Stuffing and Dressing: Is There Really a Difference?

Nov 25, 2014

The age-old question remains: What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing? The basic difference is the cooking method. If you cook it inside the bird, it’s called stuffing. If you bake it in a separate pan, it’s called dressing. But we can all call it one thing for sure: delicious.


Credit Jennifer Chandler

Dressing or stuffing can be made from about any type of bread, but here in the South cornbread-based dressing tends to be the most popular. It’s the dressing my family asks for every year.

To make sure your dressing fulfills all your expectations this year, here are a few guidelines:

The bread is the centerpiece so use the best bread you can find. Never feel guilty about using store-bought as a short-cut. Flavor should be your guide.

Bradford Williams with Curbside Casserole offers an important tip on that bread:

“When making your cornbread dressing, it is so important that the bread is several days old. That allows the chicken broth and all the seasonings to soak into the bread. And it really enhances your dressing.”

Chop your vegetables the day before. It’s a great way to get a head-start on the meal. But wait to mix the ingredients with the egg and stock until just before cooking.

Ingredients like sausage, pecans, apples, and dried cranberries can transform your dressing into a culinary delight by adding flavor and texture.

And finally, to give your dressing extra flavor, drizzle the pan drippings from the cooked turkey over the top just before serving.

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

  • Unsalted butter to grease the baking dish
  • 1 8-inch pan prepared cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound country-style fresh pork sausage, crumbled
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 cup finely sliced celery (about 3 ribs)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish with butter and set aside. Place the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a colander and drain off the excess fat. Transfer the drained sausage to the cornbread mixing bowl.

Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the cornbread mixture. Toss to combine.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the chicken stock and eggs. Add to the cornbread mixture and toss to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared casserole dish. Bake, loosely covered with foil, until set and warmed through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 8 to 10.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.