunch of vegetables added. For "generic stuffing goodness": celery, carrot, onion, mushrooms if you're into that, all chopped up fine. For adventurous: go nuts.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:35 AM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I doctor up Stovetop Stuffing

Yeah, this is just about exactly what my mom does, except she does add sausage (and mushrooms) and bakes the whole mess together to dry it out a little bit. It's a vast improvement, and the hands-down hit of Thanksgiving.

I really don't think you can get the massive MSG pleasure rush without using the Real Thing.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:38 AM on November 23, 2016 [12 favorites]

Pioneer Woman's Stuffing recipe.

I edit as follows:
- Use only french bread
- cut up much smaller than 1" cube

Since we are in the day before you can just use a bagged bread squares from the store.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:41 AM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Make whatever wild, from-scratch stuffing you want (that White Castle one sounds hella good) and also bring a whopping batch of out of the box Stove Top.

This is what we do. Most of my family (myself included) loves Stovetop, and we've never found anything to really replace it. We also will make a fancier stuffing, and basically view it as a different dish. There's nothing wrong with having two kinds of stuffing, and I happily eat both! We "fancy up" the Stovetop by putting it in a nice China serving dish :)
posted by primethyme at 10:46 AM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Good bread, good stock, good herbs. That's more or less the deal. Try and pick a bread with sugar in it. Dry the bread cubes out in a 200 degree oven. I make everything but the bread from scratch. The only legal addition besides onion, garlic, and celery is pork sausage.

When I was a kid, I loved what I like to call "cardboard" pizza - basically that fake frozen square pizza from the school cafeteria? As an adult, I used to live around the block from Lombardi's Pizza in Little Italy. Both pizzas are great! Only one is really pizza. Do you get what I am saying?
posted by jbenben at 10:49 AM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

I was tasked with stuffing for a giant T-day once and went a little nuts experiementing with different variations. Don't have the exact recipe to hand, but the winner was basically this:

For the bread:

Half white sandwich bread, cubed (can use stouffer's or Peperidge farm mix)
Half corn bread, cubed and dried out in a low oven (if buy conrbread, make sure not too sweet)


Other stuff:
Italian sausage or andoille
chicken stock

You don't want too much sausage -- a link or two should be fine, it's mostly there to heighten the savoriness.

Basically, make sure your bread is dry. Melt some butter, then crumble the sausage and brown in a medium-low pan, deglaze with the onion and celery, add apple and the herbs and some more butter and let 'em sweat for 5-7 min. When the onions have gone translucent, toss in the bread cubes and stir them all till coated, add to pan and pour in the stock.

It's a good balance of savory and sweet with some different textures while still being comfy ol' stuffing.
posted by Diablevert at 10:50 AM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

My mom's never-fail, always the best dressing recipe (because in the South, it's dressing):

1 1/2 cups self rising corn meal
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted shortening (I just use butter)
3/4 cup buttermilk

combine ingredients and pour into a well greased pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until done, remove from pan and crumble.

to the crumbled cornbread add the following:
1 1/2 cups of dry bread crumbs (you can use fancy flavored ones if you want)
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
3 eggs beaten
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Combine all ingredients and mix well. pour into 9 by 13 inch baking dish and bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:57 AM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Don't forget a drizzle of olive juice!
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:24 AM on November 23, 2016

I think my stuffing is better than stovetop. It originally was a fairly generic stuffing recipie, but I doubled most spices, excluded the salt, and instead of using bread cubes I'll use caesar-seasoned croutons (I.E. still more butter, spice and finally some salt) from the Bulk Barn.

Stovetop "bread" is also essentially seasoned croutons; I think that's the most important bit to be at least as good as stovetop. The butter-sauteed veggies (especially the celery) put it into the "better than stovetop" category. For some reason that 1/4 cup of butter looks low to me; don't be afraid to try 1/2 cup.
2       heaping cups chopped onions
1 1/2   heaping cups thinly sliced celery
1       cup chopped green onions
1/4     cup butter
2       tablespoons ground sage
2       teaspoon ground marjoram
2       teaspoon pepper
1       teaspoon savory
2       teaspoon thyme
12      cups caesar croutons
1 1/2   cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/4     cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

1. In a large fry pan saute onions, celery and green onions in butter until
   onion is just translucent.
2. Stir in sage, marjoram, salt, pepper, savory and thyme.
3. In crock pot, combine vegetable mixture with the bread cubes and parsley.
4. Toss well.
5. Pour stock over mixture, tossing well.
6. Cover and cook on high for one hour.
7. Reduce to low and continue cooking for 3-6 hours, stirring every hour.
   Add water if needed for texture.
There are many sides in the stuffing wars, but those who think celery is optional are the losers.
posted by nobeagle at 11:53 AM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I like Sage and Onion stuffing, which is pretty traditional in the UK, but I use pre-seasoned cubes because I am lazy. So basically, make your boxed stove top stuffing, but add lots of onion, lots of sage, and use premade chicken stock instead of water.
posted by Joh at 11:59 AM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I totally agree that plain old Stove Top Stuffing (Or Stuff 'n Such) are just too good for works. I feel like a horrible person for liking it so much. I'm kind of "if it ain't broke" on this one. Stove Top is delicious, easy, and pretty cheap. Give the people what they want!

However, if you do want to doctor it up, some fancy mushrooms cooked in butter would be good. if you use dried mushrooms and have to rehydrate them be sure to use the water you rehydrated them in in the stuffing. Or just some cooked crumbled up sage sausages.

but really... if it ain't broke...

