Thanksgiving 101

How to Stuff a Turkey

Updated on 09. Nov. 2020
Stuffing the turkey? Here's how.
Stuffing the turkey? Here's how.

Easy steps to stuff a turkey.

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It's an age-old question: to stuff the bird, or not to stuff the bird? Personally, we think stuffing the turkey is the way to go: it yields a delicious, moist and flavorful stuffing that everyone will be clammering for and adds a distinct richness to the meat. It's also not that hard, as long as you follow a few basic guidelines and with a few tips. Read up below for the fail-safe way to stuff a turkey.

Food Safety Guidelines

Filling a turkey cavity with stuffing is easy enough to do, but problems can crop up if you aren't paying attention to food safety regulations. Arm yourself with the facts and then follow the guidelines as you prep your turkey and stuffing. 

People have been stuffing turkeys for years without a mishap, but all it takes is one time to spoil a holiday for all your guests. Once you've committed to cooking the stuffing inside the cavity of the turkey, make sure to follow food safety guidelines. And remember that you shouldn't attempt to grill or deep-fry a stuffed turkey, as these fast-cooking methods won't allow enough time for the stuffing to cook through before the turkey is done.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • All components of the stuffing should be cooked before they're combined.That means sauteing the vegetables and cooking any meats that will be added, such as giblets, bacon, or sausage. Eggs should be pasteurized. You can prepare the stuffing ahead of time but be sure to let it cool completely and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Wait to stuff the turkey until right before it will be roasted, never ahead of time.
  • Do not pack the stuffing, or it will cook unevenly; leave about a quarter of the neck and cavity-free, as the stuffing will expand during roasting.
  • When stuffing cooks inside a turkey, the meat releases juices from the uncooked meat throughout the stuffing during cooking. This is why it is so imperative that the stuffing be cooked fully to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. You should always measure the temperature of the stuffing as well as the breast and thigh meat before serving to prevent the risk of food-borne illness.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Plan on 3 to 4 cups of stuffing per person, including seconds and leftovers.
  • The stuffing will absorb quite a lot of juices while cooking, so keep that in mind when adding liquid to the mixture.
  • If you can't fit all the stuffing in the turkey, bake the rest in a baking dish. You may need to add more liquid to this batch, and also dot it with butter to keep it moist.



Follow these steps to stuff a turkey before roasting. Always start with a turkey that's been allowed to sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

  • Pat the turkey dry and season inside and out with salt and pepper (unless brined).
  • Just before the turkey is to go into the oven, spoon stuffing into the neck cavity and main cavity, without packing it in. Put any extra in a baking dish.
  • Close up neck flap over openings with toothpicks or wooden skewers.
  • Tuck wing tips under the bird and tie turkey legs together.
  • Place turkey breast side up in the roasting pan that's fitted with a wire rack.
  • Roast the turkey in the preheated oven.

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