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A couple shakes of dried parsley, thyme, sage, and pepper add unbelievable flavor to this cornbread stuffing recipe. Savory sausage, sweet pear or apple, and crunchy nuts add unbelievable texture. Follow my make ahead or freezing instructions so there’s one less dish to worry about on Thanksgiving.

This post is sponsored by McCormick.

overhead image of cornbread stuffing in a glass baking dish with a serving spoon

Thanksgiving turkey is great and all, but Thanksgiving side dishes are the crown jewels on the table. And whether it’s stuffed into the turkey or served on the side, you absolutely have to make this cornbread stuffing part of your feast. Salty, sweet, savory, crunchy, this stuffing has it all. Plus, it smells incredible as it cooks.


Tell Me About this Cornbread Stuffing

  • Texture:  Light and moist with bite-size pieces of tender sausage, celery, pear or apple, and crunch pecans. I love the playful textures.
  • Flavor:  Light and buttery with savory, sweet, and nutty notes. The recipe is a more flavorful version of my classic sausage and apple stuffing, because I use cornbread instead of regular bread as the base. Seriously, it is packed with so many soul-warming herb flavors.
  • Ease: This dish is like 2 short recipes in 1. The cornbread comes first with all the ingredients prepared in a large bowl before being transferred to a baking pan. The stuffing is next and can be made in 3 easy steps. Make it in advance for ease and convenience!
  • Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes to make both the fresh cornbread and the stuffing (plus overnight cooling time for the cornbread). You can shave off 40-45 minutes by using store-bought cornbread.

cornbread stuffing on a white plate with a baked potato and turkey

Spotlight on Some Cornbread Stuffing Ingredients

  • Cornbread: When it comes to cornbread, you can choose either homemade or store-bought. Use your favorite cornbread recipe or pick up a cornbread mix from the store. I love the super simple cornbread recipe below and urge you to try it, too. It’s just like my regular cornbread recipe.
  • Herbs: Use your favorite dried herbs and spices like parsley, thyme, and sage to brighten up the stuffing and add heaps of flavor.
  • Sausage: This adds savory richness to the dish. For a vegetarian option, replace the sausage with mushrooms or diced butternut squash. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Pear: The fruit’s sweetness adds a nice contrast to the rich sausage and an additional textural layer. You can also use an apple instead of a pear.
  • Pecans: Pecans add just the right amount of soft crunch. I like to use pecan halves, but they can be replaced with chopped walnuts if you wish. Or leave it nut-free. 

Overview: How to Make Cornbread Stuffing (Dressing)

The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it so you understand each step before you get started.

  1. Make the cornbread. Preheat the oven. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, then transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake until golden brown. Cool completely.
  2. Cut cornbread into cubes + lightly toast. Slice cornbread into 1-inch cubes. Spread them out on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes to toast them. Lightly toasting the cornbread helps it absorb some of the liquid ingredients, which prevents your stuffing from tasting soggy. Set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare stuffing. Whisk broth and eggs together in a large bowl. 
  4. Cook down the flavors and herbs. Place onion, celery, and herbs into a large skillet. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Add sausage, pear or apples, and pecans. 
  5. Add broth + egg + cornbread. Mix everything together.
  6. Bake. Bake the stuffing in a casserole dish or stuff it into the turkey. If you’re stuffing the turkey, allow the cornbread stuffing to cool completely before using.

2 images of toasted cubes of cornbread in a glass bowl and spices in containers

ground sausage with vegetables in a skillet with a wood spoon

cornbread stuffing mixture in a glass bowl with a wood spoon

cornbread stuffing in a glass baking dish with a serving spoon

Make it Ahead: The cornbread stuffing is best prepared ahead of time, which is great news considering most of us like to prep before the big meal. In fact, it tastes even BETTER when made ahead because the flavors have the chance to settle. Make and store in the refrigerator a few days ahead of time or freeze for up to 3 months. This is just one less thing to worry about before Thanksgiving dinner!

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

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cornbread stuffing in a glass baking dish with a serving spoon

Cornbread Stuffing Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Toasting the cornbread adds a delicious texture. To save time, toast 1 day ahead of time. Flavored with herbs, savory sausage, sweet pear or apple, and crunchy nuts, this cornbread stuffing is always the star of the Thanksgiving meal. See notes for freezing instructions.


