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OK, folks. Get ready for a long blog post with lots of pictures of mouthwatering food as well as stories of my amateur turkey baking and stuffing escapade and a really long, imposing-looking recipe that’s actually about as easy as making a turkey can get, written as if I’m in the kitchen standing behind you, looking over your shoulder (but thankfully I’m not because that would probably be rather awkward for both of us and sounds just a little bit creepy). I give you: Deviled Turkey & Stuffing. Briana-style.
Disclaimer: This was my first experience baking a turkey. If I can do it, so can you. Probably better than I can, actually.
I have a ham recipe here on my website but no turkey recipe, which is problematic when I want to put together a comprehensive healthy Thanksgiving recipe guide. When my mom made turkey back home she always used this amazing deviled turkey seasoning rub – a recipe out of an old church cookbook (of which I sadly have no copy yet, but this tastes very similar). I knew that I wanted my first turkey to be a deviled turkey that tasted like my mom’s for nostalgia’s sake, and I knew I wanted to put it up on the blog before Thanksgiving, so off I went to the grocery store to search for a turkey. For some reason most of the turkeys I saw were in the 20-pound range, and I figured better big than small to make sure my blog recipe will feed a crowd…so home I came with my 20-pound turkey which I thawed and hoped to perfect on the first try because it would take months for Ryan and me to eat 2 or 3 turkeys (especially twenty pounders). Thankfully it turned out great, and we’ve eaten turkey for a week straight plus I have a turkey carcass and a gallon bag of leftover turkey in the freezer for future soup. Win. Have I said before that I LOVE leftovers?
PS – I just posted a brand new Amazing Yellow Squash Casserole recipe (which just happens to be the best squash casserole I’ve ever eaten), so CLICK HERE for that!
Sautéing the onion, celery, apple, and cranberries for the stuffing in a large soup kettle so I can add the other ingredients and mix in the same pot:
While I was stuffing my turkey before baking, I was surprised that I couldn’t fit more stuffing inside the bird. No problem: I baked the remainder of the stuffing in a casserole dish for an hour alongside the turkey, then reheated it before serving. (Baking twice helps dry it out, which I like.) THEN I discovered while carving my turkey that I left the neck and something else inside the bird, hence why I didn’t have a very large stuffing cavity. Oh well, I liked the drier oven-baked stuffing better anyway. (I DID remove the bag of giblets before baking the turkey.) Stuffing baked inside the bird is decadent with drippings and much more moist than stuffing baked on its own in a casserole dish. You can do some of both, bake it all in a casserole dish, or bake it all inside the turkey: your call.
WHAT BREAD SHOULD I USE?
Feel free to use any sprouted bread you prefer. I used Pepperidge Farm Soft Sprouted Grain Bread, and Aldi’s Knock Your Sprouts Off sprouted bread is good too. Stuffing like mine made with sprouted bread is a THM Crossover because it combines carbs (sprouted bread + apple) with fats (butter + pecans + whole eggs + drippings from the bird, if you bake it inside the turkey). I’m completely fine with a healthy crossover on Thanksgiving! Stuffing made with low-carb breads isn’t quite the same, and low-carb breads made with alternative flours aren’t going to hold up as well inside a turkey as sprouted bread made with glutinous wheat flour.
CLICK HERE for my Low-Carb Baked Skillet Dressing recipe that mimics cornbread dressing baked in a cast iron skillet. (I don’t recommend this one for stuffing a turkey though; it’s not sturdy enough.) It’s a good option for those of you who are gluten free!
Stuffing ready for the bird!
My first amateur stuffing attempts actually didn’t turn out too badly:
The skin on this turkey was amazing even though I forgot to dry the bird with paper towels before rubbing it with butter as was suggested on some sites I read. The deviled turkey seasoning has amazing flavor that seeps down into the drippings, which you can use to make gravy or serve over the carved turkey as-is. I also recommend saving any discarded scraps and skin with the turkey carcass to cook down to make stock for the base of a soup. The bits of seasoning left on the carcass and skin will add extra depth of flavor!
That amazing seasoning on the crispy skin…delicious!
I’ve seen various opinions on whether a turkey should be baked up or down. I chose to bake mine with the breast side down to try to keep the white breast meat as moist as possible, but feel free to bake the breast side up if you want to keep crispy skin attached to the breast. (The skin on top is crispy, while the skin that is down in the drippings is not, but you probably already knew that. Someday I’ll experiment with baking on a wire rack up out of the drippings so the whole bird is crispy. Have any of you done that?) I’ll probably experiment with baking technique on more turkeys in the years to come, but I wanted to do a deviled turkey like my mom’s – baked in a speckled roaster like hers – before venturing into the great unknown. I’d love to try brining, spatchcocking, and all that exotic stuff. How do you bake your turkey? Let me know in the comments below so I know what to try next!
One of my Facebook followers suggested I watch THIS VIDEO to learn how to carve a turkey properly. Looks easy enough! I’ll give it a try next time instead of attacking it with knife, meat fork, and hands. 😛 Hey, I got the job done.
Please don’t laugh at my amateur turkey carving results. 😛 I have since watched a video on the proper procedure and will try some more sophisticated moves next time.
My favorite stuffing elements: onions, celery, pecans, cranberries, and some apple. Just the right combination of textures with a bit of sweetness and tart thrown into the savory mix.
Oven-baked stuffing, how I love thee…
My foolproof gravy recipe:
Make gravy by thickening one cup of broth with 1 tablespoon of oat fiber and ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (multiply as needed). Season with salt and pepper if desired (although the deviled turkey seasoning may season the broth well enough on its own). Add the thickeners to hot broth slowly while whisking to avoid clumping. Using this combination of thickeners produces an authentic gravy that isn’t slimy. (I don’t recommend substituting glucomannan for the xanthan gum unless you have to.)
If you have a smaller turkey, I recommend making the full amount of seasoning to make sure you have enough. Just set some aside in a separate bowl before rubbing the turkey with it so it doesn’t get contaminated, then use it if you need it or keep it for a later date. This deviled turkey seasoning would be a great seasoning to keep on hand for any meat throughout the year!
Stuffing baked a la turkey:
What should I do with the leftovers?
- Make this Turkey Pot Pie Chowder!
- Cook down the carcass to make a flavorful stock to use in soup of any kind. You can refrigerate the finished stock overnight and remove the congealed fat off the top to make a Fuel Pull, low fat broth that you can use in any THM fuel setting, or leave the fat in and use it in a THM S soup.
- Ryan requested that I make “turkey salad” (like chicken salad, but with turkey) with the leftovers, so that’s probably what I’ll try with some of the leftover turkey that I put in the freezer. You could use this 5 Ingredient Buffalo Chicken Salad recipe for inspiration or use the Strawberry & Balsamic Chicken Salad recipe (page 231) in Convenient Food.
- Crispy Chicken Cheese Quesadillas could easily become turkey quesadillas!
- The Enchiladas Verdes on page 69 of Convenient Food would be terrific with turkey!
- This Leftover Turkey Fried Wrap is a neat post-Thanksgiving lunch for one.
What a delicious Thanksgiving plate! Deviled turkey + crispy skin, stuffing, and squash casserole:
Some Thanksgiving recipes and posts you might enjoy:
As always, check out the Notes section of the recipe for extra info. Check out the links in and below the recipe to see the products I use and recommend. Some of the links included in the recipe and blog post are affiliate links, which means that if you make purchases through these links, I make a small commission (but your price doesn’t change).
Do you have a copy of my new cookbook, Convenient Food, yet? It was just released the end of October and would make a terrific Christmas gift for yourself or someone you love! Both Necessary Food and Convenient Food contain about 400 low-glycemic recipes each, separated by carbs and fats and free of refined sugar and flour (like all the recipes here on my website). I grew up on my momma’s good cooking, and the recipes in these books are mostly just old family favorites made healthy! Now that I’m married, I’m gravitating even more toward quick and easy, and my newest cookbook definitely reflects that! CLICK HERE to check out my cookbooks in more detail and purchase.
