Hands down, stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving food, but regular boxed stuffings usually taste like cardboard by themselves unless they are cooked in the bird. As a vegetarian, this just doesn’t do it for me, so I’ve used many different little additions to classic boxed stuffing to make the stuffing taste just delicious. Easy to do, creative, and makes for a great vegetarian stuffing that the whole family is sure to enjoy!
Adding an artificial chicken bouillon cube (meatless) is a great way to add flavor to boxed stuffing so you taste more than bread. I don’t like vegetable bouillon because I find it too bitter, but I always have “Spice Supreme” Chicken Bouillon Cubes in my house. The flavor is awesome and there’s no meat in it, and the product is insanely cheap. I buy it at Honk’s Dollar Store and the Dollar Tree, and it’s a staple in my house for flavoring soups and making my own vegetarian gravy. A cube or two melted in a cup of water or so makes for the perfect vegetarian broth that actually has flavor to make a stuffing come out great.
Adding 1/2 to a whole can of cream of mushroom or cream of asparagus soup to stuffing while you’re mixing the water in is a great way to liven up the flavor of boxed stuffing as well. When added straight from the can, it gives a creamier, tastier texture to stuffing without having to add a bunch of vegetables if you have picky eaters or no time to really add stuff to stuffing. In a pinch, a cream soup of your choice added to taste straight from the can takes boxed stuffing from blah to mmm.
Adding a bit of sweetness to boxed stuffing helps as well. A 1/4 cup of dried cranberries or my personal favorite, 2 tablespoons of papaya nectar is a great way to liven up a boxed stuffing’s flavor. I also add 1/4 sunflower seeds, chopped pecans, or walnuts for a great tangy stuffing that is beautiful to look at and a delicious change up to eat. Just be careful adding fruits to stuffing, and herbal stuffing recipes are best for this. You don’t want it to be too tart it’s a turnoff, and adding a nut of some sort helps as well. I love sunflower seeds the most. Adding 1/4 chopped celery helps to complement fruit flavoring in stuffing too and makes it have a vegetable crunch that won’t take away from the fruit.
For plain stuffing, adding 1/4 cup chopped onion, a teaspoon of chopped garlic, 1/4 cup chopped olives, or 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper, along with 1/4 cup of chopped celery and 1/4 cup sliced or chopped mushrooms can make all the difference to make a boxed stuffing more attractive and tasty. I love to add 1 meatless chicken bouillon cube (boiled in 1 cup water), onions, olives, celery, sunflower seeds, and mushrooms to a classic boxed herb stuffing recipe to make a vegetarian stuffing everyone will love. Play around with some ideas, to see what works for you!
Note: all these ideas are based upon a vegetarian’s standpoint for stuffing, so if cooking in the bird it defeats the purpose. These ideas are meant to help make boxed, meat free stuffings more flavorful for vegetarians to enjoy at Thanksgiving, so they aren’t stuck eating cardboard flavored stuffing at the dinner table.