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How many calories are in a serving of homemade stuffing?


Stuffing, also known as dressing, is a popular side dish served during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Homemade stuffing is made by combining bread cubes with vegetables, herbs, broth, eggs, and seasonings. The ingredients are mixed together and then baked either inside the turkey or in a baking dish. While stuffing tastes delicious, many people wonder just how many calories are in a serving. The number of calories in stuffing depends on the specific recipe and ingredients used. In general, a 1 cup serving of homemade stuffing ranges from 150-350 calories. Understanding the calorie content can help you balance your holiday meal.

Factors That Affect Calorie Count

Several factors impact the calorie content of homemade stuffing:

Type of Bread

The main ingredient in traditional stuffing is bread cubes which soak up flavors. White bread tends to have about 75 calories per slice while whole wheat or multigrain bread has around 60 calories per slice. So for every cup of cubed bread, white bread will add more calories than whole grains.

Added Fat

Butter and oil are commonly used to saute aromatics like onions and celery. Some recipes also call for adding butter, chicken fat, or turkey drippings to the bread before baking. One tablespoon of butter has 102 calories while one tablespoon of vegetable oil has 120 calories. The more fat added, the higher the calorie count.

Mix-ins

Ingredients like sausage, bacon, cheese, dried fruits, nuts, mushrooms, etc. can significantly increase the calories. For example, 2 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese adds about 225 calories.

Serving Size

As the serving size of stuffing increases, so do the calories. A small 1/2 cup serving with 150 calories versus a large 1 cup serving with 300 calories makes a big difference. Pay attention to portion sizes when tracking calories.

Cooking Method

Homemade stuffing is generally baked in the oven which allows some fat to drip off. However, if the stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, it absorbs all the juices and fat which drives up the calorie count. Stuffing cooked in a casserole with extra butter and oil will also have more calories than a lightly greased baking dish.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

To determine a more precise calorie count, let’s evaluate the nutrition facts for some typical homemade stuffing recipes.

Simple Bread Stuffing

This basic stuffing has just bread, onions, celery, broth, eggs, and herbs.

Serving Size Calories
1/2 cup 150
1 cup 300

The simple combination of bread and vegetables makes this a lighter option. Use whole grain bread to further reduce the calories.

Sausage Stuffing

Adding sausage significantly increases the calorie content.

Serving Size Calories
1/2 cup 200
1 cup 400

Just 2-3 ounces of sausage can add 200 or more calories per serving.

Classic Bread Stuffing

This richer stuffing is made with white bread, butter, onions, celery, chicken broth, eggs, herbs, and turkey drippings.

Serving Size Calories
1/2 cup 175
1 cup 350

The butter and additional fat increases the calorie content. Stick with a 1/2 cup serving to keep calories in check.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing

For a lower-calorie alternative, wild rice and mushrooms replace some of the bread.

Serving Size Calories
1/2 cup 125
1 cup 250

Substituting in the wild rice removes about 50 calories per serving versus regular bread stuffing. The mushrooms also add nutrients without many additional calories.

Tips for Lightening Up Your Stuffing

Here are some tips to lighten up homemade stuffing to cut back on calories:

– Use whole grain or multi-grain bread instead of white bread
– Reduce the amount of butter or oil
– Skip adding excess fats like bacon grease or turkey drippings
– Increase vegetables and cut back slightly on bread
– Substitute in wild rice, quinoa, bulgur, or farro for some of the bread
– Avoid heavy mix-ins like cheese, sausage, etc.
– Use reduced-sodium chicken or turkey broth
– Bake in an oven instead of inside the bird
– Stick to a 1/2 cup portion size

With some simple adjustments, you can enjoy delicious homemade stuffing without going overboard on calories. Focus on the quality of ingredients over quantity. Pair your stuffing with lean turkey, roasted vegetables, and cranberry sauce for a well-balanced plate.

Conclusion

The number of calories in homemade stuffing depends on the recipe, ingredients, and portion size. On average, a 1 cup serving provides between 150-350 calories. Factors like the type of bread, added fats, mix-ins, cooking method, and serving size impact the final numbers. Simple bread stuffing with vegetables is on the lower end while stuffing with sausage, cheese, or drippings is higher in calories. To lighten up your recipe, use whole grain bread, cut back on fats, increase vegetables, and stick to a 1/2 cup portion. With some adjustments, you can still enjoy flavorful homemade stuffing without consuming too many extra calories. Be mindful of portions and fill up on lower calorie foods like turkey, salad, and roasted vegetables at your Thanksgiving meal.