These fritters are a two-bite, hot-and-crunchy snack, perfect for an appetizer but even better when you've had your fill of turkey and stuffing sandwiches. Spiced up with plenty of fresh garlic and cumin, the stuffing is transformed into a tender mouthful, but it's really the flavorful, crispy exterior that makes this a deliciously different take on stuffing leftovers.
The sauces, great for dipping these fritters — or even tortilla chips — amp up the Tex-Mex flavors so the fritters don't taste like just another Thanksgiving redux.
3 Tips for Tasty Stuffing Fritters
1. Use bread stuffing.
This recipe is based on our bread stuffing recipe, made with brioche, but it works with many stuffing recipes. I do not recommend this recipe if the bread used in the stuffing was gluten-free or rice flour-based; or if the stuffing has no bread or is made primarily with grain, rice, or wild rice.
- Fritters with challah-based stuffings and soft, whole-grain breads all need the same addition: three tablespoons of the flour mixture, to be a workable consistency.
- Well-crusted French baguettes will need egg added and the stuffing will need to sit for about 10 to 20 minutes to allow the crust pieces to soften.
- Stuffing with cornbread may need both eggs and flour to really make it stick together, since many cornbread recipes have limited gluten.
2. For the filling, consistency is king.
Get ready to get your hands a little messy. You'll have to figure out what you need to add to create the right consistency for the filling. Some small bread crust chunks here and there are perfectly fine, but you need most of the bread to come together into a paste when mixed. When these fritters are cooked, the filling is moist and tender and creates a real contrast to the crispy pan-fried exterior.
3. Use stuffing (dressing, really) that was not cooked inside the bird.
There are many safety issues surrounding cooking a filling inside a bird. Technically, stuffing means that it was stuffed inside the bird and cooked. In this recipe, I actually mean "dressing" — the same yummy stuff, but baked in a separate dish. In different parts of the country, these terms are used interchangeably. This recipe is only intended for a filling that was made outside the bird, no matter what name you use for it.
Stuffing Fritters with Cranberry-Jalapeño Sauce
For the cranberry-jalapeño sauce:
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon agave syrup or maple syrup
1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded, trimmed, and finely chopped
For the sour cream and lime sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves (from about 1/2 small bunch)
Finely grated zest of 1 large or 2 small limes
Juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the fritters:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dry, fine breadcrumbs
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cups leftover bread-based stuffing
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
Make the cranberry-jalapeño sauce: Place the cranberry sauce, vinegar, syrup, and jalapeños in a small bowl and stir until completely combined. The sauce will not be completely smooth. Cover and set aside.
Make the sour cream and lime sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make the fritters: Set up 3 shallow bowls side by side on a work surface. Place the flour, 1 teaspoon of the cumin, chili powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper in the first bowl and stir to combine. Break the eggs into the second bowl, add 1 teaspoon of the salt, and whisk to fully combine. Place the breadcrumbs, panko, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in the third bowl and stir to combine.
If your stuffing has pieces that are larger than 1/2 inch, coarsely chop first. Place the stuffing in a large bowl, add the garlic and remaining 2 teaspoons cumin, and stir until most of the bread is broken apart and has become a paste. The mixture should be a sticky, thick paste and should stick together with ease.
If the mixture does not stick together when patted very lightly in the palm of your hand, mix in 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If the mixture is dry, crumbles, or has big chunks of bread that won't come apart, mix in 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
Line a large plate with 2 to 3 layers of paper towels and set aside. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place it beside the 3 bowls.
Shape the stuffing mixture into 14 to 16 (2-tablespoon) lumpy balls. Place them on one side of the prepared baking sheet, making sure they do not touch.
Place 1 of the balls in the flour mixture and turn to coat, patting it into a patty about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Place the patty in the egg mixture, turn to coat, and then place it into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat completely. Place the coated fritter on the clean side of the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining stuffing balls.
Heat the oil in a 12- to 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Using a ladle or kitchen spider, carefully place 4 patties into the oil, making sure they are not crowded or touching. Cook until the bottoms are a deep golden-brown, about 1 minute. Carefully flip the fritters until the second side is deep golden-brown, about 45 seconds. Transfer to the prepared plate, and sprinkle with additional salt if desired.
Repeat with frying remaining fritters. Serve immediately with the sauces — these fritters are best hot out of the pan.