Cornbread Dressing is a Southern classic Thanksgiving dish made from cubed bread and cornbread, butter, sausage, eggs, and a handful of easy-to-find ingredients. Moist, well-seasoned, and truly comforting side dish!
There’s one thing that I learned during Thanksgiving – you can never have too many casserole dishes. 😉 Actually, I got that from my big sister who loves gracing her Thanksgiving table with a variety of casserole dishes like this Sweet Potato Casserole and Green Bean Casserole. Since we won’t be traveling down South to celebrate Thanksgiving with them, I’ll be posting one of her most-raved casserole dishes – Cornbread Dressing.
What is a Cornbread Dressing?
Cornbread dressing is a classic Thanksgiving must-have in the Southern part of the U.S. It’s also kind of a personal thing, too, as every grandma has their own recipe for creating this soul-satisfying side dish.
It is primarily made of crumbled pieces of bread and a few days old cornbreads (the drier, the better), celery, sausage, sage, herbs and spices, milk, and a good stock. Savory, moist, and DELICIOUS!
If you think turkey could easily claim the spotlight during Thanksgiving, cornbread dressing sometimes rivals that one, too. How can you not fall in love with this baked casserole dish full of wonderful and comforting flavors?
- Breakfast Sausage – the secret to making it more flavorful is by browning it properly in a hot pan and saute it along with other savory ingredients.
- Butter – I used it for sauteing and to add a butterlicious taste to the cornbread dressing.
- Onion – it should be minced then sauteed to get that sweet and mellow savory flavor. It also helps to cook it evenly if it’s minced. Click on How To Cut Onions for more info.
- Celery – you may find this ingredient as a staple for making stocks and broth because its bold yet mild flavor gives body to any dish that it’s added to.
- Garlic – gives a strong pungent flavor when it’s raw but when it’s sauteed it becomes mellow and flavorful, it even smells lovely!
- Italian Herbs – these herbs are commonly used in Italian Cuisines. It can include basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.
- Sage – use fresh leaves that give a lemony and slightly peppery taste. Plus, do you know that this thing also has a lot of antioxidants? Healthy and flavorful!
- Thyme – an aromatic and savory fresh herb that goes well with savory dishes and casseroles like this recipe. You can find a good alternative for it in this Best Substitutes For Thyme.
- Cornbread – must be a day-old; you can use this delicious Cornbread or the store-bought ones. Make sure to cut it into cubes for better liquid absorption.
- Bread – use a day-old or stale bread for the recipe, then cut it into cubes to make it easy to absorb the liquid.
- Half and Half – it adds richness in flavor and moisture to the recipe. You can check out the “Alternative Ingredients” below for its substitution.
- Eggs – aside from its rich flavor, it also works as a binder for the cornbread dressing.
- Chicken Broth – use this savory liquid to moisten and add flavor to the cornbread dressing. Though, be careful not to add too much as it will also make the cornbread mushy.
- Salt and Pepper – to taste and also to enhance the savory flavors of the cornbread dressing.
- Olive Oil – well, if you would prefer not to add meat in the cornbread dressing, then use olive oil to saute the herbs and vegetables.
- Heavy Cream – to substitute for half and half.
- Yogurt – it works really well for baking such a savory dish. But make sure to get the plain unsweetened yogurt to be sure that it tastes the same as half and half.
- Dried Herbs – if you don’t have the fresh herbs then use the dried ones. Check through your pantry herbs and spices rack and add them in, maybe use just half of the amount called for if replacing the fresh herbs.
- Poultry Seasoning – this seasoning is great with flavoring poultry products but it would also work as a good substitute for Italian seasoning and to add flavor in general.
- Vegetable Stock – for a veggie good flavor and less fat and calories cornbread dressing.
Tips and Tricks
- Use a day-old cornbread. For this recipe, it’s best to use a few days-old cornbread as it makes the best dressing. Just wrap it tightly and place it in your fridge until you’re ready to mix it with your dressing.
- Prepare cornbread dressing mixture. For early preparation, you can mix and store the ingredients first then bake when you need to. Do this weeks in advance and wrap it tightly before placing it in the freezer. When ready to bake, just thaw it in the fridge a day or two prior to use.
- Use rendered bacon fat for more flavor. If you want some extra savory flavor, use about a tablespoon of bacon fat in addition to the butter when sauteing the mixture.
