Southern Cornbread Dressing is a classic side dish perfect for Thanksgiving dinner and many other holidays. The best cornbread dressing is made from scratch with homemade cornbread and classic combination of onion, celery, and sage.
Must-Have Thanksgiving Side Dish
It’s not a Thanksgiving dinner without the classic sides surrounding a big, juicy turkey. My family always expects all the classics to be present and that includes the stuffing, or the dressing.
I usually make my classic stuffing recipe with Italian bread but this year, I might change things up with cornbread dressing instead. It’s a southern classic side that shines just as bright as the turkey.
What makes this recipe so delicious is the homemade cornbread. For the best cornbread dressing, you really should go the homemade route. Soft buttermilk cornbread gives the dressing the best texture and flavor. Mix in sautéed onions, celery, and garlic and then, combine everything with stock, butter, and herbs for the perfect taste.
Stuffing vs Dressing
There is a bit of a debate about the stuffing vs dressing, mostly pertaining to what you call it. One school of thought on this debate is that the reference is regional. In the south, it is called a “dressing,” while up north, it is referred to as “stuffing.”
Another school of thought is simply that stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, while dressing is cooked on its own. And yet another answer lies in bread. As in, dressing is made with cornbread and stuffing is made with other breads.
No matter what you call it, this classic bread side dish must be present at the holiday table. Although, since cornbread is a southern tradition, we will of course be calling in a dressing.
I use my buttermilk cornbread recipe to make the dressing but I adjust it slightly. Cornbread in an effortless recipe so all you need is two mixing bowls, a whisk, and a 10-inch cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a skillet, use a 9×9 baking dish.
In one bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Slowly pour in wet ingredients into dry ingredients while whisking and whisk until evenly incorporated.
Generously rub the skillet with butter all over the bottom and up the sides. Spread cornbread batter evenly in the skillet and bake at 400° for 20-22 minutes. (Until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)
Let cornbread cool for about 10 minutes in the skillet and then turn it over onto the cutting board.
While cornbread is baking, sauté onions, celery and garlic. Set oven to 375° and rub a 9×13 baking dish with butter all over the bottom and up the sides.
Dice onions and celery and mince garlic. Preheat a cooking pan over medium heat and add butter. Sauté onions and celery until soft and add minced garlic. Sauté everything for a few more minutes and turn off the heat.
Crumble cooked cornbread in a large mixing bowl. (I like to leave some pieces larger and some smaller for the best dressing texture.) Add sautéed vegetables, salt, garlic powder, pepper, sage, and parsley. Whisk eggs, stock, and melted butter in another bowl and pour it all over the cornbread mixture. Mix everything together well and spread it evenly in the prepared baking dish.
Bake cornbread dressing for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the middle is set.
Make Ahead Tips:
You can make cornbread ahead of time or prep the whole dish ahead on time and bake the next day.
If you choose to make just cornbread ahead of time, cook it completely, let it cool for about 10 minutes in the skillet, and then turn it over onto the cutting board. Cool it completely on the cutting board and wrap it air-tight. Use the cornbread the next day to make the dressing.
Cornbread dressing can also be prepped ahead of time, and refrigerated overnight before baking. Prepare everything up to the step of baking and wrap the baking pan tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it overnight.
To bake it the next day, set the dish on the counter while the oven is preheating and then bake for about 30 minutes.
Other Holiday Sides To Make:
- 1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour*
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- cold butter to grease the skillet
- cooked cornbread from above crumbled
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 long stalk of celery
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup chicken stock warmed
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 2 tbsp fresh minced parsley
- 1 tsp dried sage (2 tsp if using fresh sage)
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400° and generously rub a 10-inch skillet with butter all over the bottom and up the sides.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk together.
- In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Slowly pour in wet ingredients into dry ingredients while whisking and whisk until evenly incorporated.
- Spread cornbread batter evenly in the skillet and bake for 20-22 minutes. (Until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)
- Let cornbread cool for about 10 minutes in the skillet and then turn it over onto the cutting board.
- Prepare the vegetables while cornbread is baking.
- Set oven to 375° and rub a 9×13 baking dish with butter all over the bottom and up the sides.
- Dice onions and celery and mince garlic.
- Preheat a cooking pan over medium heat and add butter. Saute onions and celery until soft. Add minced garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Take off heat.
- Crumble cooked cornbread in a large mixing bowl. (I like to leave some pieces larger and some smaller for the best dressing texture.) Add sauteed vegetables, salt, garlic powder, pepper, sage, and parsley.
- Whisk eggs, warmed stock, and melted butter in another bowl and pour it all over the cornbread mixture. Mix everything together well.
- Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the middle is set.
I wasn’t raised on cornbread stuffing, but my husband was, so I gave this recipe a try for Thanksgiving. It was delicious, but I personally felt that it had a bit too much garlic, but that’s easy to adjust. I just need to comment that this is the absolute best recipe for cornbread! I will make the stuffing again (probably adding the garlic cloves but leaving out the extra garlic powder), but this is now my go-to cornbread recipe. Thank you for an awesome recipe!
I am so glad you liked it, Traci!
Rachel Scott says
Can I just omit the sugar in the cornbread?
Sure, it will have a slightly different flavor but not effect how it cooks.
I need to use a box of cornbread. How many cups of cornbread would you say yours makes? Thank you!
I believe it will be about the same as the box of jiffy cornbread.
Hey! Works would this do okay assembled the day before and baked the day of our would it get too soggy??
It should be fine to make it the day before.
Shirley Horner says
I need what and how suff to use in cornbread dress
You can find all the ingredients above the comments in the recipe card.
This is how I make my dressing also, but I’ve never used garlic. Does the garlic make a big difference? Just curious.
It adds a mild garlic flavor to the cornbread stuffing. You can leave it out if you don’t want a garlic flavor. The amount in this recipe isn’t much so it’s not a strong flavor, but you can add more if you really like garlic.
When you say a stalk of celery, do you mean a rib or the whole entire stalk?
It should just be a “branch” of celery, not the entire bundle.
Steve is correct you just need to use one stalk or “branch” not the whole thing.
If I accidentally made your original cornbread, not the altered recipe, should I remake or can I use it? Thanks! Excited about trying this tomorrow!
Cornbread dressing is my absolute favorite side for Thanksgiving, I grew up on my mother’s cornbread dressing and I make it every year for my family as well. It reminds me of my childhood and simpler times. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,
Glenda, Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well!
I make mine very similar, major thing I do different is I use mostly bacon fat and part butter or oil, and I heat it in a large cast-iron skillet in the hot oven and when I finish mixing everything I pour HOT grease over and stir it in real quick and put it in the HOT skillet to bake. love it that way but I like the flavor of the bacon leftover grease and I don’t Use anything sweet. Not what sure the sugar does for it, just don’t like sweet cornbread. I could eat it for breakfast dinner and supper. The skillet gives you nice crispy cornbread all the way around.
P.S. I also use about /4-1/3 sour dough bread. Everything else is the same as the recipe is written. Of course you reduce the amount of cornbread by amount of sour dough bread. I adjust onion & celery to my family taste.
Yum! That sounds like a good twist! I am glad you liked it!