This Southern Cornbread Dressing is so delicious and moist, you don't need to cover it up with gravy! Why? Because it's perfectly seasoned with onions, celery, sage, and poultry seasoning. And the cream of chicken soup guarantees it'll be rich and moist!
Oh, and it has that texture we all love: crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Don't you just love cornbread dressing season 🙂
This holiday classic is true Southern comfort food. Serve it as a Thanksgiving side dish or during the Christmas holidays next to your turkey, ham, or roast. Just be prepared for it to steal the show!
- Why This Recipe Works
- Southern Cornbread Dressing Ingredients
- Ingredient Substitutions
- Ingredient Additions
- How to Make Southern Cornbread Dressing
- How to Prevent Dry Dressing
- How to Fix Soggy Dressing
- Recipe Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Cornbread Recipes
- More holiday side dish recipes
- Top Reader Comments
This dressing is my family's most favorite holiday side dish. As a bonus, it's easy to make! Let's be real...planning for a Thanksgiving feast can be hectic, especially if you're doing the bulk of the cooking. Luckily, this recipe can be made in advance so all you have to do is pop it in the oven on the day of your get together!
This traditional dressing contains no bread - just cornbread - and that's the way a lot of us eat it here in the South! If we added bread, then we would sometimes call it stuffing. Down here, we don't usually stuff our dressing into the turkey, only our mouths!
Need another side dish for your holiday feast? Try my Sweet Potato Casserole, or for a change of pace, try my Southern English Pea Salad! Green bean casserole is another must have side dish for Thanksgiving; add this Cream Cheese and Bacon Green Bean Casserole next to the cornbread dressing!
Why This Recipe Works
As I stated earlier, this Southern cornbread dressing is very moist and flavorful. That means there's no need to drown it in gravy, but this Southern gal won't judge if you do. It is the one holiday side dish that everyone in my family always looks forward to.
So, what makes this dressing so moist? I'm about to let you in on a big secret: the addition of a can of cream of chicken soup is the key ingredient! Without it, you could end up with a fancy pan of cornbread. And the best part is that the secret is something that is so easy to use!
While cornbread dressing is often served during the holidays, it's a versatile dish that can be enjoyed throughout the year. It pairs well with various proteins like roasted chicken, pork chops, grilled vegetables, and even salmon; making it a great side dish for different occasions.
Southern Cornbread Dressing Ingredients
(see recipe card for complete details)
Baked Cornbread - First up, you're going to need some cornbread. I like to make my own cornbread using a cornmeal mix because it contains the perfect blend of cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
Minced Celery and Onion - Next up, you're going to need some minced celery and onion for all of that aromatic flavor.
Cream of Chicken Soup and Chicken Broth - You're also going to need chicken broth (homemade or boxed is just fine!) and a can of cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup. It might sound strange, but I swear the soup concentrate gives this cornbread stuffing an absolutely rich and dreamy consistency.
Egg and Butter - You'll use one raw egg to bind the ingredients, and you'll use the butter to saute the onion and celery. Butter also adds moisture and flavor!
Seasonings - Finally, round things out with some ground sage, poultry seasoning, and freshly cracked black pepper. If you're not a fan of sage, use half the amount called for or simply leave it out.
- If you're short on time, you can use store-bought cornbread to make dressing. However, ensure it's slightly crumbly and not overly moist to achieve the best texture.
- You can substitute the chicken broth with turkey broth or vegetable broth.
- Instead of sage you can use marjoram, thyme, or savory. You can also try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat or a dash of paprika for smokiness.
- You can use gluten-free cornbread to make dressing. Just be sure the cornbread has a similar texture to regular cornbread.
Cornbread dressing is versatile, and you can add a variety of other ingredients to suit your taste. Some popular additions include sausage, shredded chicken, cranberries, apples, nuts, or different herbs and spices.
Add more finely chopped vegetables like leeks, shallots, bell peppers, or even carrots for added sweetness.
You can add a couple of chopped, hard-boiled eggs to the dressing before baking.
How to Make Southern Cornbread Dressing
I want you to have the best results making my Southern Cornbread Dressing! So please follow the actual recipe card at the bottom of the post when making it.
Step 1 - Melt the butter in a large skillet or sauté pan. Add the minced onion and celery. Simmer until tender. Remove from heat.
Step 2 - In a large bowl, combine cooked and crumbled cornbread, cream of chicken soup, broth, egg, and seasonings. Add the onion and celery mixture and mix well.
How moist should the dressing be before baking? The dressing should be thick and moist (see picture below). There should not be any excess broth pooling around.
Step 3 - Pour cornbread mixture into prepared dish and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until lightly golden browned.
How do you know when the dressing is done? The center of the dressing should be set (not jiggly). That said, be careful not to over bake the cornbread dressing, or it may get dry.
How to Prevent Dry Dressing
To prevent the dressing from becoming too dry, start by using enough broth or stock to moisten the dressing during the mixing process. Don't leave out the cream of chicken soup! Be sure not to overbake the dressing.
