Are you ready for the holiday season's biggest debate? When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, the question remains: Dressing vs stuffing? Most people have a strong preference for their Turkey day side dish and it often has to do with which part of the country you're from.
Growing up, my mom made her famous cranberry dressing. She cooked it for hours in the oven until it became crispy, resembling granola. I'd always just assumed that dressing was crunchy stuffing, but that was far from correct.
To avoid a fight with the in-laws over who is right in this debate, we need to examine the history behind this contentious topic.
A Brief History
Contrary to popular belief, this Thanksgiving side dish was not served on the first Thanksgiving. Instead, the pilgrims made a type of wild rice dish. In Pennsylvania, Mennonites added leftover mashed potatoes to make a version called filling.
The term dressing didn't make its debut until the 1850s. Victorian nobles didn't like the term 'stuffing' so dressing became the preferred word.
Dressing VS Stuffing
The real difference between dressing and stuffing is that stuffing is stuffed inside the cavity of the bird to cook, while dressing is roasted separately in a casserole dish. Both require bread and some type of veggies and herbs. To enhance the flavor, different mix-ins like poultry seasoning may be used.
No matter how it's cooked, the term people prefer to use mostly depends on where they live.
Most people in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska and Hawaii, and those in the Northeast refer to the dish as stuffing, with 100% of New Englanders refer to it as stuffing. Parts of the midwest and all of the south (including Texas) prefer to use the term dressing.
Some people will tell you that the stuffing vs dressing names depend on what type of bread is used. Those in the Pacific Northwest add their spin on stuffing recipes by using sourdough and seafood. Cooks in the northeast use white bread for their stuffing recipes.
In Southern states like Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama, their Thanksgiving dressing is made from cornbread. Cornbread dressing replaces the bread cubes found in traditional bread stuffing with crumbled cornbread.
No matter where you are from, you can easily find stuffing and dressing recipes to be used interchangeably. Even the New York Times audaciously published a cornbread stuffing recipe.
Traditional Stuffing or Cornbread Dressing?
The most popular stuffing recipe trending on the internet uses breakfast sausage and herb stuffing mix as its base. Once you've added the celery and onions and seasoned the mixture, pop it in the oven for 25 minutes.
If you're too busy making awesome sides like sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, you can have Stove Top stuffing ready in just 5 minutes using the microwave.
For a twist on cornbread dressing, try making a pecan-cornbread dressing. This recipe uses a box of cornbread mix, celery, bacon, and pecans. After cooking the bacon, combine all the ingredients and bake for 45 minutes,
You can't go wrong making stuffing or dressing this year, as long as it tastes delicious.
Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.