Southern Cornbread Dressing!

 
Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving proper without the cornbread dressing.  It's almost, if not, the most important part of the meal at our house.  If you have turkey, you have to have dressing with it.  Nothing else will do.  Of course, you also have to have mashed potatoes and gravy.  It just all has to be there, together in unison, on the plate.   This might not be true for all of you and your Thanksgiving dinners, but it is for us.  As far back as I can remember, the night before Thanksgiving, I can conjure up the pungent smell of poultry seasoning, black pepper and celery and onions being diced by my mother or other relatives who might be at our house for the holiday.  The dressing was always mixed up the night before and it made me so hungry smelling all of the preparations for the next day's meal.  It was comforting to know that people were in that kitchen getting things ready for all of us so that we would have a wonderful meal together.   The smells are always what bring us back it seems.
 
Now, out of the past and into the present,  I really have dreaded writing this post.  I have discovered, the hard way, that dressing or stuffing as some call it, is a very controversial topic in the food world.   I guess I never really knew that.  Is it dressing or is it stuffing? Does dressing have to be cornbread or does stuffing have to be, well, stuffed, as in the bird stuffed?   Is dressing the southern term for the same thing those above the Mason Dixon line call stuffing?  It's all so crazy and people can get so argumentative about it. 
 
Here is my take on it, dressing is the southern term for what we make and serve and it's usually a base of cornbread with (sometimes) other breads mixed in.   Stuffing seems to be a northern or Midwestern term for something similar, but not always made with cornbread.   Whether you stuff it in the bird or not, doesn't really seem to be a factor in whether it's called dressing or stuffing. I really think it's a geographic semantics sort of thing.  
 
We bake our dressing in a casserole dish or baking pan.  I honestly don't ever remember my mother baking it in the bird.  I hear it's safer to bake it in the baking dish and not in the bird where it might not get cooked through enough so it's good we don't do that.  If you do, be sure it reaches 165 degrees in the very center of the stuffing to be safe. 
 
Now, this is the recipe we use for dressing, I am sure you and your family do it differently, but this is how we do it.  All recipes are adaptable, so do what you will with it.   Here is what you will need: 
 
 
1 pan of cornbread ( recipe below)
6 slices white bread, toasted and cut in cubes
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
2 cups celery, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
1 stick butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. sage (optional)
6 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 eggs, beaten
 
 
Cornbread Recipe
 
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs. oil
2 eggs, beaten
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
 
Mix all together and pour into an 8"x8" baking dish that has been heated with enough oil in it to cover the bottom well or you can use an iron skillet.
Bake for 30 minutes.
 
In a large mixing bowl, crumble cornbread, add bread cubes and the crushed saltines.  Place butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and celery until tender.  Pour this mixture over the bread and crackers. 
 
Add seasonings.  You will notice that we use mostly poultry seasoning.  We actually leave the optional sage out, because the poultry seasoning is a blend of sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and black pepper.  It's not so overwhelming and 'green' like the sage can be when overused.    If your family likes their dressing green with sage, use more sage and less poultry seasoning.  However, I am convinced that the over use of sage and the under use of other seasonings is what ruins a lot of good dressing. 
 
Add 6 cups of chicken or turkey broth, the beaten eggs, and the can of cream of chicken soup.  The can of soup adds the best flavor to dressing, but I can always envision the comments on this.  I am not sure when canned soup got such a bad reputation, but let me say you can leave it out if you think you might die after ingesting it right there at the Thanksgiving dinner table.  If you do leave it out, add an extra cup of broth and you might need a smidgen more salt.   Lightly mix all of this together.  This mixture will be loose, not tight or too thick.  If it's too thick, add some more stock to it. 
 
Spray a large baking pan or casserole dish with nonstick baking spray and pour the mixture in.  Smooth the top, but don't pack it down in the dish.  That makes the dressing too compacted and dry when baked. 
 
This is best when prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight to give the flavors a chance to blend.  When you take it out to bake on Thanksgiving day, drizzle about a cup of the warm turkey broth from your just baked turkey over the top of the dressing.  This seeps down into the dressing as it bakes and really makes it moist and flavorful.
 
