If you love the delicious flavors found in a traditional southern cornbread dressing, this is the post for you! This dressing is packed full of flavor and texture and your Thanksgiving guests will love it!
Is it Dressing or is it Stuffing?
Let’s start with the obvious question: dressing or stuffing? Down here in the south we sometimes call it “stuffing” even if we don’t stuff it inside the bird. Maybe that’s a southern thing. I’m not sure.
But common sense would say that it’s really only “stuffing” if you actually shove it in the bird. And we weren’t doing that with our Smoked Turkey on the Grill.
Why? Because our turkey is the juiciest, most delicious poultry we’ve tried, to date, and adding the stuffing to the bird on the grill only dries it out, (not something we were willing to risk).
So, our cornbread dressing is just that: dressing. It’s a beautiful dish to set alongside your Thanksgiving turkey or ham to “dress up” your holiday table. It’s loaded with color, flavor, and all sorts of savory goodness.
Should I Use Cornbread in my Dressing?
Here in the south we love our cornbread. And I’ll be the first to say, I’ve had both kinds of dressing (regular bread and cornbread). But, when it comes right down to it, I prefer cornbread every time.
Cornbread adds an element of sweetness you just don’t find in northern bread-based dressings. And when you merge that sweet corn with sage, thyme, and nutmeg (key flavors in this dressing) the combination is out of this world. It also gives the dressing a beautiful golden brown color.
Some folks say you should use stale cornbread but I’ve never done that. I just bake mine then cube it and place it back in the (slightly warm) oven to dry out and crisp up for a few minutes.
What Sets this Dressing Apart
One key thing that sets this southern-style dressing apart is the addition of bacon. We love our bacon here in Texas, even during the holiday season. (Don’t believe me? I used it in my Breakfast Fatty and my Bacon Wrapped Chicken!)
Another thing that sets this dressing apart is the option to cook it for thirty minutes in the oven and thirty minutes on the pellet grill. If you’re going to give it any grill time, you’ll want to use a foil pan. If you’re planning to keep it in the oven for the full hour a traditional 9×13-inch baking dish will do.
Southern Cornbread Dressing Ingredients
Wondering what you’ll need to make this dressing? You’ll find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. For now, here’s a quick look at what you’ll need. These are simple ingredients you might already have in your kitchen.
FOR THE CORNBREAD
- Jiffy cornbread mix
- whole milk
- large eggs
FOR THE FILLING
- large raw eggs, beaten
- hard boiled eggs
- chicken broth (or turkey broth)
- chopped cooked turkey or chicken (optional)
- yellow onion
- poultry seasoning
- garlic powder (or minced garlic)
How to Make Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing
Some would say that dressing is labor intensive when you make it from scratch, but it’s well worth the effort! If you’re making it for Thanksgiving you can even prep some (or all) of this the night before. It really is the perfect side dish!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prep a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Combine seasonings in a small bowl and set aside.
Boil three eggs and set aside to cool. Once cool, chop into small pieces.
Chop your turkey or chicken. (If you haven’t already got cooked chicken or turkey on hand, you can always use a rotisserie chicken.) Set aside.
Bake Your Cornbread.
Combine 2 boxes of cornbread mix, 2/3 cup milk, and two large eggs in a medium bowl. Mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish and place in the oven for 16 – 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Turn off the oven.
Remove and cut into small squares. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and place back in the (still warm) oven to dry out while you make the rest of your ingredients.
Cut bacon into pieces and place in large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until almost done.
While bacon is cooking, chop celery and onions.
Add a stick of butter to the bacon, (leaving the bacon grease, as well).
Once the better has melted, add the vegetables.
Bring them to a low simmer.
Allow to cook over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions begin to glisten. Set aside to cool.
It’s time to bring all of your ingredients together into a cornbread mixture!
You’ll need a large bowl for this. Place cornbread pieces into the bowl.
Combine all ingredients, making sure all of the cornbread pieces are saturated.
Put dressing mixture into prepared 9×13-inch foil pan.
Cover with foil.
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for thirty minutes.
The dressing will need to cook another thirty minutes. You can finish it off in the oven or on the grill (at 350 degrees, using indirect heat) if you want a smoky flavor. Regardless, you’ll need to pull the foil off of the top first.
As you can see from the photos, we finished ours off on the grill and I’m so glad we did. The bacon picked up some of that smoky flavor from the pellets and added depth of flavor that favored really well with the seasonings.
Serve and enjoy!
Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap or aluminum foil or in an airtight container. It should stay good for 4 – 5 days. You can freeze this dressing to be rewarmed later.
What to Expect from this Dressing
This dressing has all of those traditional holiday flavors you love so much. Sage. Thyme. Cornbread. Chicken. Bacon. Veggies.
It’s the perfect package.
And I’ll be honest: with the addition of two full cups of chopped chicken (or turkey) this is really a meal all by itself. (I’m not kidding! We had the dressing as our main course one night, and why not? It’s got most of the food groups all rolled into one filling dish.) And (bonus!) it’s even better the next day.
This is one of those delicious recipes you’ll make again and again, and not just on the holidays! Next time I’ll probably prep my cornbread the night before. But this is a dish I’m happy to serve my family and guests.
Questions People are Asking about this Delicious Southern Dressing
Can I make this dressing ahead? I’m going to be swamped on Thanksgiving Day.
Absolutely! You can prep it completely and place the uncooked dressing in the refrigerator overnight (tightly covered).
Can I use bagged cornbread crumbs from the store?
Yes, but the amount of liquid you will need will be different. Some people use half and half (half real cornbread, half white bread or white bread crumbs) but I’m crazy about fresh, real cornbread.
Can I add sausage in place of bacon?
