Southern Cornbread Dressing is a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish everyone loves! This stuffing, or dressing recipe is the star holiday food every Fall-it’s just a Southern comfort food we must have with our turkey dinner and homemade spiced cranberry sauce! I promise you’ll love this flavorful cornbread dressing recipe and will make it more than once a year!
I’m not sure why I only make cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving. I guess out of habit, but this Southern dressing recipe pairs well with roasted chicken, pork chops or beef tenderloin. In any case, it’s not hard to make at all…it’s not too time-consuming or difficult, so I don’t understand why I only make it at Thanksgiving. I need to make cornbread dressing more often, or freeze some for after the holidays!
What’s the Difference Between Southern Cornbread Dressing and Stuffing?
In the South, these terms are often used interchangeably, however the difference is in the ingredients and how it’s made. Cornbread “dressing” is made with day-old, stale cornbread and is cooked in a big pan in the oven. It serves as a side dish to turkey and gravy. On the other hand, “stuffing” is generally a combination of seasoned day-old white or wheat bread and it is cooked in the turkey cavity.
I suppose most Southern cooks prefer to make their holiday cornbread dressing in a big pan because there’s not enough room in a turkey to make a large batch of dressing. People always double-up on homemade cornbread dressing and gravy.
What Ingredients are in Southern Dressing?
This family recipe calls for Jimmie Dean’s Sausage with Sage, however, you can omit it if you’re not a fan of sausage. (It does give it a great flavor!) The other ingredients are:
- 8 cups of day-old cornbread (about 8 cups of crumbled cornbread) – 1 package of Jiffy cornbread = 4 cups of crumbled cornbread), so you’ll need two packages of cornbread mix or make two large cornbread loaves
- 7 oz. of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing (about 1/2 of a 14 oz. package)
- Chicken Broth
- Sauteed onions and celery; salted butter and eggs
- Poultry seasoning
- Sage (if not using sausage with sage)
- Salt & Pepper
I use 1/2 a 14 oz. package of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing AND 2 large pans of cornbread. The combination of these two breads gives a fluffy, yet moist and flavorful dressing.
Note: this recipe has only 1/2 teaspoon of salt because I use salted butter, normal broth (not low sodium) and sausage. These ingredients provide plenty of salt! If you use unsalted butter, low sodium broth and no sausage, you might want to add a little more salt to the recipe.
How to Make Southern Cornbread Dressing
The process looks lengthy, but it’s really easy:
- Make two pans of cornbread the day before; crumble it and let it sit out on the counter and dry out
- Cook sausage and drain (sausage is optional)
- Butter 9 x 13 baking dish
- Sautee onions, celery and butter
- Crumble cornbread and 1/2 package of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing into a large pan
- Beat 2 eggs and add them to the cornbread mixture;
- Pour 6 cups of chicken broth into to crumbled cornbread/bread mixture; add cooked sausage, onions and celery; combine well
- Add poultry seasoning and black pepper in increments; add salt; combine well
- Bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes at 350ºF
How Many Servings Does This Recipe Yield?
This recipe yields a full 9 x 13 baking dish of dressing which equates to about 12 cups. Most serving spoons yield about 3/4 cup, so keep this in mind when planning your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu.
If you’re like most of us, you’ll have plenty of other side dishes and in this case, this recipe would easily serve up to 16 but with no leftovers! If you want leftovers, I recommend doubling the cornbread dressing recipe.
The finished product will be a little brown on top and solid in the middle; not hard or firm, but semi-soft. Scoop cornbread dressing into a pretty serving bowl if you like!
How to Dry Out Cornbread
Stale cornbread is essential to fluffy Southern dressing! If you use fresh bread, the dressing turns out soggy and mushy!
- Make the cornbread a day or two in advance. Once it’s cool, crumble it up and place it in a big bowl, uncovered, and let it sit on the counter until you’re ready to assemble the dressing.
- If you don’t have time to make cornbread a day ahead, you can dry it out quickly with this simple method:
- Preheat oven to 250ºF
- Crumble cornbread and place it on a large baking sheet
- Bake cornbread until it begins to dry out (about 20 minutes)
How Long Do You Cook Cornbread Dressing?
Generally speaking, Southern cornbread dressing cooks in about 25-40 minutes at 350ºF. If you’re doubling or tripling the recipe, it may take a bit longer. Keep an eye on it! When it no longer “jiggles” in the center and the top turns light brown, it’s done!
Can I Make Stuffing in Advance?
Make this traditional side dish from scratch a day or two before Thanksgiving or Christmas! Simply assemble all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate the uncooked (or cooked) dressing for up to two days.
