What Temperature To Cook Stuffing Safely?

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Everyone has their own recipe for stuffing and a way of making it, but the temperature is one of those basics that needs to be spot on. So, what temperature should stuffing be?

Your stuffing should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F to be considered safe to eat. Using a food-safe internal thermometer to probe your stuffing and your turkey is the best way to check the temperature.

Getting your stuffing right is key to having a successful holiday feast. In order to keep you and your guests safe, I’ll explain how hot your stuffing should be both inside and outside of your turkey and give tips to keep in mind.

There’s no need to ruin Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year!

What Temp Does Stuffing Need To Be?

According to the USDA and CDC, 165°F is the minimum required internal temperature for stuffing. Consuming stuffing below this temperature could lead to food poisoning from germs and bad bacteria.

I don’t take any chances when cooking, so it doesn’t matter if my stuffing is meat-based or vegetable-based. I make sure that it reaches that temperature.

overcooked stuffing

I’m fine with going higher than that temperature even if it starts to dry out my stuffing because I can always add gravy or hot water to moisten it.

You will need to use a food thermometer to check your stuffings internal temperature. There’s no way around it.

A good meat thermometer that’s often used for grilling, with long probes, is ideal so that you can set it on the counter and check the temperature easily.

What Temp Should Stuffing In The Bird Be?

It can be difficult to check the temperature of stuffing inside your turkey, compared to the meat itself, but 165°F is the minimum, with no exceptions.

whole turkey with stuffing and cranberries

Because stuffing is not uniform in texture and moisture, sometimes it’s dry and other times it’s mushy. So, it can be difficult to get a good internal reading. And I think this is one area where a lot of the holiday foodborne illness cases stem from.

You should do your best to get an accurate reading by taking several readings in different locations in the turkey cavity and stuffing. If any of them are below the required temperature, then it needs to be cooked longer.

If you’re worried about overcooking your turkey because of the stuffing, it’s best to remove the stuffing and heat it separately until it is fully cooked.

Just remember to make sure that your turkey is cooked properly after removing the stuffing. If the cavity is cold, it will need more time to ward off any bacteria that may be lingering from the uncooked stuffing.

What Temperature To Cook Stuffing Outside The Turkey?

If you plan to cook your stuffing outside of your turkey or on the stovetop, the temperature requirement doesn’t change.

cooked stuffing outside turkey

It should be easier to test the temperature and cook it thoroughly as you are able to give it a mix during the cooking period. You can’t really mix stuffing while it’s inside the bird.

Once cooked, you need to make sure that your hot food stays hot and is out of the danger zone (40°F – 140°F) for up to two hours before it needs to be refrigerated, like turkey and other leftovers, so that nobody becomes sick from your feast.

Is It Safe To Cook Stuffing Inside Of The Turkey?

Yes, it is safe to cook stuffing inside of your turkey as long as the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches the minimum safe temperature of 165°F.

Many people, like you and I, have concerns about accidentally making our guests sick. To avoid that worry altogether, I recommend cooking your stuffing separately.

Is It Safe To Eat Stuffing From A Turkey?

The best-tasting stuffing often comes from inside your turkey because of the extra meat juices and seasonings that work their way into the stuffing.

But if you or your guests don’t feel comfortable about eating the stuffing that was cooked inside a turkey, you can cook it separately and still have a similar flavor profile and mouth feel.

To get the flavor from the turkey to marry with your stuffing, you can take a ladle or two of the juices and add that instead of water.

Again, make sure that the overall final temperature hits that magic number, and your guests will never know the difference.

Stuffing Temperature FAQs

How Long Does Stuffing Take To Cook?

It depends! For a boxed stuffing mix, you will need to follow the directions on the box. For homemade stuffing, the only metric that matters is the 165°F minimum internal temperature.

How To Tell If Stuffing Is Cooked?

The only way to tell if stuffing is cooked is by measuring it with a thermometer. Just because your stuffing is moist and feels hot to the touch doesn’t mean that it’s safe to eat.

Can You Put Hot Stuffing In A Cold Turkey?

No, you should never put hot stuffing in a cold turkey because it will give bad bacteria a chance to multiply long before the internal temperature rises enough to stop them.

When To Remove Stuffing From Turkey?

You should remove the stuffing once it hits the required internal temperature and before you carve your turkey.

Written By Justin Micheal

Justin is not just the creator but also an author and editor for KitchenSanity. He does the majority of the cooking at home with his wife. His friends and family look forward to eating his delicious creations, which often leads to many questions about how they can replicate his meals at home. In his writing, he shares his passion and knowledge as a home chef from his kitchen to yours.