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13 Thanksgiving stuffing and dressing recipes, including cornbread, sausage, oyster and the VP’s go-to

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post; props by Limonata Creative for The Washington Post)
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Did you grow up calling it stuffing or dressing? Either way, it’s a crucial part of the traditional Thanksgiving spread. That said, whether it’s actually stuffed inside a bird, baked in a casserole dish or roasted on a sheet tray, everyone has an opinion about how it should taste.

Some don’t care for the texture, which, on bad days, can be soggy or dry. (They may want to give Becky Krystal’s Thanksgiving focaccia a try!) Others love it with crunchy edges and a custardy center. It can be made from any kind of bread — including the gluten-free variety — and flavored with almost anything: bits of turkey meat, sausage, shellfish, bacon, roasted or sauteed vegetables, herbs, fresh or dried seasonal fruit and spice. We love it especially as 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 13 of our favorite stuffing and dressing recipes. Find more in the Recipe Finder.

Thanksgiving stuffing (or dressing) is the dish that best reflects America’s diversity

Mushroom and Leek Cornbread Dressing, above. Aaron Hutcherson’s vegetarian take on his family’s favorite cornbread dressing starts with homemade cornbread. Once crumbled and dried, it’s combined with sauteed mushrooms, leeks, garlic and tarragon for a plush, savory side that will serve up to eight guests.

Bread Stuffing With Apples, Bacon and Onions. Sweet and savory, this stuffing starts with dried cubes of bread — save stale bread or toast cubes of fresh bread in the oven. The bacon and its fat add richness while the apples and caramelized onions give the stuffing some welcome sweetness. Halve the recipe to serve a smaller crowd, or make the whole thing, which will serve 10.

Kamala Harris’s Cornbread Dressing. Last year, before she stepped into the role of vice president, Kamala Harris shared her recipe for cornbread dressing. The straightforward formula relies on an old standby: Jiffy corn muffin mix. Spicy Italian sausage, chunks of sweet apple and lots of herbs fill it with flavor. It makes enough for a crowd of 12.

How to host a smaller Thanksgiving while still enjoying your favorite holiday flavors

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. This speedy stuffing serves up to 10 people.

Turn back-of-the-package recipes into a memorable Thanksgiving meal with these simple upgrades

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. The full recipe serves 12, but it’s easily halved.

Sheet Pan Stuffing With Chestnuts. A mix of challah and cornbread gives this crispy sheet-pan stuffing a lot of texture. Chestnuts add heft; pear and cranberries offer sweetness. For a custardy texture, bake it in a deeper pan. Either way, it will serve up to 8.

Easy Bread Stuffing. Tearing the bread for this stuffing — rather than cutting it into cubes — means you’ll get a nice mix of crispy edges and tender pockets. The base recipe serves up to 8 and is ideal for any mix-ins you (or the family) want try this year. Consider: Chunks of honeynut squash and sage; roasted fennel and sausage crumbles; caramelized onion and brie; or chewy dates and walnuts.

This year, consider stuffing a pumpkin

Sheet Pan Cornbread Dressing. Baked in a thin layer on a sheet pan, this dressing — which serves 8 to 10 guests — ensures that everyone can get a crispy piece. Sage and thyme flavor the pieces of crusty cornbread, and a dash of cayenne adds a subtle hit of heat.

Brother Timothy’s Stuffing. This unique stuffing starts with English muffin bread, which offers a tender chew, and nooks and crannies for soaking up a broth bolstered by chicken livers and pork sausage. Spinach, rosemary, mint and brandy help offset the meaty flavors. Make the full recipe to serve 10 to 12 hungry guests, or halve it.

Chinese Sticky Rice Stuffing. If you’ve never really enjoyed bread-based stuffing, then perhaps you’d like this rice version, which serves 6. It’s full of flavor, thanks to shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, water chestnuts and dried Chinese sausages.

From onion casserole to sticky rice stuffing, our readers’ Thanksgiving family recipes tell a story

West Coast Oyster Dressing. Olympia oysters from the southern Puget Sound have a sweet, celery-salt flavor that complements the sourdough bread in this dressing — which can serve a crowd of up to 16. If you can’t find them (we bought ours at Costco), ask your fishmonger for oysters with a similar flavor profile.

Recipe: Fried Oysters With Garlic Rice

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. It makes enough to serve 12 to 16 people.

Thanksgiving stuffing (or dressing) is the dish that best reflects America’s diversity

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. A full recipe serves 6 to 8.