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10 Things You Should Put in Your Turkey That Aren’t Stuffing

Wondering what to stuff the turkey with this Thanksgiving? Here are our top picks for ingredients that add flavor and moisture for your best bird yet.

Holiday Turkey DinnerLauriPatterson/Getty Images

What to Stuff Inside a Turkey

To cook stuffing inside the Thanksgiving turkey or not? That is the question. We love to stick with tradition, but cooking stuffing in a turkey can be dangerous. It has everything to do with temperature: You should cook the bird to a safe internal temperature of 165°F, but stuffing doesn’t always reach that at the same time as the turkey. And cooking a turkey until the stuffing reaches a safe temperature could dry out the meat. So we suggest avoiding the risk altogether: Stuff a turkey with herbs, fruit and vegetables instead! Not only will it be safer, but the aromatics will create a more flavorful turkey. Here are 10 ideas for what to stuff a turkey with this Thanksgiving.
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turkey on a dinner tableTMB Studio

Herbs

The secret to adding extra flavor to your Thanksgiving turkey is to season it liberally. To make sure that your favorite herbs permeate every bit of your bird, stuff a small bundle into the turkey cavity. Thyme, sage, parsley and a bit of rosemary are a great combination—but feel free to customize to your taste. Use this roasted sage turkey recipe as a starting point.

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Chopped Onion On Cutting BoardLucas Aldigheri Bagatella / EyeEm/Getty Images

Onions and Other Alliums

Onions, shallots and garlic serve as the foundation of many of our favorite meals, so be sure to include them on Thanksgiving Day. Here’s an easy turkey tip: A few cloves of garlic and a quartered onion, combined with herbs, will give you a delicious centerpiece for the holiday.

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Apple sage roasted turkeyTMB Studio

Apples

Consider quartering an apple or two for stuffing your turkey. The flavor remind you of fall, but apples will also provide the turkey with a little extra moisture during the cooking process (you can still brine the turkey, of course).

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Celery on white cutting board5second/Getty Images

Celery

If you want a classic roast turkey taste, incorporate a few ribs of celery. This ingredient, combined with herbs and onions, is one of the most traditional Thanksgiving flavors.

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turkey with citrus fruitsTMB Studio

Citrus Fruits

Wedges of lemon, orange, lime and even grapefruit provide your turkey with an extra layer of flavor. Plus, these fruits add moisture to your turkey as it cooks so you end up with a juicy Thanksgiving centerpiece. Our Happy Orange Turkey recipe is perfect for anyone who loves citrus. Just be prepared: You’ll need an oven-roasting bag for this recipe. Here’s how to cook a turkey in an oven bag.

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Fresh raw organic florence fennel bulbs or fennel bulb on gray stone background.wmaster890/Getty Images

Fennel

This lesser-used aromatic is a great option when it comes to what to stuff your turkey with this year. It plays well with other autumnal flavors like apples and nuts, like in this apple and fennel salad. It does have a slight anise flavor, though, so if you’re not a black licorice fan, stay away from this one!

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Ginger rootPhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton/Getty Images

Ginger

A few slices of fresh peeled ginger placed inside the turkey cavity can add a bit of warming spice to your holiday. The flavor pairs nicely with fluffy potato rolls, marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole or one of our other favorite Thanksgiving sides.

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Yeungling beer in a coolerBrianna Griepentrog/Taste of Home

Beer

You’ve probably heard of beer can chicken before. Well, the same principle can be applied to turkey! This method is best for smaller birds made on the grill, but it’s still a great way to add moisture and a little extra flavor to your nontraditional Thanksgiving turkey.

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Salt and pepperKinga Krzeminska/Getty Images

Salt and Pepper

This one might seem obvious, but on a busy day in the kitchen, it’s easy to overlook the basics. Adding salt and pepper to the inside of the turkey is critical for proper seasoning. Turkey is a big bird, so you want to make sure every inch gets seasoned. Follow these tips for how to season a turkey.

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plated chicken from aboveTMB Studio

Other Poultry

This one is not for the faint of heart! If you’re exceptionally daring and love a good challenge, try your hand at making a turducken. A turkey stuffed with duck that’s stuffed with a chicken is definitely a culinary oddity, but it’s a fun one to think about!

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.
Lesley Balla
As an associate editor at Taste of Home, Lesley helps track food and cooking trends, and writes and updates digital content. When not at her desk, you'll find her whipping up something with finds from the farmers market, discovering new restaurants, or hiking and roadtripping with her husband and pup Pucci.