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Homemade Cornbread Dressing Recipe

Homemade Cornbread Dressing is a must on your Thanksgiving menu. Made from an heirloom recipe, this old-fashioned classic is deliciously seasoned with sage, celery, and onion. This is the soul food recipe you need this holiday season!

Traditional stuffing side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas in a baking pan

This recipe easily takes front and center at our table during the holiday season. It practically rivals the turkey

Dressing is one of those holiday side dishes that seem to be pretty polarizing. There are about a thousand ways to serve (and make) dressing, but this is the best dressing recipe and so easy. It can even be made ahead of time, frozen, then defrosted a few days before.

You will definitely want to add this recipe to your Thanksgiving Menu!

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Southern Cornbread Dressing

The holidays are hectic for many families, so I totally understand wanting to scoop up that bag of stuffing from the store and be done with it. However, once you make this recipe, you will see just how easy it is and how much your family will love it. You will never go back to the bagged stuff again!

What is cornbread dressing?

Much like a traditional stuffing recipe, cornbread is a combination of cornbread, vegetables, seasonings, and chicken broth combined to create a super moist side dish.

There are many different versions of this recipe floating around the internet. Depending on where you live, others may add ingredients like nuts, oysters, sausage, eggs, or other additions.

I’m a dressing purist so I stick to my basic recipe!

Dressing vs. Stuffing

While dressing and stuffing recipes may be similar in that they are both a combination of breads, vegetables, and other ingredients, there are two very specific differences:

  • Dressing is cooked outside of the turkey cavity in a casserole dish.
  • Stuffing is cooked and served from the cavity of the turkey.

Ingredients for dressing

  • Stale cornbread. This recipe starts with a skillet of cornbread that has been set out to stale.  You can make this up to 3 days in advance.
  • Soft breadcrumbs. Using large breadcrumbs create a binder to absorb the liquids and create a casserole-like consistency.
  • Butter. Use full-fat butter for sauteeing the onions and celery.
  • Onions and celery for added flavor. These are sauteed down to tender pieces with just the right amount of crisp left.
  • Rubbed sage. The seasoning is optional, but highly recommended. It is just the right amount without overpowering the dish.
  • Eggs. The eggs hold the entire casserole together.
  • Chicken Broth. Use homemade or store-bought. Stock can also be used in place of broth.
  • Black Pepper

Best Bread for Stuffing (or Dressing)

Besides what you call this casserole, the subsequent debate over this dish is what “soft” bread crumbs are best for stuffing...or dressing.

The “soft” bread crumbs are used in addition to the stale cornbread to bind the ingredients together. Since they are both “stale”, they soak up the chicken broth and absorb the other flavors.

They can be any type of bread you have on hand...or have stowed in the deep depths of the freezer. 

Here are some ideas for soft bread crumbs:

  • Hot dog/hamburger buns
  • Loaf bread (white bread or wheat bread)
  • French bread (or other artisan style breads)
  • Biscuits
  • Sourdough

It really doesn't matter which kind of bread you use. I typically start collecting the heels of loaves and odds and ends of different kinds of bread  to use in this recipe.

Whichever breads you decide, they should be roughly torn or chopped and placed in the bowl along with your crumbled cornbread for about one day.

How to Make Cornbread Dressing

  1. Prepare the breads. Make your cornbread and allow it to sit out on the counter, crumbled into a bowl or container. To the same bowl, add in the soft bread crumbs that have been torn into larger, thumb-sized pieces. Allow this bowl to sit out and the bread to become stale - at least 24 hours.
  2. Mix the ingredients. Add in the sautéed vegetables, chicken broth, sage, pepper, and eggs and mix together.
  3. Rest. Allow the mixture to rest in the fridge overnight so all the flavors combine and distribute throughout the casserole. Or, the uncooked dressing can be frozen up to 3 months ahead of time.
  4. Bake. As you are ready to bake, transfer the mixture to one 9x13 and one 8x8 casserole dish and bake at 375F degrees. 
Traditional stuffing side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas in a baking pan

How long does it take to cook cornbread dressing?

Depending on the oven and the moisture level of the dressing, this dish can take up to two hours to fully cook.

If there was one piece of advice I would impart on readers: Do not wait until two hours before serving time to put this in the oven! Give yourself (and the dressing) plenty of time to work its magic in the oven.

If you are baking multiple dishes at one time, the baking time for the dressing may increase depending on your oven and how much “sharing” is happening inside.

Can you make cornbread dressing ahead of time?

Yes! Make the dressing, then let it sit for at least 8 hours in the fridge for all of the flavors to marry. I prefer overnight. 

Then, the dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Then, transfer to a casserole dish and bake.

To avoid shattering your dish, allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature.

Also, dressing can be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow 3 days to defrost before baking.

