Stuffing From A Bag: Can You Improve It?

November 13, 2014   43 Comments

After making my own stuffing from scratch, I realized that my supermarket sells stuffing in bags and boxes.

Stuffing From a Bag


I am always looking for a shortcut that makes life easier and I thought, “Hey, stuffing is dried bread and spices. Maybe a packaged mix would be a good thing.”

I stood in the stuffing aisle and began my incredibly scientific research of picking up and putting down boxes. Hmmmm. What did I think?

  1. The sodium amounts per serving are OUT OF CONTROL. The norm was 500 mg per serving. How am I going to taste the turkey with all that salt?
  2. The one low sodium version had MSG and wasn't much lower in sodium.
  3. The boxes and bags were inexpensive. I have no doubt that my homemade version is much more costly.

I bought the one that looked the best – Arnold Premium Stuffing Seasoned (400 mg sodium per serving) and decided that I could maybe improve it. In a shocker, the package wanted me to add 8 ounces of butter to the mix. I use about 4 ounces of olive oil in my stuffing.

I added sautéed onions and celery (and as you can see some parsley) to try to make it work and I cut the butter in half.

I thought this was OKAY. My Australian husband pronounced it inedible and asked me why I would serve something that tasted like soggy bread and call it stuffing. He went on and on about real food and how Americans are without a clue.

He HATED this stuffing.

I looked in Whole Foods and their packaged stuffing averaged 390 mg sodium per serving (not much better).

I say stick with homemade stuffing like my Vegan Stuffing.

Have you worked with store bought stuffing? How do you make it pop?

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Have to admit this doesn't look like what I know as stuffing at all - although I loved that you added the celery and onions to improve it.

Isn't it crazy what comes in a box or packet these days? (Although here in Australia we don't have the sheer volume of options that you do in the States.)

I love your site and am always encouraged to choose a healthier option/make it myself.

Thanks Lisa.

I use the Pepperidge Farm stuffing, and I'll admit I never looked at the label. I use only a fraction of the butter and add some of turkey juices and some of my homemade gravy to it.

I make my own bread crumbs, but I've never tried stuffing from scratch. Every year we try doing something different, last year we made biscuits from scratch instead of the Pillsbury ones as we decided to try to avoid trans fats. Maybe this year we'll try home made stuffing.

Has anyone tried the Trader Joe's stuffing?

They have a box kind like what you are describing but they also have an already made take-home meal version.

It sounds delicious from the advertisement?

Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix + sautee 1/2 lb Bob Evans sausage till crumbly and brown, add chopped onions and celery, sautee till tender. Season with poultry seasoning, salt/pepper to taste. Blend together with stuffing mix and low sodium chicken broth till all breading is moistened very well. Place in a casserole dish and bake till set and nicely browned on top. Serve hot.

We buy Pepperidge Farm - one bag a year for Thanksgiving. My spouse likes it made with homemade chicken stock topped with his turkey gravy. Other than a gluten free alternative, I haven't tried to sub this primarily because we would have to acquire/make some sort of bread product to produce it and we simply don't do that much.

I make my stuffing with corn bread & wheat bread. Never out a box because and cheaper. If you want to make it quick use Jiffy corn bread mix a box is $.25.

I was planning on looking at Whole foods after reading every label at a few supermarkets between Pepperage Farm, Stove Top etc. The ALL had High Fructose Corn Syrup and MSG!

Does Whole foods not have a more natural option???!

No. I've tried boxed stuffing - like you, I'm always up for a shortcut. I have added cranberries, nuts, apple, bacon, onion, celery, sausage, drippings, spices (hey, I REALLY wanted this to work). Your husband is correct - I pronounced it all disgusting. Texture, flavour, saltiness...YUCK. I'll look for other ways to make my Thanksgiving/Xmas turkeys easier, quicker and less messy - there is just no getting around my gorgeous cornbread and sausage stuffing. (Interestingly, for years I didn't think I liked stuffing...I was wrong. I just didn't like my mother's!)

I think I will make my own with either store bought fresh cut up ww bread or cut up my own. I will probably look up a healthy recipe on-line.

I always make my old bread, onions, celery, sage, S&P, a little olive oil and turkey stock. Very easy and fairly healthy.

To Sharon - may your holiday preparations include an attitude adjustment and a kindness of spirit.

Sharon, there is an "Edit Subscriptions" link at the bottom of your email. You can unsubscribe there if you want to. :)

"...Americans are without a clue..." ....did not care for this barb/dig comment either....

I buy the bag of dried cubed bread in Hy-Vee Food store bakery department. Nothing added, just the bread. Then I add my own seasonings and etc. That way I don't have to cube and dry the bread.

I have nothing to add to the discussion about stuffing mix but I feel compelled to respond to Sharon's comments. I really don't understand why you were so offended by her husband's complaint and went on such a rant! I found his comment amusing and was not offended in the least. Just hit unsubscribe and be done already.

