Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, it’s an incredibly important part of the Thanksgiving meal. Some even say it’s as important as the turkey itself. Nevertheless, stuffing, whether actually stuffed inside a bird or baked in a casserole dish, can be contentious. Some don’t care for the texture, which, on a bad day, can be soggy or dry. Others love the bready side dish. Custardy inside and crisp on top, rich with sausage or drippings, fragrant with onions and herbs, it’s another foil for gravy.

Some like to dress up the boxed mix, others dry out their own loaf of country bread, brioche, challah or cornbread. Rice can make a fine stuffing, too. Flavor it with onions, carrots, celery and herbs for a classic taste or enhance its flavor with everything from dried fruit and nuts to oysters or sausage. Here are a dozen of our favorite stuffing and dressing recipes. Find more in the Recipe Finder.

Bread Stuffing With Apples, Bacon and Onions, above. Sweet and savory, this stuffing starts with dried cubes of bread, which are easy to make at home. The bacon and its fat add depth while the apples and caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness.


Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing With Cherries and Walnuts. Cut out a good chunk of work by tweaking a classic standby: premade stuffing. We took the Pepperidge Farm version, adjusted the salt levels and amped up the flavor. With this dish already halfway made, you can focus on other parts of the event.


Herbed Challah Stuffing. Here’s a formula that allows for some customization. Flavor this softer stuffing with sausage and apples for a sweet and savory dish; mushrooms, celery and onions in a nod to the boxed mix; or with apples, celery and pecans for a crunchy and vegetarian option.


Sheet Pan Stuffing With Chestnuts. A mix of challah and cornbread enhances the texture of this sheet-pan stuffing, which gains some heft from chestnuts and sweetness from pear and cranberries. For a more custardy texture, bake it in a deeper pan.


Easy Bread Stuffing. Tearing your bread up gives you irregular textures, meaning an ideal mix of crispy and tender bits. This is a great basic recipe for any mix-ins you (or the family) want.


Sheet Pan Cornbread Dressing. Baked in a thin layer on a sheet pan, this dressing recipe ensures that everyone can get a crispy piece. Sage and thyme flavor the pieces of crusty cornbread, and a dash of cayenne adds a hint of heat.


Brother Timothy’s Stuffing. This unique stuffing starts with English muffins, which offer a tender chew and nooks and crannies for soaking up a broth bolstered by chicken livers and pork sausage. Spinach, rosemary, mint and brandy round out the meaty flavors.


Chinese Sticky Rice Stuffing. If you’ve never really enjoyed bread-based stuffing, then perhaps you’d like this rice version, with shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, water chestnuts and dried Chinese sausages.


West Coast Oyster Dressing. Olympia oysters from the southern Puget Sound have a sweet, celery-salt flavor that fits right in with this sourdough-based dish. If you can’t find them (we bought ours at Costco), ask your fishmonger for oysters with a similar flavor profile.


Grandma Jerry’s Stuffing. A cornbread base gets folded in with two kinds of Italian sausage, plus basil, sage, rosemary and thyme. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese tops off this Italian-American-style stuffing.


Charleston Rice Dressing. Steamed white rice is the base of this stuffing in which chicken livers — or the giblets and liver from a turkey — add flavor and texture, along with garlic, pecans and plenty of freshly chopped herbs.


Pennsylvania Dutch-Style Potato Filling. Bread and potatoes, plus butter and milk, make this stuffing recipe especially creamy and dense. Leave the bread in rough pieces for a bit more texture, if you’d like.