Ingredients

Scale

Cornbread

  • 1 cup (120g) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons; 115g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60g) honey
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

Stuffing

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (600ml) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon McCormick parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 lb uncooked sausage
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped pear or apple
  • 1 cup (125g) pecan halves or chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Cornbread: (Prepare 1 day in advance!) Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C). Whisk all of the cornbread ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 9×9 square baking pan. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Set aside to cool overnight. Do not cover.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Slice the cornbread into small 1-inch cubes. You will have about 7-8 cups cubes. Spread onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool as you prepare the stuffing. Turn the oven up to 375°F (1791°C).
  3. Stuffing: Whisk the broth and eggs together in a very large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into the skillet. Break up with a spoon, then add the pears. Cook until sausage is just about cooked through. Pour into the broth + egg mixture, including any liquid that may be in the skillet as well. Add the toasted cornbread cubes and pecans. Very gently fold everything together.
  5. Spoon stuffing into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until toasted on top. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired, and serve warm.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare the cornbread (step 1) 1 day in advance. You can also chop and toast it 1 day in advance (step 2). To save time, you can also chop the onion, celery, and pear 1 day in advance as well. Cover and refrigerate them overnight. You can also prepare the entire recipe through step 4, cover and refrigerate overnight, then bake the next day. For long storage, freeze the baked stuffing up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, allow to come to room temperature, then reheat it in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 20-25 minutes, or until warmed through, before serving.
  2. If using to stuff a turkey, skip step 5 and allow to cool completely after step 4. Then stuff into the turkey.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required in the cornbread recipe. If you don’t have any, you can make a DIY sour milk by adding 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to make 1 cup total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using. Whole milk is strongly recommended for moistest, richest texture, but you can use lower fat or nondairy milk in a pinch.

Keywords: cornbread, Thanksgiving, stuffing, dressing

This recipe is sponsored by McCormick. Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction and the brands I choose to work with!

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. If I wanted to make this weekend and freeze would you recommend going ahead and baking first, then freeze? Or freeze after Step 4 and bake after thawing? Thx…I love every one of your recipes!! Especially your PERFECT scones! I have converted many-a-scone haters with those. And now I cannot eat them anywhere else — you’ve ruined me! (In a good way

    1. Thank you Priscilla! You could do it either way, actually. I’d bake it then freeze. Then warm up before serving.

  2. Hi, think I’ll make this for Friendsgiving this weekend! What type of sausage do you use?

    1. Typically a mild Italian sausage, but you can really make it with any kind you like best.

  3. So making this for Thanksgiving! Do you think it would be good with apple chicken sausage? Otherwise I was thinking about country style chicken sausage.

    1. Also, I have to omit the nuts for a couple of family members.. do you think that dried cranberries would be good in this as long as I choose a sausage that is not Italian style? Or is that a weird flavor combination? Thanks!

      1. I don’t think it’s weird at all. Dried cranberries would be delicious.

  4. Made this for Thanksgiving and even my husband who isn’t a big stuffing fan liked it! Made the cornbread Tuesday. Mixed it all together Wednesday night and cooked it Thursday morning. It was delish. 🙂

  5. We have a vegetarian in the family, do you think this would work without the sausage and with vegetable stock? Thanks! 🙂

  6. I’m not a fan of pears, could I sub in carrots (cooked with the celery/onions) instead?

  7. Help! Do you use fine or coarse cornmeal? I know it doesn’t matter too much but I’d like it to be as nice as possible and I’m planning on making this for Thanksgiving 🙂

  8. Hi,
    If I want to replace the sausage with mushrooms as you suggest, what amount of mushrooms would you recommend?
    Thank you.

  9. Made this for Thanksgiving and it was amazing. Everyone loved it and we’ve almost finished the double batch I made. I added ginger because I may or may not have been doing 2 recipes at once and gotten confused but it was still amazing. As always, you’re the best. I can always trust your recipes to work and make me look great.

  10. Your recipe was amazing! I never made homemade stuffing before and it was so much fun. I substituted onion broth for the chicken broth and it was delicious! Thanks!