I thought your husbands comment was very funny and obviously said tongue in cheek. Some people just don't have a sense of humor. There was nothing offensive about it. Buh bye Sharon.... I use pepperidge farm, add craisins, butter, ff chicken stock, onions and celery. It's fabulous. It's once a year, so the butter and sodium splurge isn't going to concern me. Thanks for writing great columns!

never have to buy stuffing mix I use torn cornbread. My short cut is a roll of loose turkey breakfast sausage ( most of spices are in it).

I make the exact same stuffing as Karyn Davies does and it is wonderful. Last year I added chopped pecans to it.

Bah Humbug Sharon - - shame on you!

I have no issue with buying the stuffing out of a bag and then I like to doctor it up like you did, then it's easy, convenient and sort of homemade. :)

in a pinch I use boxed dressing...usually cornbread...doesn't really matter which brand...they all have about the same stuff in them...I always add fresh sauteed onion and added fat as I saute in water...and way more sage...we like sage...then use chicken broth as the liquid...

and Sharon, bless you little heart...

Miss Holly, Cornbread, hmmm, that sounds interesting and I bet delicious!

Thanks for the suggestions from scratch, I think I will revert to the homed approach of a simple stuffing. I will look for plain cubed bread to make it easier if not its time to cut up day old bread.

Prayers for Sharon's anger and pride issues.

I used bagged PF stuffing when I first was married, in '73, egads! Something was missing, it was Grandma! Memories of her cubing, toasting, humming, sauteing, and those spices filling my senses. I've tried emulating Gram all my life, she was my most unforgettable relative. So I've enjoyed creating my own stuffing ever since, oven-roasting chestnuts too [but for last 3 yrs have used bagged chestnuts]. This year I'm using organic sour dough bread per my daughter's request.

As a convenience, I make it weeks in advance, up to the point of adding broth, freeze it flat, bake it frozen w/broth for 40-50 mins. and it comes out just as delicious as Gram's.

I still enjoy PF stuffing too when I'm a guest!

I make and sell lots of stuffing every year. I use the bagged variety and add the following: Butter (4 oz./bag), celery, onion,poultry seasoning, pepper, chopped apple, dried cranberries, toasted pecan, cooked and crumbled sausage, and chicken broth. All the ingredients are either locally grown or organic. this should be served as a side dish. The stuffing I use with the turkey is much plainer. Can I safely assume your husband does not cook, only ears?!!

My mom makes the best homemade stuffing at Thanksgiving - but the rest of the year, I just rely on stove top in the microwave - not great, probably too salty, but my son likes it!

Keep your humor & references to your family - it makes your blog human!

I am sorry if anyone was offended by my husbands comment. My intent was to be humorous.

My stuffing recipe is from my grandmother, and I'm 65 so you know it's old and homemade! A box or two of crushed 'milk crackers,' 1/4 stick butter, one large chopped onion and chopped celery sauteed, one egg, 2 tablespoons or so "Bell's Seasoning," enough hot water to moisten it. Stuff bird or bake separately. It's a family favorite and guests always go for seconds. Not low-cal, but a treat once a year or so.

As a proud American and Veteran, I served so everyone has the right to say what they want. You have the right to voice your opinion Sharon, and I would never tell you not to. However, I would also suggest that kindness goes a long way. No offense taken at what was said and I love reading this blog and the comments. All of them. I'm on the only homemade stuffing bus.

I'll admit I have resorted to Stovetop when time crunched but add tons of veggies and no butter. Gets rave reviews every time. Thanksgiving is only once a year, so I don't feel to bad when I have to use it.

I make mine the good old fashioned way with lots and lots (and lots) of toasted bread (I get several loaves of different types of bread), onion and celery. Yes it is a huge project, but ohhhh so worth it!

Trader Joe's has their own boxed stuffing and I just add the veggies like you did and I make my own broth. I personally like to make my own stuffing, but you know what? When I'm short on time I take it from a box.

I make my own stuffing with cornbread, bread, celery, onions, sage, poultry seasoning etc. I made it so I know it's good and I control the sodium that goes into it. I helped my mother when she was living fix the dressing, etc. for Thanksgiving. I'm single, but I love Thanksgiving and cook an entire Thanksgiving meal (then share with my neighbor).

To Sharon I say it sounds like you woke up all twisted inside. Enjoy the holidays and family and if your tradition isn't like the rest of the world, enjoy what you do and how you do it. If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one -- just don't steal my happiness.

I use a bag of Pepperidge seasoned stuffing and add sauteed celery, onions, and mushrooms, and I boil the turkey neck, and gizards, chop those, and add to the dressing, which as might guess I do once a year, with the turkey. Since I do not make dressing regularly, I cut down a bit on the butter, but feel it is worth the splurge and it always comes out great. I always stuff the bird as well as having some of the dressing on the side.

Here's a great homemade stuffing recipe!

