Stuffing vs. Dressing: What’s the Difference?

We have to settle the stuffing vs. dressing debate. Are these dishes one and the same or not?

When the holidays roll around and everyone starts making their menus, stuffing and dressing always make the list. This leads to an annual debate in many homes: stuffing vs. dressing—what’s the big diff?

To get to the bottom of this hotly contested topic, I chatted with our team of food editors here at Taste of Home.

Are Stuffing and Dressing Different Dishes?

In the case of stuffing vs. dressing, Food Editor Rashanda Cobbins says that these are the same dish—a sentiment echoed by fellow foodies James Schend and Peggy Woodward.

“Generally speaking they both use the same ingredients: some type of bread, herbs and spices, liquid, maybe an egg and occasionally meat—like ground sausage—and sometimes fruit like apples or dried cranberries,” Rashanda says.

For example, these Slow-Cooker Dressing and Stuffing from the Slow Cooker recipes both use similar ingredients and cooking methods. Without the recipe title, you’d be apt to call them whichever term you’re accustomed to.

Stuffing vs. Dressing: Why Different Terms?

While stuffing and dressing may be the same dish, there’s no getting around the fact that this carb-tastic creation has two names. Why is that? Well, Rashanda says it’s mostly regional and familial.

“I am in the diehard dressing camp,” says Rashanda. “This is what it was always called growing up in Alabama.” However, for someone like myself who grew up in Wisconsin, my family was stuffing all the way.

The one exception to this is when these ingredients are cooked inside a turkey or chicken; that’s when this is more likely to be called stuffing, though some folks might still call it dressing!

What About the Ingredients?

As Rashanda said, dressing and stuffing both use the same basic ingredients: bread, broth, aromatics and herbs. However, you’ll often run into recipes that incorporate a few extra ingredients—perhaps dried fruit, various proteins or even nuts. Once again, Rashanda says this is all regional.

Want proof? This Badger State Stuffing recipe, for example, includes dried cranberries, beer and even a bit of sauerkraut—all popular ingredients produced in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, this recipe for Bacon & Oyster Stuffing hails from an East Coast cook. And many of our Southern readers have sent us recipes for cornbread-based dressings.

So in the end, this stuffing vs. dressing debate is very much a potato pa-tah-to situation. Whatever you call these recipes, they’re always a delicious addition your holiday feast. Learn how to make vegan stuffing.

Try Our Favorite Stuffing and Dressing Recipes

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.