Three Turkey Stuffings

When I was growing up we always had a hot roast turkey on Christmas Day.  It didn’t matter if it was a heatwave with temperatures over 40C (104F), (as it often was), there were no cold-cuts on our Christmas table.

One year my father thought we should try something a little different and that meant with him helping out.  Not in the kitchen, but at the bar-be-cue.  He had just purchased a kamado cooker and was very proud of it, thinking it looked very stylish down at the bottom of the garden.

Three turkey stuffings

Three turkey stuffings

He told us the kamado cooker could do many things and in fact we would almost never need to use the oven again.  This new ‘appliance’ could roast, BBQ, bake and smoke food – it could even cook an osso bucco.

So armed with enthusiasm we let dad cook the much-anticipated turkey in the kamado cooker.  Mum had stuffed the cavity of the bird with a bread-based stuffing and pushed a fruity stuffing into the neck.  Into the wonder-gadget it went while we got on with the business of enjoying a pre-dinner drink while listening to The King’s College Choir belt out some Christmas carols on the record player.

After the record had been turned over, and over and over a few more times, we could see smoke ascending from the kamado.  My father rushed to his appliance and behold, inside was a very, very black bird.

The kamado was never again trusted with the prized Christmas turkey and a few years later when my parents moved house, the kamado didn’t make it onto the truck.

Here are three turkey stuffing recipes that are simple and easy and can be made ahead of time.  I usually make mine the day before required as they’re perfectly fine to sit in the fridge overnight.  There is a bread-based stuffing, a rice-based stuffing and a stuffing made with quinoa.  The bread-based stuffing can easily be gluten-free just by substituting wheat bread with GF bread.

And when it comes to making your own breadcrumbs, don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor.  Dare I mention again that I don’t have one?  Christmas is coming!  To make your own breadcrumbs without a food processor simply cut up your bread (I don’t bother removing the crusts) and place on an oven tray in a single layer.  Place in an oven pre-heated to 180C (375F) for 15 minutes then when cool, place in a zip-lock bag and bash with a rolling pin.  The result doesn’t have the finesse of bread whizzed in a food processor, it looks more rustic but it’s easy to do and bashing things with a rolling pin is always very therapeutic.

My spelt sourdough bread all cut up and ready to enter the oven for 15 minutes

My spelt sourdough bread all cut up and ready to enter the oven for 15 minutes

All these recipes are for a 5-6kg (11-13lb) turkey.

Walnut and Sage Stuffing with Breadcrumbs

Walnut and Sage Stuffing with Breadcrumbs

Walnut and Sage Stuffing

  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped green celery leaves
  • 12-16 chopped shallots
  • 8 cups stale breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 tbspns chopped sage (or 2 tspns dried sage)
  • 2 tspns nutmeg
  • 2 tspns salt
  • 2 tspns freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbspns sherry or madeira

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter, celery leaves and shallots.  Cook until softened and golden.  Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe my mother found in a Gretta Anna cookbook.  We’ve used this recipe for years and it’s a great way to make sure celery leaves aren’t gone to waste.  I believe Gretta’s cookbooks are sadly, no longer available.

Apricot and Apple Stuffing with Rice

Apple and Apricot Stuffing with Rice

Apple and Apricot Stuffing

  • 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
  • 30g (1.5 ounces) butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 green apple, chopped
  • 500g sausage mince
  • 2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 bunch thyme leaves
  • 1 tbspn sherry

Place dried apricots in a bowl and pour boiling water over.  Allow to soak for 15 minutes then drain and place in a large bowl.

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter to pan and when melted add onion, celery and apple.  Cook for 2 minutes then add to apricots.

Place sausage mince in frying pan and cook until just changed colour.  Add to apricot mixture along with remaining ingredients and stir well.  Season.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found in The Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration Cookbook and it’s one I probably use every year.

Preserved Lemon and Pine Nut Stuffing with Quinoa

Preserved Lemon and Pine Nut Stuffing with Quinoa

Preserved Lemon and Pine Nut Stuffing

  • 1 cup currants
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup pre-cooked quinoa)
  • 60gm (2oz) butter
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pine nuts, roasted
  • 3 preserved lemons (3/4 of a lemon), rinsed, flesh discarded, peel thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 bunch of continental parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry

Place currants in a small bowl and pour boiling water over.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes then drain and place in a large bowl.  Add cooled quinoa to the bowl.  Melt butter in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 15 minutes.  Pour onions into bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Season.

Remember that stuffing will expand during the cooking process so don’t over-stuff the bird or the legs may pop off!

Three turkey stuffings

Three turkey stuffings

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  1. Oh no. Bad kamado! I have heard the big green eggs are amazing but I haven’t used one myself!

  2. Tonette Joyce says:

    Charlie, these are outstanding! The second two would be wonderful for Cornish hens or duck. An quinoa for the gluten intolerant;Just wonderful! I had one warm Christmas, very unusually warm weather about 80F (26.6C), but I can see an advantage. When I see Australians at the beach for Christmas and your fun on Boxing Day,I am jealous. I am gearing up for Thanksgiving, so we all have stuffing on our minds here!

