Homemade Southern Cornbread Dressing: Just Like Grandma's Only Easier

12 servings
1 hr 45 min

Inside: This good old-fashioned southern cornbread dressing is perfectly fluffy, moist, and full of flavor and made easier with a couple of secret ingredients. It’s a must for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas and will even have Mom asking for your recipe!

Cornbread dressing and let the stuffing begin kitchen towel

Homemade cornbread dressing may be the most required, beloved, and downright controversial dish on the Thanksgiving table.

And in the south, we all have strong feelings and opinions on what it should contain and would swear on mama’s cookbook that hers was the best.

Well, this recipe is probably faster than what your mom and grandma used to spend hours doing. And it’s so delicious and fluffy, they might even reluctantly admit it’s just as good.

What’s the secret ingredient?

cornbread dressing

Actually, there are two:

1) Making a quick buttermilk cornbread from scratch makes a major difference in bringing that home cookin’ flavor we crave at holiday meals. You may be thinking the obvious shortcut for a shortcut cornbread dressing would be to use a boxed cornbread mix, like Jiffy cornbread. Personally, I don’t like using them – they’re all too sweet and interfere with the savory flavor. And it really doesn’t take much more time to make your own.

2) Herb seasoned stuffing mix. Don’t tune out on me when you heard stuffing mix. I detest stuffing made from a mix. But using these dried crumbs as a substitute for stale white bread saves a lot of time, plus adds seasonings!

I remember my mother-in-law starting early Thanksgiving morning, toasting slice after slice of white bread and then tediously tearing it all into small pieces. All of this and making a cornpone. And a turkey. And everything else. It all took so. much. time.

Pan of southern cornbread dressing

This is your basic, traditional Southern dressing with no fancy frills or chunks of anything. We like it so soft, smooth, and fluffy, I even break everything up with an immersion blender. No mistaking this pan of southern soul food goodness for Stove Top Stuffing!

But this classic cornbread dressing recipe can be a jumping off point if it doesn’t have your family’s required special ingredient. People put all kinds of things into their family recipes like apples, nuts, chicken, turkey, sausage, and boiled eggs, just to name a few.

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Ingredients for easy southern cornbread dressing.
Ingredients for cornbread dressing

To make this southern cornbread dressing recipe you only need a few simple ingredients:

  • 2 cups of yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk*
  • 2 tbs. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 large bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz.) bag Pepperidge Farms Herb-Seasoned Stuffing Mix
  • 5 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth or stock

*SH&H Tip: No buttermilk? Combine 2 cups of regular milk with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes.


How to make this easy cornbread dressing recipe with Pepperidge Farms Stuffing Mix.


First, make the cornbread. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Mixing ingredients for cornbread in a glass bowl
Mixing ingredients for cornbread in a glass bowl
Mixing ingredients for cornbread in a glass bowl
Mixing ingredients for cornbread in a glass bowl

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together two eggs and the buttermilk. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a 9-inch round cake pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the preheated oven at 425 degrees for five minutes. Stir the hot butter into the batter and then pour the batter into the hot pan or skillet.

Cornbread in an iron skillet
Crumbled cornbread on a baking sheet

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden on top.

Let cool by flipping out onto a pan or plate.

Crumble the cornbread. At this point you can freeze it for up to one month to use later.

SH&H Tip: For extra liquid absorbing power, you can cover the cornbread crumbles with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for a day or two to get stale. Or, dry it out quickly by spreading the crumbles out on a baking sheet and putting it in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Green onions and celery sauteing in butter
Cornbread stuffing ingredients
Mixing eggs into cornbread dressing ingredients

Next, melt a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped green onions and celery and saute until tender.

Combine crumbled cornbread, onion mixture, stuffing mix, and 64 oz. of the chicken broth in a large bowl.

Whisk the remaining four eggs in a separate bowl.

Stir the eggs into the dressing mixture, making sure the onions have been cooled by the other ingredients first (they will cook if you add them into hot ingredients).

Add the remainder of the chicken broth and combine well.

SH&H Tip: The Pepperidge Farms herb stuffing mix already contains a lot of the seasonings of traditional dressing but depending on how much flavor and the spices you like, you can add at this step! Good options are a little extra poultry seasoning or sage, some fresh herbs, black pepper, or cayenne (I usually add a little Tony Cachere’s for our family).

Mixing cornbread dressing batter in a bowl
Mixing cornbread dressing with an immersion blender
Cornbread dressing batter in a glass bowl

This next part is optional and depends on how you like the texture of your dressing.

If you like a coarser texture, stirring is adequate.

But to achieve the smooth, non-chunky dressing we like, I break it up a little with a hand immersion blender.

Don’t overmix either way, or you may get gummy dressing.

Add the dressing mixture to a 13×9-inch prepared baking dish and a 9-inch baking dish. (You can freeze it at this point for up to three months if you’re working ahead.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven uncovered. The 13×9 casserole dish will bake for 1 hour and the 9-inch dish will bake for 50 minutes or until each is golden brown around the edges and no longer jiggly in the center.

Note: If you’re cooking multiple things at one time in the oven as we often do during Thanksgiving, it will probably take more time.

