This true traditional southern cornbread dressing recipe has been in my family for several generations. It does take some time to make, but it is well worth it.
A turkey dinner just isn’t complete without Thanksgiving dressing, a heaping mound of carbs to sop up all that extra giblet gravy. In New England, folks may argue about who makes the best oyster stuffing, but below the Mason-Dixon line, it is all about Southern Cornbread Dressing. This cornbread dressing recipe is a true classic that has graced the dining room tables in the South for generations. Sure, Southern Cornbread Dressing is at home next to your Thanksgiving turkey, but it works just as well with a roasted chicken, so there isn’t any excuse not to try it tonight.
What’s the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?
This confusion comes from the fact that somewhere along the line, we started making stuffing the wrong way. Instead of putting the mixture of seasoned stale bread where it belongs, inside the turkey’s cavity, we decided it was better to cook the stuffing on its own. Whether this was due to our increased fear of food poisoning from undercooked turkey or just because a particular company marketed an instant ‘stuffing’ you could cook on top of the stove; doesn’t matter much. The days of the ‘stuffed’ bird were pretty much over. Today most people cook ‘stuffing’ on the stovetop or in the oven. Little do most of them know that they are making isn’t really stuffing at all, but a dressing.
Dressings have always been prepared separately from the bird and used as a side dish to ‘dress up’ the plate. So, you see that modern stuffing and traditional cornbread dressing is pretty much the same thing. But, if you or your guests are somehow averse to enjoying a Thanksgiving meal without any “stuffing,” go ahead and call this side a cornbread stuffing. No one is going to mind.
Making Sure the Dressing is Fully Cooked
This cornbread dressing recipe may take a little longer to put together than a traditional stuffing, but it isn’t complicated. There is just one thing you need to get right, and that is when you remove it out of the oven. A perfect Southern Cornbread Dressing has a golden brown top and a moist interior. But you want to make sure that there isn’t any extra liquid sloshing around on the bottom of the casserole dish. Use a chopstick to poke a small hole in the center of the cornbread dressing, and the tip of the chopstick should come out dry.
Tips For Making Cornbread Dressing
- You don’t have to make your own cornbread to make this recipe. Unless you regularly make cornbread at home, you will find it easier to purchase cornbread mix from the store. You may even be able to buy day-old cornbread that is perfect for this recipe at a discount.
- The cornbread needs to be stale. The crunchier, the better. Avoid using fresh cornbread, or you will wind up with something that resembles corn mush.
- You can prepare the dish ahead of time. Save yourself time by preparing this side dish the day before. Cover and store in the fridge. Leave the cornbread dressing on the counter for about 20 minutes before popping into the oven. Add 10 minutes to the recipe’s cooking time.
Variations on Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Change up the seasoning blend, add sage, or some poultry seasoning – start off with a teaspoon of each, add more if you desire
- Switch out the breading – some people like to add old biscuits, other bits of dried bread
- Make it creole style by adding 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper saute it with the onions and celery
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Here’s a list of what you need to make cornbread dressing:
- Onion – white onions are my preference for this recipe, they have great flavor the yellow onions do not seem to have.
- Butter – I have used both salted butter and unsalted butter for this recipe.
- Chicken broth
- Cornbread – this can be from a cornbread mix, or you could use your favorite homemade cornbread recipe
- Cream of chicken soup
- Cream of celery soup
- Chicken bouillon
How to Make Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Cook celery and onion in butter and 3 cups of chicken broth until tender.
- In a large bowl, crumble cornbread.
- Pour cooked celery and onion mixture over this and stir to combine.
- Add breadcrumbs, celery soup, chicken soup, eggs, remaining broth, and bouillon. Stir to combine.
- Bake 350 degrees in a large baking dish for 45 minutes to an hour.
The consistency should be soft (a little bit soupy), and not stiff. If the consistency is too stiff, add more soup.
Taste the mixture before baking. You may need to add some onion powder, more bouillon, salt, or black pepper.
Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
- Deep Fried Turkey
- Copycat Honey Baked Ham
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Zucchini and Squash Casserole
- Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole
- Garlic Green Beans
- Better than Starbucks Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Pie with Streusel Topping
- Texas Pecan Pie
Homemade Cornbread Recipes
Thanks to KellyK for submitting this recipe.
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- 2 1/2 cups chopped celery
- 8 cups cornbread (baked with 4 eggs –my family uses the recipe on the White Lilly self-rising cornmeal)
- 2 cups breadcrumbs (or biscuits, French bread, etc.)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 3/4 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 10.75 ounces cream of chicken soup
- 10.75 ounces cream of celery soup
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook celery and onion in butter and 3 cups of chicken broth until tender. In a large bowl crumble cornbread. Pour cooked celery and onion mixture over this and mix. Add breadcrumbs, celery soup, chicken soup, eggs, remaining broth, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons bouillon (or to taste).
- Mix the ingredients together. Pour mixture into a large casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour.