Slightly sweet and buttery with loads of celery and onions, My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing recipe topped with giblet gravy, roast turkey, ham, and creamy mashed potatoes is one of my favorite culinary combinations. The Cornbread Dressing takes on, and compliments all of the other holiday menu items, enhancing their flavors and completing everything on your plate.
An Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing recipe from 1962
My mom got this Cornbread Dressing recipe from a little old church lady back in 1962. Lucky for us, she’s been making it exactly the same way ever since. The ingredients: cornbread, celery, onions, and sage, are simple and make this dish a comforting classic for your Thanksgiving celebration. The key to a truly great Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing is to keep it flavorful, but subtle, and not overwhelm any of the other items on your plate. It’s there in a supporting role, adding to, but not distracting from any of the other dishes that you’ve waited all summer to gorge yourself on. The gravy, mashed potatoes, Buttery Glazed Carrots, Turkey, ham, etc. etc.
Can I make the Cornbread Dressing the day before Thanksgiving?
It’s important to have a plan going into Thanksgiving or any big holiday meal. My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing recipe is one of those make-ahead items that can take some of the pressure off of you on Thanksgiving Day. I make the cornbread on Monday, and make the dressing on Tuesday. Then leave it, uncooked, in the refrigerator until Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and all that is left to do is bake it.
Forget to buy Buttermilk?
A key ingredient in cornbread and cornbread dressing. Buttermilk is one of those things we do not have in the refrigerator unless we have planned on it well in advance. Luckily, I have a very simple Buttermilk Substitute recipe for just such an occasion. Because you can’t make my Cornbread recipe or My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing without it! Or for that matter, buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuit, etc. etc.
Cornbread Dressing Ingredients
- Cornbread: When we lived in New York City we would go to Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant in Harlem on a regular basis. Her cornbread is amazing and I’ve made my cornbread recipe for this dressing similar to Sylvias. You can’t have good Soul Food Cornbread Dressing without good Soul Food Cornbread. The only change I’ve made is to make it a little less sweet for the dressing recipe. Make the cornbread a couple of days before the big holiday meal and let it go stale in the refrigerator. You want dry cornbread in the dressing so it soaks up all the butter, chicken stock, and seasonings while the dressing bakes.
- Unsalted Butter, Onions, Celery, and Poultry Seasoning: The aromatics, poultry seasoning, and butter sauteing is probably my favorite smell when I think of the Holidays. It was usually my Dad that did this part a couple of days before Thanksgiving. The smell would draw us all into the kitchen to see what was going on and the cornbread dressing is still my favorite Thanksgiving recipe.
- Chicken Stock: When making a special holiday meal, the cornbread dressing is really important. Use the best quality stock you can, there is no substitute for good chicken stock. Try my Instant Pot Homemade Chicken Stock recipe. The difference between homemade and store-bought stock is like night and day.
My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing recipe:
My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing
- 1 Recipe Cornbread 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
- 1 Cup Diced Yellow Onion
- 1 Quart Diced Celery
- 2 Tablespoons Poultry Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2-4 Cups Chicken Stock
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter Melted
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 5 Eggs
- 2 Cups Buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
- 2 Cups Cornmeal
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix well
- Beat the eggs and add to the dry mix
- Add the melted butter and the buttermilk, combine until smooth
- Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour
- Bake approximately 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
- In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions and celery until soft, not browned
- Add the seasonings to the onions and celery and combine well
- Add the diced cornbread to the onions and celery, break up the cornbread into small pieces and combine well
- Place the dressing in a casserole dish, cover tightly until you’re ready to bake it
To Bake Dressing
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Uncover the casserole dish and evenly pour 2 cups of chicken stock over the dressing
- Bake until golden brown, around 45-50 minutes, add additional chicken stock if the dressing seems dry. You want the dressing moist, but not soggy
Variations on My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing Recipe:
WHITE BREAD DRESSING: Use 4 quarts of cubed day-old white bread instead of cornbread
BUTTERMILK BISCUIT DRESSING: Use 4 quarts of crumbled day-old buttermilk biscuits instead of cornbread
PRUNE DRESSING: Add 1 pound of dried prunes that have been chopped and reconstituted in 2 cups of chicken stock
SAUSAGE DRESSING: Omit the butter, brown 1 pound crumbled sausage, cook with the onions and celery. Reduce the poultry seasoning to 1 teaspoon
APPLE DRESSING: Add 2 cups of ½ inch diced Golden Delicious Apples to either the Prune Dressing or the Sausage Dressing
GIBLET DRESSING: Brown chopped giblets in the butter prior to adding the onions and celery
CORNBREAD DRESSING WITH BOILED EGGS: Add 4 diced, hard-boiled eggs
PARSLEY DRESSING: Add 1 cup of chopped parsley
OLD FASHIONED SOUTHERN CORNBREAD DRESSING: Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup of milk with the chicken stock, add just before baking
Although My Mom’s Cornbread Dressing recipe is for ‘dressing’ cooked outside of the turkey, it will also work as ‘stuffing’. If you like to stuff the turkey, please be sure to test the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Just like the turkey, it needs to read 165°F for it to be safe.