This delicious Southern Cornbread Dressing is the perfect side dish to round out your Thanksgiving menu! Made with a mixture of cornbread and crusty French bread it's also packed with herbs to make a super flavorful and filling side dish. This easy, classic homemade cornbread dressing is the perfect addition to your holiday table!
Cornbread dressing can also be called stuffing, the name mainly depends on how you cook it (see more about this below!), and it's long been a favorite part of our Thanksgiving dinner.
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Every family member has their 'thing' they love and look forward to in the holiday season, especially when it comes to the food on Thanksgiving Day. For me and my husband, it's the turkey dressing. My husband and I both grew up with Stovetop Stuffing (a kind of boxed cornbread mix) as one of our traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. For many years, my mom would even stuff some of it into our turkey and bake the rest in a pan.
While I'm all for nostalgia and enjoying things from childhood, I really enjoy experimenting to make my own mark on our favorite holiday classics. So over the years, whenever I wanted to experiment with another dressing recipe, Paul would plead for me to still buy the box of Stovetop Stuffing mix for him just in case he didn't like my version. That is until I made THIS southern cornbread dressing and his world changed forever.
This recipe is based on a traditional stuffing recipe, but with my own tweaks to make it just the way we like it. It is light and fluffy and moist, with the perfect balance of sweet and savory from the cornbread, chicken broth, and herbs. It's so delicious, with the flavor and texture of the cornbread coming through.
The whole family LOVED this cornbread dressing, and I already know it's the only recipe I'll make from now on!
Is it really even Thanksgiving dinner without dressing right alongside the turkey, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce? For more holiday inspiration, check out our other delicious and popular Thanksgiving recipes here!
Why We Love This Recipe
- This is an easy cornbread dressing using simple ingredients.
- You can customize this recipe with your favorite herbs and vegetables, or use the ones that go best with the rest of your Thanksgiving table.
- A great make-ahead recipe: You can make this Thanksgiving side dish up to a day in advance, and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to bake it. The leftovers are good for up to 4 days so you can enjoy leftover cornbread dressing with your turkey leftovers the next day. You can even freeze this southern dressing, unbaked, for up to a month, so this really is the perfect recipe to make ahead and save time on the big day!
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- White Bread - It's best to use crusty French bread that's cut into small pieces and dried.
- Cornbread - You need dry cornbread, not freshly baked. I make my own cornbread in advance and leave it out at room temperature to dry, but you can buy it ready-made from a bakery and bake it at home to dry out.
- Butter - You will need a little bit of butter for sautéing the vegetables and some melted butter for helping to bind the dressing mixture.
- Onion and Celery - To be sautéed. You can add extra vegetables if you like for a more filling cornbread dressing dish.
- Garlic Cloves - It's best to use fresh garlic cloves, but you can use garlic powder or paste in a pinch but the quantities will vary.
- Chicken Broth - You can use store-bought or homemade broth.
- Dried Herbs: Basil, Thyme, Sage - These classic savory flavors are earthy and warming, so perfect for the holidays!
- Fresh Herbs: Rosemary & Parsley - This combination of fresh herbs adds a fresh and piney flavor to the dressing. Use dried herb versions if you don't have fresh ones to hand.
- Eggs - Acts as a binding agent.
- Salt & Black Pepper - Additional seasoning to enhance existing flavors.
How to Make Cornbread Dressing
Prepare the bread. Cut the cornbread and crusty French bread into small, bite-size cubes 1-2 days in advance and letting them dry out. Alternatively, dry both types of bread on the same day by baking them slowly in the oven. See instructions for this below.
Prepare and sauté the vegetables. Dice the onions and chop the celery into small pieces. Melt half of the butter in a pan on the stove and sauté the onion and celery for about 4-5 minutes just until they begin to soften. Add the chicken broth, herbs, and salt and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Make dressing mixture. Combine the cubes of cornbread and French bread 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.
Add broth. 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 looks too dense, I would stop adding the broth.
Bake. Transfer the dressing to a 9x13-inch baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden brown on top.
What is the best bread to use for dressing?
White bread is best for dressing (and stuffing) but make sure it isn't too soft. Ideally, the bread will have small holes and be a bit denser than the fluffy soft bread you'd use for sandwiches, in order to soak up the butter and broth well. Crusty French bread is perfect, so I tend to just use it.
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 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 fully dried out. You can take the same approach with the French bread that is needed in the recipe, since both need to be dry and stale for this recipe.
Stuffing and dressing are essentially the same things, but you cook and serve them in a different way. Stuffing is stuffed into and cooked INSIDE the turkey, while dressing is baked in a separate dish from the turkey and served as a side dish, or on top of the turkey to 'dress' it.
So even though half the time I forget and call this recipe 'cornbread stuffing,' it's really cornbread dressing since we bake it separate from our Thanksgiving turkey. You can use it as stuffing though or have both and cook some of it inside and some of it separately. Cooking it inside the turkey will hold in moisture, you won't get the crispiness on top like when you cook it separately, but it is delicious either way!
You can prepare and assemble this cornbread dressing up to 2 days in advance of when you want to serve it, keeping it in the fridge uncooked until you are ready to bake it. If you do this, you may need to add an extra 10 minutes or so to the bake time since you will be starting with a cold dish.
However, you can also freeze unbaked cornbread dressing, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, 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.
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.
More Thanksgiving Recipes You'll Want For Your Feast
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
- Cranberry Jello Salad with Cream Cheese Topping
- Lion House Dinner Rolls
- Crockpot Creamed Corn
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- 1 loaf crusty french bread cut into small cubes (about 6-8 cups), and dried
- 1 cornbread (8x8 pan) cut into small cubes and dried
- 8 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 onion, medium 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.
This post was originally published in November, 2019. The photos and content were updated in October, 2022.