On the day of the holiday feast, remove the southern cornbread dressing from the fridge, uncover and allow to come to room temperature prior to baking (it takes about 30 minutes for the dressing to get to room temperature.) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cover cooked dressing with foil and reheat; bake uncooked dressing with no cover.
How Long Can I Freeze Stuffing or Dressing?
You can freeze cooked and uncooked southern cornbread dressing for up to 3 months. Make sure it’s packaged and sealed well to minimize freezer burn. When you’re ready to cook or reheat the dressing, allow it get to room temperature first, then bake or reheat the dressing/stuffing. Place foil over cooked dressing when reheating so it won’t dry out.
Craving More? Try Homemade Spiced Cranberry Sauce!
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Big mixing bowl or a big pan
- 2 pans cornbread crumbled and stale; can be homemade or packaged
- 7 oz. Herb Seasoned Pepperidge Farm Classic Stuffing (1/2 a 14 oz. pkg.)
- 1 lb. Pork sausage with sage cooked and crumbled into fine pieces
- 4 stalks celery finely chopped (about 1 ¼ cup)
- 2 medium yellow onions finely chopped (about 1½-2 cups)
- 1 stick salted butter (3/4 stick for onion/celery; remainder for buttering baking dish)
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 6 cups chicken broth (see notes if using low-sodium)
- 1 tablespoon Poultry Seasoning make sure it's fresh
- ½ teaspoon salt (see notes about salt)
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground sage (see notes if not using sausage with sage)
Make the Cornbread
- Use 2 packages of cornbread mix and follow package instructions or, make a double batch of my homemade cornbread
- Once cornbread is cool, crumble into a large bowl, cover and allow to sit at room temperature for a day or two
Cook the Sausage, Celery and Onions
- Place the sausage with sage in a skillet and cook it until it is browned; use a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into tiny pieces; when sausage is thoroughly browned, turn off heat and set aside
- In a big saucepan on medium heat, melt ¾ stick of salted butter; add chopped celery and onions; cook 10 minutes, or until onions are transluscent; turn off heat and set aside
Cornbread Dressing Assembly
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Butter the inside of a 9 x 13 baking dish; go all the way up on the sides of the dish because the dressing completely fill this size of pan
- Beat two eggs in a bowl; set aside
- Get the bowl with the crumbled cornbread and add 1/2 pkg. of Pepperidge Farm stuffing
- Add the cooked sausage, onions and celery to the bread mixture; combine well
- Add 3 cups of chicken broth to mixture; mix together then add the other 3 cups of broth and combine it well.
- Add eggs; combine well
- Add 1/2 of the poultry seasoning and 1/2 of the pepper to the mixture; combine well, then add the remaining halves of poultry seasoning and pepper; add salt and combine again NOTE: if you're not using sausage with sage, add the sage now in 1/2 tablespoon increments)
- Place mixture in buttered baking dish; bake on the middle rack, uncovered for 25 minutes then check the center of the dish with a fork to see if it's almost done; if the center is still a bit jiggly, cook the dressing another 10 minutes; recheck center for doneness
- Dressing is done when the center is no longer jiggly and the top is browned
- If you are not using sausage with sage, add 1 tablespoon of ground sage to this recipe. The poultry seasoning, black pepper and sage (optional) are added in increments because the mixture is so big. Add 1/2 the amount, combine, then add the other 1/2. This ensures the seasonings are mixed well throughout the dressing.
- Poultry seasoning already contains sage, so it's not necessary to add more sage unless you love it! Be aware that ground sage turns the dressing a little bit green...
- This recipe uses salted butter, normal (not low-sodium) chicken broth and sausage-all of which are pretty salty. If you use unsalted butter or low-sodium broth, you may want to add a little more salt.
Can I Make Stuffing in Advance?Make this traditional side dish from scratch a day or two before Thanksgiving or Christmas! Simply assemble all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate the uncooked (or cooked) dressing for up to two days. On the day of the holiday feast, remove the turkey dressing from the fridge, uncover and allow to come to room temperature prior to baking (it takes about 30 minutes for the dressing to get to room temperature.) Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cover cooked dressing with foil and reheat; bake uncooked dressing with no cover.
How Long Can I Freeze Stuffing or Dressing?You can freeze cooked and uncooked dressing for up to 3 months. Make sure it's packaged and sealed well to minimize freezer burn. When you're ready to cook or reheat the dressing, allow it get to room temperature first, then bake or reheat the dressing/stuffing. Place foil over cooked dressing when reheating so it won't dry out.