Grandma's Cornbread Dressing Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 40 min. + cooling Bake: 45 min.
This homemade Southern dressing is a marvelous side dish for both holiday and everyday dinners. Crumbled cornbread is mixed with seasonings, vegetables, cream of chicken soup and broth to create a dish that can easily serve a crowd.

Updated: Jun. 04, 2024

Cornbread dressing recipes are a staple of Southern holiday dinners, especially Thanksgiving. They’re also the subject of one of the more common cooking terminology debates. Dressing (that isn’t for a salad) looks a whole lot like stuffing, and the two are regularly confused by those who don’t understand why they’re called what they’re called. If you want to get technical about it, stuffing is a mixture that’s literally stuffed into the cavity of a bird before roasting. Dressing is stuffing, just baked in a pan instead of roasted inside a bird. The word dressing may have come into use during the Victorian era as a more elegant form of stuffing.

However, the real difference may be regional. That’s because there are Southern cooks who stuff birds with dressing before roasting them together, and non-Southern cooks who bake their stuffing recipes. The main dividing line appears to be whether the recipe is from the southeast United States or elsewhere.

So, how to make cornbread dressing? You’ll bake a crumbly batch of cornbread, then bake the crumbs a second time with additional ingredients. Other than waiting for the cornbread to cool, this Southern dressing recipe doesn’t take much time or effort to complete.

Southern Dressing Ingredients


  • All-purpose flour: Flour in traditional Southern cornbread is controversial, but this recipe uses it to make the bread a little less dense.
  • Cornmeal: It wouldn’t be cornbread without cornmeal.
  • Baking powder: There’s no yeast in this recipe, so baking powder is what helps the cornbread rise.
  • Eggs: Eggs function as a binder here, holding the ingredients together, as well as adding structure. Use large eggs in this recipe, because two of them provide the right amount of “liquid” ingredient when combined with the buttermilk.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk reacts with the baking powder to make the risen bread less dense, as well as making the flavor a bit richer. Baking powder doesn’t necessarily need buttermilk to activate, but the combination here makes the bread lighter and easier to crumble.


  • Onion: Use a regular medium-sized onion here; it will mellow out when cooked and lend a slightly sweet yet still savory flavor to the final dish.
  • Celery ribs: Like the onion, celery provides a lot of flavor (there’s a reason it’s part of mirepoix and the Cajun Holy Trinity), softening as it cooks in oil and again during the final round of baking.
  • Eggs: The eggs here provide binding and structure like they did for the cornbread. Use large eggs only.
  • Condensed cream of chicken soup: Use condensed soup here, because that helps thicken the dressing mixture. The chicken lends flavor, and the soup makes the final dish creamy.
  • Poultry seasoning: Save yourself time and trouble by adding your favorite poultry seasoning for flavor instead of measuring out individual spices and herbs. This also complements the flavor of the chicken soup (and broth), as well as whatever bird you’re serving this dish with.
  • Chicken broth: Without the broth, the dressing mixture would be too thick and dry. Broth adds more chicken flavor in addition to some much-needed moisture that allows for easier mixing and a moister result.


Step 1: Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately

Preheat your oven to 400°F, and grab two large bowls. In one, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In the other, mix together the buttermilk and eggs.

Step 2: Preheat the skillet

Add 1/4 cup of canola oil to an 8-inch ovenproof skillet, and put it in the preheated oven for four minutes.

Step 3: Combine wet and dry ingredients

Take the buttermilk-egg mixture and add it to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are moist; do not overmix.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t add the dry ingredients to the wet, because that makes it more likely that the mixture will clump. Adding wet to dry produces a smoother batter.

Step 4: Bake the cornbread

Carefully tilt the hot skillet so the oil spreads around the bottom. Pour the batter into the skillet, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Editor’s Tip: You don’t have to toast or dry out the cornbread for this recipe. Just make sure it’s cooled completely before you crumble it.

Step 5: Soften the celery and onion

Lower the oven to 350°. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to a pan over medium-high heat, and add the chopped onion and celery. Stir constantly and let the celery and onion soften, four to six minutes. Take the skillet off the heat when the onion and celery are tender.