  3. Typically I don’t make stuffing as that has fallen to another member of my extended family. But this Thanksgiving we are not going to be together and it will be just me and my husband and eldest daughter and her husband. I thought we would just skip the dressing. But…, the new son-in-law loves stuffing. So I got his favorite recipe from his mother and I will attempt to replicate it. Wish me luck.

    The story about your father made me chuckle, My husband will grill our turkey in the Weber charcoal grill, which he’s done several times in the past. I just hope the temps are not too cold. He once grilled a turkey in temps well below zero F.

  4. Who ever designed those grills to look like giant hand grenades knew what they were doing. What male can resist burning meat on something so macho looking? 🙂

    An interesting assortment of stuffings. My stuffing always gets eaten before the rest of the sides.

  5. Fantastic looking stuffing!

  6. Oh dear, poor Dad. Oh well.
    3 fantastic stuffing recipes Charlie. I have only eaten quinoa once before and think it is a wonderful idea to use as a stuffing.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  7. We never have stuffing at Christmas, as we always have a rolled turkey and a leg of ham, both usually served cold. I love Christmas dinner! How exciting!

  8. These three stuffings look delicious. We usually have some stuffing in the bird and some cooked separately. These three give a great choice. GG

  9. Charlie, all of these recipes llok great, makes me hungry! We have turkey when we celebrate Thanksgiving, which is next week.

    Never heard of the kamado cooker, looks like our Big Green Egg.

  10. I’m a firm believer in a (mostly) cold Christmas dinner. We have lots of salads, seafood and ham – and often a turkey or roast pork cooked in the Weber. That’s our only nod to the traditional European meal. What did you all end up eating instead of the charred bird that year?

  11. Poor blackened turkey! Maybe he should have had a few practice runs first? Your stuffings do sound lovely Charlie- especially the quinoa one. We celebrate with hot roasts too, but generally just a turkey thigh roast as there has to be room for the lamb, pork, chicken and ham as well 🙂

  12. I’ll add yours to all the other Kamado horror stories I’ve heard over the years! (There’s actually an entire forum set up called the Kamado Fraud Forum). Stuffings look wonderful! xx

  13. What a sad tale about the cooker and the turkey, and what a shame as when the weather gets hot, cooking outside at least keeps the house a bit cooler. We do mostly cold food now for Xmas lunch.

  14. Oh tears. I used to often be in charge of trying a new stuffing recipe at Christmas each year. Boohooooooo.

  15. I must admit I have never roasted my own turkey before but I’m hoping to give it a try this year and have been looking up plenty of stuffing recipes – so this comes at the perfect time! Thanks for three great recipes Charlie!

  16. so many years since I had turkey at Christmas time. I think my grandmother was the only one who ever cooked it much to my disappointment…I DO remember stuffing myself to the gills with it though, and the stuffing of course!

  17. G’day! First of all, love all your combinations re stuffing today Charlie, true!
    Why do these things happen on days when one really needs foods to cook properly too?
    At least you have the stories and memories and am sure you all laugh about it NOW!
    Cheers! Joanne

  18. Oops! I guess some traditions are best kept, well, traditional 🙂 I also grew up with the turkey each year despite the heat, and whilst I feel for my mother in retrospect, I am glad we did things that way. These stuffings would have been a perfect accompaniment!

  19. Your stuffings look amazing and I love that you did three for a meal! The one with rice is something I would love to try.

  20. The apple and apricot really sounds like it would be my favorite, but each is very unique, Charlie. I would love to make these with a nice roast chicken. My family is absolutely wedded to my mother’s stuffing, and as good as it is, I sometimes think it would be fun to try something different. But NO! Nothing can ever change. LOL! So I’ll remember these wonderful options for roast chicken! 🙂 Sounds like the Christmas turkey didn’t survive that one year, but it makes a great story!

  21. I put my family through the same traditions I am happy to say. Hot Christmas dinner regardless of the weather. We love our stuffing in our house and it doesn’t even have to be Christmas, although these look very festive. I don’t have a food processor either and I enjoy a bit of bashing myself.

  22. I am so sorry about the blackened bird!
    But these stuffings all look quite fantastic 😀


  23. This looks so delicious and so flavorful!

  24. You will be pleased to know that the first cookbook I ever bought in Australia (before I bought Stephanie Alexander’s book and was given an identical book) was a Gretta Anna cookbook. I have the orange cover. I should look for others. There’s a green one too, isn’t there?

    I usually make 2 stuffings. 3 is definitely over the top. 🙂 Thanksgiving is this week and it’s two stuffings. The bird is thawing now ahead of brining on Wednesday.

  25. Charlie, I think the walnut-sage would be my favorite of the three — I pinned it to my Fall Harvest Board on Pinterest to be sure it’s saved. 🙂

    In your bread photo caption you mention “my spelt sourdough bread”, did you make the bread? I have a bag of sprouted spelt flour in my freezer I’d like to use, but don’t have a recipe for spelt sourdough.

