Southern cornbread dressing is a popular Thanksgiving side dish. Filled with comforting flavors like celery, onion, and sage, this moist cornbread dressing is a must for your next holiday meal.
You'll love this cornbread dressing because it's surprisingly easy to make from scratch. Plus, it's made the day beforehand! Simply pop it in the oven on Thanksgiving day.
Cornbread dressing is made with crumbled cornbread that's mixed with sautéed celery, onions, and sage. Once baked, it turns into a moist, dense casserole that's filled with comforting, savory flavor. It pairs perfectly with turkey and gravy.
This delicious savory side dish is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. Plus, it serves a crowd! This recipe makes enough to serve 10 large portions.
Dressing vs. stuffing
Okay, so we've all heard of dressing and stuffing before, but what is the difference?
It seems as though both words are use interchangeably. In the north, the word stuffing is more common. In the south, it is usually called dressing.
One main difference I've found is that "stuffing" can be stuffed and cooked inside your Thanksgiving turkey. Dressing is more commonly baked in a casserole dish.
It seems as though it mainly depends on where you live geographically. Dressing or stuffing - I think we can all agree that it's a delicious Thanksgiving side dish!
Here's an article you may like: The Great Debate: Stuffing vs Dressing
Cornbread ingredients and substitutions
This recipe comes together in two steps. First you'll need to make a batch of cornbread, allow it to cool, and then crumble it up to make the actual dressing. Here are the ingredients you'll need to make the cornbread:
- Cornmeal - White or yellow cornmeal will work in this recipe. White cornmeal has a milder flavor, but otherwise works the same way as yellow cornmeal.
- Flour - You'll need all-purpose flour for this recipe. I have not tested this recipe using another type of flour, so I couldn't advise on how your cornbread would turn out.
- Sugar - Adds just a tiny hint of sweetness to balance the flavor of your cornbread, without making it sweet. If you don't like any sugar in your cornbread, feel free to omit it entirely.
- Leavening agents - You'll need both baking powder and baking soda for this recipe to get the proper lift.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of your cornbread.
- Buttermilk - Buttermilk, or a buttermilk substitute (see below) is a must for the proper acidity.
- Eggs - Add structure to your cornbread. Use large eggs for best results.
- Unsalted butter - Can be substituted with salted butter if needed.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand, add 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Then, fill to the 1 ½ cups mark with milk. Allow to set for 5 minutes and your buttermilk substitute is ready.
Once your cornbread has been prepared and fully cooled, you can assemble your cornbread dressing.
Dressing ingredients and substitutions
- Butter - Unsalted butter can be substituted with salted butter if desired.
- Onion - Yellow or white onions work well in this recipe.
- Celery - Adds a peppery flavor to your dressing.
- Sage - A classic Thanksgiving seasoning. If you (or a family member) does not like sage, it can be substituted with another mild savory herb like thyme, oregano, or poultry seasoning (which usually includes sage).
- Breadcrumbs - Traditional bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, or crushed butter crackers (like Ritz brand) can be used.
- Chicken broth - Can be substituted with vegetable broth. I recommend using regular broth, not low sodium, if possible. If using a low sodium broth for health reasons, you may want to add additional herbs, onion, powder, and garlic powder to your dressing for flavor.
- Eggs - Adds structure to your dressing, I do not recommend omitting the eggs in this recipe. Otherwise, your dressing will not hold together.
- Pepper - Adds depth of flavor to your dressing.
The great part about cornbread dressing is that it must be made the day beforehand, or first thing in the morning before a big dinner. This helps free up the big day for preparing other dishes.
Once assembled, cover your baking dish and refrigerate your cornbread dressing for 8 hours, or overnight.
Your dressing can be made up to two days in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Leftovers and freezing
Leftover cornbread dressing will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
To freeze - portion leftover cornbread dressing into single servings, tightly wrap in foil, then store in a gallon sized freezer bag. Simply pull out your dressing the night before to thaw in the refrigerator.
Dressing can be reheated in the microwave or in the oven at 350 degrees until warmed through (depending on the size of your leftovers, up to 30 minutes)
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- 1 ½ cups cornmeal
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery, about 3 ribs of celery
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried sage
- 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
- 32 ounces chicken broth
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1 ½ teaspoons pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly butter a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients: Cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to remove any lumps.
- Add buttermilk and eggs, whisking to combine. Add melted butter and whisk to combine.
- Pour batter into prepared dish and spread to the edges of the pan. Bake for about 25-28 minutes, or until top and sides are lightly browned and cornbread is set in the center.
- Allow cornbread to cool completely in the pan, then gently crumble into a large bowl.
- Lightly butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
- In a saute pan over medium heat, melt butter. Once hot, add celery and onion and cook until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add sage, stir, and cook for 1 additional minute.
- Pour vegetables into a large bowl with crumbled cornbread. Add remaining ingredients: breadcrumbs, chicken broth, eggs, and pepper. Gently stir together until evenly combined.
- Gently press mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove casserole from the refrigerator and set on the counter while your oven preheats.
- Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and center is set. Serve warm.
- Dressing can be prepared up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- Leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 3-4 days.
- Leftover dressing can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cover tightly or wrap in foil. Transfer from freezer to refrigerator to thaw the night before.
- Dressing can be reheated in the microwave or in the oven at 350 degrees until warmed through (depending on the size of your leftovers, up to 30 minutes).