Southern Cornbread Dressing is a Thanksgiving staple – the combination of sweet cornbread and savory sausage is so delicious. The celery and onions add such a wonderful crunch and the creamy soup brings it all together.

Cornbread dressing is a staple on a southern thanksgiving table, but unless you’re from the south, you probably think dressing is what goes on your salad.

Southern Cornbread Dressing is similar to what people in the rest of the country call stuffing, only it is baked in its own pan (not “stuffed” in the turkey – and it is made with a little more of a free spirit.) I like to just take my hands and crumble the cornbread as opposed to cutting it into uniform cubes like I would with stuffing. 

A pan of southern cornbread dressing.

A lot of people like to use unsweetened cornbread to make their dressing and I have tried it both ways – we actually loved the flavor of sweet cornbread in the dressing. It took it to a whole new level. Between five of us with a fully loaded table, we almost demolished the dressing. (And the sweet potato casserole.) I have heard that people also love to put hard-boiled eggs in their dressing but that’s not our favorite. 

Table of Contents

🥘 Ingredient Notes

The ingredients in southern cornbread dressing laid out and labeled.
  • A Full-size (13 x 9) Pan of Cornbread – I like to use sweet cornbread (I have a recipe for that here), but some people prefer not to. If you don’t want to make this from scratch, you can use two boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix – prepared as the box suggests but in one large 13 x 9 dish instead of two 8 x 8 dishes. Does that make sense?
  • Italian Sausage – I know this seems strange, but the flavors of Italian Sausage really complement this dish!
  • Red Onion (diced)
  • Celery Stalks (diced)
  • Butter (I like to use salted for everything, but unsalted would be fine!)
  • Chicken Broth or Turkey Stock
  • Cream of Chicken Soup – I have made this with Campbells and the store brand, and both work great!
  • Kosher Salt
  • Dried Herb Mix – Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, and Marjoram. (You can also use ½ teaspoon of poultry seasoning if you keep that on hand.)

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • A Skillet
  • A 13 x 9 Baking Dish
  • A Cutting Board and a Sharp Knife
  • Measuring Cups/Spoons
  • Mixing Bowls

🥣 How to Make It

Here’s how to make Cornbread Dressing. It is pretty easy to make but has a few steps. (Here’s a link to a step-by-step video if you want to watch along!)

The first step is to make cornbread – I like to use this recipe – and then let it cool.

  • Once the cornbread is ready, cook the Italian Sausage. Once it is cooked, drain off the grease and set it off to the side. (Pictures 1 – 2)
  • Then, cook the onion and celery in the butter until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft – about 5 minutes. (Picture 3)
  • Once the cornbread is cooled off enough to handle, crumble it into a large bowl. (Picture 4) Add the drained sausage to the bowl. (Picture 5) (I changed bowls because the first one was too small, so use a big bowl!)
A collage of images showing how to make southern cornbread dressing, steps 1 - 5.
  • Add the cooked celery and onions to the same bowl, along with any butter left in the pan. (Butter always makes everything better.) (Picture 6) Toss that all together. (Picture 7)
  • Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 baking dish and spread it out. (Picture 8)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together spices, cream of chicken soup, and broth. (Picture 9)
  • Pour the soup mixture over the cornbread – trying to cover as much as you can. (Picture 10) (You can mix it all together, but I like having a few spots of toasty bread chunks that don’t have sauce on them – it is almost like having cornbread croutons mixed in with the saucy pieces. It sounds weird, but it is so good.) If you do decide to mix it up, do not overmix, or the cornbread dressing will end up being kind of mushy – try to keep the cornbread chunks as big as you can.
A collage of images showing how to make southern cornbread dressing, steps 6 - 10.
  • Bake the cornbread dressing at 350°F for 30 – 35 minutes, uncovered. (See below to see what it will look like when it is ready.)
A pan of southern cornbread dressing baking in the oven.
An oven with a bunch of Thanksgiving dishes baking.

(The oven was packed with Thanksgiving recipes the last time I made this! Green Bean Casserole, Squash Casserole, Roasted Carrots, and Sweet Potato Praline Casserole. Yum!)

  • When the dressing is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool. The edges will be a little crispy, and it should be “stuck together,” but the center should be soft with a gravy-like top. It is hard to explain, so here’s a picture.
A pan of southern cornbread dressing up close.

When you scoop into the dressing, it should be a little crumbly, but it should stick together in big chunks as well. It’s pretty messy looking, but it tastes delicious. I served this when my brother-in-law was visiting, and we thought that this might also be a really delicious lunch all on its own – there’s carbs, veggies, and protein – and it is delicious! (It would be a really easy lunch to make on Sunday and have for a few days.)

Southern cornbread dressing in a pan, partially scooped out.

Recipe Yield

This recipe should make 12 servings, but if you have big eaters, you might end up with 8 – 10.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cornbread dressing mushy?

If your cornbread dressing comes out mushy, it is either because it was overmixed and the cornbread just turned to crumbles – or if there was not enough cornbread to mix with the gravy. Too much liquid will cause a soggy mess!

What is the difference between cornbread stuffing and cornbread dressing?

I think the difference used to be that one was “stuffed” in the turkey and one is baked in a pan. Most people don’t stuff their turkeys these days, so I don’t think there is a huge difference other than how you break up the cornbread. I think stuffing might have more uniformly sized pieces vs. dressing’s crumbles – but that might be the only difference.

Why do Southerners call it dressing?

Based on my research, I honestly have no idea other than again, stuffing is stuffed in the bird and the dressing is cooked on the side, therefore “dressing” up the table. I think it is just a “tomato, tom-ah-to” or “you all, y’all” dialect thing. It’s a Southern Thing wrote a funny article about this!

