This traditional Greek turkey stuffing with sausage, chestnuts, dates, prunes, and pine nuts has a wholesome, delicious flavor you can't have enough of.
Pair it with this sweet and savory sweet potato gratin for an amazing holiday menu!
This Greek turkey stuffing is probably the only reason for me to make a turkey for Thanksgiving. When I was growing up and the holidays were around the corner, I would make sure we would roast a turkey for Christmas, and it would be stuffed with this heavenly recipe. (Greeks don't celebrate Thanksgiving.)
It is the first leftover to quickly run out in our house, probably by noon the day after. 🙂
Here is what you need
- Ground sausage and beef. This traditional Greek turkey stuffing has a filling of 2 different kinds of ground meat. Usually, an equal amount of ground beef and pork are used. I chose to substitute the pork with ground sausage for its robust flavor.
- Butter. I always use salted butter. Feel free to use unsalted if you prefer.
- Onion. Red or white onions are fine.
- Rice. Just a small amount of rice is used. I prefer white rice than brown.
- Pine nuts, Raisins, dates and prunes. Choose your favorite varieties. I go for whatever I have in the pantry.
- Broth. Chicken or vegetable are both fine. A palm oil free boullion cube with half a cup of water will do as well.
- Fresh sage leaves. You can also use rosemary or and thyme.
- Cloves. They give such a delicate aroma in any food and sauce.
- Sea salt & freshly ground pepper.
Make a turkey baste
There is a turkey baste that I like to use on the turkey with this stuffing. It is made with orange and lemon juice, butter, and broth. It is infused with fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Turkey baste ingredients
- Broth (chicken or vegetable)
- Melted butter
- Orange juice
- Lemon juice
- Fresh herb sprigs like rosemary thyme & sage
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Mix orange and lemon juice with the chicken broth. Add the melted butter. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Stick the rosemary, thyme, and sage sprigs in the baste to infuse it while you cook the turkey. Keep it on a warm surface, I usually have it in my microwave above the stove. The light under it keeps it warm.
- Stuff the turkey just after you’ve cooked the stuffing, and it’s still hot. It will take less time for the stuffing to reach a high temperature. Please don’t make the stuffing ahead of time and refrigerate it.
- Don’t overstuff. A loosely stuffed bird will heat more quickly. Cook the leftover stuffing and mix the two in the serving dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of the turkey baste as well as some extra broth as it cooks.
- Baste the turkey often. It is labor-intensive, but this way, you will make sure that there is enough moisture to cook the rice in the stuffing fully. I have had instances where the rice comes out uncooked, although everything else is perfect. My conclusion was that there was not enough moisture while cooking. Now I baste with plenty of liquid every 15 minutes.
- I prefer using white rice for this stuffing. I don't recommend using brown rice, wild rice, or any similar kind that has a long cooking time. But if you are making your stuffing on the stovetop, feel free to use the rice you like the most. Cooking on the stovetop gives you control over when the rice is fully cooked.
Stuffing cooked inside the turkey is really delicious, but it does slow down the cooking time. It can also be a potential health hazard if done incorrectly. If you are worried you won't get it right, cook your stuffing on the stovetop. Instead of stuffing the turkey, sauté everything, then cover and let it simmer. Add a little stock every once in a while; you need to have enough liquid for the rice to cook.
Yes, absolutely, you should. This recipe is only for the stuffing. Prepare your turkey as you prefer with a dry rub or brine and cook it according to your favorite settings and method. Use the suggested turkey baste while the bird is in the oven or the baste recipe of your preference.
No. All ground meat should be browned before being placed inside the turkey.
No! Leaving the stuffing inside the turkey overnight can make bacteria grow. You definitely don't want that! Place your stuffing inside the turkey right before roasting.
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Check out my Greek pantry staples
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Greek Turkey Stuffing
- A large saute pan.
This stuffing is good for a 15-20 lbs turkey.
- 1 lb ground sausage
- 1 lb ground beef
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1 red onion diced
- ½ cup rice
- 1 cup boiled chestnuts halved
- ½ cup raisins
- 5-6 dates diced
- 5-6 prunes diced
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2-3 cloves
- ½ cup broth chicken or veg
- fresh sage leaves roughly chopped
for the turkey baste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 6 tablespoons butter melted
- 3 oranges juiced
- 3 lemons juiced
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 sage sprig
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- In a large pot, add the butter. In medium heat, add the onion and chopped sage leaves sauté until the onion is soft and fragrant. Add the ground beef and sausage. Break with a spoon any large pieces. Brown ground meat all over, 3-4 min.
- Add the rice. Stir well. Sauté mixture for 1-2 min. Add ½ cup broth, the raisins, chestnuts, dates, prunes, cloves and the pine nuts. Stir mixture well gently. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Remove from heat.
Prepare the turkey baste.
- Mix orange and lemon juice with the chicken broth. Add the melted butter. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Stick the rosemary, thyme and sage sprigs in the baste to infuse it while you cook the turkey. Keep it in a warm surface.
Stuff the turkey and roast
- Spoon your stuffing into the neck cavity, very loosely. Fold neck skin over opening.
- Stuff the large cavity of the turkey loosely, stuffing will expand as it cooks.
- Lightly baste the turkey every 15 minutes after the first hour of cooking. Apply the baste warm to the turkey. Stop basting during the last 30 minutes of cook time.
- When turkey is ready, empty the stuffing in a serving bowl and serve. Enjoy!
- Please don't make the stuffing the day before and refrigerate it. It is better to stuff the turkey just after you've cooked the stuffing, and it's still hot. Then, it will take less time for the stuffing to reach a high temperature.
- Don't overstuff the bird. If it is loosely stuffed it will heat more quickly. Finish cooking the leftover stuffing and mix the two in the serving dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of the turkey baste and some extra broth as it cooks.
- Please baste the turkey often. Make sure that there is enough moisture to cook the rice. I baste with plenty of liquid every 15 minutes.
- I don't recommend using brown rice, wild rice, or any kind that has a long cooking time.
- You can also cook your stuffing on the stovetop. Instead of stuffing the turkey, sauté everything, then cover and let it simmer for a while; I usually allow it to cook on very low heat while the turkey roasts. Add a little stock every once in a while; you need to have enough liquid for the rice to cook. Don't over stir, especially at the end. It will get mushy and won't keep the different textures of the ingredients.
- You can also use your own recipe for cooking your turkey. This recipe is only for the stuffing. Prepare the turkey as your preferred brine and cook it according to your method. Use the suggested turkey baste while the bird is in the oven or the baste recipe of your preference.