Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stuffing or Dressing?


Ahh..Thanksgiving always brings up one of life’s eternal quandaries. Is it stuffing or dressing and is there a difference? As a southerner, I have always called the Thanksgiving staple dressing. I believe the term stuffing is more prevalent above the Mason Dixon. Some say the base of dressing is cornbread, while the base of stuffing is white bread. Others say stuffing is “stuffed” inside the bird, while dressing is baked in a casserole dish. Which ever name you use, most of us will find it on our Thanksgiving tables. Several years ago, a dear friend who was living without family in NYC called and asked me how to make dressing. Although I did not have a written recipe, I figured it was a good time to measure and put one in writing..for her and posterity. Last year the Commercial Appeal newspaper published my recipe in a column titled “Tasteful Dressings”. It has been said that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis TN and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg, MS. Since I am intimately acquainted with both, I call it

Delta Dressing

4 batches of corn bread (recipe here)

1 quart homemade chicken stock

4-5 bunches green onions, chopped with tops

5 stalks celery, chopped

2 pieces of white bread

Salt and pepper

Place broth, onion, and celery in a deep skillet. Cook until celery is soft. Meanwhile, crumble cornbread completely in a large bowl. Add broth mixture. Tear and add white bread. Mix all well. Get in with your hands if you need to. Add salt to taste and LOTS of black pepper. (I just taste it until I like it). Put into two 9X13 greased casserole dishes. I usually reserve a small amount to mix with oysters and oyster broth. Bake at 350-400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Notes-Use homemade stock. Don’t shortcut here! Homemade broth makes a big difference. This can be done in advance and the broth frozen. Boil a whole chicken with an onion, celery with leaves, and a carrot. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is done (the leg will move easily). Remove the chicken and strain the broth. This recipe is not for sissies, but definitely worth the effort! I make the cornbread on Monday, chop celery and onion on Tuesday and put the dressing together on Thanksgiving morning. You could do it ahead, but I like the way the kitchen smells while watching parades.

****This is exactly the way I emailed it to my non-cooking friend :)—hence, the detailed instructions. Call it what you like…just call me when it’s ready! I wish you and yours a Thanksgiving filled with the blessings of family and food. Nothing says that more than this Norman Rockwell picture.


Click on the Foodie Friday button for more fun and recipes! Thanks to Michael at Designs by Gollum!


  1. Mine is very similar. I use a couple of cans of Cream of Chicken (lowfat) soup also. I embellished my mother's loved recipe. My sister-in-law volunteered to make the dressing once. She made "StoveTop". Yuck. She doesn't like cornbread & thought this would be fine. The next year, I was back to being the designated dressing maker by unanimous vote!

  2. Your recipe sounds similar to the way my family makes dressing (stuffing??? oh no!). We add sage and poultry seasoning though (along with, as you said, LOTS of black pepper). I had some in a restaurant and recognized garlic among the seasonings. That was just WRONG, wasn't it?

    Congratulations on having your recipe published in the Commercial!

  3. Love the recipe. I grew up in Texas and we always had a mix of cornbread, white bread toasted and then cut up into small pieces and biscuits that were also pinched into pieces. We also added celery, onion, sage, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and chicken broth and a few beaten eggs. I am like you, I always add the seasoning to taste. We put a layer of "dressing - stuffing" in the bottom of the roaster, some in the turkey and then the rest around the turkey and roasted it all that way in a very slow oven. The dressing absorbed a lot of the juices from the turkey cooking and has the best flavor in the whole world. I am with you, I could eat it everyday. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. Hugs, Marty

  4. I would think it is called Stuffing if stuffed into the turkey and Dressing if in a dish to the side or cooked outside the turkey, right? Hmmm
    My hubby loves it and I usually cook it in the side now.
    I have made several versions over the years, made one that you make with Jimmy Dean sausage that is really good!

  5. Well, if you are from the south and you call it stuffing, it just ain't right! I have a friend from PA and we discuss this every year! HA! The fact of the matter is, there's no dressing/stuffing as good as MOM's!

  6. I make a similar dressing (and it's definitely dressing), and I don't measure either. This is the way my mother makes it and the way my grandmother made it. My recipe uses eggs in addition to the broth. Glad to see that your dressing doesn't have sage in it. I don't like it with sage.

  7. It is dressing at my house too. This year we may just have the 2 of us here, and my husband doesn't like dressing...not sure what I'm going to do! Your recipe sounds delicious.


  8. I'm southern, too, and we make our DRESSING just about like you do...and mine is baked in a casserole dish or pan...never stuffed inside the bird. That's the way my mama and her mama before her did it and I carry on the tradition. I love cornbread dressing but also like other kinds I've tried over the years. As a matter of fact, I am doing a different version this Thanksgiving...apples, pecans and cranberries..
    XO BJ

  9. Dressing here. I stuffed the bird only one time many years ago and also baked some in a cass. The dressing baked separately was eaten and the dressing cooked in the turkey was not (except for a few bites). I don't make it from scratch any more (ducking my head and running when I say that) - I start with something like Pepperidge Farm and doctor that up. I do like sage/poultry seasoning in mine.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  10. Thank you for the recipe and I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

  11. Whatevery you call it -- dressing is always one of our favorites at my house! My husband uses his mothers old recipe and makes a huge mess in the kitchen -- but it's worth it!

