Marilyn Monroe’s Handwritten Turkey-and-Stuffing Recipe


Entire industries seem to have sprung up around the mission of demonstrating that Marilyn Monroe did more in her short life than become an icon — the icon — of midcentury American starlethood. We here at Open Culture have previously featured not just her famously photographed reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses, but the contents of her personal library as well. The new book Fragments provides a great deal of rich ephemera to those scholars of Monroe’s pursuits off the screen, including, as Matt Lee and Ted Lee in the New York Times describe it, “assorted letters, poems and back-of-the-envelope scribblings that span the time from Monroe’s first marriage in 1943 to her death in 1962.” The article appears in the paper’s Dining & Wine section thanks to one Monrovian fragment of particular interest this time of year: her personal recipe for turkey and stuffing.


“Scrawled on stationery with a letterhead from a title insurance company,” write Lee and Lee, “the recipe describes in some detail how to prepare a stuffing for chicken or turkey. The formula is extensive in the number of ingredients (11, not including the 5 herbs and spices, or salt and pepper), and in their diversity (3 kinds of nuts and 3 animal proteins). It is unorthodox for an American stuffing in its use of a bread loaf soaked in water, wrung dry and shredded, and in its lack of added fat, broth, raw egg or any other binder.” You can find a transcript of the steps right below. And if you give a whirl on Thanksgiving, let us know how it turns out.

For the Stuffing

  • No garlic
  • Sourdough
  • French bread – soak in cold water, wring out, then shred
  • For chicken giblets – boil in water 5-10 mins
  • Liver – heart then chop
  • 1 whole or ½ onion,  chop & parsley / four stalk celery,  chop together following spices – put in rosemary
  • Thyme, bay leaf, oregano, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper,
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, 1 handful
  • 1/2lb – 1/4lb ground round – put in frying pan – brown (no oil) then mix raisin 1 ½ cuops or more
  • 1 cup chop nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts)
  • 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs – chopped mix together

To Prep the Bird

  • Salt & pepper inside chicken or turkey – outside same and butter
  • Sew up clamp birds put chicken or turkey in 350 oven
  • Roasting chicken – 3or 4lbs or larger
  • Cooks 30 min to 1lbs
  • Brown chicken or pheasant (vinegar, oil, onion, spices) – let cook in own juice
  • Add little water as you go
  • ½ glass vinegar – put in when half done
  • Cooks 2 hours
  • Put potatoes
  • Mushroom – button canned
  • Peas – fresh

via NYTimes,  Brain Pickings and The Daily Mail

Related Content:

Marilyn Monroe Reads Joyce’s Ulysses at the Playground (1955)

Marilyn Monroe Explains Relativity to Albert Einstein (in a Nicolas Roeg Movie)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, literature, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los AngelesA Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Facebook page.

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Comments (11)
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  • Me says:

    uh…no thanks….this sounds disgusting.

  • Me says:

    uh…no thanks….this sounds disgusting.

  • Karma O'malley says:

    Excellent memoria.Iconic befuddlement.

  • Stephen McClurg says:

    I totally read that as Marilyn Manson’s recipe.

  • Maryann M says:

    Uhm Colin even though she was probably making the food for baseballer Joe D – the recipe calls for PINENUTS not PEANUTS…that’s a whole other ball game!

  • M. M. Sands says:

    Sounds pretty standard for a recipe from the 50’s. Back then, there was no obsession with “5 ingredients or less.” Ground beef would have been used fairly interchangeably with sausage.

  • Eileen says:

    I’ll definitely try this for this coming Thanksgiving, which will be at my house with my entire crew if 4 kids and my grandson, my sister and her crew. Should be enough and easy to put together. I can’t wait to make this. Sounds incredibly delicious!!
    Last. I love anything Marilyn Monroe!! She was amazing, charming, thoughtful, caring, intelligent (which they over in Hollywood didn’t allow her to show), and incredibly gorgeous!! Thank you for the recipe.

  • Steve Petrillo says:

    Best stuffing ever. Have made it several years in a row.

  • Jean | says:

    Colin, I so agree about the “No garlic.” IMHO, the traditional “Thanksgiving” dinner has no place for garlic! And I’ll skip the nuts, eggs, cheese and giblets in my stuffing; though if somebody served me this, made as written, I’d probably think it tasted pretty good!

  • Chris says:

    Do try it! I made 2 batches of this stuffing for Thanksgiving this year. It was very, very good. Great actually. And the flavors improve with time. I used the quantities specified in a NY Times article online, but had to use ground turkey because I’m allergic to beef. Next time I will definitely use turkey sausage, because my traditional stuffing recipe calls for sausage and I missed it (so much for “no garlic,” however). The only other change I made (in the 2nd batch) was that I reduced the amount of pepper. The NYT recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon, which was overwhelming for me (way, way too much), but 1 teaspoon was just about right. I used walnuts not pinenuts and a 50/50 combination of raisins and craisins. I read that golden raisins are good, but I only had regular raisins and they were fine with the craisins.

  • Jan says:

    What’s up with soaking the bread in water and wringing it out? How about moistening with chicken or beef broth?

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