Southern cornbread dressing in a casserole dish
Southern Cornbread Dressing FAQ’s.


What’s the difference between cornbread dressing and cornbread stuffing?

It’s the age old argument at a friendsgiving where you mix families. Technically, the difference is dressing is baked in a casserole dish (why it’s sometimes called pan dressing), and stuffing is cooked “stuffed” in the turkey.

Seems pretty straightforward, but it also seems to depend on where you’re from. In our families growing up in Louisiana, we never ever referred to either as “stuffing” so I’ve always associated the word stuffing with the Stove Top variety. We called it inside dressing or outside dressing. And I find most of the Southerners I know also tend to call it dressing no matter where it bakes.

Now that I know the difference, is dressing (or stuffing) better inside or outside?

Some people swear by dressing cooked inside the turkey for flavor and moistness. As long as you don’t overcook the pan dressing, moistness is not a problem (sorry for the repeated use of the word “moist”).

Now that I cook the turkey meal, I’m pro pan, not turkey cavity. Because:

  • It’s harder to tell when the turkey and the dressing are ready when you cook the dressing inside, so you run the risk of over or under cooking one of them.
  • There’s no risk of your dressing having a side of salmonella.
  • I’m free to stuff the turkey cavity with herbs, spices, and lemons. Or to give it to the menfolk to fry.
Does the bread really have to be stale in stuffing?

Stale bread absorbs more moisture and keeps the dressing from being gummy or mushy. The dry stuffing mix helps with this – honestly I’ve made this recipe many times without drying the cornbread out first. But the texture is a tad better if you have the time.

Can you make cornbread dressing ahead of time?

Yes, and I often do to make the big cooking days easier. You can freeze the cornbread crumbles for up to a month in a freezer bag. Or you can assemble all of the ingredients, but instead of following through with baking, cover and refrigerate the dressing for up to two days, or freeze it for up to three months.

Before baking, thaw it in the fridge if frozen. Bring the dressing and the casserole dish to room temperature before putting it in the oven.

How can you tell when cornbread dressing is done?

The dressing is done when it’s a little brown around the edges and semi-solid, but not hard in the center. It should still be soft but not jiggly in the middle and no liquid should be visible.

If it starts to get too brown around the edges but the center isn’t done, cover the pan with foil and continue to cook, checking every ten minutes. You don’t want to dry out the edges to firm up the center.

When cooking multiple dishes in the oven, plan on the dressing taking longer!

Turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce
What to serve with cornbread dressing.


Southern cornbread dressing is such a special treat because it only graces our tables once or twice a year – at Thanksgiving (and maybe again at Christmas), along with all of the expected sidekicks on the traditional Thanksgiving menu like:

Turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, and some warm buttery yeast rolls.


Storage and reheating.


Cooked dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.

Reheat in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. You can add a little bit of chicken broth or gravy if it becomes dry.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe for Thanksgiving! This one may just go in your heirloom recipe binder next to mom’s.

As always, I appreciate your visit, comments, and shares here on the blog! I’d love it if you also follow along with me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook so you won’t miss any of my inspiration and ideas.

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Southern Homemade Cornbread Dressing Pinterest Graphic
Homemade Southern Cornbread Dressing: Just Like Grandma's Only Easier
Recipe details
  • 12  servings
  • Prep time: 45 Minutes Cook time: 1 Hours Total time: 1 hr 45 min
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tbs. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 large bunch of green onions chopped
  • 4 celery ribs chopped
  • 1 16 oz. bag Pepperidge Farms Herb-Seasoned Stuffing Mix
  • 5 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth or stock
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together two eggs and the buttermilk. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.
Heat two tablespoons of butter in a 9-inch round cake pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the preheated oven at 425 degrees for five minutes. Stir the hot butter into the batter and then pour the batter into the hot pan or skillet.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden on top.
Let cool by flipping out onto a pan or plate.
Crumble the cornbread.Optional:For extra liquid absorbing power, you can cover the cornbread crumbles with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for a day or two to get stale.Or, quick dry it by spreading the crumbles out on a baking sheet and putting it in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Next, melt a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped green onions and celery and saute until tender.
Combine crumbled cornbread, onion mixture, stuffing mix, and 64 oz. of the chicken broth in a large bowl.
Whisk the remaining four eggs in a separate bowl.
Stir the eggs into the dressing mixture, making sure the onions have been cooled by the other ingredients first (they will cook if you add them into hot ingredients).
Add the remainder of the chicken broth and combine well.Add any additional seasonings to taste with the chicken broth. (See post)
Stir and combine.For a coarser texture, stirring is adequate.For a smooth, non-chunky dressing, mix and break it up a little with a hand immersion blender.Don’t overmix either way, or you may get gummy dressing.
Add the dressing mixture to a 13×9-inch prepared baking dish and a 9-inch baking dish. (You can freeze it at this point for up to three months if you’re working ahead.)
Bake in a 350 degree oven uncovered. The 13×9 casserole dish will bake for 1 hour and the 9-inch dish will bake for 50 minutes or until each is golden brown around the edges and no longer jiggly in the center.
Kate Rodgers - Southern Home and Hospitality
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