If you want to make it fancy, do it in how you serve it. Keep the Stove Top pure. OR!!!! Lie and say you went on a quest to recreate the deliciousness of Stove Top from scratch and serve your "version". Of course you just serve them normal Stove Top. See who catches on first.

Man, I'd shoot a llama for some stove top right now...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:12 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Very basic stuffing
dice up a good amount of celery and onion. More is fine. Use the celery leaves, they taste good. Saute in butter on low. I like the onions to get golden.
Add really good poultry stock. If you use canned stock, add some better than bouillon to jazz it up. Ideally you have the giblets available and can use them to make broth before giving them to the dogs. If you have a small dog, give a little bit every day or the dog will hork it all up on the carpet. Add poultry seasoning to taste, but don't skimp. Add fresh parsley if you want to feel all Rachel Ray - parsley tastes good, too. Now pour it all over the bread cubes or bits. Maybe you are frugal and have a collection of stale bread to use or maybe you bought a bag of Pepperidge Farm. Toss it all together. Put in a pan, bake it until the top is crispy. The recipe on the Pepperidge Farms stuffing back is good for the proportions and oven temp.

To make it taste a little more like Stovetop, add salt. Sugar, peppers or giblets - nope. Some cooked sausage or mushrooms are tasty but not required. Stovetop tastes like bouillon cubes and cheap bread, and using better, fresher ingredients will give you the upgraded but still comforting result.

Also, make proper gravy from the drippings, and make stock from the turkey carcass. The results are so good, it's worth the effort.
Michael Dukakis would very much like your turkey carcass
Readers leave turkey carcasses at Dukakis home
posted by theora55 at 12:22 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am astonished that some of the stuffing recipes linked or posted in this thread do not use sage (or poultry seasoning, of which sage is a major component). Sage is one of the dominant flavors in Stove Top Stuffing, and a large part of what makes it so good. If your recipe doesn't include sage, it won't taste as good.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:34 PM on November 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

I just totally bought Stove Top. I'm granted just cooking for me so I'm being careful about where I'm putting effort, but that seems just as applicable to anybody else. If you guys like this, could you better use the time/effort in making another side, or better hors d'oeuvres? That'll more efficiently improve the meal overall.
posted by Sequence at 2:22 PM on November 23, 2016

Stove Top is very delicious indeed, because it has so much MSG, so it would be pretty hard to re-create the taste at home. If you try, using very concentrated broth made with a couple cubes of chicken bouillon might do it.

But for real, just make fancier Stove Top!
I like chopping a couple of apples and an onion, and sauteeing them in butter, then mixing them into the stuffing, along with an extra half-cup of salted butter.
Maybe crumble a little fatty salty meat (like sausage or bacon) in there too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:37 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

OK, Stove Top is horrible and you are bad. That said, I will share my family's stuffing recipe which is handed down from my Virginian grandmother. It is simple, delicious, and has a very traditional taste and texture. This recipe will work best if you use boxed cornbread.

7 cups corn bread

3 cups stale white bread (w/o crusts)

1/2 c chopped onion, 1 1/2 c chopped celery, 1 tsp thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper - all sauteed in 1 1/4 c butter

Add bread cubes to butter and veg. mixture and mix well until butter absorbed

Add 1 cup milk and mix again. Cool and then pack lightly into turkey cavity (main one and neck cavity) Use small skewers to pin closed. Put extra stuffing in pan and cover with foil and bake for 1/2 hour after turkey comes out of oven (while you make gravy).
posted by bq at 2:39 PM on November 23, 2016

This Sam Sifton classic stuffing recipe is just what you want; straight-ahead, amazingly delicious, clearly home-made. I do the apples (delicious) but don't bother with the chestnuts.

Make the associated turkey stock if you still have time; it's totally worth doing.

As several people have said above, the keys to stuffing are: salt, fat, sage, and good bread--in that order. DQ any recipe that doesn't call for a ton of sage (or sage-filled sausage, like breakfast sausage) if you want "stuffing" flavor.
posted by acroyear2 at 3:24 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

My family's stuffingis very simple, but very tasty. It's just white bread, onions, celery, lots of melted butter, thyme & S&P. So pretty similar to bq's suggestion but without the cornbread.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:47 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mom would buy the Pepperidge Farm bread cubes and use their recipe. It made a classic stuffing, with a bit more effort, but same flavor profile as the Stove Top mix.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:46 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

ETA: I think the larger cubes of bread from the Pepperidge Farm bags makes a difference. I also think the thing it had in common with the Stove Top is that the bread was truly dry. Fresh bread just isn't the same.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:48 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I make the stove top using homemade stock instead of water. (Part of the beauty of stove top is there aren't any surprises in there. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:10 PM on November 23, 2016

Pepperidge Farm bagged stuffing mix is way better than Stove Top, and I'm not a stuffing snob. I sautee mushrooms, celery, onions, and Jimmy Dean sage breakfast sausage. Mix that together with the stuffing mix. Add some chicken broth, bake for a while in a glass casserole so it gets crispy on top. Maybe add fresh parsley if you're feeling fancy.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:26 AM on November 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Third-ing Pepperidge Farm. Red bag, blue bag, add celery and onions. A little fancier and tastier and home-made-ier than Stove Top but just as easy and delicious.
posted by buzzkillington at 6:38 AM on November 24, 2016

Response by poster: We made Stove Top but added caramelized onions, celery, and some ground Italian sausage. We substituted some of the water with stock.

DirtyOldTown made the White Castle stuffing too. It was pretty good, though the bottom got soggy and he made too much by half.
posted by Comrade Doll at 12:11 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Is there a name for this particular interpersonal...   |   Sock it to me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.