Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

$18.95 recipe / $3.16 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.75 from 4 votes
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Alright, I’m going to tell you a secret… I hate, HATE, cooking whole birds. I’m not sure what part I hate the most, but I just don’t enjoy it… which kinda puts a damper on the Thanksgiving dinner thing! Enter this baked Turkey and Stuffing Casserole.

One of my awesome readers, Meredy, sent me this awesome tip from this article by Denise Vivaldo. Instead of roasting an entire turkey for Thanksgiving, you can cut up a turkey into pieces (or buy pre-cut pieces) and bake them on top of a dish full of stuffing. 🤯 The herb infused steam from the stuffing bakes into the meat and the drippings from the turkey flavor and moisten the stuffing… and it all takes a fraction of the time that it takes to cook a whole turkey! Perfect!

I can’t say enough about how easy and delicious this was. The stuffing was a cinch and was packed with flavor. The turkey turned out moist with a nice crispy skin. I’ll probably never roast a whole bird again.

Easy Baked Turkey & Stuffing Casserole

Turkey & Stuffing casserole in pan with a plate of a serving on it

Where Can I Get Turkey Pieces?

The most difficult part of this recipe will be either finding turkey pieces or cutting the turkey yourself. I found pre-cut turkey pieces at Whole Foods and, of course, I paid an arm and a leg for them. A whole turkey will usually cost less than $1 per pound and I paid $2.49 per pound for my pieces. To me, it was worth it. If it’s not worth it for you, you can follow these step by step photo instructions on how to cut your own turkey into pieces. I just wasn’t that ambitious this weekend! Plus, turkeys can take a couple days to thaw and I threw this together last minute.

Is This Turkey and Stuffing Casserole Healthy?

“Healthy” is subjective, but if you’re looking to make this more healthy, you can definitely skip the bacon and sauté vegetables in a touch of olive oil or broth. Enough fat drips into the dressing from the turkey that the bacon fat wasn’t all that necessary in the end… but it sure did taste good!
top view of turkey & stuffing casserole in pan

Can I Use Leftover Turkey?

No, unfortunately this recipe only works with raw turkey pieces. You need the turkey to bake on top of the dressing so all the rendered fat and flavor soaks into the dressing. Using pre-baked turkey would over bake the turkey pieces and not yield the same results.

How to Store the Leftovers

After baking, make sure to divide any uneaten portions into single servings so they cool quickly in the refrigerator. Your Turkey and Stuffing Casserole will stay good in the refrigerator for about four days. So you can enjoy the leftovers for days!

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Turkey And Stuffing Casserole Recipe

4.75 from 4 votes
Turkey & stuffing casserole is an easier way to cook your holiday turkey and stuffing. It bakes faster and no carving required!
Servings 6
Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
Total 2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 6 oz bacon ($1.65)
  • 1/2 bunch celery ($0.65)
  • 2 medium apples ($1.19)
  • 1 medium yellow onion ($0.30)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic ($0.04)
  • 1 tsp dried sage ($0.05)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
  • salt and pepper (as needed) ($0.05)
  • 1 large loaf french bread ($1.59)
  • 1 tsp chicken base ($0.07)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley ($0.40)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.11)
  • 6 lbs bone-in turkey pieces ($12.80)

Instructions 

  • Cut the bacon into small pieces by cutting across the strips. Cook bacon in a large pot until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, wash and cut the celery, onion, and apples into a dice.
  • Add the onion, apples, celery, and garlic to the cooked bacon. Saute just until slightly softened (about five minutes). Turn off the heat and add the thyme, sage, freshly cracked pepper, and salt to taste.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If your bread is fresh, slice it and place it in the oven as it heats up to dry it out. Or, buy the bread a couple of days ahead of time and allow it to dry out or get stale on your countertop. Once the bread is dry, cut it into small cubes. Also wash and roughly chop the parsley. Add the cubed bread and parsley to the cooked vegetables and bacon. Stir until everything is well mixed.
  • Mix one teaspoon of chicken base with one cup of hot water. Pour this over the bread mixture and stir until everything is well coated. Transfer the stuffing mixture to a large 9×11 inch glass casserole dish.
  • Unwrap the turkey pieces and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Arrange the turkey pieces over the stuffing in the casserole dish. Place the whole dish in the oven and let roast, uncovered, for one and a half hours. The turkey skin should be brown and crispy and the stuffing should be bubbling around the edges. Allow the casserole to rest for about 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the stuffing to soak up some of the moisture and solidify, as well as the turkey juices to redistribute within the meat.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 982.4kcalCarbohydrates: 62.57gProtein: 117.43gFat: 26.38gSodium: 1603.18mgFiber: 5.17g
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How to Make Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

raw bacon being cut into chunks with knife
Cut the bacon across the strips to yield small pieces. Again, you can probably skip the bacon if you want because the turkey renders enough fat the keep the dressing nice and moist. …but it tastes good, if you want it!

cooking bacon in bottom of pot
Cook the bacon down until it’s nice and crispy.

celery, apples and onion ready to be cut
While the bacon is cooking, wash and cut the celery, apples, and onion into a small dice. I ended up using half of the bunch of celery, or about 5 stalks.

chopped veggies added to bacon in pot
Add the chopped celery, apples, onion, and minced garlic to the cooked bacon. Stir and cook this for about five minutes or until it’s just barely softened.

chopping parsley with knife
Wash and roughly chop the parsley while the veggies are cooking in the bacon fat.

seasoning added to pot of veggies and bacon
After the veggies cook, turn off the heat and add the thyme, sage, salt, and pepper (to taste). Stir to combine.

loaf of French bread cut into cubes
It’s time to cut the large loaf of french bread into cubes. Fresh bread will not cut into small cubes, it will just squish and tear. So, you can either buy the bread ahead of time and leave it exposed on the counter top for a couple of days (which I did) or slice it and place it in the oven while it preheats. Once it’s dry and crispy (but not toasted), cut it into small cubes.

bread cubes and parsley added to pot of other ingredients
Add the bread cubes (and all of the crumbs) as well as the chopped parsley to the pot of bacon and vegetables. Stir until everything is very well mixed.

chicken bouillon in jar
Next mix up some chicken stock by combining 1 tsp of chicken base with one cup of very hot water. You’ll notice in the picture that I actually made 2 cups. As it turns out, I dramatically underestimated the amount of juices that the turkey would give off and 2 cups was far too much. So, despite what the picture tells you, only use one cup of stock.

pouring stock onto ingredients in pot
Pour the stock over the stuffing mixture and stir everything really well again.

stuffing transferred to baking dish
Transfer the stuffing mixture to a large glass baking dish.

turkey pieces seasoned and placed on tin foil
Prepare the turkey pieces by rubbing the skin with olive oil and sprinkling generously with salt and pepper. I ended up purchasing three turkey thighs and two wings. The thighs were so huge that each one was larger than a standard chicken breast. Turkey breast was also available at the butcher, but I like dark meat so this is what I chose.

raw turkey placed over stuffing in pan
Arrange the turkey pieces over the stuffing.

side view of pan ready to bake
Can’t you just tell how awesome this is going to be? The herb infused steam from the stuffing will rise up into the turkey meat and the turkey juices will drip down into the stuffing adding moisture and flavor… It’s just fabulous.

Top view of baked turkey and stuffing in pan
And then all you have to do is place it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour and a half or until the skin is nicely browned and crispy. So easy. No basting required.

close up of crispy turkey skin
The skin on the cooked turkey was deliciously crispy while the meat under it stayed nice and moist. What more could you want?

top view of thanksgiving dinner on plate
It definitely made the whole dinner so much easier to prepare! 

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  1. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times. It’s perfect for smaller families like mine. Plus this stuffing is SO delicious, I’ve made it alongside a full turkey in the past (and this year as well) substituting the turkey pieces for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Seriously, if you haven’t done so yet, try this recipe. It will become a staple!!

  2. Hello – This looks amazing. Do you think this would work with just turkey breast or do the dark meat pieces provide the flavor and moistness? THANKS! 

    1. The dark meat definitely adds more, but it will still be flavorful with the turkey breast. The only other thing to consider is that turkey breast will be much larger than these dark meat pieces, so cooking time may need to be increased.

  3. Hi Beth

    Is there any other seasonings I can add with the salt and pepper to season the turkey parts.

    1. A general poultry seasoning blend would be great! Or you can mimic the seasoning that is in the stuffing portion, by adding some sage and thyme. :)

  4. I got turkey breasts, that are still together, for a great price and I am wondering if that would change the cooking or if I should separate them. They did come with the “done popper”…

  5. I bet you could do this in the slow cooker really well although you won’t get crispy skin on the turkey

  6. Solo Thanksgiving this year so thought I’d give this one a whirl. Had some chicken legs in the freezer and decided to roll with that, came out great! A little unconventional, especially for today, but whatcha gonna do? :) Last night I made Beth’s Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes recipe, so it turned out to be a nice little feast with plenty of leftovers for the weekend.

    Love the site.! Keep up the fine work and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. It’s moist. Since the turkey covers it almost completely, you don’t get any of that dry heat air touching it to make it crispy.

  7. Has anyone made this but JUST the stuffing? Will you need to use the full 2 cups of broth for this? Looks delish!!

  8. Is this something that you could freeze–maybe before baking? I’m trying to prep something to leave behind for a friend who can’t travel home for the holidays and this seems like it could be a great option!

    1. I really haven’t done any pre-bake freezing with any of my dishes (I tend to like to freeze single portions after baking), so I’m not sure how this would fare. I think you might have some trouble with the larger pieces of turkey thawing and cooking through, though.

    2. It is dangerous to assemble turkey and dressing and then freeze before baking. It can introduce salmonella, etc.

  9. Like others, I also appreciate this recipe which makes it easy to produce a delicious turkey dinner for one or two without having to deal with an entire bird. Today (Canadian Thanksgiving) will be the third time I’ve made it. Thank you so much. I keep trying to give a 5-star rating, but for some reason it will not register beyond 4.

  10. Great recipe and concept! I just made this tonight and its amazing. The turkey on top of the stuffing really makes it; the stuffing tastes so rich and delicious. Thank you!

  11. I made this last night and it was SOOO GOOD!!

    I will definitely be saving this recipe and making it again and again! :)

  12. Finally a way for a single person to enjoy a traditional holiday meal! My local store was overstocked on turkeys so they quartered them and sold for 48 cents per pound. I was searching for ideas when I found this recipe. The pieces will be individually frozen so I can make tiny batches of your casserole later. Thanks!

  13. Thank you for this recipe! I made it last night, except I used a separated chicken instead of turkey and used one of my wire cooling racks to suspend them above the stuffing; it was a huge hit and everyone wanted the recipe!

    Great job! You really provide amazing recipes here without breaking my bank.

    Thanks again for this. :D

  14. Could you use a box stove top dressing in place of actually making the stuffing?
    Would i need to cook it first or just put it in the pan with the liquids and let the oven and meat juices do the rest?
    i’m wanting quick and easy ;)

    1. I think you could use a boxed mix. I would just combine everything without cooking and let it cook while it’s in the oven with the turkey.