Sorry, Folks

Thanksgiving Hot Take: It's Called Stuffing, Not Dressing

Let's finish this once and for all.

By Timothy Malcolm November 28, 2019

Ahhh, beautiful stuffing. It's called stuffing.

My wife is originally from Austin. Her Texan roots were probably the first thing I learned about her, and that's been one of the most important aspects of our life together. For one, we moved to Texas last year in part so we could be closer to her family. 

But since she's a Texan, we've engaged in a few battles over ... how should I put this ... how uniquely we say (and call) certain things. Especially when it comes to food. The battles seem to flare up closer to the holidays, a time when all of us are a little nostalgic about the foods we're eating. For instance, my wife's aunt makes a stellar pecan pie every year for Christmas. When my wife first described the pie, she called it "peh-cahn pie."

Being a man, and thus, a veteran mansplainer, I retorted: "pee-can pie." You know, in that very chipper inflection that really plays up the short "e" sound.

That didn't go over well with a Texan, so I sucked it up and got past the whole peh-cahn/pee-can thing.

But there's another one I can't get past, won't get past, and nobody can tell me differently. It's stuffing. Not dressing. Stuffing.

Now, I know that there's a traditional dictionary difference between the two: Stuffing is traditionally bread, onions, celery, herbs, and whatever else put inside the cavity of the turkey before cooking; while dressing is all those things but roasted in a separate pan. Still, people tell me what I think is stuffing is dressing. They're wrong. I'm sorry. Wrong.

Of course, it's all about geography. If you're from the south, and especially the deep south, you're calling it dressing. If you're a native of the north, and especially places like Pennsylvania (where I was born), you're going to refer to it as stuffing. Like me. Like we all should. Stuffing.

My reasoning is simple—seriously simple: Dressing is what you put on salad. 


Are there other meanings for stuffing? Yes, there are: the stuff that goes in your child's teddy bear. That's right: stuff that goes in, like the bread, onions, celery, herbs, and whatever else into the turkey. 

"But wait!" you'll respond. "Our stuff doesn't go in! Like you said, it's roasted in a separate pan!" Right, but I'm saying the actual dish of bread and other things is called stuffing; you can cook it however you like. Think of it like you think of a pork chop: Some people sauté it, others bake it, some others sous vide it, then there's smoking it ... it's just a method.

So, if it goes in the turkey, it's stuffing cooked in the turkey. If it's roasted separately, it's stuffing not cooked in the turkey. That's it.

Because then I'll ask you to pass the dressing, and that means I'll want some vinaigrette atop my lettuce. Happy Thanksgiving!

Filed under
Show Comments