I served Paula Deen’s Southern cornbread dressing at my family’s Thanksgiving celebration several years ago.
And it was such a hit that it has since become a holiday staple.
It’s delicious, rich, and creamy with a subtle sweetness. Plus, the unique flavor tastes great with other Thanksgiving staples.
The Best Southern Cornbread Dressing
When it comes to Thanksgiving, turkey is, of course, the star of the feast. But in my house, so is this cornbread dressing.
Moist, creamy, and hearty, this cornbread casserole is an excellent accompaniment to juicy turkey.
Served with gravy and a dollop of sweet cranberry sauce, this is the epitome of all holiday sides.
If you grew up in the South, I know you’ll love this recipe. And if not, let’s take a quick look at what cornbread dressing is!
What’s the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?
Dressing is baked outside the turkey, while the stuffing can either be cooked inside or out.
It’s easy to remember the difference: stuffing is typically stuffed inside a bird, and dressing is not.
But it’s also kind of a geographical thing. Southerners call it dressing, while up north, the word stuffing is used more often.
No matter what you this classic Christmas side dish, it’s a must-have at every holiday table.
Here’s everything you need to prepare this amazing Southern recipe.
The ingredient list may be a little long, but I’m sure you have most of these ingredients already in your pantry!
- Oven-dried white bread. No fancy French bread is needed! A few slices of white bread dried in the oven make the perfect texture for this recipe.
- Saltine crackers. Adding saltine crackers to the mix helps absorb those buttery flavors and adds a unique texture.
- Butter. Everything is better with butter! It makes this dressing rich, nutty, and creamy.
- Celery and onion. You don’t need a lot of veggies for this dressing. Celebrity and onion add the perfect contrast of earthy and sweet flavors and a little crunch.
- Chicken stock. Don’t use water, use chicken stock! It’s an easy way to sneak in a little extra flavor.
- Salt and pepper. A little salt and pepper to taste helps bring out all those rich flavors.
- Sage. Adding sage is completely optional. It’s a powerful, earthy herb, so a little goes a long way. And if you don’t like it, it tastes just as good without it!
- Poultry seasoning. Adding poultry seasoning adds a boost of aromatics, but it’s completely optional.
- Eggs. You need something to fuse all those ingredients. Eggs to the rescue!
- Self-rising cornmeal. There are no leveling agents (like baking soda or baking powder) in this recipe because self-rising corn meal has it pre-mixed.
- Buttermilk. Here’s the real secret ingredient. Buttermilk makes this dressing creamy and adds a much-needed tang to all those aromatics.
- Vegetable oil. Adding vegetable oil helps the dressing stay nice and moist in the oven.
How to Make Paula Deen’s Cornbread Dressing
Here’s a quick rundown on how to prepare this classic holiday side dish. Don’t worry, I’ll dive into the specifics at the bottom of the post.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease four 9×13 baking dishes.
2. Make the cornbread. In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, 2 eggs, and oil until fully combined.
3. Bake the cornbread. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow it to cool completely, and then set aside.
4. Combine bread and crackers. In a large bowl, combine crushed cornbread, white bread, and saltine crackers set aside.
5. Sauté veggies. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Then, add the celery and onions and stir for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour over the cornbread mixture.
6. Add chicken stock. Pour chicken stock, salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning over the cornbread mixture. Add 5 beaten eggs and stir to combine.
7. Bake. Pour mixture into prepared baking dishes, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven, and enjoy!
How Do You Keep Cornbread Dressing from Being Gummy?
If your dressing turns out too wet or gummy, don’t fret. Just bake it for several minutes longer, and it’ll dry up nicely.
If the dressing is too dry, add more stock and bake for 5-10 more minutes as well.
Paula Deen knows her southern dressing, but there are a few easy ways to improve upon this classic.
Whether you want to make it meaty, sweet, or spicy, check out some of these fantastic variations!
- Make it meaty. Longing for the richness of smoked meat? Add cooked bacon or sausage.
- Add more veggies. A great way to fill out this simple recipe is to go crazy with veggies! I love mushrooms for a meaty, earthy bite. But you can use whatever you have on hand.
- Make it sweeter. A fantastic way to add a hint of sweetness and seasonal flavor is with cooked apples or dried cranberries.
- Bring on the spice. Want to bring on the heat? A few sliced jalapeno peppers are the perfect accent to this savory dressing.
Tips for the Best Cornbread Dressing
The holidays are no time for trial and error. Check out these quick and easy tips to ensure your dressing is ready for the holiday table.
- No buttermilk? No problem! Instead of going back to the store, make your own: pour one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a 1-cup measuring cup. Then fill with milk. Easy peasy!
- Taste as you go. Before adding raw eggs, give that dressing a taste test, and add more seasoning as needed.
- Keep the dressing ultra-moist. If you want a soft and moist cornbread, cover the dish with aluminum foil for the first 45 minutes of baking. For a crunchy outer crust, bake the dressing uncovered.
- Take a cornbread shortcut. Use a box of Jiffy to make the cornbread quickly. Or just grab some ready made from the store.
- Allergic to eggs? Use a flaxseed substitute: combine one tablespoon of flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and it’ll turn into a gooey, egg-white-like mixture. This recipe is equivalent to one egg.
Make Ahead Cornbread Dressing
Thanksgiving is always a balancing act of time.
The good news? You can make this dressing recipe ahead of time to make the big day a little less hectic and stressful.
- Prepare the cornbread. Bake and crumble the cornbread, place it in an air-tight container, and refrigerate.
- Cook the veggies. Sauté the celery and onions and refrigerate.
- Prep the bread and crackers. Crush the bread and crackers and leave them overnight to dry.
- Assemble and bake. Combine the ingredients the day of, and then pop in the oven to bake.
How To Store Cornbread Dressing
Thanksgiving means two things: giving thanks, and leftovers!
I love leftover dressing in a sandwich with turkey.
Here are some tips to ensure your dressing is just as moist and delicious after the party is over.
To Store: Place leftovers in an air-tight container (or cover the baking dish with plastic wrap) and place in the fridge for up to one week.
To Freeze: Allow leftovers to cool completely, then place them in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to three months.
To Reheat: Thaw frozen dressing in the fridge overnight. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. If it seems a little dry, add some chicken stock or water.
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