Our cornbread dressing is made the classic old fashioned Southern way and will be the hit of your Thanksgiving dinner table! (Video tips included)
Turkey and dressing is a southern family classic
This is dressing made the way my mother-in-law makes it, and I learned just by watching her. When I decided I wanted to share it with y'all I had to make it and measure each ingredient to have an actual recipe.
I admit that this recipe includes a couple of prepared grocery items - Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix and a canned cream soup. We typically try to stay away from prepared foods in our recipes.
But, this is one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situations. Everyone loves this cornbread dressing just the way it is, so we don't mess with that.
Dressing or stuffing?
Here in the south, we don't refer to our dressing as stuffing. That's because we don't typically "stuff" the turkey with our dressing. We bake it in a dish separately.
Gravy is made of the pan drippings from the turkey and most folks like to have gravy over their dressing, though not everyone eats it that way. For the basics on "How to Make Gravy from Scratch" you'll want to read this.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Prepared Cornbread. Below you'll find our recipe, but feel free to use your own cornbread recipe, as long as it's not the sweet type.
- Butter - salted or unsalted is fine. You just may want to adjust the added salt according to taste.
- Onion - we prefer and recommend sweet onions
- Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing (use another flavor if you like, but this is the one we have always used)
- Salt and Pepper
- Sage (you can replace this with poultry seasoning if you like)
- Cream of Chicken Soup
- Chicken Stock or Broth (stock has the richest flavor)
How to make cornbread dressing
- Make your cornbread and allow it get stale. More on this below.
- Crumble the cornbread with your hands in a large bowl.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Add the celery and onions and cook until partly transluscent.
- Add the vegetable mixture and all other ingredients to the cornbread and stir until mixed. Be very careful to not overstir.
- Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- Allowing the cornbread to get stale prevents it from over-absorbing the liquid and being mushy. You can do this by letting it sit out for a few hours if you've just made it, or by making it up to weeks ahead and freezing it. Then let it thaw uncovered. More below on advanced prep.
- Do not use a sweet cornbread mix for this recipe. This is a savory dressing recipe and the sweetess would not fit the flavor profile.
- VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Do NOT overstir when you mix all the dressing ingredients together. Stir only enough to get it all mixed up. Overstirring will remove air and the cornbread dressing will end up being too heavy and dense. Be gentle with your dressing!
- To cut down on the last minute prep needed I usually make cornbread a week or two ahead and cut it into pieces and freeze it. Just empty it into a bowl early in the morning to thaw and don't worry about covering it. Remember, stale is good!
- Another trick for saving time the day you're making dressing is to chop the celery and onions the day before. They'll keep just fine in plastic bags in the fridge.
- I have always preferred to assemble and bake cornbread dressing on the day I'm serving it. But you can assemble and then freeze tightly covered up to a month in advance. Allow to thaw at room temperature and then bake as directed. If it seems dry you may not to drizzle with a little bit more stock or broth before baking.
Watch the video for tips on making the best southern style cornbread dressing:
- 3 cups of self-rising cornmeal mix
- 2 eggs
- 1-¾ cup milk (buttermilk is best)
Stir it together and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until brown.
Self-rising cornmeal mix is found in the baking products aisle at your grocery and already has the proper proportions of cornmeal, flour and leavening agents combined. We use it in our Cajun Hush Puppies, Toasted Cornbread and Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins.
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If you love our old fashioned enamel baking pan you can get your own right here.
This version uses eggs only in making the cornbread, but not when assembling the dressing.
Yes! Dressing doesn't take long to bake, and if the vegetables aren't sauteed in butter first they would be crunchy in the dressing.
Gravy is usually offered separately and each person will decide whether to top their dressing with gravy.
For a quick and fun look at this recipe check out the Google Web Story.
Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe
- 1 large recipe cornbread (1.5 times a typical pan of cornbread)
- ¾ cup butter salted or unsalted
- 2 cups onion, diced
- 2 cups celery, diced
- 2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
- 1-½ teaspoons salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 Tablespoons rubbed sage
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 4 cups chicken broth or stock
- Crumble cornbread with your hands. No need to completely pulverize it, but don't leave any large pieces (see video).
- Melt butter in skillet.
- Saute' onions and celery in butter over medium heat until tender and partly translucent.
- Stir all ingredients together, being careful not to overstir.
- Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes
- Use your favorite cornbread recipe as long as it's not sweet. For a simple recipe refer to the post.
- Cornbread may be made in advance, cut up and frozen up to a month ahead of time. Thaw uncovered before crumbling. If cornbread is made right before dressing allow it to sit out and become stale.
- Crumble the cornbread - not enough to pulverize, but don't leave any large pieces either.
- Stock has the richest flavor.
- Adjust salt according to taste and whether salted or unsalted butter is used.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Do not overstir when mixing dressing ingredients.
Southern Food Then and Now is all about traditions, regions and the origins of our favorite cuisine! In fact, many people consider this type of cornbread dressing to be soul food, and this article explores the difference between southern food and soul food.
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