Stuffing muffins are a holiday side dish that kids will love. Filled with celery, carrots, onions, and chestnuts, they are like your favorite stuffing… In muffin form! Vegan.
I was watching an old episode of Rachael Ray recently. In the episode, she was making “stuffing muffins.”
I’d never heard of them before. But as you might guess from the name, stuffing muffins are made by pressing stuffing into muffin tins. They are then baked in the oven.
What results are little muffin-shaped, handheld bites of stuffing. They are known by the names stuffing muffins, stuffin’ muffins, and stuffins.
But the judges would also accept “stuffing mo’funs.” Because they’re like stuffing but more fun.
Rachael Ray’s recipe wasn’t vegan. But it got me thinking about my favorite vegan stuffing recipe. It’s made with celery, carrots, onions, and chestnuts.
Usually I bake it in a casserole dish in the oven. But this year, I decided to make stuffing muffins instead.
Stuffing muffins get crispy on the top, while the inside maintains the softness that stuffing is known for.
David’s favorite part of traditional stuffing is always that top layer, where it gets crispy from the oven. So if you’re like him, you are going to be all over these stuffing muffins. They have that crispy layer in spades.
While some stuffing recipes include an egg, when I’m making traditional vegan stuffing, I don’t add an egg replacement. I don’t feel like it’s really necessary in the dish. Broth alone makes the bread sticky enough.
However, since I wanted these stuffing muffins to really hold together in a muffin shape, I added a flax egg.
What is a flax egg?
A flax egg is used as a binder in vegan baked goods in place of a chicken’s egg.
It’s made by mixing 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed (also known as flax meal) with 3 Tablespoons of water. Then you let the flax/water mixture set up for about ten minutes, until it’s thick and gooey.
(If you don’t have flax seed, ground chia seeds will also work.)
In addition to its binding properties, flax also adds some omega 3’s.
(That’s one reason I like to add ground flaxseed to smoothies, like my peanut butter banana smoothie. Also, it gives the smoothie a thicker viscosity.)
I also shared an unconventional way of using flax egg here…
Flax eggs are better for binding & adding moisture.
There’s one other difference in making stuffing for stuffing muffins rather than the typical kind cooked in a casserole dish. You’ll want the bread cubes to be a little more damp for stuffing muffins. Because they have to stick together, that added moisture helps everything cling.
Don’t go overboard, though. Overly wet stuffing muffins aren’t as easy to remove from the muffin tins. It’s a delicate balance!
No chestnuts? No problems!
A few people have commented that they can’t get chestnuts. No worries.
You can easily leave them out of this recipe. Then make the rest as-is.
Or if you’d like to use some kind of nut, try walnuts instead. However, I’d use a smaller amount of walnuts, because they have a stronger flavor than chestnuts. Try 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.
How to make stuffing muffins
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then oil the wells of two non-stick muffin pans. Set aside.
Now it’s time to make the flax egg. Whisk 1 Tablespoon of flax meal with 3 Tablespoons of water. Pop it into the refrigerator to set up while you continue with the rest of the dish.
Sauté onions, garlic, celery, and carrots in a skillet. Add chopped cooked chestnuts, and cook for a couple minutes more.
(Although you could roast chestnuts from scratch first, I prefer to buy chestnuts that are already cooked & peeled. It’s a lot easier than scoring, roasting, and shelling chestnuts.
Trader Joe’s sells cooked chestnuts in vacuum packaging. That’s what I used for this recipe.)
Put a pound of dried bread cubes into a big mixing bowl.
(My local Co-op sells dried bread cubes from their bakery. But you can also find boxed dried vegan bread cubes at natural grocery stores. I share information about making your own dried bread cubes in the notes area of the recipe box.)
Put half of the flax egg on top of the bread cubes. Then slowly start pouring the vegetable broth and spices onto the cubes. Stir the cubes as you go, so that they are evenly coated.
Half way through, add the remaining half of the flax egg. You want it spread throughout the cubes, not all in one spot.
You want the cubes to be moist but not saturated. So once they are evenly coated, stop pouring broth on them.
Because bread cubes vary in their dryness, the amount of broth you need will also vary. I generally use slightly over 2 ½ cups of broth.
Now it’s time to put the stuffing into the muffin tins. My preferred method is by making balls of stuffing with my hands, and then pressing them into the wells.
If you’d rather, you can use an ice cream scoop or spoon to put the stuffing into the tins. Just be sure to fully press the stuffing together in each well.
You will likely not fill all of the spaces in the two muffin tins. This recipe usually makes 20 stuffing muffins.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are nutty brown. (In my oven, it takes 30 minutes.) Then remove from the oven.
Allow the muffins to sit in the tins and cool for 10 minutes. Otherwise, they will fall apart when you’re removing them.
Once they have had time to cool and set up, use a butter knife to glide around the edges of each muffin, so that they release from the sides. Then carefully remove each muffin.