Cornbread dressing is a great alternative to bread stuffing that is sweeter, more moist and just as flavorful. The herbs and maple syrup often found in breakfast sausage complement the cornbread nicely, while chile flakes add great heat to balance it all. Use your favorite recipe or premade cornbread for this dressing. Or simply follow the instructions below this recipe to make the exact amount of cornbread needed from a popular boxed mix. And if you want a more “wet” dressing, use 1 extra cup of chicken stock in the recipe.
This recipe is part of our Guide to Classic Thanksgiving, a collection of simple recipes for timeless holiday dishes to make this year and for years to come.
Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon as you stir, until it is cooked through and browned and caramelized at the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the celery and onions, followed by 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper and chile flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and translucent and just beginning to brown at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the stock.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter. Place the cornbread in a large bowl, then pour the stock and aromatics over the top. Stir to combine, then let the cornbread stand, stirring once halfway through, to let it soak in the stock, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the eggs, and stir until evenly combined. Spoon the cornbread mixture into the buttered dish, and cover tightly with foil.
Bake the dressing for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and drizzle the top of the dressing with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Continue baking until the top of the dressing is golden brown and crisp, an additional 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
While I’m a staunch proponent of homemade cornbread, not many people have cornbread lying around for Thanksgiving. If you can’t find store-bought cornbread, use a mix. To make the amount of cornbread needed for this dressing recipe, do the following:
In a large bowl, whisk together 726 grams (1 pound 9.5 ounces; 4 1/2 cups) cornbread muffin mix (three 8.5-ounce boxes, such as Jiffy) with 1 cup milk and 3 large eggs until smooth. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake at 400 degrees until light golden at the edges, 20 to 22 minutes. Let the cornbread cool completely before using in the dressing recipe.
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