  11. Could this BE anymore delicious? Yum! Made this for Thanksgiving and the taste was so familiar… It genuinely took me back to having dinner at my Grandmama’s house and I haven’t lived in the States for 26 years! Its safe to say that I will not be waiting til Thanksgiving to make this again 🙂

  12. I made this for Thanksgiving using bagged cornbread cubes. It was quite a hit! I will plan ahead next year and make the cornbread from the recipe to get the full yummy effect!

  13. Hey Sally! Love your blog and all of your amazing recipes! Can I omit the honey from the cornbread recipe? We are not a “sweet” cornbread house 🙂 Thanks!

  14. Hi Sally – what kind of pear you think perfectly fit for this this recipe?

  15. Hi Sally,
    I love using pears in stuffing but I seem to always have trouble getting flavorful ones. They can be too hard and never ripen, or they get mussy and flavorless. Do you recommend one type of pear over another? Any advice on how to select them? I’m looking forward to using this recipe, I know it will be delicious.
    Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Kolina, For baking we often use Anjou (red or green), Bartletts (red or green), or Bosc pears. Look for pears that are slightly firm. Your best bet is to purchase your pears, then let them sit in a paper bag for 1-2 days to slightly ripen. Much longer than this and they’ll be too soft.

  16. This recipe sounds delicious. I do not use any dairy products when serving a meat meal so my cornbread is made with applesauce. It is still a pretty good tasting corn bread, and with almost all of the non-dairy ingredients included, it should be delicious. I’ll let you know how it turns out, Sally. Thanks.

  17. Hi Sally,

    I notice the cornbread part is different than your favorite cornbread recipe (more honey, no brown sugar). Is there a reason for that in this recipe (flavor? Texture?)

    1. Hi Shira! The cornbread recipes are pretty similar. I reduced the sugar (left out the brown sugar) in this one so that it’s more of a savory cornbread to pair with our dressing. I added 2 Tbsp honey for flavor and moisture, too– since we’re baking it twice. Hope this helps explain things!

  18. Seriously amazing stuffing. We are typically a stovetop family, but this is worth the extra effort!

  19. We have to be careful about sugar content. Would it still taste good if we omitted the fruit? This sounds delicious!
    I love your recipes and really appreciate all of the information on freezing!

  20. Hi, I have lived in the south since 1983 and until that time had never tasted cornbread stuffing. Not a fan. Almost all damn Yankee’s eat bread stuffing with holiday meals. But everyone on line has to add sausage, oysters and a variety of other ingredients. I traveled for 20 years and lost my touch to just throw things together like I did when I was cooking all the time. I also lost great aunts plain bread stuffing and in trying to duplicate it numerous times I still haven’t figured out the correct measurements. Mine either has too much sage, not enough sage, wrong bread, etc., etc. It’s what we like and the kids are still wanting the stuffing of the childhood. Help?

  21. Recipe looks wonderful! I think I’ll try it but swap out the nuts for chopped water chestnuts. I love using them whenever I would like to add a crunch without adding flavor. I even add them to tuna salad.

    1. Hi Sean, you could, but the cornbread would lose a lot of its taste and texture. You might consider swapping them for some of the different variations in the post, like using mushrooms instead of sausage, carrots instead of the fruit, etc. Let us know what you try!

  22. How toasted should the cornbread be? I toasted the cornbread cubes for 15 mins and they are still really soft.

    1. Hi Simone, you just want the cornbread to be lightly toasted — 10-15 minutes should be plenty. It will still be somewhat soft, but not so much so that it becomes mushy when mixed with the other ingredients. Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you. And if I only have ground sage available, what amount should I use?

      2. Hi Simone, 1 teaspoon of rubbed sage is approximately 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage.

  23. Hi Sally! I just finished everything up to step 4. I want to bake it tomorrow but will letting the raw egg and broth mixture sit in the fridge overnight with the other veggie and cornbread ingredients mixed in be okay? I wasn’t sure if I need to bake it first and reheat tomorrow or if I can do the full bake tomorrow. Thanks!

    1. Hi MK, you can let it sit overnight and bake tomorrow. Hope it’s a hit!

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