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. 
 
This makes a really big pan of dressing, so if you are cooking for a smaller family, you can put this in two casserole dishes and freeze one for Christmas or another meal when you might have baked chicken or whatever.   If you use two smaller casseroles, bake for about 30-35 minutes.
 
 



55 comments:

  1. I too think everybody has their own way of doing it..I do mine just like my mama did...and my daughter does hers just like I do :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your your cornbread dressing recipe, sounds just like the one my sweet mother made. And thanks for all the recipes you share with us. You are so kind and I love your page. I feel as though I know you personally as I read your page daily. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

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    2. I do mine similar but make homemade biscuits instead of the white bread cubes. Delicious...and I've always called it dressing but that is a southern thing.

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  2. Living in New Orleans a good cornbread dressing is a great thing to have...I also like to add just for Grins and Giggles browned sausage or apples and pecans or all three, we usually have several different kinds, so every one gets a favorite, but I am going to try this because I have never used the C of C soup, and It sounds really good..Thanks for the Recipe, and a Happy Thanks giving to you and yours......

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  3. Thank you, Judy. I also make one with sausage that we like. Happy Thanksgiving to you also!

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  4. This is very much like the cornbread recipe my mother always prepared; I love it. I'm the designated cook for the dressing each time. It does make a lot and I've often frozen half of it and baked it for our Christmas dinner; it tastes just as good as it did on Thanksgiving day. Thanks for sharing your special recipe.

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  5. Judy, I thoroughly enjoy every one of your posts and have printed many of your recipes. As I have matured (and aged..71 this year), I have learned that all of us have our own ways of doing or making certain things......doesn't mean we are better or our cooking is any better than another's cooking. And, of course, all of us women believe our cooking is the best! God bless all of you that spend your valuable time doing these food blogs and sharing a piece of yourself with the rest of us. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and God Bless each and every one. BJ Wells

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    1. MS. A. Could not have said any better. Thanks

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  6. Everyone's dressing (I'm from Texas) is different. I just use cornbread in mine. No bread or crackers. I use sage and my dressing is not green and salt and pepper. But I do use a yellow cornmeal. Chopped onion, celery and boiled eggs. I also use broth but I think I will add the cream of chicken this year. My family says they love my dressing. My mother-in-law gave me her recipe about 45 years ago. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. Your dressing sounds a lot more like my Mother's. I am always looking for new variations. The hard boiled eggs do not freeze well is the ONLY reason
      I sometimes try others recipes:)

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    2. Sue, yours sounds more like what my Aunt made. Could you send me the recipe you use. My e_mail is
      vickishelton53@yahoo.com. Thank you.

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  7. I made a similar recipe for a work luncheon recently. But instead of cream of chicken soup, I used the new Campbell's Cream of Onion soup. The onion flavor is delicate but adds such oomph to the dressing.

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  8. I absolutely HATED dressing until I was 26 when I met my (now) husband. My family's dressing was dry and covered with gravy. I hated the gravy so I didn't like the dressing. My hubby's mama made the best dressing I'd ever tasted. I spent about 10 years learning how to do it just like hers. When she died, I started making the dressing. Imake ours in a pan the size you use as a turkey roaster! I usually make TWO of them. We use about 3 pans of cornbread (iron skillets) and 2-3 packs of hot dog buns. After that, it's much the same as yours except more of it. Dressing is the best thing to eat and we all love it. I'm now 62 and nobody has started making it yet. I'm trying to get oe of my nieces started making it. Our daughter isn't crazy about cooking and she cooks really healthy! My dressing isn't!

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  9. All of your dressings sound very good! I enjoy getting different recipes and such. I also agree that we all do things differently and one is not better than another. Dressing seems to be one that a lot of folks have problems with though. I hope this helps someone who doesn't have a great recipe already.

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  10. I MAKE MINE VERY MUCH LIKE THIS,BUT I HAVEN'T EVER TRIED THE CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP IN IT.I LIKE TRYING NEW THINGS SO I WILL HAVE TO GIVE IT A TRY.

