Boxed mixes may be on supermarket shelves year-round, but fresh, homemade stuffing is part of what makes the holiday season so special. This savory, stick-to-your-ribs side has a permanent place on the dinner table because it pairs perfectly with Thanksgiving poultry, goes great with meaty Christmas roasts and can be made a myriad of ways. It can be prepared with different bread bases, a variety of veggies, many different proteins — even seafood!
Chef Alexander Smalls joined Al Roker on his podcast "Cooking Up a Storm with Al Roker" to talk turkey — and to settle the debate: Is it stuffing or dressing? Smalls shared how to make a special kind of dressing inspired by flavors from his own children in South Carolina's low country.
Chef Melba Wilson says she loves "all kinds of stuffing, but this herby, moist, crumbly cornbread version" may just be her favorite. It's a fuss-free recipe that delivers on flavor and goes perfectly with turkey, ham or any other festive roast. Even better? You can save time time by swapping store-bought corn muffins for the corn bread.
Turkey sausage and mushrooms make this stuffing seriously flavorful. The types of mushrooms that can be used in this recipe are basically limitless. Opt for inexpensive button mushrooms, mix in some fabulously delicious and chewy shiitakes or splurge for all wild mushrooms. To make this a stuffing vegetarian, leave out the turkey, bump up the quantity of mushrooms and use vegetable broth instead of chicken.
TODAY's Al Roker uses cornbread, spicy pork sausage, chestnuts and dried cranberries to add some excitement to his Thanksgiving stuffing. Al told TODAY Food, "I love the variety of textures and pops of flavor in this stuffing. In each bite you get a hit of sweetness, a touch of spice, some crunch and crumble. It's almost impossible not to go back for seconds!"
Southern chef John Besh likes to make the classic dishes from his childhood during the holiday season. Every year he cooks up Creole classics like this traditional dressing with briny oysters, smoky bacon and spicy cayenne pepper. Besh told TODAY, "Those long gatherings of yesteryear shape my menus today in a way that no culinary school could do. In this way, the holidays connect me to my South Louisiana roots."
Change up your usual stuffing routine with this rice-based recipe. Nutty wild rice and fluffy Arborio rice add great flavor and texture to this savory sausage and mushroom-studded side. It's so good, you might want to gobble it up as a main dish the next day.
TODAY co-anchor Craig Melvin's mother makes this dressing for him every year. Craig said, "This dressing is positively bursting with savory flavor. It is my favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving." Fresh herbs, shredded turkey, sautéed veggies and chicken broth each add an incredible taste and texture to this easy-to-make dish.
Does boxed equal boring? Not even close. Use a store-bought stuffing mix as the base for this incredibly easy recipe that has deliciously sweet and savory flavors. Taking advantage of a pre-made mix cuts down on prep time, which can be a lifesaver when cooking for the holidays.
Bobby Flay cooks this cornbread stuffing in a cast iron pan to give it a wonderful golden-brown crust. Flay told TODAY Food, "Meaty mushrooms give this stuffing an even richer savory flavor. Cooking it in cast iron is key to achieving that perfect crispiness on the edges. Serve it right out of the pan so each spoonful gets a bit of the crunchy edge and moist, fluffy interior."
Using rice instead of bread, and adding savory sausage and melty cheeses, gives this stuffing a distinctly Italian flavor. Chef Anthony Scotto told TODAY Food, "We do Thanksgiving a little differently in our family. On our holiday table lasagna is as much a part of the meal as the turkey. We enjoy all the classic sides too, just with an Italian twist."
Every Thanksgiving table needs a savory and satisfying side. It's a cornerstone of the meal and helps balance out whatever else is on the plate, whether you're eating turkey or Tofurky. This robust vegan stuffing gets its body from the cornbread, depth from the mushrooms and celery. It gets texture from the pecans and quinoa, plus a little sweetness from the dried cranberries.
This dressing will undoubtedly steal the show from the turkey this holiday. It starts with slightly sweet homemade cornbread and then builds its unique taste with salty cracker crumbs, herbaceous sage, sautéed vegetables and savory seasonings. It may sound simple, but it's a full-flavored showstopper.