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Stuffing vs. Dressing: What's the Difference?

Stuffing and Dressing: Is There Really a Difference?

It's arguably the standout dish at Thanksgiving, yet at the same time shrouded in ambiguity. What's the proper way to refer to it: stuffing or dressing? Is there even a distinction?

Some believe that if it's cooked inside a roast, it should be dubbed stuffing; if it's prepared outside the bird, then the proper name for it is dressing. But go south of the Mason-Dixon line, and cooks will call it dressing, regardless of its preparation, citing the term "stuffing" as an unpleasant-sounding word. Likewise, northern states and New Englanders generally refer to the dish as stuffing across the board.

So, much like the soda-pop debate, whether you term that beloved side of seasoned starch and vegetables stuffing or dressing is really a matter of where you're eating. But we can all call it one thing for sure: delicious.

Image Source: Corbis Images
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Join The Conversation
amber512 amber512 2 years
I think it's disgusting no matter how you cook it. ;)
esweet esweet 6 years
I've never heard the term "dressing" before - it makes me think of salad dressing! I'm from New England and it's only called stuffing -- doesn't matter whether it is cooked inside or out. And stuffing is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving!
nancita nancita 6 years
In the south, we call it dressin'. But I consider them interchangeable.
partysugar partysugar 6 years
I call it stuffing. Always have. We usually cook outside the bird.
smileyface smileyface 6 years
My mom never cooks it in the turkey so its always been dressing to me. Its my favorite dish at Thanksgiving dinner and I often talk my mom into making it for me even when its not Thanksgiving!
sarahcateh sarahcateh 6 years
From the south, we call it dressing. However, we always make it outside the bird so who knows what we would call it otherwise. And yes, the dressing in the photo looks AMAZING
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 6 years
My family and I call it stuffing (we're from Philly); on the other hand, my hubby's family (originally from the South) call it dressing.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
My mom's family is from the South and everyone calls it dressing, even if it was stuffed in the bird. My dad's family calls it stuffing, even if it WASN'T cooked in the bird. We basically use the terms interchangeably.
a1stbornunicorn a1stbornunicorn 6 years
That stuffing- err dressing- in the photo looks delicious :p.
Deidre Deidre 6 years
Yup, I'm a believer in calling it what it is. If it's in the bird, it's stuffing. If it's a side dish separate from the entree, then it's dressing. You either stuff the entree or dress the plate.
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