Southern Cornbread Dressing

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Nothing says "welcome home" like the aroma of freshly baked cornbread dressing.

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
Yield:
14 to 16 servings

If you are longing for a "down home" family feeling, a pan of golden, herb-scented Southern Cornbread Dressing will take you there. The holidays wouldn't be complete without this surefire crowd-pleaser, but don't wait for the holidays—make it anytime you need a little comfort. A piping hot pan full of tender, savory dressing that fills the house with the scent of sage and good memories is always a welcome idea. Make a batch of your favorite cornbread, or use our recipe for Cornbread Crumbles for a classic Southern dish.

Southern Cornbread Dressing
Photographer: Brittany Conerly; Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin

What's the Difference Between Dressing and Stuffing?

Dressing is a Southern thing. Dressing is baked in a casserole dish, while stuffing, as the name implies, is meant to be stuffed inside a turkey.

Food safety experts have recommended that people stop baking the stuffing inside the bird, especially if said stuffing contains raw eggs. A large bird often reaches 165°F in the breast and thighs while the stuffing inside is still raw, making it a risk for food poisoning.

Better to bake your Southern Dressing in a dish, so you can give it the attention it deserves. As soon as it's set and golden brown, the texture will be perfect.

This Is Old-Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread dressing has roots in West Africa; slaves made a similar dish on plantations, which lead to the iconic dish we love today.

If you're trying to be thrifty, nothing is as satisfying and inexpensive as your own home-baked cornbread—or making the leftovers into a casserole enriched with a few eggs and sautéed vegetables, more inexpensive ingredients. The idea of using stale bread as a base for a delicious dish is a phenomenon in every culture that eats bread, from the fattoush salads of the Middle East to the pain perdue of France.

There are as many versions of cornbread dressing as there are cooks:

- Cornbread Dressing
- Best Cornbread Dressing
- Spicy Cornbread Dressing with Chorizo
- Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Fennel

Ingredients for Southern Cornbread Dressing

For your Cornbread Crumbles, you'll need self-rising white cornmeal mix. This will save time and give you that familiar cornbread flavor.

Eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter give the cornbread great texture and flavor.

Once your cornbread is baked, cooled, and crumbled, you'll make the dressing. Butter is used for its richness. Celery and sweet onions give the dish more texture and vegetal flavors.

Fresh sage is the main flavor component; it might seem like too much, but it's not.

Soft bread crumbs can be made from fresh white bread, pulsed in the food processor. Fresh eggs will bind the casserole and chicken stock gives it the poultry flavor without having to put it in a turkey.

How to Make Southern Cornbread Dressing

First, make your Cornbread Crumbles. Cool completely, then crumble the bread, and let it dry out a bit while you assemble the rest of the dish. Lightly grease a 9- by 13- inch casserole dish and an 8-inch square baking dish to bake your dressing. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter, and sauté the celery and onions. Let them get soft and sweet before stirring in the fresh sage, and sauté that for a minute to release the flavorful oils in the leaves.

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread crumbles, fresh bread crumbs, and eggs, and stir to combine before mixing in the chicken stock and pepper, then adding the sautéed celery mixture. Stir well, then spread the mixture in the prepared pans.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until set and golden. Then, serve and enjoy your Southern Cornbread Dressing, and collect compliments.

Editorial contributions by Robin Asbell.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter

  • 3 cups diced celery

  • 2 cups diced sweet onions

  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh sage

  • Cornbread Crumbles

  • 3 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 7 cups chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add celery and onions, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in sage, and sauté 1 minute.

  2. Stir together Cornbread Crumbles and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, next 2 ingredients, and celery mixture, stirring until blended. Divide cornbread mixture between 1 lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish and 1 lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.

  3. Bake at 400°F for 45 to 55 minutes or until set and golden brown.

    Southern Cornbread Dressing
    Photographer: Brittany Conerly; Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin

Tips

You can also use your favorite cornbread recipe for this cornbread casserole instead of the one we provided. Just make sure you bake enough to fill a 9- x 13-inch pan.

Updated by
Robin Asbell
Robin Asbell

Robin Asbell is a prolific journalist, and in the past two decades has published over a thousand published articles in national publications, including Real Food Magazine, Experience Life, Better Homes and Gardens, thekitchn.com and more. She is the author of 11 cookbooks, and developed the recipes for Eat Meat Less, for the Jane Goodall Institute in 2021. Her most recent cookbook is Vegan Meal Prep; A 5-Week Plan with 125 Ready-to-Go Recipes ( Robert Rose). Asbell has a talent for creating recipes that work, and develops recipe and image content for corporate as well as print clients.

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