By Mary Apel
As Thanksgiving approaches, folks begin sharpening their dinner-table debate skills, and the perennial question of whether to serve stuffing or dressing once again takes center stage. The age-old debate has sparked confusion and culinary discussions for years, prompting a closer look at the nuanced differences between the two.
Renowned chef Ree Drummond has weighed in on the matter. According to The Pioneer Woman, the distinction lies in the method of preparation. “Some people stuff their roasted turkey with dressing, in which case the dressing is called stuffing. Others… opt for baking their stuffing in a baking dish, which means it’s called dressing.” Ree emphasizes the personal nature of the dish, acknowledging the interchangeability of the terms within many families.
While stuffing is traditionally a blend of dried bread, herbs, and other flavorings inserted into the turkey’s cavity, dressing takes a different path. Often baked in a separate casserole dish, it’s the texture that Drummond finds preferable. She notes, “It’s less complicated and produces a better-textured dressing. I love a crunchy topping on my dressing, and you just don’t get it when it bakes inside the turkey!”
The origins of the stuffing vs. dressing debate can be traced back to the 1850s when Victorian nobility rejected the term “stuffing” as vulgar, leading to the introduction of the more refined “dressing.” Despite the shared ingredients—dried bread, herbs, veggies, and sometimes meat—the defining factor is the cooking method: stuffing inside the turkey versus dressing baked separately.
A 2015 survey by Butterball revealed that regardless of cooking techniques, the majority of the country, especially New Englanders, refers to the side as stuffing, while Southerners staunchly stand by dressing. The regional divide further complicates matters, with Northeastern and Pacific Northwestern cooks favoring stuffing, while their counterparts in the South and Midwest prefer the more proper term, dressing. Pennsylvania adds a unique twist by using the term “filling.”
In the stuffing vs. dressing debate, one thing remains undisputed: it’s delicious. Check out this recipe for leftover dressing/stuffing casserole, as well as some more ideas for your leftovers.See a typo? Report it here.