Skip to main content
Thanksgiving

Love Cooking Stuffing Inside the Bird? Here’s How to Make Sure Your Guests Don’t Get Sick.

Our innovative approach makes enough to serve everyone, too.
By Published Nov. 4, 2022

I can almost taste it. It’s Thanksgiving day, and good things are happening inside the dark cavity of the turkey: As the bird slowly roasts, delectable juices and golden fat drip onto the bread stuffing, drenching it with poultry goodness. Those scoops of stuffing are the hottest commodity on the table, and everyone wants a bite.

But then I snap out of my daydream, remembering the problems with this scenario.

First, cooking stuffing inside the bird to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (as advised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) takes too long: By the time the stuffing is safe to eat, the delicate breast meat is sure to be overcooked. 

Second, you can’t pack nearly enough stuffing inside the cavity to serve everyone; it’s just too small.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Happily, we’ve come up with a simple solution: We start the some of the stuffing inside the bird, giving it time to soak up precious drippings, then remove and cook it with the remaining stuffing on its own.

Prepared this way, all of the stuffing will be moist, ultrasavory, and safe to eat—and there will be plenty to go around. But that’s not all. During its final stint in the oven, the stuffing develops a crisp brown crust, an exemplary contrast to the supple interior. That’s a lot to be thankful for.

 

How to Safely Cook Stuffing Inside a Turkey

1. Line the turkey cavity with cheesecloth.

2. Pack the cavity with stuffing, and the tie the ends of cheesecloth together. (Place remaining stuffing in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.) 

3. Using kitchen twine, loosely tie the turkey legs together. 

4. Roast the turkey in the oven until the until thickest part of breast registers 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer

5. Cut the twine binding the legs and remove the stuffing bag; empty it into the reserved stuffing in a bowl. 

6. Roast the turkey until thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees, and the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 degrees, then set it aside to rest.

7. While the turkey rests, transfer the stuffing to a buttered baking dish. Bake until the stuffing registers 165 degrees and the top is golden brown.

Click here for the complete recipe for Old-Fashioned Stuffed Turkey.

0 Comments

Try All-Access Membership to Unlock the Comments
Don't miss the conversation. Our test cooks and editors jump in to answer your questions, and our members are curious, opinionated, and respectful.
Membership includes instant access to everything on our sites:
  • 10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work
  • Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients
  • Equipment Reviews save you money and time
  • Videos including full episodes and clips
  • Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Start Free Trial
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.