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Stuffing vs dressing, and regional preferences

Posted By Nicole On November 21, 2008 @ 7:26 am In Cooking,Holidays,Savory Stuff | 24 Comments

Stuffing, baked on the sideEvery year at Thanksgiving, the seemingly age-old debate arises as to what exactly constitutes stuffing and what constitutes dressing. Both “stuffing” and “dressing” are terms applied to the traditional Thanksgiving side dish of a most, seasoned bread (or other starch, like rice of potatoes) and vegetable mixture. It is either cooked inside the turkey or alongside the bird, and your preferred term for the dish – as well as the way you cook it – is probably a result of where you grew up. I’ve heard that dressing is a more popular term in the South, while stuffing – both the term and the actual act of stuffing a turkey – are more popular in Northern states.

Broadly defined, dressing is a sauce or other mixture used to flavor salads and meats. With this definition, stuffing that is cooked inside of a turkey and stuffing that is cooked outside of one would both be dressings, while actual stuffings are simply a subset of the larger category.

That being said, I will continue to call all of my dressings “stuffing” because that is the term I used growing up and I’m used to it. I bake them outside of the turkey to get a crispy crust and a moist interior, whether I am using cornbread as a base, mixing in caramelized onions or keeping the whole dish vegetarian.

Do you prefer the term stuffing or dressing? How do you prepare your version of this dish?


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