Southern Cornbread Dressing
This moist, delicious Southern Cornbread Dressing is a traditional stuffing recipe that makes the perfect Thanksgiving side dish!
I’m so excited to share my family’s cornbread dressing recipe with you guys! This old fashioned recipe is super easy to make and it’s my absolute favorite Thanksgiving side dish.
I’ve already shared the Apple Pecan Stuffing that my guy grew up eating on turkey day (he’s a yankee), and it’s delicious, but this simple dressing will always be this southern girl’s first choice. It is a blend of Southern cornbread (no sugar!) and biscuits, baked together with broth, celery, onion, and poultry seasoning to make a moist, delicious dish that’s a must-have Thanksgiving day!
Serve it with Instant Pot Turkey Breast and some Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows or the best mashed potatoes ever for a completely meal.
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What is the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?
Let’s get this one of out of the way right now. The short answer is that dressing is baked in a dish and stuffing is stuffed in a turkey to bake. If you are interested in more details and some amazing stuffing & dressing recipes make sure you check out my Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving Stuffing & Dressing.
Not to be confused with creamed corn casserole which is another delicious cornbread casserole that is a holiday favorite!
Hosting a small gathering for the holidays this year? Check out our post on The Best Way to Cook Turkey Breast for Thanksgiving Dinner for 3 ways to make a juicy turkey!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Cornbread – I’ve included a great recipe for making cornmeal but you can also buy cornbread mix and use that instead. Make sure it is a mix that doesn’t use added sugar! We don’t want a sweet cornbread for this recipe.
- Biscuits – You use our baking powder biscuits recipe, use bisquick, or even buy canned biscuits to save time.
- Celery & Onions – this combo adds lots of flavor to your broth.
- Chicken Stock – You can make your own chicken broth or buy some at the store. You can also substitute with turkey broth.
- Poultry seasoning – This seasoning gives the dressing its signature flavor.
- Salt – This brings all of the flavors together.
- Eggs – The eggs act as the binder and help the dressing to puff up a bit as it bakes.
It is actually really easy to make and it only takes a few simple ingredients.
Step 1 – Baking bread. Start by baking your cornbread and biscuits. The cornbread should be southern cornbread, this means no sugar added, and I suggest using self-rising yellow cornmeal. I have included a recipe below which is similar to the base for my jalapeno cheddar cornbread, but you can always just follow the recipe for cornbread on the package.
The cornbread to biscuit ratio is 2:1 or 2/3 cornbread to 1/3 biscuits, so if your cornbread recipe makes 12 corn muffins you’ll want to use 6 biscuits. For the biscuits you can use this simple Baking Powder Biscuits recipe or you can make good old Bisquick biscuits like my mom does ;).
Step 2 – The liquid. When you’re ready to make your stuffing you’ll chop up the celery and onion. Pour your chicken broth into a large saucepan and add the celery and onions to it bringing it to a simmer and letting them cook until softened. This adds flavor to the broth and softens the vegetables so you don’t crunch on things as you’re eating your dressing.
Step 3 – Stir it all together. Crumble your cornbread and biscuits together, making sure to break break down all of the big chunks, then pour the broth over the bread 1 cup at a time, stirring it together, until you reach a consistency like oatmeal.
Step 4 – Season. Now you’ll want to add your seasoning. Start with a little salt and 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning. This is all about taste so take your time, stir everything together well, and keep tasting until you think you have it right. The sage flavor in the poultry seasoning does get stronger as it bakes so err on the side of too little rather than too much!
Step 5 – Bake. When you have the flavor where you like it add the eggs, stir everything together and then pour it into a casserole dish and let it bake at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, or until the outer edges are firm and the middle doesn’t jiggle.
The Key to Amazing Cornbread Dressing is…
Giving your bread time to dry out. This means making the biscuits and cornbread up to 2 days ahead of time and then just letting them sit out on the counter to get stale.
Drying out the bread this way gives you a better consistency because the broth is absorbed into the bread more evenly giving it better flavor and texture.