- Bake the bread in the oven. Cooking the bread a little bit more in the oven will dry out the excess moisture in it, and the result will be a dry bread that is ideal for making cornbread dressing.
- The mix should have a wet sponge-like texture. You can use this as a guide for how the cornbread dressing should look and feel before baking them. If you do it this way, you’ll be sure to get a great result after baking the cornbread dressing.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Refrigerator: transfer the cornbread dressing to an airtight container and keep refrigerated for 4 days.
- Freezer: transfer the cornbread dressing to an airtight container and keep it in the freezer for 1 month.
- Oven-baked: Take the cornbread dressing out from the fridge to set it to room temperature. Then, bake it covered in a 350°F preheated oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.
- From the freezer: make sure to thaw the cornbread first and then proceed with the reheating procedure above.
Too much moisture and overmixing cause gluten formation, which gives the gummy texture of the cornbread.
You can check if the cornbread is done once the center gets firm and not wobbly. Check it by shaking the baking dish a bit and see if the center (this is the part that gets cooked last) is not moving, then it means it’s already cooked.
If it gets too dry after baking, you can pour a little bit more broth into the cornbread dressing and let it absorb the liquid. Then bake uncovered, maybe 10 minutes more or until done.
What Do You Eat Cornbread Dressing With?
- Pan Seared Oven-Roasted Steak
- Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
- Spiced Roast Turkey
- Easy Meatloaf
- Smoked Pork Belly
More Holiday Add-Ons
How To Make Cornbread Dressing?
Sauteing and Prep
- Prepare the baking pan. Spray or generously butter a 9×13 baking dish or an oven proof dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Brown the breakfast sausage. Place a large skillet over medium heat, let it warm up. Then add breakfast sausage, break into chunks using a wooden spoon. Let it cook while stirring for about 3 -5 minutes. (Photo 1)
- Saute the herbs and spices. Add about a tablespoon of butter to the sausage, followed by onions, celery, garlic, Italian herbs, sage and thyme, cook until onions are soft or wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. (Photo 2-3)
- Mix together cubed cornbread and bread cubes. In a large bowl, combine day old cornbread and bread cubes. (Photo 4)
Cornbread Dressing Mixture
- Add the dairy liquid mixture. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together half and half and eggs. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the cornbread mixture. (Photo 5 -6)
- Carefully add in the sauteed sausage and veggies, add the sausage and onion mixture together with all it’s juice. Gently fold in cornbread mixture, so it’s combined taking care not to mash cornbread. (Photo 7)
- Slowly fold in chicken stock. Add chicken stock and continue folding until moisten. Mixture should be moist. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt. (Photo 8)
Bake The Cornbread Dressing
- Prepare to bake the cornbread dressing mix. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Cut butter into small slivers and scatter on top of dressing. (Photo 9)
- Bake at 350℉ 0r until it is hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 35 to 40minutes. Start checking at 30minutes. (Photo 10)
- 3 tablespoons butter , divided
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- 2 medium onion (about 2 cups)
- 2 celery stalks (about 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian herb
- 3 tablespoons sage fresh, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoon thyme fresh, minced
- 6 cup or (1-inch pieces) cornbread cubed, about 1 pound (day old), store-bought or homemade
- 2 cups bread , cubed
- ½ cup half and half or heavy cream
- 3 large egg , beaten
- 1 cup chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- Spray or generously butter a 9×13 baking dish or an oven proof dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat, let it warm up. Then add breakfast sausage, break into chunks using a wooden spoon. Let it cook while stirring for about 3 -5 minutes.
- Add about a tablespoon of butter to the sausage, followed by onions, celery, garlic, Italian herbs, sage and thyme, cook until onions are soft or wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, combine day old cornbread and bread cubes.
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together half and half and eggs. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the cornbread mixture.
- Carefully add in the sauteed sausage and veggies, add the sausage and onion mixture together with all it’s juice. Gently fold in cornbread mixture, so it’s combined taking care not to mash cornbread.
- Add chicken stock and continue folding until moisten. Mixture should be moist. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt.
- Transfer to a greased baking dish. Cut butter into small slivers and scatter on top of dressing.
- Bake at 350℉ 0r until it is hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 35 to 40minutes. Start checking at 30minutes.