Southern Cornbread Dressing is a classic, holiday recipe! Comforting and moist, this side dish is a holiday staple for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Made with an old-fashioned cornbread recipe, and deliciously seasoned with sage, celery and onion, this is the soul food you need this holiday season!
The holidays are crazy for every family and the more you can simplify your holiday meal preparations, the less stressed you will be on the big day. I’ve got a lot of tips and tricks to simplify your holiday preparations, like an easy Turkey recipe that is stress-free and (almost) foolproof.
It may seem easier to grab a bag of stuffing from the store, but after you make this recipe, you’ll never consider making dressing any other way!
What is the difference between cornbread dressing and stuffing?
Cornbread Dressing is a right of passage in the South, and we are serious about the way it is made. While recipes may be similar in some respects, dressing is served on the outside of the bird – in a casserole dish – and stuffing is served from inside of the bird.
The Ultimate Holiday Hosting Guide
Complete guide including a timeline, menu, recipes, shopping list, checklist and more!
What is Thanksgiving dressing made of?
There are many versions of Thanksgiving dressing recipes. But this version includes a combination of cornbread, vegetables, seasonings, and chicken broth.
They all work together to create a super tender casserole-style side dish.
Depending on the region the cook is from they may add or substitute certain ingredients. I’m a dressing purist so I stick to my basic recipe! I can’t vouch for how these turn out, but here are some ideas I’ve heard of.
Here are a few other variations:
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Apples and Cranberries
- Pecans or walnuts
If you choose to add a variation, stick to about 1-2 cups of the extra ingredient.
Can you make cornbread dressing ahead of time and refrigerate?
Yes! And I would encourage you to plan ahead and do so. In fact, this recipe recommends you 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.
How do you make Southern cornbread dressing from scratch?
Step 1: Make a pan of cornbread & dry breadcrumbs.
To keep it simple, I follow my Martha White cornbread recipe and instructions. Make sure you do this at least 24 hours before the remaining steps.
After you bake your cornbread, allow it to cool in the pan. Then, transfer it to a large mixing bowl and break up the cornbread.
To the same bowl, add in three cups of soft bread crumbs.
For the soft breadcrumbs: There is a great debate as to what kind of “soft” bread crumbs you should use: biscuits, loaf bread, sourdough – the list goes on!
Frankly, I’ve never noticed a difference. Just tear or grate, and place in the bowl with your cornbread for one day.
Ideas for soft bread crumbs:
- stale hot dog buns
- ciabatta bread
- loaf bread
Allow the breads to sit out overnight to dry out.
Step 2: Sauté Vegetables
Melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onion and celery until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Add in the sage. Then, transfer to the bowl of stale bread crumbs.
Step 3: Mix remaining ingredients.
To the bowl of bread crumbs and vegetables, add in the 8 cups of chicken broth and stir until well-combined. I like to use homemade broth but store bought is just fine.
Then, add in the 4 whisked eggs.
Step 4: Allow it to rest overnight.
Cover and place the container in the fridge overnight. You can also make this weeks ahead of time and freeze.
Step 5: Bake.
Pour the mixture into one 9×13 and one 8×8 casserole dish and bake at 375 for about 1-2 hours. The smaller casserole dish may finish before the 9×13.
The casserole is done when the top is firm and bread-like.
- When adding eggs to the bowl, make sure your bread mixture has cooled so the eggs do not scramble when added to the bowl. Using refrigerated chicken broth will help, too.
- I like to mix my dressing in the same container I freeze and store my dressing in. I use a 4 liter Tupperware container.
- Begin “collecting” random ends of bread before November. I drop heals of sandwich bread, burger buns, etc. into a freezer bag all year round. Then, use them for “soft” bread crumbs.
- Make the dressing several weeks in advance and freeze. Give yourself 2-3 days to thaw before baking.
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Stale cornbread
- 3 cups soft stale breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 medium onions diced (2 cups)
- 1 bunch celery diced (3 cups)
- 1 tbsp dried, rubbed sage
- 4 eggs lightly beaten
- 8 cups cans of chicken broth (64 ounces or 6 10.5 ounce cans)
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- Make cornbread according to cornmeal package. Crumble and set aside with stale breadcrumbs for 1 day.
- Melt 1/2 cup of butter in large skillet over medium heat; add onions, celery and saute until tender.
- Stir in sage and sauté for one more minute.
- In a large storage container, stir in vegetables, remaining 4 eggs, chicken broth and pepper into cornbread mixture.
- Allow mixture to "set" in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Pour mixture into one lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish and one 8×8 casserole dish.
- Bake the uncovered, thawed mixture at 375F degrees for about 2 hours or until golden brown.