- If you don’t want to bake your own homemade cornbread and biscuits you can always buy them! You can even use canned biscuits for the biscuit portion of the dish.
- You don’t need to bake beautiful biscuits and cornbread for this recipe since it is all going to be broken up. I made drop biscuits and baked my cornbread in a 9-inch cake pan.
- Make sure you flavor your dressing before adding the raw eggs so you can safely taste it as you adjust the seasoning.
- Wet is better than dry. When adding your broth you may need more or less than the 5 cups listed. Go slow (make sure to put all of the celery and onions in the cornbread mixture) adding 1 cup at a time. If you need more than 5 cups to get to an oatmeal consistency keep going. The end product should be just wet enough to pour into the baking dish.
- If the dressing is browning on the top but needs more time in the oven you can cover with foil and continue to bake.
Can You Make It Ahead of Time?
Yes! You can do it a few different ways:
- Bake your cornbread and biscuits a day or two in advance. Prep your celery and onions ahead of time. On the day you plan to serve it cook your celery and onions in the broth and then combine everything and bake.
- You can make make the dressing and instead of putting it in a baking dish you can pour it into a freezer bag, or a freezer-safe dish and freeze it for up to two months. When you are ready to bake it take the frozen cornbread out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then pour it into a baking dish and bake according to instructions below.
- You can make and bake the cornbread dressing and then let it cool completely, place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to two months. When you’re ready to use it let it thaw in the fridge, then cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until heated through.
- Cut baked dressing into individual servings, Store in the freezer for up to two months. When ready to use take it out of the freezer and microwave until warmed through.
Want more Thanksgiving side dish recipes?
- Mini Sweet Potato Casserole
- Creamed Corn Casserole
- Not Your Mom’s Mashed Potatoes
- Creamy Cranberry Salad
- Cranberry Sweet Potato Casserole
- Broccoli Casserole
- Cranberry Jello Salad
- Loaded Au Gratin Potatoes
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Southern Cornbread Dressing
- 16 Cornbread muffins, see recipe below
- 8 Biscuits
- 1 cup Celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium Onion, finely diced
- 5 cups Chicken Stock, more if needed
- 1 tablespoon Poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 4 Eggs
Cornbread (makes approximately 16 muffins)
- 2 cup Self-rising yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup Self-rising flour
- 1 1/2 cups Milk
- 4 Eggs
- 4 tablespoons Vegetable oil
- Bake your biscuits and cornbread up to 2 days ahead of time and leave them out on the counter to cool and dry out. If you buy pre-made biscuits or cornbread you should leave these out for a day or two also.
- When you are ready to make your dressing start by pouring the broth into a large saucepan and then add celery and onions. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let it cook until the celery and onion are soft.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large pot finely crumble the cornbread and biscuits, stirring to combine them.
- When your broth is ready pour it over the bread mixture 1 cup at a time, stirring it together, until you reach a consistency like oatmeal. If you need to add more broth you don’t have to heat anymore up you can just add it straight to the mixture. Note: Make sure all of your celery and onions go into the mixture even if you don’t use all of the broth.
- Next add salt and poultry seasoning a little at a time. Take your time, stir everything together well, and keep tasting until you think you have it right. Note: The sage flavor in the poultry seasoning does get stronger as it bakes so err on the side of too little rather than too much!
- When you have the flavor where you like it add the eggs, stirring everything together until it is fully combined.
- Pour the cornbread mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and let it bake at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, or until the outer edges are firm and the middle doesn’t jiggle.
- Remove from the oven and serve with turkey and gravy!
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a bowl combine self-rising yellow cornmeal and self-rising flour.
- Add milk, eggs, and vegetable to the flour and stir to combine.
- Pour cornbread batter into a greased muffin tin.
- Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into muffin comes out clean.
- Let cool completely.
This recipe was originally published on November 4, 2018. It was republished with added tips, new photos, and a video on November 8, 2019.
Love how easy it is to make!
