Stuffing vs Filling: What’s the difference?

Stuffing vs filling. These two words have similar meanings when it comes to cooking, but there are a few subtle differences. In this article, we will discuss when to use the word stuffing and when to use the word filling, depending on the dish being made and the region you are in.

Stuffing vs filling

If it’s being put inside an animal

It’s always a stuffing

If it’s to be put inside a whole vegetable

It should be called a stuffing but calling it a filling would not be incorrect.

Ravioli and Cannelloni

Pastas like ravioli and cannelloni imply that they have something inside them so you don’t need to use another word like stuffing or filling. Other pastas that don’t always have something inside them can be referred to as stuffed.

Pies and Pastries and Dumplings

Baked goods that you construct are always filled rather than stuffed.


Are the words stuffing and filling interchangeable?

Not always, in some situations using either word is fine but there are certain situations where a specific word is required. In a thanksgiving turkey for example you use the word stuffing.

Is stuffing only used for poultry?

No vegetables can also be stuffed and as long a whole vegetable unaltered from its natural shape is used the word stuffing should be used.

Can stuffing or filling be made ahead of time?

Yes, stuffing and filling can be made ahead of time. However, it is important to note that if you plan to stuff a turkey or other poultry, the stuffing should not be precooked. Instead, it should be prepared and then stuffed into the turkey just before roasting.

Stuffing vs Dressing


In conclusion, If you are putting something inside something else that is a naturally occurring phenomenon, like an animal or vegetable you should use the word stuffing. If you are putting something inside something that you have constructed like a pie crust, use the word filling.