How To Dry Out Cornbread in the Oven

We hope cornbread is getting stale on the counter as we speak.

When welcoming the week of Thanksgiving, one thing you'll want to ask yourself is, "has someone made the cornbread yet?" If we know anything, start with entirely stale cornbread to make the best dressing.

Whether you're the hostess or you've been relied upon to provide this year's homemade dressing, there is a lot of pressure to perfect this Southern staple. Even when referencing a trusty passed-down recipe, making cornbread can be overwhelming. When it comes to holiday dressing, an essential step for perfect cornbread is often the preparation required ahead of time. Here's what you need to know to dry out cornbread in the oven.

Grandma's cornbread
Alison Miksch

How To Prepare Breadcrumbs

We all know good cornbread dressing hinges on perfectly stale (but not too stale) cornbread. Without adequate drying time, the cornbread becomes sloppy once it hits the casserole dish and mixes with the broth and eggs. And we all know that no matter how long you bake soggy dressing, it will never perk up the way it should, so don't let this happen to you.

We've found that creating the perfect crunch without being too dry happens around the 24-hour mark. To achieve the ideal consistency, crumble the cornbread once it has cooled completely and place it in an open zip-top bag on the counter. Do not zip the bag shut, or your crumbles will remain springy well into day two of drying. Your breadcrumbs should be properly prime in no time. If you want to be way ahead of the game, you can freeze your cornbread crumbles for up to a month ahead of time.

How To Make Cornbread

After creating your cornbread mixture, make the perfect dressing by following our Classic Cornbread Dressing recipe, which will be easy-peasy now that the time-consuming part is out of the way.

  1. The next step includes combing the cornbread mixture with other wet ingredients and stirring until moist.
  2. Using your trusty cast-iron skillet, melt butter into your dressing batter and then pour it into the hot skillet.
  3. You'll want to bake until the cornbread is golden, which should take around 25 minutes. Let it cool for an additional 20 minutes.
  4. At this time, you can remove the cornbread from the skillet to continue cooling on a wire rack, which can take another half an hour.

Cornbread can freeze in an airtight ziplock bag for up to one month so that you can start your holiday preparations early. When it's time to serve, thaw it in the refrigerator. Let the casserole dish sit in your fridge overnight so it's ready to pop into the oven when it's nearly time to eat.

How To Make Dressing

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and celery to the butter mixture and cook until it is tender.
  3. Next, add herbs, such as sage and thyme, and stir for about a minute.
  4. After, mix the eggs and crumble the cornbread, onion mixture, stuffing mix, chicken broth, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  5. Finally, add these blended ingredients to a lightly greased baking pan. This dish can be covered and frozen for up to three months. When ready to serve, thaw it in a refrigerator for about a day, then uncover it until it reaches room temperature before baking until lightly brown.
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