My Grandmother’s famous Southern cornbread dressing is moist, flavorful, make ahead, and freezer friendly. It is the most important side dish on any Thanksgiving table, and this recipe is DIVINE!
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 chicken stock. My recipe calls for chicken broth that my Grand taught us to “doctor” a bit with a few bouillon cubes. That makes the broth richer and tastier! There are several ways to make a plain box of chicken broth taste better.
- Chicken bouillon cubes. Add one or two to a carton of broth.
- Chicken bouillon base (i.e. Better Than Bouillon). Add a tablespoon or two to the chicken broth; heat and stir to dissolve.
- Bone broth. You can add a small can or carton of chicken bone broth for extra richness.
This recipe uses 3 different breads.
This cornbread dressing includes 3 types of bread: biscuits, cornbread, and white bread. These dry ingredients are the foundation of dressing. Making these different breads is the most time-consuming part of cornbread dressing. You can save time by making the breads over the course of a few days and storing them until time to make the dressing. Below are the specific types of bread you will use.
- Biscuits. Homemade biscuits are great (if you make biscuits). I use frozen buttermilk or Southern style biscuits. Canned biscuits are a definite NO:-)
- Cornbread. I use this recipe. Homemade Southern cornbread will make the best dressing, as it is made with cornmeal, buttermilk, and lots of butter.
- 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 crumble or process them into crumbs. Allow the bread to get stale a few hours or overnight; crumble or 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.
Traditional ingredients in Southern dressing.
The first and most important ingredient in Southern dressing is bread, and this recipe calls for three: cornbread, biscuits, and stale white bread. Other traditional ingredients include chopped celery and onion, which give both flavor and a slight crunch (from the celery). Sage is a KEY ingredient in giving dressing its flavor, so make sure to have that on hand. The poultry seasoning is also important and adds a unique flavor. Every Fall, I make sure that my sage and poultry seasoning jars are fresh by checking the expiration date. It is worth it to have fresh seasonings for something as important as Thanksgiving dressing.
Make the dressing ahead of time.
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 can be tweaked as you mix by adding broth to thin as needed. 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. My mixture is usually pourable from the bowl into a baking dish.
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.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 247Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 52mgSodium 881mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 7g