Sensational Stuffing and Dressing Recipes for Thanksgiving
When Americans gather on Thanksgiving, it's not just food we're eating and thanks we're giving; many of us are also enjoying a taste of tradition. As it turns out, we are creatures of habit, and one of the most beloved dishes on the Thanksgiving table is the reliable side dish known as dressing—or stuffing.
Have you ever wondered what the difference is? The origin of the two terms might seem pretty obvious: Stuffing is baked inside the bird and scooped onto our plates, while dressing is baked in a separate dish, right? In fact, whether you're baking it in or out of the turkey, the dish is almost always called dressing down South. And if you're in the Northeastern United States or parts of the Midwest, you're likely to hear it called stuffing, and that's true no matter how it's baked. Of course, over time many families move and recipes go with them, but the terms seem to be rooted in those regions.
Essentially, these are two words for the same thing: a savory mixture of bread, crackers, or grains tossed with vegetables and seasoned with herbs before being moistened and baked. Everything else depends on your preferences—and what region you're from. Additions to the dish, such as sausages, ham or bacon are popular nationwide, and mushrooms and root vegetables are, too. Oysters, fresh or smoked, and occasionally mussels, mixed with crackers, are served up and down the Eastern seaboard. Cracker stuffings and dressings were common in Colonial times. Nuts and fruit have always had a place in dressings and stuffings: Hazelnuts (known as filberts in the Northwest), and walnuts are delicious, and pecans are a real classic when paired with the crumbled cornbread that is essential to most Southern and Southwestern dressing recipes. Dried fruits and fresh, seasonal fruits such as apples and pears, add their tender texture and an element of sweetness.
So, choose from one of these satisfying recipes for your Thanksgiving table and say it your way: Whether you call it dressing or stuffing, everyone will agree it's a delicious slide.
Sausage Pear Stuffing
Dried-Fruit and Nut Cornbread Dressing
Get ahead by baking the cornbread with nuts and dried fruit mixed right in, then freeze it for up to a month. The day of, combine with a few more ingredients and bake in a buttery dish.
Wild Mushroom, Leek, and Filbert Dressing
Vegan Stuffing with Mushrooms and Leeks
Invite vegan and vegetarian guests knowing you've got them covered with this recipe. It has all of the traditional stuffing flavors—without the traditional poultry broth, dairy, or eggs.
Test Kitchen's Favorite Stuffing
Who better to guide you on the best stuffing recipe than our food editors? They use soft country white bread in this classic stuffing because it absorbs flavors best.
Cornbread, Bacon, Leek, and Pecan Stuffing
Toasted walnuts add a surprise crunch to this mushroom-sage stuffing. Mix in beaten eggs to give it a slightly custardy texture.
Smoked Oyster and Bacon Stuffing
Bacon and oysters come together in this simple one-hour stuffing. Need we say more?
We're all about atypical Thanksgiving menus. Adding chorizo and almonds to this crusty white bread stuffing gives the dish an unexpectedly delicious taste.
Herbed Cracker Stuffing
Prune and Sausage Stuffing
The traditional Thanksgiving flavors in this stuffing are enhanced by cooking the vegetables in bacon fat. Use your favorite cornbread for this recipe, whether homemade or store-bought.
Mushroom and Walnut Stuffing
Prunes, brandy, sage, and sausage contribute sophisticated flavors to this stuffing, which can be prepared up to two days ahead and finished just before serving. It's first cooked in a water bath to seal in the juices, then baked to give it some crunch.
The title gives this away as a Southern-influenced dish, as do the addition of pecans. But cubes of chewy Italian bread and cranberries add a touch of Northern style to this dressing.
Porcini, Chestnut, and Sausage Stuffing
Fresh pork sausage and turkey giblets lend their rich, meaty flavors to this lightly sweet cornbread stuffing. The chicken broth and beaten eggs added to the stuffing soak into the soft, crumbled cornbread to create a custardy texture.
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
This is a recipe for the stuffing purists. Fresh sage and tidbits of sautéed chicken liver in the cornbread complement the slightly sweet pork sausage to give this stuffing an extra meaty taste.
Sourdough Stuffing with Apples, Acorn Squash, and Hazelnuts
Oyster Brioche Stuffing
Pecans, shallots, wild mushrooms, and fresh thyme and rosemary flavor this brioche stuffing. White wine and cream add luxurious richness to the recipe.
Susan's Peach Stuffing
Cornbread Stuffing with Pancetta and Scallions
Baked in a cast-iron skillet, this cornbread stuffing has a rustic look and a delicious flavor—with pancetta plus celery, onions, white wine, and stock how could it not taste good?