Thanksgiving dinner just isn’t complete without a hearty helping of Southern Cornbread Dressing.
A beloved side dish, it’s perfect for family gatherings, holiday feasts, and potluck dinners.
Savory, satisfying, and full of nostalgia, this cornbread dressing is a holiday staple.
If you’re looking for a classic Thanksgiving side dish, put this one at the top of your list!
You won’t believe how easy it is to make this comforting dish.
The taste is a delightful blend of sweet cornbread, savory broth, and aromatic herbs. Different variations may include other ingredients like veggies, nuts, fruits, and spices.
This traditional cornbread casserole is made from crumbled cornbread, onions, celery, and seasonings.
This mixture is combined with a liquid such as broth or stock and eggs to bind it together. It’s baked until golden and slightly crispy outside, remaining moist and flavorful.
Once you’ve tasted this cornbread dressing, I’m betting it becomes a holiday staple!
Dressing vs. Stuffing (What’s the Difference?)
In essence, “dressing” and “stuffing” are often used synonymously. Most people understand them to mean the same thing.
The main distinction lies in the cooking method. “Stuffing” typically refers to a mixture used to fill another food, typically poultry, before baking.
“Dressing,” on the other hand, is cooked separately in a pan. “Dressing” is also an enjoyable dish when eaten on its own.
Here’s what you need to whip up this cornbread dressing:
- Cornbread – It serves as the base of the dressing. The crumbled texture helps it absorb other flavors well.
- Butter – It’s used to sauté the vegetables and adds a buttery texture to the dressing.
- Onions – They provide a sweet and savory base note when sautéed.
- Celery – It gives the dressing a bit of crunch and a fresh, slightly bitter flavor.
- Eggs – They act as a binder for the dressing, helping to hold the other ingredients together as it bakes.
- Seasonings – They’re used to enhance the flavors of the cornbread dressing. This recipe calls for sage, salt, and pepper.
How to Make Cornbread Dressing
Making this tasty side dish couldn’t be easier.
1. Preheat the oven and prepare the ingredients. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Grease a 7×11-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place the crumbled cornbread in a large bowl.
2. Sauté the onions and celery. Melt the butter over medium heat and add the diced onion and chopped celery. Cook them for about 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Make the cornbread mixture. Add the sautéed onions and celery to the crumbled cornbread. Mix the chicken stock, egg, sage, salt, and pepper into the cornbread mixture.
4. Bake the cornbread dressing. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake the cornbread dressing in the oven until browned for about 30 minutes.
Tips for the Best Cornbread Dressing
Follow these simple tips to make your dressing the best it can be.
- Skip the store-bought cornbread. Homemade brings a more authentic flavor and texture than store-bought versions. Making your own allows you to control the taste and texture.
- Watch your liquid. Cornbread dressing should be moist but not soggy. Too much liquid will make the dressing mushy, while too little will result in a dry dressing.
- Fresh is best. Fresh ingredients significantly improve the taste of your cornbread dressing. Fresh onions, celery, and homemade stock can make a big difference.
- Watch the salt. If you’re using store-bought broth, opt for a low-sodium version to control the salt level in your dressing.
- Switch up the spices. Feel free to experiment with different spices to give your dressing a unique flavor. A bit of smoked paprika or cayenne pepper can add warmth.
- Make it herby. Fresh herbs lend a vibrant taste to your cornbread dressing. Remember the general rule: use three times as much fresh as you would dry.
- Give it a rest. Letting the dressing rest after baking allows the flavors to meld and the dressing to set.
Cornbread dressing can be tweaked to fit your tastes or dietary needs. Here are a few recipe variations:
- Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing: This version includes crumbled biscuits and cornbread. You may also add cooked and crumbled sausage for a richer taste.
- Vegetarian Cornbread Dressing: Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock. You can add vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or carrots to make them healthier.
- Southwestern Cornbread Dressing: Add heat with diced jalapeños or canned green chiles. You can also add some Mexican flavor with cumin and cilantro.
- Cajun Cornbread Dressing: Add Andouille sausage, bell peppers, and a bit of cayenne pepper for a spicy, flavorful twist.
- Apple and Pecan Cornbread Dressing: Add diced apples for a sweet contrast to the dressing and toasted pecans extra crunch.
Can You Make This Dressing Ahead of Time?
If you’re preparing for a large meal (like Thanksgiving), you can make cornbread dressing in advance.
Prepare the dressing, but cover it and store it in the refrigerator instead of baking it. On the day of your meal, allow the dressing to come to room temperature before baking.
And the best part? Making the cornbread mixture in advance gives a better texture and a more flavorful taste.
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Leftovers
If you have leftover cornbread dressing, follow these tips:
To Store: Once the cornbread dressing has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to air-tight containers.
Store the containers in the refrigerator. The dressing should stay fresh for 4-5 days.
To Reheat: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Cover the dish with aluminum foil to prevent the dressing from drying out.
Heat the dressing in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
To Freeze: For longer storage, you can freeze cornbread dressing for up to a month.
- Allow the cornbread dressing to cool entirely before preparing it for freezing.
- Portion the dressing into freezer-safe containers and cover it tightly with foil. To thaw, transfer the frozen dressing to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight.
- Once thawed, reheat it following the instructions above.
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