The BEST cornbread dressing is even better when you know how to make it BEFORE Thanksgiving (when you don’t want to be in the kitchen).
My Grand made the BEST cornbread dressing.
This cornbread dressing recipe is what my Grand Pinion made every Thanksgiving all the years she was here. This dressing was my FAVORITE thing…..I looked forward to it more than anything else. Grand didn’t follow a recipe, but she let my mom watch her make the dressing and write everything down. So….here is the cherished recipe along with tips on making it BEFORE Thanksgiving.
Is cornbread dressing the same as stuffing?
The main difference between cornbread dressing and stuffing is how each one is cooked. Stuffing is cooked inside of another food before cooking. For Thanksgiving, you’ll find that stuffing is usually cooked inside the cavity of a bird, most commonly turkey, duck, roaster, or Cornish game hens. On the other hand, dressing is cooked in a baking pan or casserole dish.
What is the best broth for cornbread stuffing?
Some cooks use turkey drippings to make dressing, but most cooks rely on chicken broth or stock. My recipe calls for chicken broth. Here are a few options for chicken broths that work well in this recipe.
NOTE: If you use canned broth or stock, you will want to add 2 chicken bouillon cubes to “doctor it” and make it richer. ! So, be sure to buy some chicken bouillon cubes
- Chicken bouillon cube. Use this and water to make chicken broth.
- Chicken broth base (i.e. Better Than Bouillon). Use this and water to make chicken broth.
- Canned chicken broth, stock, or bone broth. If using any of these, “doctor” them with chicken bouillon cubes for richer flavor.
This recipe uses 3 different breads.
This cornbread dressing includes 3 types of bread: biscuits, cornbread, and white bread. Making these is the hardest most time-consuming part of cornbread dressing, so knocking this out BEFORE making the dressing is half the battle. Below are the specific types of bread you will use.
- Biscuits. I bake frozen (not canned) biscuits; homemade are fine also.
- Cornbread. I use this recipe. Any traditional Southern recipe will work.
- White bread. You can use sliced white bread or hamburger/hotdog buns.
Make the 3 breads ahead of time.
Making the breads is the most time-consuming part of this recipe, but it can be done ahead. Simply make the cornbread and biscuits. Allow them to cool, and process them into crumbs. Allow the bread to get stale a few hours or overnight; process into crumbs. You can make the crumbs a day or two ahead and store in the fridge, or you can make a few weeks ahead and freeze.
Why you need day-old bread.
All 3 breads should be a day old and a bit dry/stale. If you use freshly baked cornbread or biscuits, they will be hot and soft, and the dressing won’t firm up like it should and might be soggy. I bake the biscuits and make my Southern buttermilk cornbread the night before and let them sit overnight (loosely covered with a clean dishcloth). Be sure NOT to put the freshly baked breads in a plastic bag, as they will sweat and become moist. Note: If you don’t have a day to let the breads get stale, you can refrigerate them for a few hours, or you can slightly overbake them so that they are dry.
Don’t skip the sage.
The sage is a KEY ingredient in giving dressing its flavor, so it is a must-have seasoning. The poultry seasoning is also important, so make sure to have both. I bought new sage and poultry seasoning, as my jars were almost a year old. It is worth it to spend a few dollars for fresh sage and poultry seasoning, as they are the flavor base that makes dressing taste like it should.
Make the dressing (but don’t bake).
Make the dressing up to the point of baking and then refrigerate or freeze it (uncooked). Here are the guidelines for refrigerating vs freezing the dressing.
- Make ahead and refrigerate: Make up to 2 days ahead and store, covered and uncooked, in the fridge. Bake the day you plan to serve it.
- Make ahead and freeze: Make up to one month ahead; cover well and freeze. Thaw in the fridge 2-3 days before you plan to cook it.
How thick should cornbread dressing be before baking?
The thickness of cornbread dressing is largely determined by how much broth you use in the recipe. If you prefer cornbread dressing that is on the dry side, use less broth. If you like moist dressing, use more broth. This is where personal preference comes in. I like mine to be a bit on the moist side, so I add a bit more. Below are the broths that I use.
Watch me make the cornbread dressing.
I SO hope this cornbread dressing is part of your Thanksgiving meal. If so, please let me hear from you in the comments below. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!
- 1 large skillet cornbread*
- 5 or 6 slices of white bread, stale
- 6-8 biscuits, baked
- 1 onion, processed finely
- 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 tablespoon sage
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 2 bouillon cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 carton chicken broth
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Process all 3 breads into crumbs (fine to medium.
- Store in an airtight bag; freeze or refrigerate until ready to make the dressing.
- Measure out several cups of broth/stock.
- Crumble bouillon cubes into broth/stock.
- Heat to boiling; stir to dissolve.
- Toss all bread crumbs together in a large bowl.
- Add onion, celery, soup, spices, and eggs; stir well.
- Add broth in stages until desired consistency.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.