This Southern-Style Cornbread Stuffing with bacon, onion, celery, and plenty of herbs and species is a flavor-packed Thanksgiving side dish the whole family will love.
It's impossible to have Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing. And while there are dozens of ways to make this popular side dish, from Skillet Vegan Stuffing to Wild Rice Stuffing, my family always has a classic Southern-style stuffing on the table. It's made with cornbread and has a savory, smoky and sweet flavor that everyone loves.
The difference between southern-style cornbread stuffing and many other recipes is one important ingredient: cheese. That's right, this baked stuffing is topped with gooey melted cheddar cheese. Add bacon, dried herbs, paprika and onion and you have a totally flavor-packed stuffing that will disappear quickly!
Cornbread vs. Regular Stuffing
If you usually make stuffing with white bread, I urge you to try this stepped-up version. Cornbread adds a decadent flavor and a bit of sweetness to the stuffing. It also soaks up all of the delicious flavors from eggs, broth, and spices wonderfully.
Stuffing vs. Dressing
The technical difference between stuffing and dressing is just the way it's cooked. Stuffing is cooked inside a bird, while dressing is baked in a dish on its own. However, these days the two terms are used pretty much interchangeably.
Here's what you need to make the most flavorful cornbread stuffing, Southern-style:
Cornbread. Using day-old cornbread is best, so if you can, make it the day before and let it dry out.
Bacon. You could also use candied bacon for a tasty sweet and savory addition. See the notes section below for how to make easy candied bacon.
Red onion. Yellow or white will also work in a pinch.
Garlic powder. You could also use a minced garlic clove.
Dried herbs. I use parsley, basil, and oregano, but rosemary, thyme, and marjoram also work.
Paprika. For a touch of heat.
Egg. This helps your stuffing hold together and gives it a custardy texture.
Chicken stock. Use low-sodium store-bought or make your own!
Cheddar cheese. I like mild cheddar, but sharp will also work.
Tips for Success
Use these tips for Southern-Style Cornbread Stuffing perfectly the first time:
Let your cornbread dry out for a day. After baking it, l recommend tearing the bread into 1-inch pieces and letting them dry out on the counter for a day. Drier bread absorbs more flavor!
If the top is browning too quickly in the oven, cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Beat the egg before you add it to the stuffing mixture so that everything gets blended well.
Make gluten-free cornbread stuffing by using a gluten-free cornbread recipe or baking mix.
Vegetarian Southern-Style Stuffing
I like the addition of smoky bacon in this classic stuffing recipe. But you can certainly leave the bacon out for a vegetarian Thanksgiving side dish.
Storing Leftover Stuffing
If you have leftovers, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can reheat the stuffing in the microwave in 30-second intervals until hot. Or, if you're making turkey soup after Thanksgiving, I like to add a scoop of cornbread stuffing on top.
What to Serve with Thanksgiving Stuffing
I'll be serving this cornbread stuffing with new and classic side dishes. If you're looking for holiday menu inspiration, try these recipes:
6-7cupscubed cornbread(I used a cornbread mix; Day old cornbread is best!)
6-8cooked bacon strips, chopped(Candied bacon adds a nice touch!)
½red onion, chopped
1largeegg, lightly beaten
1cuporganic chicken stock or broth
1 ½cupsMild cheddar cheese, shredded
TO MAKE THE CORNBREAD:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add cubed cornbread unto baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes or until crispy and edges are golden.
In bowl, whisk together the chicken stock/broth, beaten egg, and seasonings.
In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (oven-safe), lightly grease with butter. Add toasted cornbread into skillet (spreading out evenly), and pour mixture unto cornbread.
Sprinkle on the chopped bacon, celery, and onions, slowly tucking everything in between the cornbread. Sprinkle on cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes to hour, until cheese has melted, top is golden brown, and everything is crispy. Remove from oven once done.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
CANDIED BACON: Place the bacon on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush the tops of the bacon with maple syrup and sprinkle on some brown sugar. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10-15 minutes or so, flipping the bacon and brushing the opposite side with maple syrup and sprinkling the brown sugar as well. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until it is completely caramelized and crispy.