Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe (2024)

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An old fashioned cornbread dressing recipe like Grandma used to make. Made the southern way in a big casserole. Simple ingredients, yet big flavor! It's a perfect side dish for your holiday meal.

Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe (1)

For Thanksgiving dinner, if you gave me a plate just filled with my grandma's cornbread dressing, I would be a happy woman. Of course I love everything else that graces our Thanksgiving table (turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, green bean casserole, cranberry salad, rolls, etc), but the cornbread dressing is what really does it for me.

I've had a lot of dressings/stuffings in my thirty nine years of life, but I have yet to find a recipe that is as delicious as my grandma's cornbread dressing. With simple ingredients of cornbread, bread, onion, celery, eggs, salt, pepper, sage, and chicken broth, it just goes to show that simple flavors and down home cookin' recipes can still be the most delightful. I hope you enjoy this much loved family recipe.

Cornbread Dressing vs Cornbread Stuffing

People have different names for that bready concoction that shows up next to the turkey on Thanksgiving. Is is dressing or is it stuffing? What's the difference?

They both contain some kind of stale bread, some vegetables, spices and herbs, chicken or turkey broth, and sometimes eggs or meat. Sometimes you will even see some kind of fruit or nuts depending on the variation.

There is, however, one major difference in dressing and stuffing.

Dressing is baked separately in a casserole dish.

Stuffing is, like the word explains, stuffed into the turkey while it cooks.

I much prefer dressing to stuffing for several reasons.

  1. I think there is less risk of food borne illness when cooking the dressing outside of the bird.
  2. It is difficult to time it right where the turkey and stuffing are both done at the same time, especially with a large bird.
  3. I like the taste of dressing better, especially cornbread dressing.
  4. Last but certainly not least, that's how Grandma did it and I'm not one to mess with perfection. We often enjoy the familiarity of what we grew up eating and dressing is what I have grown to love.

Ingredients Needed

To make cornbread dressing you only need a handful of simple ingredients.

Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe (2)

prepared cornbread: The most important part of this recipe is the cornbread. Instead of simply bread for our dressing, we are using half bread, half cornbread. Bake your cornbread a day or two before assembling and cooking your dressing. This helps it to be dried out and soaks up the chicken stock.

bread: Any bread will do: white bread, wheat bread, sourdough, gluten-free. You just need plenty of it and you want the bread cubes dried out as well. Stale old bread works great for this.

salt and pepper: I'm a huge proponent of salt and pepper. Every recipe has to be salted properly to taste good. Don't be afraid to add salt. My homemade broth is mildly salted. If you are using a store-bought broth, go for low sodium so that you don't risk over salting.

sage: The star seasoning of this dish is dried sage. Don't go thinking this won't be flavorful because there's no poultry seasoning or rosemary. It will be; trust me. Sage is all you need.

onions and celery: The onions and celery add tons of flavor as well as some texture. Do not skip them. There is no need to sauté onion and celery ahead of time in a skillet. Just finely chop them and throw them in. The cooking time is long enough that they get tender inside the casserole.

chicken broth: If you really want to make this special, boil a whole chicken or chicken parts to get your broth the day before. You can even use a cup of the chicken meat in the dressing itself. That's how Grandma does it. You could use a store-bought broth if you are in a time crunch, but trust me, the homemade version will be so much better and more nutritious.

To boil the chicken, place it in a stockpot and cover with water and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about an hour. After chicken is cooked through, remove chicken and strain broth through a fine mesh sieve. You can see a cooking demonstration video in my post on how to get multiple meals from a whole chicken.

eggs: Use large eggs and not small or medium. Lightly beat them before pouring into the dressing mixture.

What kind of cornbread do you need for cornbread dressing?

You need a single batch of a savory cornbread for this recipe. It doesn't have to be buttermilk cornbread.

Do NOT use a sweet cornbread mix like Jiffy. You want it to have a savory taste.

I like to use my homemade cornbread recipe. It uses simple ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen already and doesn't require buttermilk. It is a moist cornbread though, so you will need to let it dry out at least overnight. If you are in a time crunch, you may need to cut the cornbread into cubes and toast it in the oven a bit to dry it out a little. Don't worry if it is not super dry.

