Question: My mother always stuffed her holiday turkey before cooking it. But my sister-in-law says it’s unsafe. Is it safe to cook a stuffed turkey?
Answer: It’s possible to safely cook stuffing inside a turkey, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture — but you’ll need to take some special precautions.
If your stuffing recipe calls for any type of raw meat, poultry, or shellfish, you should cook those ingredients before stuffing the turkey, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness from those raw ingredients.
Stuff your turkey right before cooking it, not in advance. Be sure to stuff the turkey loosely — about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound — as packing it in too tightly could result in undercooked (and unsafe) stuffing.
After cooking a stuffed turkey, wait about 20 minutes after taking the turkey out of the oven before removing the stuffing; this will allow the stuffing to cook a little further. Use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center has reached 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may cause foodborne illness.