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Stuffing and Dressing: What's the Difference?

Learn the answer to what you've always wondered about the classic Thanksgiving side dish!

By: Emily Racette, Editor,

If you're confused about the difference between stuffing and dressing, then you've come to the right place.

We're here to tell you about the differences between these two classic Thanksgiving side dishes.

Both stuffing and dressing are made with bread, herbs, and vegetables, and are, in fact, very similar dishes.

So, why the separate names?

Stuffing is cooked inside of the turkey, where as dressing is cooked outside of the turkey.

Stuffing and Dressing: What's the Difference?

What is Stuffing?

Stuffing is cooked inside of a fowl. It's stuffed inside, hence the name "stuffing."

This is the more traditional way of cooking this type of side dish, but there are pros and cons to cooking it this way. On the one hand, the stuffing absorbs the turkey juices, giving it more flavor. On the other hand, it's touching raw turkey meat, so it's imperative that the bird is cooked at a minimum of 165 degrees F. to ensure both are safe to eat.

What is Dressing?

Dressing contains the exact same ingredients as stuffing, it's just cooked outside of the bird. Some people didn't care to cook the stuffing inside their turkey, so they began cooking them separately. This is how dressing came to be born.

The difference is as simple as that! Now you know.

Stuffing = Dressing

Today, according to the National Turkey Federation, the terms stuffing and dressing are used interchangeably.

So, even if you don't stuff yours into the turkey, you can still call it stuffing. Everyone has their own versions.

Fun Fact: According to the Food Network, Southerners still favor dressing while Northerners tend to eat stuffing.

Your favorite stuffing recipe may have been passed down from your ancestors from the old country, or it might be one your Mom got from a family friend. Below are a few stuffing and dressing recipes. If you and your family are open to bringing new dishes to Thanskgiving, give these a try.

Stuffing and Dressing Recipes

As mentioned above, the terms stuffing and dressing can be used interchangeably. Therefore, many of our stuffing recipes are technically dressings. Some can be stuffed into turkey, but they don't have to be. However you choose to make them, they'll be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving table.

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Good to know! My family always makes dressing, since it's easier to control how it cooks when it's not inside the turkey.

I've always wondered what the difference was. I just assumed it was a regional thing, but now I know the truth!


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