The Unexpected Trick For Preventing Soggy Thanksgiving Stuffing

Those who love Thanksgiving sides know that the stuffing (or dressing) is the best part of the meal when done well. Other times, though, it can be underwhelming or downright disappointing, whether it's too dry, too soggy, or just not seasoned particularly well. Stuffing is a classic accompaniment on the Thanksgiving table and has numerous variations — there's the chestnut stuffing loved by Andrew Zimmern, some people like to put dried fruit or apples in their dressing, and others prefer a meaty sausage stuffing recipe to accompany their roasted turkey.

There's an endless debate about how best to cook stuffing: Inside the bird or in a dish? If you cook it inside the turkey, you save oven space, but you also run the risk of overcooking your turkey to ensure the stuffing reaches a safe temperature (via The Kitchn). Cooking the stuffing in its own dish, meanwhile, might mean a bit less turkey flavor (easily fixed by making and using your own turkey stock), but you get the those crispy bits of baked bread that are just made for dipping in the gravy — heavenly. No matter your stuffing preference, there is one universal hack to prevent soppy, wet stuffing.

Up your stuffing game with stale bread

If you're making your own stuffing this year, we encourage you to buy a loaf of bread for the recipe. Something crusty like sourdough or ciabatta, or even an Italian bread loaf, will do, and you can slice or tear it into bite-size chunks a few days before your celebration. Spread the pieces out in an even layer on a sheet pan, and let them get stale — yes, stale. If you don't have the time (or the counter space) to leave your chunks of bread out, you can put them in the oven at a low temperature to dry out, per Serious Eats.

Using fresh bread is a common stuffing mistake because it will give you more of a "bread soup," says The Kitchn. Fresh bread has plenty of moisture in it, so when you add your turkey or vegetable stock, the bread won't hold its shape and will basically turn to mush. Dried bread, on the other hand, has no moisture left in it, so the chunks of bread will retain their structure and have a luscious bite after absorbing a super flavorful stock, giving you the perfect stuffing for Thanksgiving. And in case of emergencies, just keep a canister of Stove Top stuffing handy.