The Difference Between "Stuffing" and "Dressing"

The science of stuffing versus cornbread should be cut and dry. It’s stuffing if you stuff it inside the bird and dressing if you cook it in a separate pan. There are, however, a few states in the deep South that refuse to even acknowledge “stuffing” as a word or a concept, much less a dish, and Mississippi is the most stubborn of all. Both are bread dishes, though most southern dressing is made with cornbread — “cornbread stuffing” is not a thing. Both stuffing and dressing are moistened with stock and held together with eggs, and both usually contain onion and celery, as well as sage and all the usual herbs. Both take quite well to tweaks and alterations. Regional loyalty aside, using the term “stuffing” doesn’t make much sense anymore, because stuffing bread inside a bird doesn’t make any sense. Cooking the bread-based side inside the cavity of your turkey is bad for both dishes. The stuffing gets saturated with bird juice, which is full of raw bird bacteria — meaning you now have to worry about the meat and meat juice-soaked bread reaching a safe temperature. Stuffing is hard to temperature check when it’s inside a dead animal that’s sitting inside a hot oven, and the inside of that animal is damp, meaning you don’t get any browning, any crispy bits, or any texture beyond “damp bread.” Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what you call it, as nearly everyone in the United States will know what you mean whether you say “stuffing” or “dressing.” As for Mississippi, football season is hard enough, so let it go.