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Thankfully, stuffing can be made healthier

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Sliced turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing on a white plate.

No one should be surprised that National Stuffing Month takes place in November, as does Thanksgiving. It isn’t Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing.

Making stuffing from scratch isn’t for everyone. However, many packaged stuffing mixes have a lot of sodium and saturated fat. Here are some ways to make those mixes healthier:

For those who like to make stuffing from scratch, here are two healthy recipes.

A dish of turkey stuffing placed on a wood table.

Low-Sodium Turkey Stuffing

Prep time: 20-25 minutes. Cooking time: 20-30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.


6 cups cubed bread (no salt – toasted) (about 8 slices)

½ cup unsalted butter

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups chopped mushroom

2 cups chopped apple

½ cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon savory

½ tablespoon sage

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 cup apple juice


Saute cubed bread, butter, onion, celery, mushroom, apple and pecans.

Add savory, sage, thyme, pepper, garlic powder, and apple juice.

Bake in a pan at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes

Nutritional information

Per serving: 276 calories; protein 4 g; carbohydrates 27 g; fat 18 g; saturated fat 8 g; cholesterol 31 mg; potassium 320 mg; sodium 33 mg.

Source: American Association of Heart Failure Nurses via Georgia Heart Institute

A dish of stuffing with cranberries.

Apple, Onion and Cranberry Stuffing

This stuffing recipe is higher in sodium, carbohydrates and cholesterol than our first recipe – there’s more bread – but it’s lower in fat and is made healthier with apples, cranberries and reduced-sodium chicken broth.

Prep and cooking time: 50 minutes. Makes 8 servings.


4 cups cubed whole-wheat bread (6 slices)

4 cups cubed white sandwich bread (6 slices)

Giblets from 1 turkey, liver discarded (or ¾ cup chicken broth if you don’t have turkey giblets)

1 cup water

1½ teaspoons canola oil

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, or 1½ teaspoons dried, rubbed (ground sage will be too bitter)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

½ cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread whole-wheat and white bread on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place giblets and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Finely chop the giblets and set aside. (Skip this step if you don’t have turkey giblets.)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add apples, cook for 3 minutes longer. Add the giblet-cooking liquid (or ¾ cup chicken broth if you don’t have turkey giblets), sage and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the toasted bread, giblets (if you have them) and cranberries. Drizzle broth over the bread mixture and toss until evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Transfer stuffing to a lightly oiled casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake until heated through, 35 to 45 minutes. If you would like a crisp top, uncover for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Nutritional information

Per 1-cup serving: 241 calories; protein 10.5 g; carbohydrates 41.8 g; dietary fiber 6 g; sugars 12.6 g; fat 3.6 g; saturated fat 0.5 g; cholesterol 55.4 mg; vitamin A 1744.5 IU; vitamin C 6.4 mg; folate 55.5 mcg; calcium 100 mg; iron 2.5 mg; magnesium 34.8 mg; potassium 254.3 mg; sodium 423.6 mg; thiamin 0.3 mg.

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fruit

Source: Eating Well

Published: Monday, November 1, 2021
Author: Jeff Ash