We Tried Marilyn Monroe’s Homemade Stuffing Recipe

This unusual stuffing recipe was written out by Marilyn Monroe herself. Read on for the history—and our recommended tweaks!

Not too long ago, a collection of Marilyn Monroe’s personal notes, poems and recipes revealed an unusual recipe for stuffing. In most cases, the stuffing recipe calls for celery, sausage and day-old bread, plus seasonings and broth. But Marilyn Monroe uses some interesting ingredients, like raisins, hard-boiled eggs and turkey livers.

With help from food historians, we’re able to understand the story behind the stuffing. For example, because Marilyn Monroe was married to Joe DiMaggio, she adopted all sorts of Italian flavors. That explains the raisins, pine nuts, a hefty amount of Parmesan cheese and oregano! To see the original recipe, check out the book Fragments, or see our step-by-step guide below.

How to Make Marilyn Monroe’s Stuffing Recipe

Laid out ingredientsCourtesy of Jennifer Schwarzkopf

Ingredients

  • A 10-ounce loaf sourdough bread
  • ½ pound chicken or turkey livers or hearts*
  • ½ pound ground round or other beef
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped curly parsley
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups raisins
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts, or a combination*
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

*A Couple Recipe Tweaks

  • No one in my house would eat giblets, so I replaced the poultry livers and hearts with an extra 1/2 pound of lean ground beef.
  • I used a combination of all three types of nuts.
  • For ease, I used 1 tablespoon of store-bought poultry seasoning.

Soaking breadCourtesy of Jennifer Schwarzkopf

Getting Started

I soaked 10 ounces of sourdough bread in cold water for 15 minutes. Then, I wrung the bread out and ripped the loaf into small pieces. (In 1955 or so, sourdough bread would’ve been almost unknown outside of California, where Marilyn lived!) I also soaked the raisins for 30 minutes.

Next, I browned the ground beef over medium-high heat. Once it was finished cooking, I took a very large mixing bowl and combined the pieces of bread, ground beef, celery, onion, parsley, eggs, raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing all the ingredients with my hands.

See more of Marilyn’s most loved foods.

Adding Spices and Seasonings

I mixed the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and added the spice combination to the stuffing mixture, continuing to mix thoroughly. Then, I pressed the ingredients into a sprayed, parchment-lined 13×9 pan. I suspect Marilyn didn’t have parchment paper but I think she’d appreciate all the things you can use it for.

Pro Tip: You can cover and refrigerate the ingredients until you are ready to cook them.

Ready to Bake!

I baked the stuffing at 350 degrees for one hour, until the top was golden brown. The end result was surprisingly pretty—colorful with all sorts of texture and visual interest.

Finished stuffingCourtesy of Jennifer Schwarzkopf

Lessons Learned

While my family has “texture issues,” they enjoyed it for the flavor (minus the raisins). I found the raisins’ bright, juiciness to be a lovely addition to the rest of the ingredients. However, I found the water lacking in flavor. I recommend using broth or stock in lieu of it.

The dressing was beautiful but it fell apart once touched, making serving it less than graceful. I recommend incorporating 2-3 raw eggs during the third step, to serve as a binding agent. Other than the crumbliness, I found it to be a delightful and tasty addition to the holiday table.

Try whichever tweaks resonate with you and make this old-Hollywood stuffing recipe for your loved ones!

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Jennifer Schwarzkopf
Half Chilean, half Irish descent and all joie de vivre, I'm a food writer/photographer who loves to share stories about different cultures and the magic that is sharing a meal together. When not doing that, you'll find me working on my culinary degree, hanging with family & friends, and just trying to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Salud!