Preparing your Thanksgiving dinner takes time. Like, a lot of time. One of the top mistakes holiday hosts make is trying to cook everything on that food-filled Thursday. So, the question arises: What Thanksgiving dishes can you make ahead of time? Stuffing is a necessity but it does take up room. So can you cook your stuffing before turkey day?
But before diving into the stuffing-making process a few days early, it’s important to first know how to safely prepare the iconic Thanksgiving side dish. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture, reports that it isn't always safe to prep the entire stuffing dish early.
If you plan to serve the stuffing inside the body cavity of the turkey, you should not cook your stuffing ahead of time. Instead, you can prepare the wet and dry ingredients separately and combine them on Thanksgiving day. FDSI also recommends that you store the ingredients in the freezer, not in the refrigerator.
If you’re the type of person who prefers to serve stuffing as a traditional side during Thanksgiving, combine all of the uncooked ingredients and store the stuffing in the freezer. When you want to eat the dish, cook the stuffing until it reaches 165 degrees. Do not let it thaw first.
Once cooked, stuffing will last in the refrigerator safely for up to four days. So if you want to prepare it the day before turkey day, just keep it in the refrigerator and heat it up the day of. Once you’ve gotten your preferred method of preparing the stuffing down pat, be sure to try some of our incredible stuffing recipes for Thanksgiving.