Thanksgiving turkey stuffing alternatives

Oct 24, 2009 at 12:06 p.m. ET

Me, I love a big pan of homemade cornbread just waiting to become turkey stuffing at the holidays. My husband, not so much, so I've had to get creative with alternative Thanksgiving stuffings that still satisfy. Luckily, I have found a few delicious swaps for the traditional, cornbread-based turkey stuffings. Rice and even gluten-free bread still work well -- even splendidly -- for holiday meals. To save you time, you can also make your Thanksgiving stuffing recipes the day or night before, and then heat them up in the oven while you roast the turkey.

Wild rice and sausage stuffing

Alternative Thanksgiving turkey stuffing recipes

Ham-Mushroom Rice Stuffing

Serves 8 to 10

2 cups wild and white rice mix
1/3 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup extra-lean ham, cubed
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt to taste
2 large eggs, (optional)

1. Cook rice according to directions in rice steamer or on the stove.

2. Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms, celery, and onions in butter. Stir in ham, sage, thyme, pepper, and salt. Add cooked rice. (Eggs can be added here for a richer, moister stuffing.)

3. Stuff rice mixture into the turkey. Skewer the cavity, or place an apple or onion to seal in the stuffing. Roast turkey according to your turkey recipe directions.

Note: If you would rather cook your stuffing separately, place it in an ovenproof casserole with a lid, and bake in a preheated 325 degree F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until heated through.

Wild rice and sausage stuffing

Serves 10

2 cups wild rice, uncooked
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 pound pork or turkey sausage
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Cook rice according to package directions and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.

3. Add sausage, salt, fennel, sage, pepper, and thyme, breaking up sausage with spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked through and browned, about 10 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine sausage mixture with rice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to stuff turkey, or cook stuffing in a casserole dish in oven.

Gluten-Free Sausage, Cranberry, and Pecan Stuffing

Serves 10 to 12

8 cups (1/2-inch) pieces gluten-free bread (3/4 pound)
1-1/2 pounds pork or turkey sausage meat, crumbled
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced 1/4inch thick
1 green apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans (8 ounces), toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast bread in a large shallow baking pan until it is dried out, and just starting to brown.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat and cook sausage until it is no longer pink, breaking it up as you cook. Remove sausage from skillet and allow to drain on paper towels.

3. Add butter to fat in the skillet and sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add celery, apple, and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

4. Transfer onion mixture to a large bowl, add sausage, and then stir in bread and remaining ingredients.

5. Butter an ovenproof casserole dish with an oven-safe lid and place the stuffing in the dish. Drizzle the broth over the stuffing, using 1 cup if you prefer a dry, fluffy stuffing, and up to 1-1/2 cups if you like a moister stuffing.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for 20 more minutes or until bread is crispy and stuffing is heated through.

More alternative Thanksgiving stuffing recipes