If you want to use a boxed cornbread mix instead of homemade, my grandma likes to use Martha White's hot rise mix.

I prefer to use my homemade recipe because it doesn't have the extra additives that a boxed recipe contains. I think they both taste very similar though.

How to make grandma's cornbread dressing

Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe (3)

  1. Prepare cornbread (either homemade or Martha White hot rise mix) and let dry out a day or two.
  2. Cut or tear bread into ½ inch cubes and dry out bread overnight on a baking sheet. Toast on a large baking sheet if you are in a time crunch.
  3. The next day, heat oven to 400 degrees f.
  4. Crumble cornbread into little bits.
  5. Combine cornbread, bread cubes, salt, pepper, sage, finely diced onions and celery in an extra large bowl and mix together.
  6. Add five cups of the broth and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed before adding the eggs.
  7. Whisk eggs and stir them into the cornbread mixture.
  8. The cornbread mixture should be very wet in consistency. Add the additional cup of broth if needed.
  9. Pour into a well greased, 10 x 15 inch casserole dish and spread out in pan.
  10. Bake covered, at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
  11. After the elapsed time, uncover and shake the dish. If it jiggles, it is not done. If it is firm, it is done.
  12. If it doesn't look set, uncover, and bake for additional time until it is firm but still moist on the inside. This could take 5-20 minutes more depending on how deep your casserole dish is or how dry your bread was in the beginning.

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Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe (4)

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4.20 from 5 votes

Grandma's Cornbread Dressing

Southern cornbread dressing using simple no fuss ingredients. An old fashioned recipe just like Grandma made.

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American

Keyword holiday

Prep Time 1 day day 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time 1 hour hour

Servings 15

Author Tara Buss

Equipment

  • 10x15 casserole dish

  • extra large mixing bowl

  • chef knife

Ingredients

  • 1 batch prepared cornbread homemade recipe in notes; or use Martha White hot rise recipe
  • 10 slices bread sandwich style white, wheat, or sourdough all work
  • cup onion finely chopped
  • cup celery finely chopped
  • 4 tsp dried sage
  • 2 tsp salt If your broth is salted start with less
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 6 eggs lightly whisked
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth for homemade instructions see notes

Instructions

  • Prepare cornbread (either homemade or Martha White hot rise mix) and let dry out a day or two.

  • Cut or tear bread into ½ inch cubes and dry out bread overnight on a baking sheet. Toast on a large baking sheet if you are in a time crunch.

  • The next day, heat oven to 400 degrees f.

  • Crumble cornbread into little bits.

  • Combine cornbread, bread cubes, salt, pepper, sage, finely diced onions and celery in an extra large bowl and mix together.

  • Add five cups of the broth and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed before adding the eggs.

  • Whisk eggs and stir them into the cornbread mixture.The cornbread mixture should be very wet in consistency. Add the additional cup of broth if needed.

  • Pour into a well greased, 10 x 15 inch casserole dish and spread out in pan.

  • Bake covered, at 400 degrees for 1 hour.

  • After the elapsed time, uncover and shake the dish. If it jiggles, it is not done. If it is firm, it is done. If it doesn't look set, uncover, and bake for additional time until it is firm but still moist on the inside. This could take 5-20 minutes more depending on how deep your casserole dish is or how dry your bread was in the beginning.

Notes

Homemade cornbread recipe:

  • 1 cup cornmeal, medium grind
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (for greasing dish)

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add milk, egg, and butter and whisk to combine. Pour in greased 8x8 baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Homemade broth:

To boil the chicken, place it in a stockpot and cover with water and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about an hour. After chicken is cooked through, remove chicken and strain broth through a fine mesh sieve.

Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe (2024)

FAQs

What is the difference between cornbread stuffing and cornbread dressing? ›

So stuffing is cooked inside the bird. Dressing is cooked outside the bird, usually in a casserole dish.

Why is my cornbread dressing gummy? ›

Why is my Cornbread Dressing gummy? Adding too much liquid can result in a gummy-like texture. Baking it longer, using less liquid, and more stirring can help avoid a gummy texture.

How do you keep cornbread dressing from drying out? ›

For soft dressing, add enough warm stock to make the ingredients the consistency of thick cooked oatmeal. Some cooks add a can of cream of chicken or cream of celery soup to their dressing recipe to ensure it turns out moist enough to slice or scoop.

