Regardless of what you call it—stuffing, dressing, or filling—a Thanksgiving meal is not complete without this favorite starchy side dish. But there’s a reason behind the different names, a regional reason that is. In fact, each part of the country boasts their own recipes that are deep-seeded in tradition and regional ingredients.
Forget white bread, West Coasters utilize sourdough bread, giving their stuffing a unique tang of flavors that’s more than memorable for taste buds.
While Northern Midwesterners refer to the side dish as stuffing, their specialty forgoes any type of bread, and wild rice steals the show. In fact, Minnesota is one of the few locations where wild rice still grows today.
What’s stuffing? Ask any Southerner and they only refer to the side dish as dressing. Thanks to their infatuation with cornbread, they’ve invented the signature cornbread dressing, adding the perfect hint of sweetness to an overall savory meal.
A region that is both rich in Thanksgiving history and fresh seafood, New Englanders don’t hold back when it comes to their stuffing recipe. Their signature dish includes chopped oysters which adds texture and moisture to the cubed pieces of bread.
Ah, this is where the term filling comes into play. The Mid-Atlantic region has quite a bit of Pennsylvania Dutch influence, meaning they love their potatoes! Many substitute the traditional bread for another equally delicious starch—mashed potatoes.