Step 6: Prepare the dressing

Crumble up the entire pan of cornbread, add the crumbs to the skillet and mix the crumbs and vegetables together. In a bowl, combine the eggs, condensed cream of chicken soup (do not dilute it first), poultry seasoning, pepper and salt. Stir those wet ingredients into the crumb mixture, then add the chicken broth. Give everything a final stir.

Step 7: Bake it again

Pour the mixture into a 13×9-inch baking pan, and bake for 45 to 55 minutes; the top should be lightly browned.

Southern Dressing Variations

  • Go gluten-free: If you have a gluten-free homemade cornbread recipe that’s light and easy to crumble, you can try using that; just be aware that if it contains any sugar, the cornbread may have a slightly different texture that isn’t as bread-like. The more sugar you add to a baked good, the more cakey the final baked good will be.
  • Change up the aromatics: This recipe uses only onion and celery along with poultry seasoning, but you can try adding garlic or fresh herbs to the mixture instead. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of garlic, fresh thyme or other aromatics to play around with the flavor. Just don’t experiment right before serving the dish at a party; always test new variations beforehand to ensure the result will be a hit.

How to Store Southern Cornbread Dressing

You can store leftover cornbread dressing in the refrigerator or freezer. To refrigerate, divide and package the leftovers before the dressing has been out for two hours. Cut the leftovers into portions, place them in shallow food storage containers and refrigerate; use within four days. If you want to freeze the leftovers, cut them into portions so you can remove individual servings easily. Place the portions in freezer-safe containers, freeze them at 0° or below and use within three months.

Southern Dressing Tips

Do you have to use a cast-iron skillet?

You don’t have to use a cast-iron skillet to make the cornbread. It does help to make the cornbread edges nice and crisp, but remember, you’ll be crumbling up the cornbread and mixing it with creamy soup and broth. Cooking with cast iron can increase the iron content of the food somewhat. But if you’re not concerned about that, you can use any ovenproof skillet that can withstand the baking temperature.

Why can’t you mix all the cornbread ingredients in one bowl?

Simply put, trying to mix everything in one bowl at once would be a mess. Ingredients might not be mixed as well as they should, and you could end up with clumpy batter that doesn’t bake very well. Even though you have to wash a second bowl when the mixing is done, the smoother batter is worth the effort.

Can you make cornbread dressing ahead of time?

You can definitely make the cornbread in advance; in fact, making it the day before ensures that it will be completely cool when you start the dressing. You could even crumble the cooled cornbread the day before (store it in the refrigerator). The rest of the dressing is a bit tricky. You really don’t want a mix with raw eggs sitting around, even in your fridge. And while baking the dressing and then storing it for a day might sound convenient, you could face safety issues trying to cool down an entire uncut pan of dressing and reheat the whole thing properly. What you can do is chop the onion and celery so you have them ready to go. Keep the chopped veggies in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator and use them the next day. Chopped celery should be in a container that has enough water to cover the celery, and be sure to dry the celery before sauteing it, to prevent splattering.

Grandma's Southern Cornbread Dressing

Prep Time 40 min
Cook Time 45 min
Yield 12 servings.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken broth


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk. Pour oil into an 8-in. ovenproof skillet; place skillet in oven for 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened.
  3. Carefully tilt and rotate skillet to coat bottom with oil; add batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. Reduce oven setting to 350°. For dressing, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir 4-6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Coarsely crumble cornbread into skillet; toss to combine. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, condensed soup and seasonings; stir into bread mixture. Stir in broth.
  5. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Bake 45-55 minutes or until lightly browned.

Nutrition Facts

2/3 cup: 236 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat), 83mg cholesterol, 969mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 2g fiber), 7g protein.

Growing up, we didn’t have turkey. We had chicken, chopped and baked in my grandmother’s dressing. Now we leave out the chicken and keep the cornbread dressing. —Suzanne Mohme, Bastrop, Texas