Can you improve on Stove Top Stuffing Mix?
We say yes.
The Kraft product, which has been around since 1972, has remarkably simple cooking instructions. You boil water, add butter and the contents of the Stove Top packet (dried bread cubes and seasonings), then cover the pot until your stuffing is warmed and fluffy. If you already love Stove Top, you know the thrill of that first chewy bite. If it’s been a while, this is your excuse to pick up a red box again.
You can leave well enough alone with stuffing mix—that package is already tastebud-optimized. But its utter convenience means that you can afford to play around a little, tweaking the ingredients here and there, to come up with something just a little more gourmet without a lot more fuss.
That might just be Thanksgiving stuffing with a couple of add-ins, like bacon and leeks, or fruit and hazelnuts. Or, you might notice that Stove Top’s seasoned breadcrumbs get you halfway to a couple of unusual but delicious three-ingredient Thanksgiving appetizers, like meatballs and stuffed jalapeños. Finally, you’ve got to embrace stuffing leftovers the next day, because that’s as American as celebrating Thanksgiving in the first place. To that end, we’ve created an egg-topped, stuffing-bottomed breakfast, and a way to make stuffing part of a (sort of) healthy vegetable dish perfect for that moment when you say, “No more pie.”
Stuffing with Bacon and Leeks
At its core, stuffing is a filler food. More bread means the turkey goes further. When that bread is seasoned with herbs and onions and then cooked inside a bird, you’ve got a really flavorful dish. Stove Top’s ingredients do a solid job of mimicking the flavor you’d get inside a turkey, but it never hurts to add more savory layers, in the form of bacon and tasty leeks.
For this Stove Top upgrade, start with three slices of bacon and sauté them in the pot you’ll be cooking in until they’re crisp. Remove them to a paper towel and crumble up into pieces, then add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 leek, sliced thin, to the pan. Cook for around 10 minutes, until the leek is really soft and almost jammy. Now add 1½ cups of chicken stock (instead of the water called for) and a splash of white wine. Bring everything to a boil, then follow the package directions (minus the butter), putting two slices’ worth of crumbled bacon back in when you add the stuffing mix. Garnish with the last bit of bacon and a little fresh parsley.
Cornbread Stuffing with Dates, Raisins, and Toasted Hazelnuts
Back in colonial times, feasters didn’t draw as clear a distinction between savory and sweet as we do today. These were people who ate pie for breakfast! So to salute the Pilgrims’ brilliant way with salt and sugar, this stuffing uses dates and raisins to fancy up the Stove Top mix, plus toasted hazelnuts for a pretty finish. I picked up the Stove Top cornbread stuffing for this one. Here’s what to do: Follow the directions on the package, only use stock instead of water and be sure to put in the butter this time. Then, throw in ¼ cup chopped pitted dates and ½ cup raisins to soften up. When the liquid boils, add the stuffing mix and cover, then fluff, as it says to do on the side of the box. While all this is happening, toast a handful of hazelnuts in the oven or in a dry pan, until fragrant. When cool, rub off the skins; coarsely chop, then use as a garnish.
Stove Top Stuffing Meatloaf is a big thing, but meatloaf has no place on the turkey-day table. Skip it, and instead use the pre-flavored, perfectly textured stuffing mix to make appetizer-sized meatballs, which are more or less mini meatloaves anyways.
Put ½ a pound of ground beef in a bowl, then add ¾ cup of stuffing mix, 1 tablespoon of grated parm, 3 tablespoons of water, some chopped parsley if you have it, and a big pinch of salt. Shape into 12 balls, then bake on a parchment-lined sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with a little bowl of tomato or barbecue sauce.
Baked Jalapeño Poppers
Here’s a simple last-minute hors d’oeuvres that might just sabotage your guests’ tongues with its heat—ideal if you’ve over-marshmallowed the sweet potatoes or ruined the apple pie and you’d rather people not realize it. (If you don’t want to burn people’s faces off, try this recipe with shishitos or small poblanos.) In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of stuffing mix, ½ cup of water, and ½ teaspoon chili powder. Set aside. Cut 6 jalapeños in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Fill the peppers with the stuffing mix, then set them on a baking sheet and sprinkle all over with ¾ cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes at 400°F, until the cheese is melted and the peppers have softened.
Stuffing Egg & Cheese
Don’t throw out your leftovers. Stuffing is the base for one of the best egg-and-cheese sandwiches of your life. Heat a frying pan with some oil or butter in it. Scoop out some stuffing and smush it down into a disk. Cook until crispy on the bottom, then flip. Don’t worry if it falls apart, just press it together again. In a second pan, fry an egg sunnyside up. After you’ve flipped the stuffing patty, layer it with cheese, then place the fried egg on top. Turn the heat all the way down to low, cover the pan, and cook 3 to 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bottom is crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and slide onto a plate.
Roasted Veggies with Stuffing Croutons
In the same amount of time it takes for cauliflower to turn golden and Brussels sprouts to turn delicious, you can crisp up little blobs of leftover Stove Top. Just combine some bite-sized vegetables on a baking sheet (I did cauliflower, sprouts, and red onion) and toss with olive oil and salt. Spread out on the sheet in one layer, then spoon some leftover stuffing around the tray. Baked at 400°F for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and the stuffing pieces are brown on top. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar if you like, then toss and serve warm.