Made with cornbread, celery, onion, sage, and lots of good chicken stock—this classic Southern Cornbread Dressing is great for Thanksgiving dinner and as a side dish anytime!
Ahhh…here’s the star of the Thanksgiving table. It’s not the turkey, although that’s pretty nice too, especially if you use my turkey brine recipe. (Check out my post on How to Roast a Perfect Turkey!)
No, the star for me is this traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing, covered in giblet gravy and a little cranberry sauce…that’s what we wait all year for. I’m not even sure why we don’t fix dressing more often, because it really is quite simple; however, it’s a dish that is mostly relegated to the holiday table.
Let’s change that, shall we? Cornbread Dressing for Tuesday night supper!
There are many different variations of cornbread dressing—some use milk, some use eggs, some use cream soups—our family doesn’t add any of those. Our cornbread dressing is just a mixture of buttermilk cornbread, maybe some leftover biscuits or torn white bread, chicken stock, onions, celery, and butter.
Add some seasonings and that’s it. Simple, moist, and the perfect accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken.
How to Make Southern Cornbread Dressing
Start by making a pan of buttermilk cornbread. When the cornbread is done, crumble it onto a baking sheet and let it dry overnight or for several hours. I always add about 3 leftover biscuits too, so crumble those onto another cookie sheet and let them dry as well.
If you don’t have biscuits (and definitely don’t use canned, although the frozen ones might be okay) then you can tear up some regular white bread.
Once your bread has had some time to dry, start the dressing. Melt a stick of butter and a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease in a large skillet and sauté 2 cups of chopped celery and 2 cups of chopped onion until tender.
If it’s Thanksgiving, I have multiple pots going at once! In the photo above, you see the stock cooking for the gravy, a huge pot of green beans, and my celery and onions for the dressing.
When the vegetables are tender, add them to the cornbread and biscuits in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined. Add 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley along with a pinch or two of rubbed sage or a teaspoon of fresh chopped sage, and a teaspoon of dried thyme. Stir in 1 to 2 quarts of turkey or chicken stock and then taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When you’re adding the stock, pour in small amounts at a time and then stir. You want the dressing to be almost soupy, so that it will cook up nice and moist, but don’t overdo it.
And I can’t stress enough the importance of tasting at this stage so you know you’ve seasoned the dressing well.
If you like dressing a little creamier, you can also add a can of cream of chicken soup.
Generously butter a 9×13 inch dish and then spread the dressing into the dish. If you have too much dressing, you may need to also use a smaller dish, say an 8×8. Dot some butter on top of the cornbread dressing and cover with foil.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until your cornbread dressing is nicely browned on top. Watch carefully for the browning so you don’t overbake and end up with dry dressing.
Made with cornbread, celery, onion, sage, and lots of good chicken stock--this classic Southern Cornbread Dressing is great for Thanksgiving dinner and as a side dish anytime!
- 1 pan buttermilk cornbread
- 3 large homemade buttermilk biscuits or 3-4 slices of white bread
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2-3 quarts (or more as needed) turkey stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Additional butter for top
Make cornbread and biscuits the day before. Crumble cornbread and biscuits on sheet pans and let dry overnight.
Preheat oven to 375. Generously butter a 9x13 dish. Use another 8x8 dish if you have extra dressing.
- Melt butter and bacon grease in large skillet and saute celery and onions until tender.
In large mixing bowl, combine cornbread and biscuit crumbs. Add celery and onions and all the seasonings and stir gently.
Add one quart of stock and stir until mixed well. Add additional stock, 1/2 cup at a time, until consistency is very moist but still thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour dressing into prepared dish. Dot butter on top of dressing and cover with foil.
- Bake for thirty minutes, then remove foil and bake another twenty to thirty minutes, until well browned.