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  11. I make my dressing very similar. My children growing up would get up the day after Thanksgiving and heat up a bowl of dressing and gibblet gravy for breakfast. NO; southern dressing does not include sausage; apples or oysters!!!! Save that for North of the Mason Dixon line.

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    1. So true ! Southern Dressing is the best ! <3 They can have the sausage,apples and oysters.

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  12. I make it pretty much the same way as you do and we all love it. I grew up in Alabama and learned to make it there. My husband and i moved to west virginia about three years ago where my husband is from. i made this dressing for them one thanksgiving and not one person would eat it. they eat the boxed stovetop and call it stuffing. they told me their dressing is made from loaf bread that has been left out a day or two and gotten stale. they add some chicken broth and some other yyucky stuff and call it dressing. needless to say when we all eat together on a holiday my corvbread dressing is there for us to eat and they eat their own stuff. thats how it goes in north central west virginia.

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  13. Thank you Kathy for this recipe. I will try it this year. It sounds really good.

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  14. This recipe sounds very good and I like that it doesn't use hard boiled eggs since they do not freeze well. We always used chicken(boneless)and the giblets-if you like them- boiled down in broth with celery, green onions and a touch of sage as the moisture to the cornbread,along with the turkey drippings.

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  15. Very similar to mine. I use the cornbread but instead of bread use the cornbread cubes you buy at the store. I cut up an onion omit celery salttines and butter..but pretty much use everything else youve listed

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  16. Goin to try the cream of chicken soup, i do 4 pans of cornbread myself, if someone brought box stuffin, that would be a crime in Alabama, thanks for all the ideas, love your page!!!

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  17. Margie Benyo SantoroDecember 1, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I just use cornbread and the Pepperidge Farm Blue Label Stuffing Mix. I use 1 large can cream of mushroom soup, 1 cut up onion, celery seed, salt & pepper, 1 egg, about 6ish cups of chicken broth and then i put some of the turkey juice in it as well. I usually make my cornbread the night before Thanksgiving then am up at 6 am making my dressing, everyone gets up to that marvelous smell. This is my mommas recipe that I grew up smelling every Thanksgiving & Christmas morning.

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  18. I use cream of chicken and cream of celery and cut the chicken broth down. No bread no crackers either. Love cornbread dressing!

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  19. I have never had any trouble freezing it with eggs in it... so I dunno.... and yes I do believe there is a difference in dressing and stuffing... dressing is made from homemade cornbread... stuffing is just what the package says... made from those hard crouton things... not going on my table...lol but to each their own.

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  20. This isn't how my mama made it, grandma made it, or great-grandma made it, but it sounds good. :) I make mine the way it has been made in my family for a long time, but I might like to try this one just to see. :) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Try it, you will love it. This is how I make mine and everyone in the family requests I make the dressing at Thanksgiving.....never leftovers. AND it does freeze very well even with the eggs.

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  21. Exactly the way i make mine and the family love it. Patty from ok.

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  22. Never ever ever use bread - makes it slimey. ugh! Three generations (at least) have always made it with biscuits and cornbread.

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    1. Bread crumbs (non seasoned) can be used too.... Not slimey. That means they were not finely chopped & distributed. Crackers too.. Just like crumbs.

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  23. ladyvolsfan...this dressing is NOT slimey. You toast the bread to prevent that. That addition of bread and the sleeve of crackers gives the dressing a lighter texture and not such a heavy consistency like just using cornbread does. Of course, this is for folks who don't have a recipe for dressing and are looking for one.

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    1. Happy to see your recipe for cornbread dressing. I make mine like you do with one difference, I use biscuits finely crumbled instead of bread. Started using the sleeve of crackers a few years ago and love the addition. I do not have my recipe written down so this will be printed off and given to my daughters for their recipe file. This dressing is always a hit at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also freezes well. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. There's no such thing as a "wrong" dressing if you ask me! (Although my family is Pennsylvania Dutch so it is "stuffing" to us -- but we don't care what you call it as long as you let us eat some!) I have a very easy recipe of bread cubes, butter, celery, onion, salt/pepper, eggs, and cream of chicken soup. Probably considered cheating to a purist but it's SOOO good! I love cornbread stuffing too though -- I'm bringing this one to our next gathering to go alongside our usual. There's no such thing as too much stuffing! :) Thanks so much!

