Stuffing vs. Bread Dressing - What's theÂ Difference?
So what's all this stuff about stuffing and dressing being one and the same? Not in my book, anyway. When this combination of, usually, toasted bread cubes mixed with sautÃ©ed veggies moistened with broth is put INTO another food item like meat, poultry, fish or other vegetables), it's stuffing. When it's baked in a pan alongside a protein, it's dressing. It's a matter of semantics but one that has created some unexpected and disappointing results for members of my household. So I have set some rules -- if you want dressing baked in the bird or some other protein, say "stuffing." If a drier dressing baked in a pan is what you want, ask for "dressing."
That's how I see it, anyway. And stuffing / dressing isn't only made with bread. So my family knows to specify bread stuffing or bread dressing. Because, as everyone but my family knows, it can be prepared with rice and other grains or anything else one's heart desires. There are some hard-and-fast rules to follow, however -- don't stuff the object of your heart's desire and then store it in the refrigerator overnight where bacteria will accumulate and send you to the emergency room quicker than you can say "stuffing."
Some food historians believe the term "dressing" arose during the Victorian Age because the word "stuffing" didn't sound genteel enough. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "stuffing," which dates to 1538 by the way, as "forcemeat or other seasoned mixture used to fill the body of a fowl, a hollow in a joint of meat, etc., before cooking." While the Oxford English Dictionary definition for "dressing" is "the seasoning substance used in cooking; stuffing; the sauce, etc."