7 Best Store-Bought Stuffings, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

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Updated on November 13, 2023

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Our Top Store-Bought Stuffing Picks

Tested by Lesley Porcelli for Food Network Kitchen

Every host sweats over the turkey come Thanksgiving, but the next contender that receives equal parts scrutiny and nostalgic swooning from friends and family alike is the stuffing. I’d argue that this iconic casserole should be considered the defining dish of the holiday. (A roast turkey may get trotted out at other times of year depending on your traditions, but many confine stuffing to Turkey Day.) And though delicious gravy can absolve many stuffing sins, let’s be real: We want our stuffing to be the stuff — we had to — of holiday dreams. If homemade stuffing isn’t on the table this year, store-bought is fine, really. We tested 16 store-bought stuffing kits, and chopped, sauteed, baked, and tasted, to learn which one deserves a place on your Thanksgiving table.

Things to Consider When Buying Store-Bought Stuffing

  • Servings: The serving sizes on the stuffing mixes we tested varied from six servings to 14. Check the packaging before buying to make sure you have enough for everyone at your table.
  • Effort: If you're looking for little-to-no work, we recommend opting for an "instant" stuffing mix that simply calls for melted butter and water and can be made completely on the stovetop. For additional flavor and texture, most of the other mixes we tried called for additional sauteed veggies, butter and chicken broth.
  • Style: Classic stuffing mixes are made with white bread cubes and can sometimes appear too regular, lacking some semi-homemade flaire. Cornbread stuffing can turn mushy if it's mixed too much or contains cubes that are too small and crumbed. Consider what's traditional on your table and plan accordingly.
  • Price: Nearly all the mixes we tried were budget-friendly and under $5. However, the Williams Sonoma mix was a bit more elevated and cost $20 a box (about $2 per serving).

How We Tested

All the stuffing kits had both “stove top” and “baked” options (as well as instructions for actually cooking the stuffing inside the bird). In order to truly compare stuffing to stuffing, we opted to prepare the “baked/casserole” version of each according to package instructions. In addition, when a stuffing called for it, we opted for the same brand of unsalted butter and low-sodium chicken broth for each, eliminating any question of whether a more seasoned butter or broth could have contributed to the flavor of the final product. (One brand of stuffing called for a particular brand of broth, its sister brand; so we used that brand as the broth for all.)

$2.98

We thought Pepperidge Farm would have all categories locked up, but Arnold’s stuffing mix was a pleasant surprise. Both Arnold’s and Pepperidge Farm, for the most part, had the same weight bag of croutons, and called for the same ingredients (butter, onion, celery, broth) in the same proportions, but the similarities ended there. Pepperidge Farm instructions felt a little clunky (“Bake 40 minutes or until hot. For more crisp stuffing bake uncovered.”) Arnold, on the other hand, had very thoughtful instructions, calling for a sauté pan (the better choice) rather than a saucepan, having you combine with the bread in a separate bowl (the better to thoroughly mix without sending cubes to mush) and baking in a 9-by-13-inch casserole (compared to the smaller 2-quart casserole recommended by Pepperidge Farm) with specific instructions for baking covered for 20 minutes, then uncovering for the final 10 for a nice crisping. Instructions aside, Arnold’s also nailed the seasoning: not too sage-y, nice and umami, but still not so over-the-top that gravy would render you fatigued after one bite.

$2.48

Though we preferred the seasoning in the Arnold stuffing in general, we didn’t always love its perfect little cubes. We pined for something more like fresh torn bread, with some little crumbs and some irregular shards. Enter this iteration of Pepperidge Farm: The bread is exactly right, resulting in some bites that are creamy in the middle and some with bewitching crunchy little edges. Consider this a close store-bought cousin of a more homemade stuffing.

$3.29

When we’re referring to “instant” we mean brands that require butter and water, and that just get stirred together on the stove. (Although, we did bake those too.) This included all the Stove Top stuffings, as well as Trader Joe’s. We’ll admit it, we had a chip on our shoulder about Stove Top. Could stuffing made without sauteed veggies really be worth eating? Could a decent stuffing really be had with just a seasoning packet? But this snobbery went out the window right away: All the Stove Tops had that quality that our British friends refer to as “more-ish,” as in, one bite makes you want more and more. Some Stove Top versions had a bit of that artificial instant-chicken-soup flavor that we know and love well, but one of them rose above the rest with a pure, almost buttery, and deeply turkey-ish flavor: the Stove Top Turkey Stuffing. There were no off-putting dehydrated carrots here, as in the Traditional Sage, and more pizazz than the Lower-Sodium Chicken. Even the little croutons had nice shardy edges. Color us converted.

From $12.95

According to our tester, “This stuffing came the closest to my ideal stuffing seasoning for all the stuffings I tried!What good news for our gluten-free friends! (There were others in the household who didn’t love the texture, although in the gluten-free category, the texture here was the most like regular bread.) While we loved this option for anyone who chooses to live gluten-free or suffers from a mild intolerance, this might not be the most appropriate gluten-free stuffing for anyone with celiac. The allergen label on the box reads: “This product is prepared and packaged using machines that may come in contact with wheat/gluten.” If contamination risk is a no-no, we recommend the Trader Joe’s version instead.

$21.09

The Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free is really a solid option and has no additional gluten-free allergen warnings on the box. Despite being an “instant,” there were convincing bits of celery here that made for a nice textural and flavor contrast, and the casserole had a gorgeous appearance, nice color and texture variation. It looks high-end, rather than instant, and the flavor is good, too.

$3.12

Cornbread turned out to be a tricky category for the stuffing kits! That’s because cornbread is a naturally crumbly medium; dry it out, and stir it, as you have to when you’re making stuffing, and you’re left with a pile of mush. The kits seemed to temper this effect by, in almost all cases, using croutons that were so not-cornbread-like, ostensibly with so much white flour mixed in that it doesn’t even taste like cornbread stuffing anymore. One stuffing retained that grainy chew and corny flavor that you want from a cornbread stuffing, however, and that was the Pepperidge Farm. Keep in mind, though, that as a result, this loses a lot of shape and does verge towards the mushy. Still, given that nice crisp crust that comes from baking uncovered for the last 10 or 15 minutes (our suggestion, not theirs) and that corn-forward aroma, we were willing to overlook it.

$2.98

If you just can’t abide the mush, this is your stuffing. In fact, this was also one of our favorite stuffings across the board when it came to seasoning. It was balanced just right, a little salty, the flavor of the herbs coming through. So why isn’t it number one? Because it’s a cornbread stuffing where you can’t really taste the cornbread.

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