What is cornbread dressing made of? ›

Add sautéed onion and celery to the crumbled cornbread. Stir in chicken stock, eggs, sage, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour dressing into the prepared baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven until dressing just starts to turn golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.

What is the difference between Yankee cornbread and Southern cornbread? ›

The thing that distinguishes Southern cornbread from, say Yankee cornbread, or any other cornbread one is likely to eat outside of the southern states, is that it is savory, not sweet, and it is made mostly with cornmeal.

What's better stuffing or dressing? ›

The difference is that stuffing goes inside the cavity of the turkey, chicken, duck or whatever. Dressing is cooked in a separate casserole or similar dish. Taste-wise, stuffing will absorb the turkey juices and add those flavors; it is more moist than dressing when made by many.

Is it better to use broth or stock for dressing? ›

You can use either stock or broth for keeping dressing moist or as a basis for gravy, but a strong flavor will give you better results.

How do you get the sweet taste out of cornbread dressing? ›

If you're using store-bought or pre-made cornbread as the base for your stuffing, consider countering any excessive sweetness by adding salt and other seasonings to achieve balance. A dash of cayenne pepper or a sprinkle of sage can mitigate the sweetness.

Can you put too much broth in dressing? ›

The stuffing should be moist but not wet. If there is a puddle of broth at the bottom of the bowl, you've added too much. Add more bread to soak up the excess moisture. If the mix is still dry and crumbly, add more liquid and toss gently until it starts to clump together.

Why is my cornbread dressing mushy in the oven? ›

We all know good cornbread dressing hinges on perfectly stale (but not too stale) cornbread. Without adequate drying time, the cornbread becomes sloppy once it hits the casserole dish and mixes with the broth and eggs. No matter how long you bake soggy dressing, it will never perk up the way it should.

Is it OK to make cornbread dressing ahead of time? ›

We have found that cornbread dressing tastes best re-heated the next day, so technically, you can make this dish one day early, refrigerate it and then re-heat over very low heat before serving. In our family, I make it the morning of Thanksgiving and let it rest before re-warming and serving.

Can you leave cornbread out overnight for dressing? ›

Be sure to leave enough time — the cornbread needs to sit out overnight to harden slightly before you make the dressing.

Why do Southerners not put sugar in cornbread? ›

The most common theory is a change in cornmeal itself. Until early in the 20th century, Southern cornmeal was made with sweeter white corn and it was water-ground. When industrial milling came along, that changed. The steel-roller mills used yellow corn that was harvested before it was ripe, so it had less sugar.

What is cornbread called in the South? ›

It is commonly called "cornbread" in the Southern United States and is not known by a different name in this region. Cornbread is a simple bread that is made by mixing cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and milk to form a batter, which is then baked in the oven.

What culture eats cornbread? ›

Cornbread is as American as apple pie, but its origins date back far beyond the inception of this country. With roots in Mesoamerican, Native American, and African cultures; history and people have shaped this iconic American bread into what it is today.

What is the difference between cornbread dressing and stuffing in the South? ›

How do you make cornbread dressing? The difference is stuffing is just that - it's stuffed into the turkey & baked with the bird. Dressing is the same stuffing mix only it's baked in another container, but not in the bird. You can stuff other proteins such as chicken, pork chops or even a beef roast.

Why is it called dressing instead of stuffing? ›

The term dressing, per the History Channel, originated around the 1850s, when the Victorians deemed stuffing too crude for the dish to be named. This happened around the same time that the term “dark meat” began to refer to chicken legs and thighs.

What is the difference between stuffing and dressing black folks? ›

The stuffing mixture may be cooked separately and served as a side dish, in which case it may still be called 'stuffing', or in some regions, such as the Southern US, 'dressing'. This is from Wiki. Basically, everyone except a tiny percentage of Black people with family in Alabama calls it stuffing.

What is in Carrington cornbread stuffing? ›

From an old southern recipe handed down for over 100 years, cornbread and toasted white bread are blended with fresh celery, onions and diced hard boiled eggs. It is all bound together with savory vegetable oil and whole eggs. It is ready to be baked up to a golden brown and delicious stuffing.

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