My Auntie Rose’s Famous Southern Cornbread Dressing recipe will put boring ole’ stuffing to shame. Moist skillet cornbread is combined with homemade chicken stock, celery, onion, chicken pieces, spices and flavor galore more creating a perfect side dish ready to claim its fame at your holiday table especially served with Cranberry Sauce and Gravy or try my Seafood Dressing. Serve with my Candied Yams, Honey Baked Ham, Collard Greens, Mashed Potatoes, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Candied Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Rolls to have the best Southern sides ever!
As a Southern reared girl through and through, there wasn’t a holiday spent with my family where there wasn’t a vat of Cornbread Dressing cooked up and served in a giant baking pan. This southern holiday classic battles every main star for star of the show come Thanksgiving!
In my family, the task of making the dressing was an honor only bestowed to the family member trusted enough to do it justice, and that person is and always is Auntie Rose. This is her recipe after all.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Well there’s many, but here’s why I think this recipe is so special!
- Each bite is deliciously moist, light, fluffy and studded with tender pieces of both meat and veggies.
- The outside layer of your dressing cooks up golden brown with a texture that’s slightly crisp yet almost buttery.
- Cornbread makes for a sweet corn taste in this cornbread dressing recipe that you can’t resist
What Is Cornbread Dressing?
Dressing is a simple side dish that’s loaded with flavor and is usually served along side roasted or fried turkey or slow cooker roasted chicken for the holidays!
The recipes for dressing vary and many use bread to create the doughy texture while I prefer cornbread which shines in this version.
Southern Cornbread Dressing is traditionally seasoned with sage, black pepper, and poultry seasoning and broth is added to make the bread moist and delicious. It’s cooked up in a casserole dish for a dish that’s a holiday favorite among many.
Dressing Vs. Stuffing
For the most part, both of these terms can be used interchangeably and just about anyone will know what you’re talking about.
But as a Southerner, just as any other Southerner would, I stand by my choice to use the term ‘dressing’. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not knocking anyone who uses the term ‘stuffing’ but I might just change your mind with this recipe.
The one glaring technical difference between the two is how they’re cooked. According to most dictionaries, stuffing is defined as “a mixture used to stuff another food, traditionally poultry, before cooking.” Whereas dressing is cooked in a pan outside of the turkey cavity.
Dressing implies something a bit more embellished and capable of being enjoyed on its own rather than a side that might be ignored.
Let’s take a look at all the ingredients you need to pick up at the store to make southern cornbread dressing. For the full list and quantities, please check the recipe card further down the page.
- Cornbread: I may be partial, but I highly recommend making a batch of my southern cornbread.
- Chicken stock and shredded chicken: Using this homemade chicken stock recipe, you get both. It will not taste the same if you use store bought stock. I repeat IT WILL NOT TASTE THE SAME. If you are going to make this recipe, you must commit.
- Aromatics and veggies: We will be using onions, celery, and green pepper.
- Herb stuffing mixture: An easy way to add flavor. My favorite brand is Pepperidge Farms.
- Canned soups: This recipe uses cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup to add flavor and creamy richness to the dressing.
- Sandwich bread: It balances out the coarseness of the cornbread perfectly. Make sure to use the two end pieces.
- Seasoning: Use dried sage, poultry seasoning, and black pepper to give the dressing flavor.
How To Make Cornbread Dressing Recipe
Here’s a bit of a guide to ensure you make a dressing even your favorite aunty will be jealous of when you serve it up for Thanksgiving.
- It all starts with making (or buying) chicken broth and I highly recommend making chicken broth from scratch. Not only does it add great flavor, but it also means you will have the chicken to shred up and add to the dressing.
- Make a batch of southern cornbread to use for the base of the dressing.
TOP TIP: Make your cornbread a day ahead to allow it to create a bit more structure. This structure will make it so that your cornbread won’t succumb to your wet ingredients. Mix in your sandwich bread then mix in both your broth and soups.
- Crumble the cornbread into very small pieces and crumbs. We mix this with the stuffing mix because it has so many great seasoning elements already there. We like to use this one from Pepperidge Farms.
- Fold in your onions, celery and green pepper until all your ingredients are well combined.
- Add the cream of mushroom soups, cream of chicken soups and 6 cups of the homemade stock and combine thoroughly. Make sure you are mixing every single thing in as well as possible so flavor gets throughout.
- Place the slices of bread on the top of the dressing mixture. Pour the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock over the bread and dressing soaking the bread. Then break up the bread making sure it’s mixed thoroughly into the dressing mixture.
- Add the ground sage, poultry seasoning and pepper and mix in until well seasoned. We do not add additional salt to the dressing. You will find sodium in various components throughout the dressing from the stock that is already salted to the cream soups added as well which have sodium. You won’t need it.
TOP TIP: Don’t be afraid to taste your mixture as you go along and add what you feel is needed.
- Now, you’re ready to assemble. Start first with a layer of dressing mixture on the bottom of your pan.
- Top with a layer of shredded chicken then repeat with another large layer of dressing then chicken and repeat ending with dressing at the top of the pan.
- Bake until it’s heated through and ready to serve. Once your dressing is out of the oven, allow it to cool and serve it with your favorite main course or allow it to shine all on its own. You’ll never go back to regular old “stuffing” again.