I’m so happy to find this recipe, it’s the same one my mother taught me to use for cornbread dressing and all I have is a greasy index card with her recipe on it! Now I can add this to my Pinterest “Holidays” board. Mom passed away last month, and I miss her terribly, but I will try my best to keep her memory alive by cooking her specialty dishes.
This is very different from anything I have ever made. I can’t wait to see the families response
Could this be kept warm or maybe even baked in a Crock Pot?
If it could be kept warm, how long then would you bake? 30?
If it could be baked from the start in a slow cooker…how long on low temp to you think??
cornbread is a personal preference, I prefer the sweet cornbread, makes for a delicious stuffing/dressing, so their insistence that it HAS to be unsweetened cornbread is going to be completely ignored by me lol. Otherwise going to make the recipe as written.
I am a southerner and would never in a million years omit sugar from cornbread. I’ve heard this before and I don’t understand where you all are getting this idea.
Lol well like most things I’m sure it’s just where you were raised and who you were raised by. In my family we don’t do sugar. If you prefer to add some to your cornbread you surely can 🙂
I use sage in my dressing,surprised you don’t.m
Poultry seasoning is a blend of spices which includes sage 🙂
Sugar in cornbread is not a southern thing. Northern cornbread has sugar and uses yellow cornmeal. Southern used white and no sugar
I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
Can you help me with quantities? At the top it says the cornbread to biscuit ratio is 2/3 to 1/3. At the bottom in the recipe it says 16 corn bread muffins to eight biscuits which is 1/2 to 1/2. Can you clarify which one to follow? Thank you! Making this tomorrow!!
Lol I really had to re-read that. The instructions and the tip are correct. In a mixture of 24 “bread” 2/3 is corn bread = 16 corn muffins and 1/3 is biscuit = 8 biscuits.
Ooh!!! Ok. Sorry for my silliness there. Thanks for the reply!!
I’ve never heard of using biscuits. Would just using cornbread work if I made 2 pans of cornbread?
You can certainly try it. I have never had it without biscuits but I don’t see why all cornbread wouldn’t work. It will have a different texture since the cornbread is coarser and there won’t be the softer biscuits to offset that.
Use the biscuits! The blend of biscuits and cornbread is what makes this recipe so spectacular.
Can you use corn bread stuffing in the bag?
I don’t recommend it because it’s often already seasoned. If you do use it you’ll probably need to add more liquid to the mixture since the bagged cornbread stuffing is much dryer. Just let it sit in the liquid for a bit to soften and then see how much more liquid you need to ad to get it to that thick oatmeal texture.
What would you think about making the cornbread with Buttermilk?
Can’t wait to try this.
You can definitely do that! Any cornbread recipe will work for this. Just make the cornbread I included in the recipe or bake your favorite recipe and then follow the rest of the instructions as written!
Is there a recipe for the self rising yellow cornmeal? I see recipes online how to make it- basically cornmeal and baking powder. Just wanted to make sure the cornmeal you are using isn’t a “mix” but just cornmeal with baking powder.
Hi Katie, I don’t use a cornbread mix (but you could do that if you prefer, just follow the instructions on the box for baking the cornbread). I just purchase self-rising cornmeal (similar to self-rising flour vs regular flour) It’s usually in the baking aisle with the other cornmeal but if you can’t find it you can use a recipe for making your own…which like you said usually just involves adding some baking powder, flour, and salt. I hope you and your family enjoy the dressing!!
Hi! Is this chicken stock in the recipe salted, unsalted, or half or low salt? I can’t prepare homemade, therefore am buying it, so need to know as soon as possible. Thank you!!! ☺️
We use regular broth with salt but you could certainly use low sodium if you prefer
Canned biscuits – used once. Never again. Ruined the dressing.
For broth, put turkey giblets and neck in a small pot, bring to a boil then simmer till ready to use. Better than store bought broth
The giblets in water. Keep adding more water as needed.
That’s exactly what my mom does 🙂