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Stuffing vs. Dressing: What’s the difference

Thanksgiving is a delicious time of year when you get to make and eat tasty food. When preparing for dinner, you may need to know the difference between stuffing vs. dressing.

These dishes are made with similar ingredients but cooked differently. 

Thanksgiving turkey stuffed with stuffing on a white platter

What is the difference between stuffing and dressing 

Stuffing and dressing are savory dishes that are traditional for Thanksgiving dinner. Most families usually like one over the other and stick with that year after year. 

These easy old-fashioned dishes can also be made with chicken, rice, sausage, apples, cornbread, or bacon. 

It’s not difficult to make either dish, so go ahead, try them both and decide which one you like best. This is a great way to experiment and break from the mold. You don’t need to make the same things every year. Try something new!  


This dish is made with celery, bread cubes, chicken broth, onions, and carrots. Once these ingredients are mixed together, you’ll stuff the cavity of the turkey with this mixture and then bake the whole thing together in the oven.


This casserole is made with onions, celery, bread cubes, chicken broth, and, occasionally, ground sausage. The ingredients are combined and put in a greased dish and baked until it’s heated all the way through. 

Why is it called stuffing 

Stuffing is a descriptive name. Once the ingredients are combined in a bowl, they are stuffed into a bird (most often turkey) and baked together. 

This makes for a delicious side dish since the turkey juices drip down through the stuffing and give it an extra layer of richness. 

You’re probably also wondering if you can freeze stuffing?

How to reheat Stuffing and Dressing

There are a few different ways you can reheat leftover stuffing or dressing. They are similar to reheating mashed potatoes.  

Microwave: Cover the dish with an off-center lid or loose plastic wrap and heat in the microwave in 30-second increments until it’s hot all the way through. Stir occasionally to allow the microwave to heat consistently. 

Stovetop: Use a saute pan and olive oil to reheat the dish. Place the mixture in the pan and stir until it’s hot. You may need to add a little more broth if it’s dried out. 

Oven: If you’re going to reheat the entire dish all at once, heating it in the oven might be the most efficient way to cook it. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until it’s hot throughout. 

Air fryer: Using the air fryer to reheat these dishes is perfect if you have one with a tray design. This will crisp the bread back up and taste much fresher.  

How to store Stuffing and Dressing

To store stuffing and dressing, allow it to cool completely and then place it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. 

You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days before they get too stale to eat. 

Freezing is another great option. You can keep them in the freezer for up to three months. The onions, garlic, celery, and bread work well in the freezer. Be sure to label and date it to know what you have later. 

stuffing vs. dressing: Is one better than the other

You could argue that either one is better, but it comes down to how you want to prepare the dish. Since one is stuffed inside a turkey and then baked, and the other is made on the side, there are certain considerations to make. 

If you stuff the turkey with the mixture, you need to make sure that it cooks all the way through before taking it out of the oven. This can become problematic if the turkey is already cooked and you don’t want it to dry out. 

On the other hand, stuffing gets that extra level of flavor with the turkey juice that seeps through it while baking, which may make it worth it for you. 

Dressing is easier to make since you bake it on its own, but it won’t have the turkey juice unless you add a little from the cooked turkey after pulling it out of the oven. 


You can put eggs in stuffing or dressing to make it all combine better, which also adds richness to the dishes. 

Dressing should be covered for most of the cooking time and then uncovered to get the outside crispy. 

If you want to make dressing outside of the turkey, you can stuff the turkey with other tasty things instead. Try chopped onions, celery, carrots, sage, thyme, rosemary, or other seasonings. 

These will add flavor to the turkey from the inside out and create a more moist dish. 

People in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and West Virginia call this dish dressing regardless of whether it’s stuffed inside the turkey.

If you go to the south, you may hear it called dressing, so be prepared for either one. 

Conclusion of stuffing vs. dressing 

Stuffing and dressing are two very similar dishes; the main difference is that they are cooked differently

While stuffing is used to fill the cavity of a turkey before baking, dressing is made on the side in its own dish. 

There are benefits and drawbacks to each method, and it really depends on what you like best. 

Now’s the perfect time to try them both and see which one you prefer.

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