How do you know when the dressing is done?

Dressing is done when the gravy is no longer liquid – it kind of melds into the bread and forms a thicker delicious crust. The cornbread will also be nice and toasty on the edges.

What kind of sausage do you use in cornbread dressing?

I love using Italian sausage – it seems kind of weird, but the flavors complement the sweet cornbread and the chicken gravy flavors really well!

Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.

🥫 Storage/Shelf Life/Reheating

Once cooled, store leftovers in the refrigerator. Reheat in the toaster oven, microwave, or in the oven. I like to use the oven over the microwave because it makes the cornbread chunks nice and crispy. It is hard to explain but it is so good!

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Don’t overmix – cornbread chunks will get broken up and the end result will be soggy dressing.
  • Pour the “gravy” over the dressing to prevent overmixing. Sure, this will leave a few bites “undressed,” but then you will have this delicious toasty cornbread mixed with the gravy-drenched bites – it is really delicious.
  • Serve leftovers for lunch – this cornbread dressing is delicious, even as a standalone meal. It would be a really easy lunch to prepare on Sunday and then have for a few days.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes

Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!

📝 Recipe

A pan of southern cornbread dressing up close.

Southern Cornbread Dressing

5 from 15 votes
Southern Cornbread Dressing is a Thanksgiving staple – the combination of sweet cornbread and savory sausage is so delicious. The celery and onions add such a wonderful crunch and the creamy soup brings it all together.
Author: Kari
Servings: 12
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins

Ingredients  

  • 1 large pan of cornbread I use this recipe
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 large red onion diced
  • 3 – 4 stalks celery diced (this should be about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup butter 1 stick

Gravy Mix

  • 2 cups chicken broth chicken stock or turkey stock will also work
  • 1 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch marjoram

Instructions 

  • The first step is to make cornbread – I like to use this recipe – and then let it cool.
  • Once the cornbread is ready, cook the Italian Sausage. Once it is cooked, drain off the grease and set it off to the side.
  • Cook the onion and celery in the butter until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft – about 5 minutes.
  • Once the cornbread is cooled off enough to handle, crumble it into a large bowl. Add the drained sausage and cooked celery and onions to the same bowl, along with any butter left in the pan and gently toss it all together.
  • Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 baking dish and spread it out.
  • In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together spices, cream of chicken soup, and broth.
  • Pour the soup mixture over the cornbread – trying to cover as much as you can. Do not stir.
  • Bake the cornbread dressing at 350°F for 30 – 35 minutes, uncovered.
  • When the dressing is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

🔢 Recipe Yield
This recipe should make 12 servings, but if you have big eaters, you might end up with 8 – 10.
🥫 Storage/Shelf Life/Reheating
Once cooled, store leftovers in the refrigerator. Reheat in the toaster oven, microwave, or in the oven. I like to use the oven over the microwave because it makes the cornbread chunks nice and crispy. It is hard to explain but it is so good!
📋 Tips
  • Don’t overmix – cornbread chunks will get broken up and the end result will be soggy dressing.
  • Pour the “gravy” over the dressing to prevent overmixing. Sure, this will leave a few bites “undressed” but then you will have this delicious toasty cornbread mixed with the gravy drenched bites – it is really delicious.
  • Serve leftovers for lunch – this cornbread dressing is delicious even as a standalone meal. It would be a really easy lunch prepare on Sunday then have for a few days.
🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my cornbread dressing mushy?
If your cornbread dressing comes out mushy, it is either because it was overmixed and the cornbread just turned to crumbles – or if there was not enough cornbread to mix with the gravy. Too much liquid will cause a soggy mess!
What is the difference between cornbread stuffing and cornbread dressing?
I think the difference used to be that one was “stuffed” in the turkey and one is baked in a pan. Most people don’t stuff their turkeys these days, so I don’t think there is a huge difference other than how you break up the cornbread. I think stuffing might have more uniformly sized pieces vs. dressing’s crumbles – but that might be the only difference.
Why do Southerners call it dressing?
Based on my research, I honestly have no idea other than again, stuffing is stuffed in the bird and the dressing is cooked on the side, therefore “dressing” up the table. I think it is just a “tomato, tom-ah-to” or “you all, y’all” dialect thing. It’s a Southern Thing wrote a funny article about this!
How do you know when the dressing is done?
Dressing is done when the gravy is no longer liquid – it kind of melds into the bread and forms a thicker delicious crust. The cornbread will also be nice and toasty on the edges.
What kind of sausage do you use in cornbread dressing?
I love using Italian sausage – it seems kind of weird but the flavors complement the sweet cornbread and the chicken gravy flavors really well!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 10gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 910mgPotassium: 229mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 384IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 94mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: cornbread dressing, cornbread stuffing, southern cornbread dressing, southern cornbread stuffing
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Hi, I’m Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Hi Kari…
    Oh my gosh!
    I can’t believe that you make your “Southern cornbread dressing” the same way as I do, well as my mother did all those years ago and like you, we don’t like all that other stuff in there, we love it just the way we do it. 😉
    There’s only a couple of things I do different than yours is I cook chicken thighs to get my good Rich broth I don’t use store-bought can or carton broth and I use just regular pork sausage but I will be using the Italian sausage this time around. 😊
    Thank you Soo much!!
    Happy Holidays ahead!
    Linda B

    1. Hey Linda! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving 🙂 I often use homemade stock as well – but my most recent batch was very jiggly and I didn’t want to heat it up/gross people out 😛