    Your poor dad with a blackened bird … new gadgets are like that, rarely do they live up to their promises. :/

  26. I laughed at your story, though I doubt your poor Dad did at the time! I just spent an hour with my sister-in-law trying to sort out the best stuffing for this year’s Thanksgiving turkey. Now I’ll just forward her your post–great recipes! Something a little different.

  27. All 3 stuffings look and sound so fantastic that I ended up with a problem :
    Can’t decide which one is my favorite!
    Fruity, Quinoa or or walnut and sage what a dilemma and on top I’m grateful for it 🙂
    Thanks for sharing these great recipes, Charlie.

  28. If you don’t get that food processor I will buy one for you! LOL! I love stuffing. That and potatoes and gravy are my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂

  29. Stuffing seems to be overlooked in my family. Oh well, their loss as it just means more for me!

  30. I love stuffing but sadly no one else in my house does so I’ve stopped making them. I love these Charlie, all of them are so distinct and different and have such lovely flavours. I may just sneak one in for Thanksgiving next week. And btw, if you ever want to experience Thanksgiving, you are always welcome at my house, but you’ll have to come in November and I can tell you today, I haven’t thawed out yet. I have run my shopping errands today in below freezing temps.

    • That’s so kind of you, Nazneen; I feel very honoured. I can’t believe it’s so cold in Denver. In Sydney it NEVER gets to freezing point. Sneak in a stuffing and eat it yourself! xx

  31. I make a bread and corn beard stuffing. I must try your rice stuffing sometime,it sounds great!

  32. I’ve actually never tried roast Turkey before, except for the cold cut meats in the deli, in a sandwich with cranberry sauce. Would love to give it a go one year but I’m not sure if my oven is big enough! They certainly do look like delicious stuffing’s! I might give it a go with roast chook 🙂

  33. You’re well ahead with the prep Charlie! This year we are going to the local bowls club for Christmas dinner but I doubt any of the stuffings available will be as nice as these three!

  34. Great selection of stuffings! I’ve not thought about using quinoa in stuffing, but of course, why not! I do like sausage in my stuffing and each year I struggle with which one to pick, I like soo many!!!

  35. You know, I’ve never bothered with stuffing… perhaps I will once I move into a house in the future. Once we start celebrating Christmases in our “real” home I think I’ll be more motivated to make the effort.

    Those stuffings look wonderful – the walnut and sage, and apple and apricot especially for me!

    So, what do you think was the problem with the Kamado? Equipment malfunction, or operator error? 😀

    • Hi Charles, definitely operator error. They do work well and dad did produce some great meals with it but not that Christmas! I thought you would like the walnut and sage stuffing because it has celery leaves in it and I think you once made a dish using celery leaves and I left a message letting you know that I don’t know of many recipes using the leaves but they’re definitely edible.

  36. I love all of these stuffings! I think I might have to make the preserved lemon and pine nut quinoa for dinner one night this week. Dried apricots – now that sounds like a very interesting addition to a stuffing. You’ve got me rethinking my stuffing Charlie.

  37. I grew up on a hot Christmas dinner too, and my parents still insist on one to this day. I can’t stand it as it was always well over 40C and too hot for a roast. I get a reprieve every other year as I go to the in-laws. They prefer the cold ham & turkey route. And this year there are only a few of us so we are off to a restaurant. Someone else can cook. These recipes look great though.

  38. A perfect post right before Thanksgiving for us Americans. Each one sounds delicious, so good that I wouldn’t know which to choose… good thing some friends are doing the turkey this year!

  39. HAHAHA i couldn’t stop laughing at your last sentence don’t overstuff otherwise the legs will pop 😛 That’s what happened to us last year hehe I really like the sound and look of the lemon and quinoa stuffing! I’m already starting to plan our Xmas party but I think I need to source a turkey before I can think about stuffing xx

  40. Yeah, I once served black turkey for Thanksgiving when I attempted to use the grill to cook it. Never again. I love preparing the big turkey dinner but, to be honest, my stuffing leaves something to be desired. I’ve tried a number of recipes, Charlie, and they all seem to fall flat. I struggle to get 1 right and come here to see you’ve 3 good ones. Life is so unfair! Although I’d welcome all 3, I think I’d prefer the Sage & Walnut recipe. It doesn’t taste like stuffing if there’s no sage and I like the idea of a little crunch in the mix.

  41. Haha, what a Christmas disaster! These sides all sound so yummy! A perfect accompaniment to turkey. The apple and apricot one is very similar to the one I make every year 🙂

  42. These all look so good! Thanks for posting – with time enough for us to think and prepare!

  43. I’m all for rustic bread crumbs too! Lovely stuffings – I definitely wants to try some of these. Thanks.

  44. There are some great ideas there for stuffing. Fortunately I have two food processors and I use them all the time for everything.
    i am glad to hear the kamado didn’t make it onto the truck. That sounded like a major disappointment.

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