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Turkey with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing

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8 ounces bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup wild rice, rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
6 cups cubed oatmeal or whole grain bread
1-1/3 cups dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
1 (12 to 14 pound) turkey, thawed
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups chicken stock

Turkey with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing

Turkey with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing is a gorgeous and delicious recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Serves 8
  • Medium

About This Recipe

It’s almost Thanksgiving! This year, whether you are hosting dinner for the very first time or this is your 30th Thanksgiving, maybe you are looking for something a little bit different and totally delicious for the star of the show. Try my recipe for Roast Turkey with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing!

The combination of cranberries and wild rice is native to my home state, Minnesota. In fact, the best wild rice is harvested by Native Americans in the northern part of the state. The whole thing is loaded with history and is completely picturesque. Harvesters glide through quiet marshes on canoes, gently bending the stalks of the grass (wild rice is a grass seed, not a grain) into the canoe and tapping them so the wild rice falls into the canoe.

True wild rice is parched, not roasted. If you can, buy the real thing. It is lighter in color than the commercially prepared and roasted wild rice, and cooks in only 20 minutes. But if you can’t get it, for this recipe the rice you  find in the grocery store is just fine.

This stuffing is sweet and savory with the best texture. And the turkey is burnished gold, the perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. Just be sure to follow directions for timing and especially the final internal temperature of the bird and the stuffing for food safety.

How to make the best Turkey with Wild Rice Cranberry Stuffing

  • You can prepare most of the stuffing mixture ahead of time, but do not stuff the turkey until just before it goes into the oven. Cook the bacon and the wild rice, cover, and refrigerate. Cube the bread and cover. Combine everything and add the eggs just before you stuff the bird.
  • Cook the bird until the temperature in the center of the stuffing is 165°F, and the probe inserted into the thigh (be careful to avoid bone) is also 165°F.
  • Use the broth you made from the giblets to make the gravy.
  • It’s important to let the turkey rest before you remove the stuffing and carve it. During roasting, the moisture in the turkey migrates to the outside edges. That moisture is reabsorbed into the bird as it rests so every bite is juicy.
  • If you aren’t sure how to carve a turkey, watch this video from Martha Stewart. Of course.

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To make the stuffing, in a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on paper towels. Crumble it and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the skillet.


Add the butter to the skillet and let it melt over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the wild rice and 2 cups chicken stock.


Cover the pan and simmer until the rice is tender. If you are using native wild rice, this should take about 20 minutes. If you are using commercial wild rice, this should take 35 to 40 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the bread, cranberries, pecans, and reserved bacon.


In a small bowl, combine the eggs, salt, pepper, and thyme and beat until combined. Add the 1/2 cup chicken broth and mix.


Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and toss. Then add the wild rice mixture and toss again. Add enough cream to moisten. The mixture should not be wet, but should look moist.


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pat the turkey dry (do NOT rinse it or you will spread bacteria around your kitchen) and remove the giblets.


Remove the giblets package from the turkey. Put the neck and gizzards into a large sauce pan and cover with 6 cups water. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, adding water if necessary. This is the broth you will use to make the gravy.


Now stuff the neck cavity and the large cavity in the turkey with the stuffing. Do not pack the stuffing in; add it loosely. You can truss the turkey if you want by tying the legs together with kitchen twine, but I like to wedge a slice of bread into the large opening so the dressing stays moist.


Put the turkey into a large roasting pan and brush with 1/4 cup melted butter. Pour 2 cups chicken stock around the bird.


Roast the turkey for 15 minutes per pound. That works out to 3 hours for a 12 pound turkey, or 3-3/4 hours for a 14 pound turkey. Make sure you adhere to this rule. And always use a reliable thermometer to test the turkey. You cannot safely judge doneness by looking at the color of the juices or if the leg moves easily in the joint. Always use a thermometer.


Remove the turkey from the oven and cover it with foil. Let rest for 20 minutes, then remove the stuffing. (Use this time to make the gravy.) Do not let the stuffing sit in the turkey longer than 30 minutes. Carve the bird and dig in!


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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