Stuffing vs. Dressing Food Safety Concerns, and What's It Called at Your House?

BlogHer Original Post

Nic of Baking Bites got me thinking of the long-time debate about stuffing vs. dressing to go with the Thanksgiving turkey. Many people think "stuffing" is cooked inside the turkey, while "dressing" is cooked on the side, but actually both terms refer to a mixture of bread and seasonings, and they can be used interchangeably. In the U.S. there are definitely regional differences, with stuffing used more in the north, and dressing in the south. Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, what's really important in the debate is how the stuffing or dressing should be cooked.

Wikipedia talks about food safety in its entry for stuffing and says the USDA recommends that stuffing is cooked outside the bird. However, if you check the actual USDA site you'll find some ideas for safely cooking stuffing inside the bird. Their suggestions include not using raw meats or shellfish in stuffing, stuffing the bird loosely, using a temperature of at least 325F to cook stuffed turkeys, using a food thermometer to be sure that turkey *and* stuffing have reached a temperature of at least 165F, and letting the bird rest before removing the stuffing.

Even if stuffing can be safely cooked inside the bird, these days many cooks prefer the results when the stuffing or dressing is cooked on the side. For one thing, without stuffing turkey will cook more quickly and leave more juice in the pan to make gravy. However, I typed "Thanksgiving stuffing dressing" into the Blogher food search widget to see what I would come up with, and found results that indicate the debate continues:

Cornbread Dressing

Dressing ~ It's Cornbread Dressing at Dianne's Dishes, and as you can see from the photo above, it's cooked outside the turkey.
Stuffing ~ From Mommy's Kitchen has Chourico Sausage Stuffing that she says can go in a turkey, a casserole dish, or the refrigerator if you're making it ahead.
Dressing ~ She's hedging her bets a bit by using the word stuffing in the recipe notes, but Retro Food says she usually sticks to this verson of Cornbread Dressing that mixes cornbread and bread crumbs, cooked in a pan.
Stuffing ~ Nic at Baking Bites always calls it stuffing because that's the term she grew up with. She likes Carmelized Onion Stuffing or Maple Cornbread Stuffing and prefers it cooked outside the bird.
Dressing ~ Gluten Free Cooking School shares her attempt to re-create her Grandmother's Gluten- Free Cornbread Dressing recipe, cooked outside the bird.
Stuffing ~ Scary Mama has a Scary Good Stuffing with instructions which say it can be cooked on the side or inside the bird.
Dressing ~ At Cora Cooks, it's dressing all the way, never cooked in the bird and preferably her family's Oyster Dressing Recipe.

So what's your take on the stuffing vs. dressing debate? Please weigh in with a comment telling your favorite name and cooking method, and include a recipe link or your favorite recipe if you have one.

Kalyn Denny writes about food and at and shares her passion for cooking at Kalyn's Kitchen. Kalyn always calls it stuffing but cooks outside the bird, and her favorite is South Beach Friendly Whole Wheat Stuffing with Sage, Italian Sausage, and Pears.


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