Ina Garten Explains Why She Never Cooks Stuffing in Thanksgiving Turkey

There’s a big debate over whether to put stuffing in the Thanksgiving turkey or not. Ina Garten shared the reason she never stuffs the turkey and doesn’t sacrifice any delicious flavor in the process.

Ina Garten wears a bright blue shirt and smiles as she holds a spoon on the set of 'Today'
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/Getty Images

Ina Garten explains why she prefers not to put stuffing in the Thanksgiving turkey

During an interview with Al Roker on his Cooking Up a Storm with Al Roker podcast, Garten shared her take on whether or not to put stuffing in the Thanksgiving turkey.

“I like the turkey to make the stuffing in, but I also do another big batch of it,” Roker said. “Like bake it in the oven and then mix the two so that they’re a little wet and dry. By the time you average it out, it should be the right consistency.”

Garten shared the reason she doesn’t put the stuffing in the turkey. “The reason why I prefer not to stuff the turkey is because, in order to get the stuffing cooked, I feel like you have to overcook the turkey,” she said.

The Barefoot Contessa star continued, “So if the heat can get into the middle — and I do it the way I do a chicken with herbs and lemon and garlic in the cavity — the turkey will cook in like 2 or 2 ½ hours.”

She added, “And so the turkey is really moist. If you stuff it, in order to get the stuffing cooked all the way through – and you need to do that to be safe — I feel like the turkey is overcooked. So that’s why I like to do the stuffing separately as a bread pudding.”

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star makes a savory bread pudding instead of stuffing

Instead of traditional stuffing, Garten mixes things up for Thanksgiving with a side of savory bread pudding, which delivers on flavor and texture.

Garten noted that Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for her because she can focus on the food and guests. “I just like that, unlike Christmas, which has so much going on — it’s just your favorite people are invited for dinner and everything is absolutely delicious,” she explained.

She shared that part of her delicious feast swaps out stuffing for bread pudding. “Instead of stuffing for the turkey, I make a savory bread pudding,” Garten explained. “I mean, stuffing’s delicious. But when you make a bread pudding instead, it’s creamy on the bottom and crispy on the top, so it’s got more texture.”

Garten’s go-to sides are either a leek and mushroom bread pudding or an apple and herb bread pudding. “So it’s got lots of flavors and textures and it just goes with everything else,” she added.

Ina Garten cooks extra food for her guests to take home

Garten definitely goes above and beyond as a host, as she shared that she often will make extra Thanksgiving food to send home with her guests.

Roker asked how she handles leftovers and Garten said she’s certain to give her guests a yummy parting gift.

The Barefoot Contessa star explained, “Well actually I have a thing about thanksgiving leftovers. I think the guests want to have leftovers too. I’ve done a second Thanksgiving dinner, where they have a whole turkey to take home … and extra stuffing.”

Garten added, “Because everybody wants sandwiches the next day, right?”

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