Yes, a lot of people prefer ground, cooked breakfast sausage (like Jimmy Dean). You can choose flavored sausage if you like. Jimmy Dean comes in regular, maple, or spicy.
I want to give my dressing a kick. Can I add jalapeños?
Use them sparingly. Not everyone like spice, especially on the holidays when they’re expecting traditional flavors.
Can I serve with turkey gravy?
This dressing is delicious with a big spoonful of turkey gravy poured on top.
Can I use chicken stock instead of chicken broth?
Absolutely! Just make sure it’s not solidified before you add it. (Room temperature is best.)
Can I use cream of chicken soup in the recipe?
Absolutely. You might want to thin it slightly with some of the chicken broth before adding. Then mix well with the other ingredients.
Can I use this same recipe to stuff the bird?
Yes, but as I mentioned above, I don’t recommend stuffing a turkey that you’re smoking on the grill. If you’re cooking it in the oven, feel free to add cornbread stuffing to the bird. You might have to adjust your turkey’s baking time if it’s stuffed. (See the directions that come with your turkey to learn more.)
Is Yankee dressing similar?
Yes, just swap out white bread for cornbread. You can use a loaf of French bread (cubed and dried up overnight). You’ll want to use pork sausage instead of bacon.
Can I use my favorite casserole dish?
Probably. Just make sure it’s grill safe!
Can I use fresh sage or other fresh herbs?
Absolutely! Just add them in the quantities that seem right to you.
Make it Your Own
Want to jazz up this delicious family recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas gathering? Here are some fun ideas:
Cranberries: Want to sweeten this dish? No problem! Soak a cup of dried cranberries (Craisins) in water for an hour to plump up, then drain off the water and use the berries in your stuffing to give it a sweet bite. Talk about a beautiful addition to your Thanksgiving table!
Apple: Some people use chopped apple in their dressing.
Chorizo: Use cooked chorizo in place of bacon. Yum!
Biscuits: Looking for a quick, easy dressing? Bake up some grands biscuits and use them in place of bread or cornbread. A couple large cans should do.
BLT Oyster stuffing: I can’t believe this is a thing. . .but it is! Follow this link to the BonAppetit site to learn more.
What to Pair with Cornbread Dressing:
Obviously you’ll want to consider our Perfect Smoked Turkey on the Grill, which is (hands down) the best turkey recipe out there. But if you’re in the mood for something else, here are some suggestions:
Cheesy Corn Casserole: This is the same one Paula Deen makes and we highly recommend it.
Sweet Potato Casserole: We’ve got the best Sweet Potato Casserole out there, y’all!
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken: This bacon wrapped stuffed chicken is going to balance perfectly with this delicious dressing.
Drunken Chicken: This is an obvious choice, and our Drunken Chicken is the absolute best!
Check out this Southern Brown Gravy recipe from Back to my Southern Roots!
And while you’re looking at great Thanksgiving recipes, check out this delicious 5-minutes Green Bean Casserole from Back to my Southern Roots.
Thanks for Stopping By!
That’s it for this post, friends! We hope you enjoy this perfect smoked turkey recipe from Backyard Texas Grill. We happen to love it!
Why not pin a few pictures while you’re here?
See this recipe at:
About the Man Behind the Grill
Zach Morrow was born and raised in Texas and has always had a passion for great barbecue. He’s at home behind the grill and loves to feed his friends and family home-cooked favorites as often as he can. He especially loves trying new things and is excited to produce recipes like this one for Backyard Texas Grill.
- FOR THE CORNBREAD
- 2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- FOR THE FILLING
- 2 large eggs (raw, beaten)
- 3 hard boiled eggs
- 1 stick butter
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (or turkey broth)
- 2 cups chopped cooked turkey or chicken (optional)
- 1 package bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 4 stalks celery
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sage
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder (or minced garlic)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prep a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Chop onion and celery and set aside.
- Combine seasonings in a small bowl and set aside.
- Boil three eggs and set aside to cool. Once cool, chop into small pieces.
- Chop your turkey or chicken. (If you haven’t already got cooked chicken or turkey on hand, you can always use a rotisserie chicken.) Set aside.
- Bake Your Cornbread: Combine 2 boxes of cornbread mix, 2/3 cup milk, and two large eggs in a medium bowl. Mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish and place in the oven for 16 - 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Turn off the oven.
- Remove and cut into small squares. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and place back in the (still warm) oven to dry out while you make the rest of your ingredients.
- Cut bacon into pieces and place in large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until almost done.
- While bacon is cooking, chop celery and onions.
- Add a stick of butter to the bacon, (leaving the bacon grease, as well).
- Once the better has melted, add the vegetables.
- Bring them to a low simmer.
- Allow to cook over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions begin to glisten. Set aside to cool.
- It’s time to bring all of your ingredients together. You’ll need a large bowl for this.
- Place cornbread pieces into the bowl.
- Add bacon and vegetables, as well as chicken and chopped eggs.
- Add raw eggs and chicken broth.
- Dump in the seasonings.
- Now mix it all together, making sure all of the cornbread pieces are saturated.
- Put into prepared 9x13-inch foil pan.
- Cover with foil.
- Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for thirty minutes.
- The dressing will need to cook another thirty minutes. You can finish it off in the oven or on the grill (at 350 degrees, using indirect heat) if you want a smoky flavor. Regardless, you’ll need to pull the foil off of the top.
- As you can see from the photos, we finished ours off on the grill and I’m so glad we did. The bacon picked up some of that smoky flavor from the pellet and added depth of flavor that favored really well with the seasonings.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It should stay good for 4 - 5 days. You can freeze this dressing to be rewarmed later.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 172Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 398mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 11g