How to Fix Soggy Dressing
If your dressing turns out too soggy, you can try baking it for a few more minutes to help evaporate excess moisture. You can also crumble some stale cornbread and mix it in to absorb some of the liquid.
My top tips for this Southern Cornbread Dressing!
Try to make the cornbread a day in advance or at least several hours before you plan to prepare the dressing. It needs time to completely cool so that you can use your fingers to crumble the cornbread.
When making your own cornbread, whole milk works well. However, some of my fellow Southerners feel it's an absolute travesty to use anything other than buttermilk when making cornbread in the South. So if you feel you must use buttermilk, use it, girl!
For this recipe, I prefer to finely mince the onions and celery for the right dressing consistency. However, some family members prefer chopped onions and celery (larger pieces). This article from Kitchn explains How to Chop, Dice, and Mince an Onion. I love my mini food chopper and use it all the time for chopping and mincing.
I don't recommend using Jiffy cornbread mix because it's just too sweet. This is a savory dressing which means it is not meant to be sweet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely, this dressing can be made ahead of time! After you've mixed up all the ingredients, store it covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before you plan to eat it. On the day of the meal, (1) take it out of the refrigerator, (2) let it come to room temperature, (3) pour it into a 9 x 13 greased casserole dish, and (4) bake as directed.
Absolutely! There are 2 options:
(A) Uncooked: Prepare the cornbread dressing but don't bake it. Place into a freezer-friendly container and wrap with foil or plastic wrap and place in freezer. When ready to bake, let it thaw in the refrigerator (this may take 1-2 days to thaw). Then, pour into a casserole dish that's been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake as directed on the recipe card.
(B) Cooked: Prepare the cornbread dressing according to the recipe card (bake it in a freezer-friendly and oven-safe container). Let the dressing cool completely. Wrap the container with foil or plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. When ready to bake, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then, remove the foil and/or plastic wrap and bake as directed on the recipe card.
While I have to admit that we almost never have leftovers of this delicious holiday side (I told you! It's everyone's favorite!), however, this baked cornbread dressing will stay fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
For best results, store in airtight containers. I like to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids. These containers are great for meal prep, too! Available now on Amazon.
Use your favorite cornbread recipe. I personally like to use Aunt Jemima Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix, Martha White Cornbread Mix, or White Lily Self-Rising Buttermilk White Cornmeal Mix. The flour, salt, and baking powder are already blended in, plus, it's consistently delicious (and I love how little hassle there is when you use the bagged stuff). Follow the recipe on the package label.
We use eggs to bind all the ingredients together!
More Cornbread Recipes
More holiday side dish recipes
Top Reader Comments
Here is some great feedback from people who have made this recipe:
Catherine, "My grandmother passed 20 years ago and I've been trying to make her cornbread stuffing and I finally found this recipe that tastes just like hers! I'm in happy tears right now!"
Patsy, "OH MY GOD this is my grandmama’s recipe. My mama knows how to make it, she’s 71 and doesn’t cook anymore and has tried to teach my daughter, U guys know how it is, no one cooks like mama cooks. Daughters is good but it’s not mamas great."
Mae, "One of the best dressings made. So close to my mom's!"
Southern Cornbread Dressing
- 2.5 qt casserole dish
- Large Saute Pan
- measuring spoons
- sharp kitchen knife (or mini food chopper)
- large mixing bowl
- One pan of prepared cornbread per the directions on Corn Meal Mix (I recommend either Aunt Jemima or Martha White Self-Rising Cornmeal MIX). Let cool and crumble (you should have about 6 cups of crumbled cornbread, more or less). Not plain corn meal. Use the "mix" because it contains flour, salt, and baking powder.
- 2-3 Stalks of celery, minced
- 1 Small yellow onion, minced
- 1 Stick butter (salted)
- 14.5 oz Can of chicken broth
- 10.5 oz Can of cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom soup)
- 1 Raw egg
- 1-2 teaspoon Poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Ground sage
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- Prepare 1 pan of cornbread per the directions on Corn Meal Mix. Let cool and crumble.
- Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 2.5 qt casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the minced onion and celery. Simmer for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.
- Whisk together the soup, broth, egg, and seasonings in a large bowl. Add the crumbled cornbread and mix well.
- Add the onion and celery mixture and mix well.
- Pour into prepared dish and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned. The center of the dressing should be set (not raw or jiggly). TIP: check the dressing after 30 minutes of baking. If not yet set, stir and bake for another 5 minutes and check again for doneness and browning. Add another additional 5 minutes if not set. However, don't over bake the dressing or it will get dry.
- Try to make the cornbread a day in advance or at least several hours before you plan to prepare the dressing. It needs time to completely cool so that you can use your fingers to crumble the cornbread.
- For a large crowd, double the recipe and bake in a 10 x 13 casserole dish.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.
This post was originally published in November 2020. It was updated in November 2023.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.