My Auntie Rose’s Famous Southern Cornbread Dressing recipe will put boring ole’ stuffing to shame. With its homemade cornbread base, aromatic herbs, including sage, and rich homemade chicken stock, this cornbread dressing is a comfort dish and a staple at family gatherings. Whether preparing for Thanksgiving to go along with a Sunday roast, my dressing recipe promises an unforgettable taste of Southern soul food that’ll have you craving seconds!
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 dish severed during Thanksgiving!
In my family, the task of making the cornbread 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.
What Is Cornbread Dressing?
Cornbread dressing is a simple side dish that’s loaded with flavor and is usually served alongside roasted or fried turkey, or slow cooker roasted chicken for the holidays!
It is made from crumbled cornbread, combined with a mix of vegetables such as onions, celery, and often green peppers. This mixture is seasoned with herbs like sage and poultry seasoning, and moistened with homemade chicken stock and cream soups for a richer flavor profile.
Some versions, like mine, also incorporate tender pieces of chicken and white sandwich bread. Once mixed, the dressing is baked until it is beautifully golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside, while remaining moist and fluffy on the inside. The end result is a hearty, flavorful dish that complements a variety of main courses and encapsulates the comforting essence of Southern cuisine.
Dressing Vs. Stuffing: What’s the Difference
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.
Why I Love This Dressing Recipe
Well, there are many, but here’s why I think this recipe is so special!
- Authentic Southern Recipe: My Southern Cornbread Dressing captures the rich and hearty flavors of the South, creating a comforting, soul-warming dish that’s sure to satisfy.
- Homemade Goodness: With homemade chicken stock and cornbread, this recipe celebrates the joy of home cooking, promising a taste far superior to anything store-bought.
- Incredibly Moist and Fluffy: Each forkful of my Cornbread Dressing delivers a delightful blend of moist, light, and fluffy textures, dotted with tender bits of meat and crunchy vegetables.
- Crispy Yet Buttery Exterior: The dressing’s outer layer bakes to a beautiful golden brown, offering a slightly crisp texture that melts into a rich, buttery experience with each bite.
- Irresistible Sweet Corn Flavor: The use of cornbread infuses the dressing with a distinctive sweet corn taste that will have you coming back for more, making this recipe utterly irresistible.
The Heart & Soul Of This Cornbread Dressing
Cuisine Inspiration: Southern Comfort Primary
Cooking Method: Baking, Oven
Dietary Info: Contains gluten, dairy, and eggs
Key Flavor: Savory with a touch of herbal warmth S
Skill Level: Intermediate
- Cornbread Foundation: The self-rising cornmeal and the tender crumble of homemade cornbread give this dressing its signature Southern texture and soul-satisfying base, which harmoniously absorbs the flavors and keeps you coming back for more.
- Herb Harmony: The ground sage and poultry seasoning create a harmonious blend that echoes the gardens of the South, bringing an aromatic earthiness that defines a quintessential cornbread dressing.
- Creamy Contrast: The inclusion of cream of mushroom and chicken soups adds a creamy, indulgent layer that contrasts beautifully with the dressing’s crumbly texture, ensuring every forkful is moist and flavorful.
- Vegetable Medley: Finely chopped onions, celery, and green peppers are the trifecta of Southern mirepoix, offering a crunchy, veggie-packed bite that balances the richness of the dressing.
Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Cornbread Stuffing
Let’s take a look at all the ingredients you’ll 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 This 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 chicken broth, and I highly recommend making chicken broth from scratch.
- 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. Fold in your onions, celery, and green pepper until all your ingredients are well combined.
- Add the cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and homemade stock and combine thoroughly.
- Place the slices of bread on top of the dressing mixture. Add the remaining chicken stock over 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.
TOP TIP: Don’t be afraid to taste your mixture as you go along and add what you feel is needed.
Assembling Your Dressing
- Start first with a layer of dressing mixture on the bottom of your pan. Top with a layer of shredded chicken.
- Repeat with another large layer of dressing, then chicken, and repeat, ending with dressing at the top of the pan.
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.
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.
Tips For Making The Best Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Use Homemade Cornbread: For the best flavor and texture, opt for homemade cornbread instead of store-bought. This will provide a fresh and rich corn flavor that is irreplaceable in this recipe.
- Make Ahead: Prepare your cornbread and chicken stock a day in advance. Not only will this save you time on the day of your meal, but it also allows the flavors to develop further, particularly in the stock. Plus, slightly stale cornbread actually absorbs the flavors better.
- Don’t Skimp on Moisture: The key to a perfect cornbread dressing is its moist, fluffy texture. Ensure you add enough homemade stock to keep it moist. If it starts to look dry while baking, don’t hesitate to add more broth.
- Season Well: Don’t be shy with your herbs and seasonings. Sage and poultry seasoning are classic in cornbread dressing, but feel free to adjust to your taste. However, be careful with adding salt, as the broths and soups already contain a good amount.
- Avoid Overbaking: To keep your dressing moist and light, make sure not to overbake it. It’s ready when the top is golden brown, and the dressing is set but still moist.
Substitutions And Additions
I will say that this recipe is perfect, yes, PERFECT as is – but if you have some dietary restrictions and still want to enjoy a Souther-style cornbread dressing, there are some options.
- Opt for gluten-free substitutes. You can replace regular cornbread and stuffing mix with their gluten-free versions to cater to anyone with gluten sensitivity, ensuring everyone gets to enjoy this delicious dish.
- Use dairy-free alternatives. Swap out dairy ingredients in your cornbread for their plant-based counterparts, such as plant-based milk and vegan butter. This way, those with dairy restrictions won’t miss out on this comforting dish.
- Boost the veggie content. Consider adding more vegetables like diced carrots, bell peppers, or even some roasted chestnuts for added texture and flavor.
- Add a protein twist. Incorporate cooked, crumbled sausage or diced, cooked bacon to add another layer of hearty flavor to the dressing.
- Spice things up. If your family likes a bit of heat, feel free to add some diced jalapenos, cayenne pepper, or even a dash of hot sauce to the mix for a spicy kick.
What To Serve With Your Southern Cornbread Recipe
- Roasted Turkey Legs
- Cranberry Sauce
- Seafood Dressing
- Candied Yams
- Honey Baked Ham
- Collard Greens
- Mashed Potatoes
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Candied Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Rolls
How to Store & Reheat Cornbread Dressing
Leftover cornbread dressing should be cooled completely, then stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, cover with foil to prevent it from drying out, and bake at 350°F until warmed through, approximately 15-20 minutes.
How Long Will Cornbread Dressing Last in the Fridge?
Properly stored, cornbread dressing should last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
Can I Freeze Cornbread Dressing?
Yes, you can freeze cornbread dressing. Ensure it’s cooled completely, then cover it tightly with aluminum foil and freeze. It can be frozen for up to a month. To reheat, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat in the oven as instructed above.
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.
If your cornbread dressing is dry, it could be due to insufficient broth or overbaking. Make sure to add enough broth for moisture and keep an eye on the baking time. If the dressing starts to look dry while baking, add more broth as needed.
Yes, you can use a different pan size, but it may affect the cooking time. If the pan is smaller and the dressing thicker, it might take a bit longer to cook through.
More Cornbread Recipes You’re Sure To Love
- Hot Water Cornbread
- Southern Cornbread Recipe
- Sweet Potato Cornbread
- Jiffy Cornbread Recipe
- Brown Butter Pumpkin Cornbread
- Mexican Cornbread Recipe
- Corn Muffin Recipe
*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 mix I use Pearl Milling Co.
- 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.