Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipes

Southern cornbread dressing, the quintessential holiday dish. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m a GRITS ( Girl Raised South .) And because I grew up in Tennessee, all Thanksgiving family dinners included Southern Cornbread Dressing. I didn’t really love my mom’s cornbread, but I really loved her cornbread dressing. Started with homemade cornbread, then added stale bread cubes and sometimes leftover cookies too. Nothing was wasted! It’s a basic dressing recipe with plenty of onion, celery, eggs, chicken broth, sage, and thyme.

Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipes

What makes this a southern cornbread dressing recipe?

Just as Irish soda bread is regularly on the table of Irish families, cornbread has always been a fixture on southern tables. So it’s only natural for cornbread to be a part of the Thanksgiving feast. They used what they had on hand, so cornbread was the base of southern dressing and filling recipes.

There are many variations for cornbread recipes in the United States. Some like it sweet with sugar or honey, and many use buttermilk instead of regular milk. Sometimes a little mayo is added instead of oil to the batter, like in our Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread recipe. Mayo may not be a typical addition to your house, but don’t hit it until you’ve tried it! For this dressing recipe, I recommend using a less sweet cornbread in the mix. It won’t taste good if it’s too sweet.

How do you make southern cornbread dressing?

First, use a good amount of butter to sauté the onion and celery. Next, crumble a whole prepared cornbread cake into the batter. You can also add stale bread, if you have any on hand. The cornbread dressing requires no additional breads, so no worries. However, if you omit the white bread, you will need to double the cornbread. Finally, a good chicken broth or broth is added along with some eggs to tie it all together. Lightly season with sage and thyme, and voila!

What is the difference between southern cornbread dressing and cornbread filling?

It’s about the bird! If the recipe is made in a saucepan, it is dressing. If it is stuffed inside the bird, it is called stuffing. The terms are quite interchangeable in the south. My mom often shoved something into the bird and had extra topping to bake in a separate skillet. We like to make enough Southern Cornbread Dressing to have leftovers to eat with our turkey sandwiches. Is there anything better?

Can you make the cornbread dressing and freeze it?

If you can! If you plan to freeze your cornbread dressing casserole, there are options.
Bake only the cornbread and freeze until needed. You’re one step closer to delicious cornbread dressing!
You can also make the entire saucepan ahead of time, bake it for about 30 minutes, cool completely, cover, and freeze. Thaw the casserole overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking.
Most of the time, I end up making the entire casserole the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerating it, no baking, until needed. Such an easy way to enjoy a delicious tradition!

What kinds of extras can you add to your cornbread dressing recipe?

For years I’ve tried to turn things around by adding things like cooked hot dogs, dried cranberries, or walnuts to the cornbread dressing. Personally, I love the pork sausage bits for breakfast, or the little cranberry chunks. One of my favorites was the addition of walnuts. Walnuts are great on everything.

However, my little family apparently doesn’t like change. They prefer the simple old-fashioned southern cornbread dressing recipe that they grew up on, or so they say many, many times. Southern Cornbread’s simple, no-frills staple dressing is all I make now. My kids have even complained when I put cornbread cubes on top of the saucepan like I have here. Most cornbread dressing casseroles have the cornbread crumbled into very small pieces, with no cubes left. I like the cubes for the visual appeal myself, so they can get over it. Ha ha. The top is a little crunchy, but the middle of the pan is soft as we love it.

Food memories are the best

Even now when I smell this southern cornbread dressing baking in the oven, it brings me back home. I can watch the Macy’s Day parade on TV, with my mother in the kitchen wearing her apron. He ran from the oven to the stove and back to the sink with tremendous grace and agility. We always help, of course, but mainly with cleaning. She was a force of nature in the kitchen and could put together a massive meal with incredible delicacy. I really miss my parents at this time of year!

Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe

Preparation time : 30 minutes

Time to cook : 45 minutes

Total time : 1 hour and 15 minutes

The quintessential holiday garnish. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the dressing!

Course: Vacation, Garnish

Cuisine: southern

Servings: 12


1 buttermilk cornbread recipe, homemade or store-bought preferred *
6 cups of hearty white bread cubes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (113g or 4 ounces)
2 large sweet onions, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 ¼ teaspoons dried sage
¾ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3 ½ to 4 cups low sodium chicken broth (28 – 32 ounces)
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
chopped parsley leaves for garnish, optional


1. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch pieces and place on a large baking sheet. Cut the white bread into 1-inch cubes and add to a separate baking sheet.

Option 1 – Preheat oven to 250 ° F. Place trays in warm oven and bake until dry, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Turn and change trays halfway through cooking.

Option 2: Instead of drying in the oven, leave the cubed loaves overnight at room temperature.

2. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken broth, eggs, salt, and pepper. Add the sautéed onion and celery mixture to the chicken broth. Stir until combined.

4. Add the dried cornbread and bread cubes to the broth. Gently fold together until combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring gently a few times, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

5.Preheat oven to 375 ° F. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan. Gently scoop dressing into prepared skillet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top and bake for 40-45 minutes. Chill 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • Make your own cornbread! It’s so easy and tastes so much better than the ultra sweet cakes you can buy at the grocery store. Click HERE for our Buttermilk Cornbread recipe.

** Substitute 2 1/2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning for sage and thyme, if desired

Cornbread can be made up to two days before you need the dressing. Prepare the cornbread, bake and chill. Keep lightly covered at room temperature until needed.

To get ahead : The day before the dressing is needed, mix all the ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Allow the dressing to come to room temperature for 45-60 minutes before baking.

To freeze the dressing ahead : Bake the dressing for 30 minutes, then cool completely. Wrap the saucepan in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature for 45-60 minutes before baking. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

Grandma’s Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe Divas Can Cook

NOTE: Remember, if your oven is full of casseroles, they will take longer to bake. Allow more time to cook the dressing, if necessary.