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Southern Cornbread Dressing is the perfect side dish to round out your holiday feast! Made with classic savory flavors, cornbread dressing (aka stuffing) is often declared as the favorite part of our Thanksgiving dinner!
One year my husband threw out almost our entire Thanksgiving feast before I had even begun to cook it.
In his defense, we were in the middle of remodeling our very old home and I had left all the ingredients for our sweet potato casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce in brown paper grocery bags in the pantry right next to the trash. Which is also how we disposed of our recycling at the time. So it was probably my fault, even though I still maintain that he should have questioned the weight of the bags of "recycling."
It certainly was a surprise on Thanksgiving Day when I went to start cooking and couldn't find the bags of food anywhere, only for us to realize he had tossed it a couple of days before! So much for preparing in advance!
My husband and I both grew up with Stovetop Stuffing (the kind that comes in the box) as our traditional Thanksgiving side dish. For many years, my mom would even stuff some of it into our turkey and bake the rest in a pan.
Whenever I wanted to experiment with another dressing recipe, Paul would plead for me to still buy the box of Stovetop Stuffing for him. Until I made this southern cornbread dressing recipe and changed his world forever.
It's so delicious, with the flavor and texture of the cornbread coming through. It's light and fluffy and moist, with the perfect balance of sweet from the cornbread and savory from the chicken broth and herbs.
You can use all dried herbs, if you don't have any fresh on hand, but the fresh rosemary and parsley makes a big difference in how the dressing tastes.
We all LOVED this cornbread dressing and I already know it's the only recipe I'll make from now on, it is that good.
What is the difference between stuffing and dressing?
Stuffing and dressing are essentially the same thing, except that stuffing is supposed to be cooked INSIDE the turkey, while dressing is baked in a pan separate from the turkey.
So even though half the time I forget and call this recipe stuffing, it's really cornbread dressing since we bake it separate from our Thanksgiving bird.
How do you dry cornbread for dressing?
It's important to use dry cornbread for dressing so that it can absorb the broth, eggs, and butter that are going to be added. I always make a big batch of my favorite cornbread earlier in the week to have with soup, and just save half of it to dry out and get stale, but you could even pick up cornbread from your local bakery.
To dry cornbread for dressing, slice it into bite-size cubes and spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Then you can either let them dry out for 1-2 days (if you were thinking ahead), or pop them in the oven at 250 degrees F for 30-45 minutes. Be sure to toss them every 10 minutes or so until the cornbread has dried out. You can take the same approach with the french bread that is called for in the recipe, since both need to be dry and stale to begin with for the best Thanksgiving dressing.
How to Make Cornbread Dressing
1. Prep the cornbread and crusty french bread by cutting it into small, bite-size cubes 1-2 days in advance and letting them dry out. Chop the celery and onions as well.
2. Melt half of the butter in a pan on the stove and saute the onion and celery just until they begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, herbs, and salt, and let it simmer for a few minutes.
3. Combine the cornbread and french bread cubes in a large bowl, and drizzle with melted butter and beaten eggs. Then begin to ladle the seasoned broth mixture over the cubed bread, tossing gently so that it can all get evenly coated.
4. Keep adding broth until your dressing is evenly moistened. You may not need all of it, depending on how moist you like your stuffing. But if the dressing is starting to get mushy or looking too dense, I would stop adding more broth.
5. Transfer the dressing to a 9x13-inch baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden brown on top.
Make-Ahead, Storing, and Freezing Instructions:
Make-Ahead: You can prepare and assemble this cornbread dressing a day in advance of when you want to serve it, then keep it in the fridge until you are ready to bake. You may need to add an extra 10 minutes or so to the bake time though, since you will be starting with a cold dish.
Storing: Leftover dressing will stay good if covered tightly and kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.
Freezing: Unbaked cornbread dressing can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3-4 weeks. Just thaw in the fridge overnight before baking the next day. Already baked cornbread dressing can also be frozen, then thawed and reheated as normal.
More Thanksgiving Recipes You'll Want For Your Feast
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecans
- Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- How to Make a Brined & Smoked Turkey
- Cranberry Jello Salad with Cream Cheese Topping
- Lion House Dinner Rolls
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Copycat Costco Mac and Cheese
- Homemade Pumpkin Pie
- Classic Homemade Blackberry Pie
- Other pie recipes
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- 1 loaf crusty french bread cut into small cubes (about 6-8 cups), and dried
- 1 8x8 pan [cornbread] cut into small cubes and dried
- 8 Tablespoons butter divided
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 celery ribs chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
- ½ cup fresh flat Italian parsley leaves chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the french bread and cornbread into bite-size cubes and let them sit out for 1-2 days in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry out.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken broth, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, and parsley to the vegetables. Bring to a simmer.
- In a separate bowl, melt the remaining butter, then add the eggs, salt, and pepper, and beat until combined.
- Combine the dried bread cubes in a very large bowl and drizzle with the egg mixture.
- Begin to add the warm broth mixture to the dried bread, a little at a time. Toss lightly so that everything gets evenly moistened. You may not need all the broth. Stop adding liquid if the dressing starts getting mushy.
- Transfer the dressing to a large 9x13-inch baking dish, then bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until hot all the way through and golden brown on top.
- I always use my favorite cornbread recipe. But if you have a cornbread recipe you prefer, go ahead and use that!
- If you don't have time to let the bread dry out in advance, just bake in a 250 degree F oven for 30-45 minutes until dry. Be sure to toss every 10 minutes.
- You can assemble the dressing up to 1 day in advance and keep in the fridge. You may need to increase the bake time by about 10 minutes or so, though, since the dressing will be going into the oven cold.
- The cornbread dressing can be frozen up to 3-4 weeks in advance, then thawed in the fridge overnight before baking.