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    1. Thank you. I agree. It is all good.

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  25. From Texas too! No eggs in mine. But the rest is just like mine, lots of sage.yum. my Mommas recipe and from my Mamaw's. Good comfort food.

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  26. When you serve this up, do you cut it or scoop it??? My great grandmother made a dressing that was very dense and had to be cut with a knife. She passed away 8 yrs ago and nobody has her recipe.

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    1. My mom's dressing has to be cut into squares. To me, dressing is dense and has to be cut. Stuffing is the loose stuff that you scoop. She also made a different version for my dad. He liked his dressing drier and thin so she made little dressing "patties" for him =)

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    2. Dressing isn't supposed to be so dang dense you have to "cut it"! Obviously not enough liquid(broth) in it. Bc its not suppose to b dry! You've been missing out!

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  27. In out house stuffing is in the bird and dressing is baked in a casserole dish. Also if your stuffing is hot when you put it in the bird and cook the bird correctly you don't have to worry about it making you sick. If you put cold ingredients in the bird then you have the chance of it not being hot enough and then you could get sick. I've been making turkey stuffed for almost 40 years and no one ever got sick or even had an upset stomach from my stuffing. They might have been stuffed themselves from my dinner though! *L* I cut all the onions and celery the night before and then sauté it that day, it very hot when it goes into the turkey. About the time I started cooking holiday dinners this issue was all over the news. But people were stuffing the turkey the night before and putting the turkey in the refrigerator overnight and then cooking it. The stuffing couldn't get hot enough because it was cold. That's why they were getting sick.

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  28. I make mine like this but cook it in the crock pot.... frees up much needed oven space for the big bird!

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    1. I was wondering if using a crock pot do I just put on low & for how long?

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  29. Mine is just like this except the eggs are hard boiled. We love dressing. Wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it.

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  30. Pretty much the way I do mine, also. I just use some Pepperidge farm stuffing of the bread cubes. My daughter-in-law thinks it is the greatest - the only thing she always requests for thanksgiving.

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  31. Mine is close but I use 1 pan (iron skillet) of cornbread and 1 tube of jumbo biscuits, pinch all up and cover with hot broth, then mash with potato masher, add the sage, eggs (not boiled), onion and celery- pour into a buttered 9 X 13 pan bake at 350 for about and hour.

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  32. How much does this make. I usually make 4 or 5 iron skillets of cornbread

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    1. This will be enough for 10 to 12 people.

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  33. this is refreshing I am going to make sure my son-in-law reads this. He makes a northern style and to this hillbilly southern "lady" it is just wrong. but each to his own. This is the very same way I make mine all the same. I also have the same cornbread salad , a friend gave it to me over 25 years ago. thank you so much. Jan

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  34. Can you use the bag of stuff that is inside of the turkey to boil and use for broth? I'm thinking my Grandma did this.

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    1. That bag of 'stuff' is sometimes cooked and chopped for giblet gravy. The broth for your dressing comes off of the turkey itself. There is not enough fat in the other for dressing.

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    2. If you have a question that you need an immediate answer to, it's best to send me a private message on Facebook or post it to my wall there in the future.

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  35. This recipe sounds great...I may try it. In my recipe I use the Peppridge Farm cornbread dressing cubes, jiffy cornbread, cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup, celery and onions, chicken broth, sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, eggs (lightly beaten)...and it is delicious.

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  36. I've been using this dressing recipe for 3 years now and love it, however, I have a family member coming to thanksgiving this year who cannot eat bread (allergic to yeast). Is there a substitution or something I can do in order for her to enjoy this delicious dressing too?

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  37. Thanks for posting. I'm an Alabama girl and I make mine similar to this one, my family doesn't like celery. I cook a big hen and use the broth from that and also put chicken in mine, my family loves it. Psssed down for generations. I also used boiled eggs and I don't have a problem with freezing.

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  38. This recipe is almost identical to mine, but, it seems like this is a lot of poultry seasoning?!

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