Lacey's Cornbread Dressing

Actress Lacey Chabert marks the season with her great-grandmother's treasured (and time-tested) recipe.

Lacey Chabert's Cornbread Dressing

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins

Lacey Chabert has made her family’s cornbread dressing for so many years that she can bake it from memory. Finally getting it down on paper was a joint effort with her sister, even though it may not be exactly the same—they now use Jiffy mix instead of making the cornbread from scratch like her great-grandmother did.

The recipe, which once existed solely in the minds of the women in her family, originated with her great-grandmother. “It was passed down from her to my grandmother, to my mom, to me,” explains the Hallmark Channel actress. Chabert lived next door to her mother’s mother, “Nanny,” until she was 7 years old, and it was in Nanny’s house in Purvis, Mississippi, where she first learned how to prepare the dish.

“I have so many memories of growing up and being in the kitchen with my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother. We made the same things every Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Chabert. “The smell of cornbread dressing mingling with sweet potato casserole and pecan pie brings me back to my childhood and all the warmth and excitement of the holidays.”

It’s fitting that the actress is big on the season: Chabert is widely regarded as the queen of Hallmark Christmas movies. Her newest title with the network is Haul Out the Holly. While each winter seems to bring a festive new movie with it, Chabert’s holiday menus have stayed the same, with recipes that have been in her family for decades. “To me, these dishes are perfect,” she says. “I figure, why mess with them? I just follow the directions as well as I can.”

And when it comes to making her great-grandmother’s cornbread dressing, Chabert was given plenty of instruction. “It requires a lot of steps, but the end result is totally worth it,” she says.

For her, it’s all about keeping a special recipe alive. “Food—and the memory of preparing it—is just so comforting, especially when you realize you’ve passed down a tradition for four generations,” says Chabert. “It’s something I really cherish.”



  • 2 (8 1/2-oz.) pkg. cornbread mix (such as Jiffy)


  • 1 (3- to 4-lb.) whole chicken

  • 2 tsp. black pepper

  • 1/4 cup poultry seasoning, divided

  • 1/4 cup onion powder, divided

  • 3 Tbsp. garlic powder, divided

  • 3 Tbsp. celery salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery (from 4 stalks)

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 medium onion)

  • 1 cup chopped scallions (from 5 large scallions)

  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 (10 1/2-oz.) cans cream of chicken soup


  1. Prepare the Cornbread: Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Crumble into a large bowl, and set aside.

    Lacey's Tip

    Bake the cornbread the day before. The actress swears it tastes even better when it's had a chance to dry out a bit.

  2. While Cornbread bakes, prepare the Dressing: Place whole chicken, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons each of the poultry seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and celery salt in a large pot. Add water to the pot until chicken is covered.

  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high; reduce heat to medium. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of thigh registers 165°F, about 30 minutes. Remove cooked chicken from pot, reserving cooking liquid, and place chicken on a baking sheet. Let rest until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes.

  4. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken meat. Chop meat into 3/4-inch pieces to measure 2 cups, and add to Cornbread. Reserve remaining meat for another use.

  5. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium. Add chopped celery, onion, and scallions to skillet; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 7 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 2-quart oval or 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside. Add cooked vegetables, chopped hard-cooked eggs, beaten eggs, and cream of chicken soup to Cornbread mixture, stirring well to combine. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons each poultry seasoning and onion powder and remaining 1 tablespoon each garlic powder and celery salt.

  7. Stir reserved cooking liquid into Cornbread mixture until consistency resembles porridge, beginning with 2 cups liquid and adding 1/4 cup more at a time as needed. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish; bake in preheated oven until golden brown and set, about 1 hour. (Cover with aluminum foil halfway through cook time if it begins to brown too quickly.) Let rest 15 minutes. Serve.

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