My Grandmother's Trick For Leftover Thanksgiving Dressing Is Better Than The Real Thing

So good, now we serve them on Thanksgiving Day.

Say what you want about the big clucking turkey or the spread of creamy casserole sides, but Thanksgiving in the South is really about the cornbread dressing. The glorious mixture of cornbread crumbles, turkey stock, and whatever else your family recipe card calls for—pecans, sausage, or sage—all baked until warm and golden brown in the oven is nothing short of a holiday hero. But in my family, the good stuff comes later, when my grandmother transforms her leftover Thanksgiving dressing into crispy, moist, irresistible cornbread dressing patties. (If the word "moist" coupled with "patties" offended you, I sincerely apologize.)

If you're not familiar with leftover dressing patties, read on for how to make them.

Grandmother Carter's Cornbread Dressing
Alison Miksch

Leftovers Revamped

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother would make so much cornbread dressing on Thanksgiving that she wouldn't have enough casserole dishes for it. I'm talking about three industrial-sized mixing bowls worth. So she'd save it. The next day, with her fridge packed full of turkey and casseroles and all of us passed out on the couch, she would pull out the leftover mixture that she didn't have room to bake and splat it to make thin patties on a baking sheet. She'd then bake them until they were covered in a deep golden brown color that encased all of the soft, savory dressing inside.

A Family Favorite

The patties became infamous in our family as outsiders married in and we started to combine both sides of the family for a big extravaganza with upwards of 30 attendees. So much so, that she started to use her extra cornbread-turkey stock mixture to make the patties to serve alongside her classic baked dressing on Thanksgiving Day. And you know what? The patties always disappear first. Don't get me wrong: They aren't pretty to look at, but they sure are about as insanely delicious as it gets, especially when topped with gravy or slapped on a leftovers sandwich.

The Technique

If you want to try out this easy trick for leftover dressing, simply spread any extra cornbread-turkey stock mixture (the stuff you would usually put in a casserole dish and bake) into patty-shaped rounds on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven on 450 degrees until "it's as deep golden brown as the turkey," she says. It should look like there's a little crisp to the edges. Moreover, she said you can attempt the patties with leftover baked dressing by putting it in a bowl with extra turkey stock, mixing together until moist, and then spreading on a sheet pan. Either way, something tells me you won't be disappointed.

Leftover Leftovers

Cooked dressing keeps about four days in the fridge. If you happen to have any leftover patties, I doubt they'll last that long. Leftover dressing also freezes well, so if you have too much holiday food to handle, consider freezing your dressing and reheating with a splash of stock or broth to make patties later. Frozen patties can also be rewarmed.

If you thought my grandmother's cornbread dressing patties were good, wait until you try her homemade hot chocolate mix.

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