If I could only pick one thing to be on my Thanksgiving Table, I think stuffing would be at the top of my list. I get to eat it once a year (maybe twice if there’s a Friendsgiving on the calendar) and I make it count but loading it full of savory flavors. I love it so much that sometimes I even make two varieties – a traditional recipe and a wildcard stuffing. I’m sharing tons of ideas for making a unique Thanksgiving stuffing with different flavor combinations and mix-ins that you can choose to make it a dish of your own. Start with your stuffing base. Pick your bread base to start your stuffing. I like to do one classic stuffing and one that’s a little different. Try something sweet with a cornbread base like an Apple Cornbread Stuffing or Sweet and Spice Sausage Cornbread Stuffing. Or a give a brioche stuffing a try, like a Mushroom Shallot Brioche Stuffing or Maple Butternut Squash Brioche Stuffing. My most untraditional stuffing recipe is my Everything Bagel Seasoning Stuffing! The key to remember when picking your base is that you want the bread to be dried out before assembling your dish to avoid a soggy stuffing. Let it get stale overnight on the counter or dry it out in the oven for a minutes at a low temperature if it’s too fresh.
The basic ingredients. After you pick your base, you’ll need the basics to give stuffing it’s flavor and texture. Sauteed onions and celery in butter will give it flavor and a little crunch, and a good chicken or vegetable stock will add more flavor and help keep the dish from drying out. Add your stock to the mixture slowly to avoid going overboard and risk creating a soggy stuffing. You can dress up a stuffing mix from the grocery store by mixing in fresh ingredients like the onions, celery and herbs.
Add some allium. Get creative with your onion flavors – basic yellow onion sauteed in butter is delicious but consider some other ingredients from the allium family to add interesting flavors like leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots.
Fold in herbs. Changing the amount and type of herbs you add to the stuffing can really change the flavor profile. Fresh herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary, and parsley are some of my favorites to pair with seasonal flavors. Always keep a few extra sprigs of whatever herb you mixed into the dish for garnishing – it lets people know what’s in the dish and looks lovely too!
Mix in specialty flavors. If you’re open to adding meat to your stuffing, crumbled sausage is one of my favorite mix-ins. The sausage adds flavor and moisture to the stuffing when you cook it all together in the same pan. Some of my specialty stuffing recipes have sweet flavors mixed in to balance the savory dish like cubed apples, chopped figs, or dried raisins or craisins. Sautee mushrooms with the onions and celery to bring in an earthy flavor (I like this to balance the sweet brioche).