I love cornbread dressing. It’s probably the best part of the meal for me! We always make way too much, but it disappears the next day regardless! This recipe is the only one I’ve ever made. Sometimes I make it with regular bread, sometimes with sourdough and it even works well with gluten free bread!
Mom’s been making this recipe for over 60 years.
What’s the difference between dressing and stuffing?
Way back “in the day” we used to make the cornbread dressing ahead of time and then “stuff” it in the bird. So logically, if the dressing is cooked inside the bird, it’s known as stuffing, and if it’s cooked out of the turkey it’s called dressing. I use both terms interchangeably, even though I never stuff my bird any more. (As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
Why shouldn’t you stuff the dressing in a turkey?
There are two schools of thought on whether or not you should cook the stuffing in the turkey. Some will argue that people have been stuffing and roasting turkeys for decades with no issues. While 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 stuffing separately from the turkey is that the turkey cooks more evenly and quickly without it. Here are my tips on how to make the perfect turkey (without stuffing).
How to make cornbread dressing
I actually never wrote down this recipe for 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, toss with chicken broth and spices until it “tastes right”. You’ll need about 1 1/2 cups of chopped onions and celery for every 5 cups of dried bread cubes.
Saute 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!
The amount of chicken broth will depend on how moist you like your cornbread dressing. If you’re planning on stuffing the dressing in the bird, remember the juices will add more moisture.
If you’re going to be baking the dressing on separately, it will dry out a bit while heating up and adjust accordingly.
Can you make cornbread stuffing vegetarian?
Yes! Just substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
What kind of bread can you use for dressing?
While this recipe is for cornbread dressing, you can use any type of bread as long as it’s quite dry. I’ve purchased gluten free bread and dried it out in the oven on low. Sourdough is also a delicious option as well as basic bread. This recipe uses Mrs. Cubbison’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix which does contain some 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. Trader Joe’s makes a delicious gluten free stuffing mix. Whichever bread you choose, keep in mind they might absorb broth differently.
Can dressing or stuffing can be made in advance?
This recipe can be made in advance and reheated on the day you plan to serve it. To reheat, place in 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. See above why I prefer to cook the turkey and dressing separately.
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 several hours before you plan to serve you meal with it set on low. Be mindful that the dressing could become a bit drier. Add a small amount of chicken broth and toss well if this happens.
What can you do with leftover cornbread dressing?
I think even better than the actual Thanksgiving meal, are the leftovers the next day. I remember my dad making us open-face 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!
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
There is always a plethora of side dishes at any Thanksgiving meal! In addition to dressing, and mashed potatoes, we like to serve this Harvest Squash Casserole
If you’re looking for a non-bread dressing, this Wild and Brown Rice with Cranberries and Pecans goes very well with any game or poultry dish.
I hope you enjoy this vintage cornbread dressing recipe!
- 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.