  12. Hi Susan! Yum! I have been thinking about dressing for days! I have my MIL's wonderful recipe, which is similar to yours...except that she always made homemade biscuits instead of using white bread and added some poultry seasoning. I am counting the days until I can have some!!! Happy Thanksgiving!...Debbie

  13. Hi Susan! I so happy to meet you. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I loved your tablescape. Congrats on your recipe publication. I think the terminology is regional, but whatever you call it it smells wonderful when cooking. Our 'Stuffing' uses toasted white bread cubes,celery, onion, chicken broth, salt/pepper, and sage(optional if you're allergic).

  14. Hi Susan,
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. My mom has always made the dressing at our Thanksgiving dinner. She says she is not trying to keep the recipe secret, she just never wrote it down and makes it by "feel" (at 80 years old I guess she has it down pat!)
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  15. Your dressing recipe looks delicious. I just made some beef broth - you are right, homemade makes such a difference! :D Jewel

  16. Your recipe looks really good. We call it stuffing up here in the north! And we stuff the bird with it as well! It's the best! I do make a separate dressing, cornbread, that doesn't go in the bird, but nothing tastes the same as that lovely stuffing that cooks along with the bird! Great job on having the recipe published! How exciting that must have been for you!

  17. Well, I'm all Southern, and the only thing I know about is dressing. I make mine with cornbread, broth, salt, pepper, and sage. Sometimes I shred the turkey or chicken and add it in the dressing, but other times, I serve the meat on the side. Anyway you do it...It's not Thanksgiving without it! Thanks for sharing and thanks for dropping by my blog for Tablescape Thursday!

  18. Yours sounds like mine. Definitely dressing.

  19. My ex-husband's grandmother always made a wonderful cornbread dressing! Coming from the north, it was very different from what I was used to - but I love it!!

  20. Thank you for this fantastic post! We call it stuffing here in Australia but since I am having a Thanksgiving dinner at my house for my family this year i am going to make your award-winning dressing instead of the usual stuffing. I loved reading all of these helpful comments too!
    Blessings to you and your family, Susan.
    Best wishes, Natasha.

  21. Thanks for sharing your recipe, it sounds great!

    .........have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  22. What a great educational post, Susan! Someday, I will bake the turkey and make all the trimmings. ...Christine

  23. I've never heard it called dressing! lol Great recipe. I'm not hosting this year, but in order to have turkey leftovers I think we're making our own the weekend after. I will pass along the receipt to the cook (Mr. DIY). haha

    I just wanted to thank you for your votes. It means so much to me!!! ;) Good luck in the giveaways too!


  24. What a lovely recipe. I do hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with the comfort and confusion of family and friends.

  25. Hey Susan! Would you believe that I have never liked stuffing or dressing? What's weird is that my family says I make the best stuffing!I'm good for two bites and that's it! Last year, I made a cornbread stuffing with homemade stock-- and it had caramelized onion and heavy cream. Wow! I actually liked it enough to eat a few more bites. Your recipe looks wonderful. You makin' German potato salad? :)

  26. Where I'm from it's pronounced dressin' LOL!
    I've never attempted it, my mother is the cornbread dressin' queen and no one in our family (all 56 members!) would even put anyone else's dressin on their plate! LOL

    This sounds awfully close to hers though.. thanks for sharing.

  27. This recipe is certainly dressing! Love cornbread dressing. I had to let you know how much I love the centerpiece from 62nd tablescape. I am new to blogs and did not know how to comment, now I do so I had to let you know. Thanks so much for sharing.

  28. Hi Susan,

    I love the Norman Rockwell picture and the eager looks on their faces.
    I was surprised watching Jacque Pepin cooking the Thanksgiving turkey and he put the stuffing in a casserole dish. I always cook the turkey or chicken with the stuffing inside. It seems to keep it moist.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving.

  29. Susan, I didn't know you had been published! Of course, this has always been called dressing in my family. My M-I-L always brought that to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since we lost her, it is the one thing I order instead of making for our holiday dinners. I bet you'll be making some to take to your daughter's for TG, and I bet she'll be SO glad you're bringing it. laurie

  30. Susan, your recipe is very similar to my mom's, we also use mushrooms and walnuts!
    Girl...thanks for the hint on how to "teach" at remaking my're too cute!

  31. Susan, this sounds delicious. I am a dressing girl!


    Sheila :-)

  32. Hi Susan. Oh, I consider you a blessing too.
    We call it dressing here and my recipe is very similar to yours. Congratulations on it being in the paper.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  33. Well I call it Stuffing. But I don't stuff the bird I cook is separate. I love the crunch you get when it is baked. I can't wait to eat it on Thursday!!. Thanks for sharing your recipe:)

  34. Hmmmm....I was just watching the History Channel's History of Thanksgiving. And they said Dressing was baked in a baking dish and Stuffing was baked inside the turkey. Sounded logical to me! LOL!