(and WOW I've never seen a responder on here quite like Sharon...not offended at all by Mr. Snack Girl's comment (knew exactly what he meant about American processed food and seeing him say that means that he supports the mission of this blog 100%!)

Nice ideas for stuffing.

BTW, I have to agree with Lisa's hubby.

I am an American, born here, live here, etc. All I have to do is look at what many American call Mexican or Chinese food and recipes and I know that he is right.

People add a hot pepper or tortilla to a recipe and call it Mexican. Chinese buffets in most places are a joke. It is not authentic Chinese food, it is created for Western palates. I am sure there are other foods from around the globe that Americans have managed to reinvent to their tastes. This doesn't make me or anyone else anti-American or anti-patriotic. Hubby is a 21 year Army veteran with a Bronze medal (and several other medals) and happens to be Mexican American. Unfortunately, he likes cold hot dogs and will eat cold food out of a can if I don't cook for him.

Personally, when I was in England (not known for their cooking), I ate mostly vegetarian and fish because they don't trim the fat off their meat and I found that a big turn off.

Everyone has different tastes and it is our right in the free world to express what we don't or do like.

I love my Mom's "homemade" stuffing (which is what we call it although it never gets in the bird). Pepperidge farm breadcrumbs, sauteed onions,celery, butter now (margarine when I was a kid), probably some stock or just water, and baked. Dry and crispy so you can add more butter at the table :)! I didn't have stuffing from within the bird until I was an adult and found it way too goopy. I can eat it now but still prefer Mom's Homemade.

Every year I make the dressing for our family get together. I was born and still live in Georgia, so my recipe is a total southern comfort food. I bake a pan of cornbread (NOT SWEET like Jiffy) and simmer chopped onion and celery in chicken broth. The next day, I crumble up the corn bread and add one bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix. Use my largest bowl! Add the broth and veggies, 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of egg whites or substitute, 1 T poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Add enough chicken broth to moisten. Let sit 5 minutes and add more broth if it looks too dry. Bake in a large dish for 45 minutes or until done, or scoop into large muffin tins if you want individual servings. Serve with the turkey and cranberry sauce.

I know what you mean about the sodium, but to same time you can purchase the bags of just dried cubed bread. Plus you can get them in either white or wheat then add your own herbs and vegetables. That's what I do, but this year we're going to our daughters and her mother inlaw is cooking the whole meal, so I have no idea what the stuffing will be like. She is from the south so I don't know what she adds in her's, but I will eat it and be nice. I'm add someone else's home.

My mom bought pre-cut and bread cubes from the bakery, and made her own. I think she just used some hot sausage, the 'inside bits' of the turkey, salt, pepper. She must have used some broth or melted butter as well, but not much. Most of the moisture came from stuffing the bird, rather than cooking the "stuffing" on the side. (I know about the food safety issues with stuffing a turkey. No one ever got sick from dinner at my parents' house)

Boxed stuffing is a travesty! That said, I often buy dried unseasoned bread cubes to make stuffing with. That saves half the prep time. The only drawback is that I have only found them in white bread variety so far. But we are talking stuffing here. It's not on the healthy eats chart no matter how you make it.

I lived in the States for about 25 years, and when I did a turkey, I *always* used Pepperidge Farm stuffing. I know it's horrible, and it was always soggy and mushy even when I cut the recommended amount of liquid way down, but there was something about the taste that I loved. Since I've moved back to Canada it's been moot point since they don't sell any of that here--well, I think there's Stove Top, but that's not real stuffing... The grocery stores often sell a bag of very hard cubes of white bread, which I've tried. They're okay, and since they're not seasoned at all, you need to customize it. But it was still standard white bread. None of which changes the fact that good stuffing is one of the most delicious foods there is! :-)

Southern cornbread stuffing is the best....sure not gummy like some dressings I have tasted.....and please don't use the Jiffy cornbread mix.....make a pan of cornbread from scratch (not that hard to do) and so much better.....add a pkg. of Pepperidge farm if you want to, but you can make your own with a loaf of bread....use at least day old bread, cut in cubes and toast in the oven, then add your own isn't that hard to make.....just time consuming.....but so much better.....if worse comes to worse, the stovetop cornbread stuffing isn't really that bad.....but stay away from the other as it is more gummy......cornbread is not....but of course homemade cornbread stuffing is the best......

I use Pepperidge Farm, toasted brioche, no butter, no sodium turkey broth made from giblets, Jimmy Dean Sage sausage and lots of fresh diced veggies (celery, onions, carrots sometimes mushrooms, butternut squash, apple) Pepperidge farm is seasoned enuf and the fresh veggies produce a lot of tastey liquid during baking so you don't need the buttter or salty broth. I also add pecan or walnuts for a little crunch. Yummm!

Nothing to add about stuffing mix, but I do believe that Snack Guy (charming consort to Snack Girl) was simply trying to point out that the American diet is so replete with processed goop that many of us have forgotten what food really is or what food is supposed to be. I did NOT take that as an attack on Americans in general

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