Recipe Review

Is Smitten Kitchen’s Stuffing Recipe the Best One to Make? I Tried It to Find Out.

updated Nov 12, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

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Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen has created some of the best recipes on the internet. Her confetti cookies and meatloaf are on regular rotation at my house, and a toasted slice of her pumpkin bread is the surest sign fall has arrived. The recipes on her popular food blog Smitten Kitchen are known for being smart, reliable, and always delicious, and that’s why it’s been one of my biggest sources of dinnertime inspiration over the years. Deb also has a history of marking holidays and special occasions so I knew I had to consider her take on the holiday classic, stuffing.

This apple-herb stuffing is not the only stuffing on her site, but she makes a compelling case for serving this side dish all year long. It has all of the trappings of a classic Turkey Day stuffing, but with the addition of crisp-tart Granny Smith apples. Are diced apples the ingredient we’ve been missing in our stuffings all along? Would this recipe expand my stuffing consumption beyond a few days in the fall and winter to all year long? I headed to the kitchen to find out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How To Make Smitten Kitchen’s Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons

Start by heating the oven to 350°F. Spread torn pieces of chewy white bread (such as a baguette or sourdough bread) into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the bread until light golden, then remove from the oven and let cool. Melt butter in a large skillet, then add onion, fresh thyme, salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper and cook until translucent. Add celery, and continue to cook two minutes. Finally, add diced apples (I used Granny Smith as advised), and cook until just tender, about four minutes.

Toss the bread and sautéed vegetables together in a large bowl. Whisk an egg and broth together until smooth, then pour over the bread mixture. Transfer the stuffing to a buttered baking dish. Check to see if the mixture appears dry, and if it does, add more liquid. Bake uncovered until brown and heated throughout, 30 to 40 minutes.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

My Honest Review of Smitten Kitchen’s Stuffing

Unfortunately, this stuffing recipe won’t be gracing my Thanksgiving table this year. The recipe starts with toasted torn bits of chewy white bread, and that’s where the trouble began. The recipe indicates that six cups of torn bread can come from two demi-baguettes, but I got the same volume from just one. Since I leaned on the volume measurement rather than weight for this test, the ingredient proportions were off, with too much onion and pepper in the stuffing. Next, I tested with a large Granny Smith apple as advised in the ingredient list. The tart flavor of that apple was overpowering. With little instruction on how large or small to tear the bread, I erred on the side of larger pieces per the photographs on her site. But the stuffing was very piecey, even falling apart on my fork as I tried to eat it.

Even though the recipe appears to include essential elements of a traditional holiday stuffing, the unclean and unbalanced proportions and emphasis on apple, thyme, and pepper make this stuffing a better match for a roasted pork dinner than turkey and gravy.

Credit: Patty Catalano

If You’re Making Smitten Kitchen’s Apple-Herb Stuffing, a Few Tips

  1. Use 14 to 16 ounces of bread. Use bread weight, rather than volume (cup measurement), to determine the proper amount.
  2. Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. There’s little written instruction on how large to tear the bread pieces. Opt for smaller, bite-sized pieces so that the bread and stuffing combine evenly, making the dish easier to eat.
  3. Swap Granny Smith for a sweet-tart apple. The tart Granny Smith apple flavor was overpowering. Instead, opt for a sweet-tart apple such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady for a milder flavor.
  4. Make sure to bake in 8×8-inch baking dish. Use an 8×8-inch (or similarly sized) baking dish as instructed. Pack the stuffing into the dish so that the pieces bake together cohesively.

Rating: 6/10

Have you made Smitten Kitchen’s Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell