Friday, November 16, 2012

Old-Fashioned Cracker Dressing & Stuffing – Do You Dare?

Here we go again, delving into the treacherous topic of changing up your traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. This time, it’s an old-fashioned cracker dressing vying to be that surprise, uninvited guest.

Sure some you alternative lifestylists may go for the cornbread, but generally, bread-based variations rule the day. There’s a great reason for this; they’re easy, delicious, and most importantly, very familiar. Therein lies the problem.

Why mess with past success? Your loved ones wait all year for your Thanksgiving feast, so why take the chance of disappointing them on the big day? You have the entire rest of the year to do that.

Anyway, I’m not going to try and convince you that this is a superior dressing, or that you should change your regular routine, but if you’re someone who's looking for a change of pace dressing, that’s still very familiar and comforting, this could be the one.

Of course, you can use whatever ingredients you normally add to your bread dressing, and it should work just the same. By the way, I never stuff my turkey, so if you choose to use this as a stuffing, please refer to the roughly one million Thanksgiving turkey cooking guides linked online. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 portions:
1 pound saltine crackers (4 sleeves)
1/2 cup butter
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
3 or 4 ribs of celery, diced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 3/4 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 or 2 eggs
*Tip: you can cook a small nugget in a pan and taste for seasoning
Bake at 375 degrees F. for bout 45 minutes

View the complete recipe


Anonymous said...

Ha, First!

Chris K. said...

I'd rather stay at home and have a potluck dinner with friends, but that doesn't happen every year.

Thanksgiving is probably my least favorite holiday. Lots of travel and little time for visiting. The turkey and stuffing must be exactly the way Mom/Grandma/somebody's uncle made it. Side dishes are almost an afterthought - frozen veggies simmered in water and dotted with butter. Dinner rolls. That's it. No room for novelty, or creating new food memories.

This year I'm spending Thanksgiving with my sister in Rochester NY (whom I haven't seen in years) and her husband's relatives. Not looking forward to the drive, but it'll be nice to catch up and get a quick look around the old stomping grounds. Who knows? Maybe I'll score a case of Zweigle's white hots while I'm up there.

Chef John said...

Zweigle's white hots makes any trip worthwhile! ;) Enjoy yourself! As you know, those are my people.

cdcphoenix said...

Good morning Chef!
One of my favorite ways to start my day is to watch your most recent videos.
Your recipes always turn out perfectly for me, and so I'm continuing my cooking education in a very enjoyable manner.
But more than that, I laugh. Starting the day with a hearty chuckle is better than almost any other way.
Cutting parallelograms and going both ways...
Have a spectacular day and thank you for starting my day off so well.

cdcphoenix said...

Hmmmm. I haven't left a comment for awhile, and the process has become confusing.
I either just posted the same comment three times, or I didn't post it at all.
And it's asking me to choose an identity, but not giving me a place in which to do so.

Chef John said...

Because of spam we can no longer accept anon comments, so you have to sign in with a Google account. Also, ALL comments must be approved by me, so they do not appear as soon as you post. You have to wait until I see them, so don't keep posting additional ones. :)

Kate Uttinger said...

Chef John, is there a "culinary" reason why you don't stuff your turkey (or is it just a taste preference?"

Chef John said...

It's just much easier and the bird cooks faster and more evenly. No real flavor difference, especially when you serve it all mixed in with the meat and gravy and pan drippings, etc!

Gloria said...

Chef, I loved your "gravy delivery system" comment!
This recipe is very similar to my dearly departed Mom's, except she added pork sausage to her dressing. I think about her every time I make this.

Gloria said...

Chef, I loved your "gravy delivery system" comment!
This recipe is very similar to my dearly departed Mom's, except she added pork sausage to her dressing. I think about her every time I make this.

NunyabizKE said...

I am making this stuffing today, Wednesday in order to free up the oven for the bird tomorrow. Any suggestions for re-heating the dressing?

Z said...


What I normally do is heat melt some butter in a small pan and let the stuffing heat up that way.

NunyabizKE said...

Thank you, Z. I will try that. Can't have enough butter, right? :)

alintot917 said...

Love all your videos. So easy to follow and humorous to boot.
Could you substitute Ritz for the saltines?

Chef John said...

Sure, but will be sweeter. Thanks!

Sarah said...

Chef John!

First, I absolutely love your recipes and I think you are delightful.

Second, my husband and I host a Thanksgiving dinner each year for our close friends. The last two years, I've tried to duplicate my mom and grandma's stuffing recipe. It's been a bust and, unfortunately, they are no longer with us for me to glean it from. I decided to try something new this year and I always check your recipes first.

Anyway, I just wanted to confirm that if I am making this as stuffing that I stuff it in the bird and cook it the entire time the turkey is in, correct? I'm sure that seems obvious but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Thank you!


Chef John said...

Yes! Enjoy!

Unknown said...


1) Could this be made the Sunday before and refigerated until day of?

2) If yes to the first question, can it go directly from fridge to oven or would you recommend it sit out to raise in temp for a while?

3) If "let it sit out" to the second question, about how long?

4) You rock! Thanks for everything!

Chef John said...

4 days early seems like a lot. Never tried that long. Prob ok. You don't need to let warm first.

Unknown said...

Do you have a suggestion for replacing the egg as a binder? I'd like to try making this but I'm taking it to a relative's house and one of my family members is allergic to eggs.

Martin said...

You are one of the few sources for this recipe on line. My late father was always the master cook at Thanksgiving. This is his recipe since the beginning of time. I think it has Amish origins, not sure. We are Polish, PA coal miner heritage. I've tried to duplicate it without a written recipe for many years. My brothers always poo-poo me, unmatched to Dad's. He put meat in it sometimes (sausage or ground beef or both). I've made it different ways, but those saltines are always the base. Bread cube stuffing is just dumb compared to this: it slices great for day-after sandwiches, too. Thanks for recognizing this rendition.

Peter said...

I make this dressing with Ritz and saltines combined. I don’t use eggs the crackers with the broth bind the dressing

Tiffany Banks said...

I just wanted to thank you chef John for helping me with my first thanksgiving dinner. My husbands mother never ever clears her plate during any dinner if it’s hers, mine or her husbands. But today chef she did, she ate everything she even went for seconds. You have been my go to for many nightly dinners. I love your recipes, your jokes and videos. Thank you chef John I truly applaud you
Ps my mother in-law hugged tight because the food was so good