Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

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My Mom has been making this old fashioned cornbread dressing recipe for over 60 years and it’s probably my favorite part of any holiday meal. Crumbly cornbread mixed with savory onions,  celery, butter, and seasoning is a delicious – and essential – part of Thanksgiving dinner. We always make way too much, but it disappears the next day regardless!

Cornbread dressing in a white bowl.

What’s the Difference Between Dressing and Stuffing?

“Back in the day” we used to make cornbread dressing ahead of time and then “stuff” it in the turkey. When the dressing is cooked inside the bird, it’s known as stuffing. If it’s cooked on its own, out of the turkey, it’s called dressing. I use both terms interchangeably, even though I never stuff my bird any more.

Why shouldn’t you stuff the dressing in a turkey? Some will argue that people have been stuffing and roasting turkeys for decades with no issues. Modern cooks understand that there are safety concerns about uneven cooking temperatures and possible exposure to salmonella.

While I stuffed my bird for many years, one of the main reasons I prefer to cook the cornbread stuffing separately from the turkey is that the turkey cooks more evenly and quickly without it. Be sure to read my tips on how to slow cook turkey (without stuffing).

Stuffing and turkey on a plate.

What Kind of Bread Can You Use for Dressing?

While this is a cornbread stuffing recipe, you can use any type of bread as long as it’s quite dry. If you make your own cornbread, you can overcook it a bit to dry it out or make it a few days ahead of time and let it get a little stale. 

There are also lots of prepackaged stuffing mixes to make your life easier! This recipe uses Mrs. Cubbison’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix which contains its own seasoning.

If you would prefer to use unseasoned, Arnold’s makes one, but you’ll need to use more herbs and seasoning. Boudoin makes a delicious sourdough herb stuffing. 

If you want to make a gluten-free cornbread dressing, you can buy gluten free cornbread stuffing mix. I’ve also purchased gluten free bread and dried it out in the oven on low. Trader Joe’s also makes a delicious gluten free stuffing mix.

Whichever bread you choose, keep in mind they might absorb broth differently. Read on to learn how to get the proper moisture in this old fashioned dressing recipe.

How to Make Cornbread Dressing

I actually never wrote down this recipe for old fashioned cornbread dressing when I was younger, it was just something I learned to make while growing up. Chop a lot of onions and celery, saute in a lot of butter, and toss the bread with chicken broth and spices until it “tastes right.” The recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to make it your own!

Diced onion and celery on a cutting board with butter and broth on the side.
  • 5 cups cornbread stuffing, or equivalent cubed dried bread
  • 1 1/2 cups celery sliced, about 3 ribs
  • 1 1/2 cups onion chopped, about 1
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth (Use vegetable broth to make vegetarian cornbread dressing.)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning or to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Begin by sauteing the onions and celery in 8 ounces of melted butter. Yes, it’s a lot of butter, but it’s also part of the rich flavor! 

Onions and celery sauteeing in butter.

Mix in the cubed cornbread stuffing. Add the broth, a ladle at a time, tossing well each time. The amount of chicken broth will depend on how moist you like your dressing. 

How Wet Should Stuffing Be Before Baking?

If you want stuffing that is just like grandma’s cornbread dressing, it should be moist, but not wet. Add broth and toss gently until it starts to clump together. 

As you slowly add broth, be sure you don’t see any pooling at the bottom of the dish. If you do, add more bread to soak up the excess moisture. 

Bread, onions and celery in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.

Can Cornbread Dressing Be Made in Advance?

This recipe for cornbread stuffing can be made in advance and reheated on the day you plan to serve it. To reheat, place in an ovenproof dish and reheat at 300 degrees F for about 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. 

If you’re stuffing your turkey, you’ll want to make sure this temperature is reached to prevent bacteria growth. 

Can Dressing Be Heated in the Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot?

On Thanksgiving and Christmas, my slow-cooker works over-time. It’s a great way to free up oven and stove space, and much more efficient than microwaving. 

To heat up dressing straight from the refrigerator, you’ll want to put it in the slow cooker and set it on low several hours before you plan to serve your meal. Be mindful that the dressing could become a bit drier. Add a small amount of chicken broth and toss well if this happens.

Closeup of cornbread dressing in a bowl.

What Can You Do With Leftover Cornbread Dressing?

I think leftovers the next day can be even better than the actual Thanksgiving meal! I remember my dad making us open-faced turkey sandwiches with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy! It was wonderful, but completely decadent and rich. 

Here’s another option – a layered potato, turkey, and stuffing casserole! 

Cornbread stuffing or dressing can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. After 3 months it will start to lose freshness and flavor. If your family is getting sick of leftovers, freeze the stuffing and pull it out again in a month or two to make a whole new recipe!

Don’t miss these easy recipe ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers!

I hope you enjoy this old fashioned cornbread dressing recipe!

Stuffing in a bowl with a spoon.

More Thanksgiving Side Dishes

cornbread stuffing

Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

A family staple for over 60 years, this cornbread dressing recipe is the perfect accompaniment to your holiday turkey!
5 from 44 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 130 kcal


  • 5 cups cornbread stuffing or equivalent cubed dried bread
  • 1 1/2 cups celery sliced, about 3 ribs
  • 1 1/2 cups onion chopped, about 1
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth may be substituted for vegetarian version)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning or to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste


  • Melt butter in a large skillet, saute celery and onion until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, heat up 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.
  • In a large bowl, toss cornbread cubes with sauteed onions and celery (don't forget the butter!).
  • Add the broth, a ladle at a time, tossing well each time until dressing is desired moistness. (See notes.)
  • Place in a oven proof baking dish and heat until piping hot. (See notes.)


  • Any type of dried bread, cornbread or sourdough bread can be used.
  • This recipe uses Mrs. Cubbinson’s cornbread stuffing which comes seasoned. If using homemade bread, you will need to adjust seasoning accordingly.
  • Vegetable broth may be substituted for chicken broth for a vegetarian version.
  • If you don’t have poultry seasoning, substitute dried sage and thyme. 
  • If you’ll be stuffing your bird, use less broth as the juices from the turkey will add more moisture.
  • If you’ll be making the dressing ahead of time, wrap well and refrigerate.
  • Reheating time will depend on whether or not the dressing is warm or straight from the refrigerator. 


Serving: 1personCalories: 130kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSodium: 240mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. I like cornbread in stuffings as well. My family’s only requested stuffing is one with Italian sausage in it, with cream, a little brandy, and lots of parsley. I adapted it from a French recipe, and it’s so good! 9 people??? That’s amazing to me. We’re up to 6 this year, and I thought that’s a lot!

  2. 5 stars
    Sounds pretty much how I make mine, too (with white wine), except I’ve never tried it with cornbread! You definitely need a lot of butter! Looks so tasty, will have to give it a try!

  3. 5 stars
    The easiest, most trouble free recipe. We use this every Thanksgiving and occasionally during the year. And I would love the Stanley Tucci cookbook.

      1. I’m so happy to have found this recipe!! I love poultry seasoning and the sautéd veggies made my kitchen smell amazing! I made mine with Trader Joe’s sausage so I only added one stick of butter in addition to the flavor and the drippings that the sausage left!! So yummy!
        My only criticism is of the page. You forgot to mention when to add the seasonings and you never mention what to preheat the oven to. You mention REheating directions, but not PREheating 🙂 I just put mine in at 350 for 35-45 degrees.
        Well done and what a wonderful addition to my Christmas dinner table!

5 from 44 votes (42 ratings without comment)

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