Here's the difference between stuffing and dressing

The holiday season is a time to be with the people you love and eat some of your most beloved family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Another tradition that is as much of a mainstay as the roasted turkey served during Thanksgiving? Passionate family discussions about everything — from sports to politics to how your aunt's sweet potato casserole is better than your mom's (which is something that the family doesn't say too loudly around dear mom). One debate that has caused a bit of contention among relatives, especially those who live in different parts of the country, is the ever-so-delicious topic of what the true name for stuffing is (or is it dressing?). 

This debate is so far-reaching, that even The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, named her late mother-in-law's recipe "Thanksgiving Dressing/Stuffing." But, is there really a difference between the two? Or is it more a difference of words the same way soda and pop are sometimes used interchangeably.

The differences between stuffing and dressing come down to geography

According to My Recipes, the true definition of stuffing is something that is cooked inside of something else. In theory, the article explains, turkey stuffing is a mixture that is cooked within the turkey. The Pioneer Woman details that cooking it within the turkey is something that has, for the most part, gone out of style. The USDA recommends that stuffing and turkey chefs stay away from this practice. But, if you can't stay away from it, make sure everything inside the cavity of the turkey is cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

So, what is the definition of dressing? It's a mixture that is cooked in a pan next to the turkey, My Recipes reports. Both stuffing and dressing are made with the same basic ingredients like dried bread cubes, diced vegetables, broth, butter, herbs, and spices, according to The Daily Meal, so if you were looking for that to differentiate both, you're gonna hit the proverbial dead end. Another thing that marks the difference between the two on the holidays? Where you live and where you were raised (assuming you've moved), The Daily Meal cites. The report claims that Southern states like Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri, have a higher tendency of using "dressing." What do the Northeastern states use? They are partial to "stuffing." And if you're from Pennsylvania, you call it filling, My Recipes reports.