TOP TIP: Lastly, add a layer of broth over the top of the dressing before baking. We do this because it adds more moisture as the dressing bakes. Be careful not to oversaturate your mixture. You want your dressing to be moist, not soggy. Add in broth a little bit at a time and allow it to soak in while avoiding a large pool to build up on the bottom.
How to Store
This makes a big batch to feed lots of people, but hopefully you have some leftover! Nothing is better than Thanksgiving leftovers.
Leftovers: Store in the fridge for up to five days or freeze the dressing after it is baked for up to three months. Thaw it out in the fridge and microwave to reheat so you can enjoy all year round.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Make the cornbread and chicken stock ahead of time. It will save you time but also the cornbread works better in the dressing after it sits overnight and the chicken and stock will have more intense flavors. However, if you don’t have time, make sure that you cool your chicken to room temperature.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning to your tastes. Just be careful adding salt as there is actually plenty in the ingredients you are using and likely won’t need it.
- Don’t over bake dressing. You want it to be moist and it will dry out if it cooks too long.
- Add more broth to the top if it starts to look dry as it cooks.
- Don’t skip the homemade chicken stock! It simply won’t taste as good!
Yes, of course! This dressing can be made up to a month in advance if properly stored and frozen. It can also be made the night before it’s needed and refrigerated overnight. Just be aware that if cooking from frozen, or refrigerated, you will need a bit more cooking time since you’re starting with a cold dish/dressing.
More Holiday Side Dishes You’ll Love
*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!
Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe
For the Chicken and Chicken Stock
- 1 5-6 pound chicken thawed
- 3 large celery stalks
- 1 large sweet onion peeled
- ¾ cup salted butter
- 1 tbsp minced garlic heaping
- 8 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 tbsp black pepper plus 1 teaspoon
For the Cornbread
- 5 cups self rising cornmeal
- 5 tbsp all purpose flour
- 5 tsp granulated sugar
- 2½ cups whole milk room temperature
- 6 large eggs room temperature and beaten
- 8 oz sour cream room temperature
- ½ cup salted butter melted
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
For the Cornbread Dressing
- 2 cups finely chopped onions
- 2 cups finely chopped celery
- ½ cup finely chopped green pepper
- 14 oz herb seasoned stuffing Pepperidge farms is what we use
- 2 (10.5 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
- 2 (10.5 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
- 8 white sandwich bread slices (include the 2 ends)
- 1 tbsp ground sage
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
- 1½ tsp black pepper
For the Chicken and Chicken Stock
- Follow full instructions for making chicken stock in this recipe.
For the Cornbread
- Follow full instructions to make southern cornbread.
For the Cornbread Dressing
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Crumble cornbread by hand into super small pieces and fine crumbs in a large roasting pan.
- Add the onions, celery, green pepper and stuffing mix to crumbled cornbread. Completely mix everything together until thoroughly mixed.
- Next add cream of mushroom soups, cream of chicken soups and 6 cups of the homemade stock and combine thoroughly. Make sure you are mixing every single thing in as well as possible so flavor gets throughout.
- Next place slices of bread to the top of dressing mixture. Pour remaining 2 cups of chicken stock over the bread and dressing soaking the bread then mix thoroughly into the dressing mixture.
- Finally add ground sage, poultry seasoning and pepper and mix in until well seasoned.
- Begin by adding a layer of dressing mixture to bottom of 9×13 pan about a ¾ to an inch high to cover the bottom of the pan. Line the layer with shredded chicken then repeat with another large layer of dressing then chicken and repeat ending with dressing at the top of the pan. Repeat for the other 9×13 pan.
- Cover both pans with foil and bake for 45 minutes (ADD TENT OF STOCK NOTED IN NOTES BELOW AS IT BAKES) then remove foil and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 180. (DON'T OVERBAKE!- ALSO SEE NOTES BELOW)
This post was originally published October 2019. It has been updated with new content and images.
I was so happy to find this recipe. It is so close to my mom’s dressing recipe I know I will have zero issues duplicating it. My mom passed away two years ago and I have missed her dressing so much at holiday dinners. I’d been scared to try and make it because I couldn’t remember the time or temp to cook. Nice to see a true southern recipe that I could work from. So many say they are southern but truly aren’t. Can’t wait to check out more of your dishes!!
Jaclyn Rae says
This was delicious! I’ve never been confident in making dressing before but with this recipe, now I am! I didn’t have time for the homemade chicken stock and didn’t add chicken as I needed to accommodate a vegetarian and it was STILL amazing. I can only imagine how much better it’d have been following the directions to a “tee”. Thank you, Jocelyn. I can always rely on your recipes to be terrific.
2) CHICKEN STOCK.
3) SOUTHERN CORNBREAD.
4) SOUTHERN CORNBREAD DRESSING….I followed your Recipes for ALL FOUR(4), and I can’t Thank You enough, for the Recipes and the Great Tips! EVERYTHING Turned-Out Great.
I didn’t need to ADD or SUBTRACT anything! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. THURS-11/24/2022.
My family loved this dressing. It is a commitment! Can I freeze the stock and cornbread ahead after time? Or di you recommend make the whole recipe to freeze?
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
YES indeed. I make the different parts a couple of days ahead. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Robin S says
I was apprehensive about committing to make this dressing. It was a commitment but we’ll worth it! I made this dressing for my family for Thanksgiving this year and it was a HIT! It will definitely be a regular staple for my family. Thank you for your detailed directions on all your recipes. (I have made several) Thank you!