- 1 (20 lb.) turkey (thawed if frozen)
- 8 tablespoons salted butter (melted)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons each salt, black pepper
- 1 tablespoon each curry powder, garlic powder, ground sage, parsley flakes, smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons each chili powder, dill weed, oregano, thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 5 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped Granny Smith Apple
- 1 cup cranberries (chopped if desired)
- 12 cups sprouted bread cubes
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 2 teaspoons reserved spice rub
- 1 teaspoon each ground sage, onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon each cinnamon, ground cloves
- 2 cups chicken broth (mine was salted)
- 2 eggs
- Whisk the melted butter and Dijon mustard together.
- Combine the spice rub ingredients and grind together in a spice grinder. Most of the ingredients are already ground, but this grinds the ones that aren’t and makes the blend more uniform. Reserve two teaspoons of spice rub to add to the stuffing.
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towels for best results. (I forgot to do this and mine turned out fine, but I’m going to try this next time.)
- Rub the butter/mustard mixture all over both sides of the turkey and place in a large roaster. Remove the bag of giblets as well as the neck and whatever other odd body parts may be stuffed inside your turkey and discard or bake in the roaster along with the turkey to flavor the drippings.
- Season the turkey all over with the spice rub.
- Make the stuffing. Sauté the onion, celery, apple, and cranberries in the butter until crisp-tender. (I do this in a large soup kettle.) Add the bread cubes, pecans, and seasonings and stir to combine. Whisk the eggs and chicken broth together and pour over the stuffing mixture. Stir to coat.
- Stuff the body and neck cavities of the turkey loosely with the stuffing if desired, saving any leftover stuffing to bake on its own. (I’ll tell you how to do that in a bit.)
- I’ve seen various opinions on whether a turkey should be baked up or down. I chose to bake mine with the breast side down to try to keep the white breast meat as moist as possible, but feel free to bake the breast side up if you want to keep crispy skin attached to the breast. I’ll probably experiment with baking technique on more turkeys in the years to come. My roaster was small enough that I didn’t need to tie the turkey’s legs together to keep the stuffing inside; they stayed in place on their own. Tie your turkey’s legs together with kitchen twine if you need to.
- Bake the turkey (uncovered) at 350* until the thick part of the thigh as well as the stuffing reads 165* on a meat thermometer (about 4 hours). I left mine in for an extra 30 minutes to make sure it was done enough (and because my husband wasn’t home), but I think I overdid it. The breast meat was on the dry side.
- If the turkey is getting too brown at any point, cover it loosely with foil and continue baking until the correct internal temperature is reached. I left mine uncovered the whole time and the skin was perfectly golden brown and crispy. I rotated the roaster in the oven periodically for even browning.
- Let the turkey rest for 15 minutes before carving and removing stuffing. Pour the turkey juice over the meat to serve if desired, and/or make gravy by thickening one cup of broth with 1 tablespoon oat fiber and ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (multiply as needed).
- STUFFING: While I was stuffing my turkey before baking, I was surprised that I couldn’t fit more stuffing inside the bird. I baked the remainder of the stuffing in an uncovered 10” circular casserole dish for an hour alongside the turkey, then reheated it before serving. (Baking twice helps dry it out, which I like. Cover it when reheating if you want it to be more moist.) I discovered while carving my turkey that I left the neck and something else inside the bird, hence why I didn’t have a very large stuffing cavity. Oh well, I liked the drier oven-baked stuffing better anyway. (I DID remove the bag of giblets before baking the turkey.) Stuffing baked inside the bird is decadent with drippings and much more moist than stuffing baked on its own in a casserole dish. You can do some of both, bake it all in a casserole dish, or bake it all inside the turkey: your call.
-Feel free to use any sprouted bread you prefer. I used Pepperidge Farm Soft Sprouted Grain Bread, and Aldi’s Knock Your Sprouts Off sprouted bread is good too. Low-carb breads made with alternative flours may or may not hold up well baking in a turkey for hours, so substitute at your own risk.
-For drier stuffing (especially if you’re planning to bake the stuffing in the turkey, which makes it much more moist), leave the bread cubes out for a day to dry out and/or decrease the chicken broth used to 1 ½ cups.