Tips for Easy Cornbread Dressing

  • When adding eggs to the bowl, make sure your bread mixture has cooled to avoid “scrambling” or cooking the eggs. 
  • To keep dishes to a minimum, mix and freeze the dressing in the same container. I use a 4.5 liter container. 
  • Don’t wait until November to begin “collecting” bread for soft bread crumbs. Toss heels, burger buns, etc. into a freezer bag all year round.
  • Make the dressing several weeks in advance and freeze. Allow 2-3 days to thaw before baking.
  • When crumbling the cornbread, break into larger pieces as they will continue to break-down when mixed with the liquid and other ingredients.
Yield: 16 servings

Homemade Cornbread Dressing

Traditional stuffing side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas in a baking pan

Homemade Cornbread Dressing is a must on your Thanksgiving menu. Made from an heirloom recipe, this old-fashioned classic is deliciously seasoned with sage, celery, and onion. This is the soul food recipe you need this holiday season!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Resting Time 8 hours
Total Time 10 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make cornbread according to the recipe. Crumble and set aside in a large mixing bowl. To the same bowl, add the "soft" breadcrumbs, torn into thumb-sized pieces. Allow the mixture to sit out and become stale for 1 day, or up to 3 days.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Sauté until tender - about 7-10 minutes. Stir in sage and sauté for one more minute.
  3. To a large mixing bowl, add the breadcrumb mixture, sautéed vegetables, 4 eggs, chicken broth, and pepper. Stir until all ingredients are well-incorporated.
  4. Allow mixture to "set" in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Pour mixture into one lightly greased 9x13 casserole dish and one 8x8 casserole dish. Bake uncovered at 375F degrees for about 2 hours or until golden brown.

Notes

Please read the entire post for details, tips, and more!

Serve this with:
Oven Roasted Turkey
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes (IP Method here!)
Cranberry Sauce
...other holiday side dishes

Tips for Easy Cornbread Dressing

  • When adding eggs to the bowl, make sure your bread mixture has cooled to avoid “scrambling” or cooking the eggs. 
  • Dressing will be very soupy before baking - almost too soupy in appearance. This is normal!
  • To keep dishes to a minimum, mix and freeze the dressing in the same container. I use a 4.5 liter container. 
  • Don’t wait until November to begin “collecting” bread for soft bread crumbs. Toss heels, burger buns, etc. into a freezer bag all year round.
  • When crumbling the cornbread, break into larger pieces as they will continue to break-down when mixed with the liquid and other ingredients.
  • Uncooked dressing can be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow 2-3 days to thaw before baking.
  • Thawed, uncooked dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake.
  • To avoid shattering your dish, allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature before placing inside the oven..

Ideas for soft bread crumbs:

  • Hot dog/hamburger buns
  • Loaf bread (white bread or wheat bread)
  • French bread (or other artisan style breads)
  • Biscuits
  • Sourdough

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 724mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 6g

The nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate generated by a calculator.

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FAQ: Thanksgiving Cornbread Dressing Recipe

Why is my cornbread dressing gummy?

It’s possible the dressing is undercooked. When cooked, dressing should be firm on top with minimal jiggling when the casserole dish is moved.

What's the difference between stuffing and dressing?

Stuffing is cooked and served inside the turkey cavity while dressing is cooked in a casserole dish.

Why do you put eggs in dressing?

Eggs keep the dressing fluffy and act as a binder, holding all ingredients together.

How moist should dressing be before baking?

Dressing will be very soupy before baking - almost too soupy in appearance. This is normal!

How do you know when your dressing is done?

When the center of the casserole is firm and does not jiggle when moved.

Can you freeze uncooked dressing with raw eggs?

Yes, uncooked dressing can be frozen with raw eggs.

Can you prepare dressing the night before?

Dressing can be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

Do you freeze dressing cooked or uncooked?

Dressing can be frozen, cooked or uncooked for up to 3 months. 
Store uncooked dressing in an airtight storage container. 
Wrap cooked dressing in plastic wrap and place inside freezer bag to avoid freezer burn.

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Christian

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

Hi, how many servings & do you have a homemade chuck broth recipe?

Essential Pantry Ingredients for Thanksgiving | Southern Cravings

Thursday 17th of September 2020

[…] Eggs for baking pies and making cornbread dressing. […]

Jamie

Saturday 19th of October 2019

The recipe looks good but just curious why you use stock photos on all your recipes. Why not use your original photos to match your recipe?

Annette Farkas

Sunday 1st of December 2019

I accidentally deleted your original recipe I had saved, which gave directions for baking the cornbread from scratch, buttermilk and all. Because of the original date being too old the computer immediately deleted it. Could you would you send me the original recipe from start to finish? We love it and the fact that the original recipe was for 16-18 made it all that more perfect!! I have spent the last five days (today is Dec 1)searching for the recipe on line in the hopes that I could find it and I am thrilled that I did. Even just part of it.

Anna Kate

Saturday 19th of October 2019

Hi Jamie!! When I first published this post, I was working full time and didn't have the time (or skills) to take photos. Also, this recipe isn't the easiest to shoot. BUT, that is a big goal for me in 2020 to go back through and shoot all of these recipes.

That being said, this recipe is delicious and has been in my family for so long! Tried and true for sure. Let me know if you have any other questions. Enjoy the recipe!!!

Creamy, Easy Mashed Potatoes • Project Stepmom

Friday 18th of October 2019

[…] you have other things on the plate, like green beans, turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce and other sides..that seems like a lot of potatoes! I usually account for half of […]

How to Make a Thanksgiving Turkey • Project Stepmom

Wednesday 9th of October 2019

[…] Southern Cornbread Dressing […]

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