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Cornbread stuffing question

I've decided to go with a cornbread/sausage/sage/onion stuffing for turkey day. I've always made bread or rice stuffings, so this is new territory for me. I've purused many a recipe and I am going to go with a combination from several sources. I'm buying a loaf of cornbread from a local bakery.

When I make bread stuffings, I usually will let a loaf go stale then I cut it into cubes and stick it into the oven to dry it out some more.

For the cornbread stuffing recipes, some recipes say to cube and dry in the oven. Other recipes skip that step. Also, none of the recipes say to use stale cornbread. Some even have me baking my own (not going to happen) and then drying it out in the oven.

Should I let the cornbread go stale?

Also, which would get the better result?

1) dry it out in the oven
2) skip this step and just make the stuffing


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  1. I've been making this stuffing for years...my favorite....I cube the bread and let it dry out for better texture...I'm sure it will taste great either way

    1. Hi,

      Yes, I know it's kind of a pain to make your own cornbread. However, the cornbread recipes that usually accompany the dressing recipes make a much drier product than what you would otherwise want to eat. There are two recipes that I use, each has it's own cornbread recipe attached and each produces a very dry rather flavorless product, but it works great in the dressing. I usually make mine a day or two in advance and that step is done with.

      1. I make my own cornbread and let it age for a couple of days before I make the stuffing. I also use a hybrid recipe which has cornmeal with some flour (Northern) but no sugar (Southern) so I have a slightly moister cornbread than true Southern but not sweet. One year I made Southern cornbread and loved the full corn flavor but found it very dry so I've been making my in-between version ever since.

        1. I don't let it dry out or toast it before making dressing. BUT, I make a from-scratch cornbread that has little flour, no sugar, and plenty of bacon grease in it. So you might want to judge the texture of your cornbread...is it cakey? Soft, spongy? If so, let it get stale. Dry, sturdy, crumbly cornbread doesn't need to be dried out or toasted.

          1. My only warning on buying corn bread is that it is often very sweet, almost cake-level. I always prefer a savory cornbread, especially for dressing/stuffing. Just make sure you check it out first.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sagestrat

              The other day a local grocery deli had tasting samples of their cranberry cornbread stuffing. I heard a customer ask if they put anything spicy in the stuffing. The answer was no; just cranberries, etc. Then someone realized that they had used leftover jalapeno cornbread. The bite didn't jump out at the first taste, but was evident in the aftertaste.


            2. Thanks for the responses and you all bring up excellent points. The cornbread that I will be buying is used for sandwiches. It's not overly sweet but it's also not overly crumbly. (Cornbread from Hi-Rise in Cambridge, MA). I will probably pick it up today or tomorrow to dry it out.

              1. My reservations about the cornbread you are planning to use is that it is a type of bread used for sandwiches. That is going to give you a very different texture and flavor than a regular cornbread. If I were going that route and not making my own cornbread I'd just buy the Pepperidge Farms ready to go cornbread crumbs and proceed from there. Seems like what you are getting from the bakery is white bread with some cornmeal in it like Anadama bread, and your being in the Boston area and Anadama is a traditional NE corn type bread, that is probably what you are getting and it really will not produce cornbread dressing in the traditional sense of what cornbread dressing is.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Candy

                  As a regular consumer of Hi-Rise's cornbread, I concur with Candy. It is delicious, and will make a fine dressing, but it is not the kind of cornbread that traditional cornbread dressing is made from. HR's is a light bread, with some cornmeal added for crunch. If you use that for dressing, I'd definitely let it dry out first.

                  1. re: Splendid Spatula

                    Thanks SS and Candy. I was hoping a Boston local would see this thread.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      I'm not in Boston but am a long time maker and consumer of cornbreads and cornbread dressing and when I saw what you were planning I thought a conrbread intervention was needed or you were going to not get what you were planning on. Glad I could help.

                      1. re: Candy


                        I'll post results (and hopefully pics if I don't space) sometime next week.

                        1. re: Candy

                          Hi Candy, Don't know whether I posted about this before or not but this is a good time to chime in and thank you for the flourless, sugarless, cornbread stuffing recipe that you posted in Nov, 2004. The cornbread recipe isn't suitable for muffins but it makes perfectly delicious stuffing! Happy Holidays.

                  2. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I was planning on making a double or triple batch of cornbread from the Jiffy mix and letting it dry out. Probably too sweet though? In the past I've made my own cornbread from a Bon Appetit Maple Cornbread Stuffing recipe (circa 2001, and a winner).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mohotta

                      Nothing wrong with Jiffy if that's what you have. Given a choice between Jiffy and purchased crumbs, I'd choose Jiffy any day. Just remember that it's a little sweet and adjust your seasoning accordingly.

                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                        Oh HC, Jiffy is wayyyyyyy sweeter than the PF ready crumbs. I kind of put Jiffy in the cake/muffin category.

                        1. re: Candy

                          I'm with Candy on the PF ready crumbs. They're not greater, but I would accept them over Jiffy (in dressing) any day of the week.

                    2. I always use the sweet type of cornbread found in Whole Foods, or perhaps in the bakery section of the supermarket. We crumb it on Sunday, (my youngest daughter's job - done yesterday), and then let it dry out until Wednesday, remixing every day. I mix about 3 pounds of cornbread to one cubed loaf of good white, drying out together.
                      We like the sweetness of the cornbread mixed with our sage sausage and onion/celery/mushroom combination. Same recipe I've been using for 20 years, and everyone's favorite part of the meal.

                      1. I think the reason you are drying it out is so it does not dissolve into mush when you make the stuffing. Cornbread for dressing usually will not have flour, although I have made a flour one and it it good too. Since yours is a loaf bread, you should treat it like you would any regular bread stuffing and dry it out. I like to dry it in the oven. Cornbread is one of the easiest things to make.

                        1. Cook's Illustrated insists that tasters preferred cornbread stuffing made from (a) Northern-style (sweet) cornbread made from (b) cornbread that was cut into 1-inch cubes and oven-dried and (c) moistened with a combination of chicken broth and half-and-half. They claim that the smaller the pieces, the more corn flavor, but the mushier the stuffing, too. I've made several cornbread stuffings over the past few years, though based on consistent success with Cook's Illustrated recipes recently, I'll be trying their recipe on Thursday.


                          12 Replies
                          1. re: BJK

                            And I'll bet that CI's tasters didn't live in my neighborhood! Half-and-half has NO place in my cornbread dressing.

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste

                              The only dairy that goes into my dressings, whether bread with oysters or cornbrerad an sausage is butter.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                Well, CI is here in Brookline, MA, so their tastes may lean towards the Northeast, though I'm not sure if their tasting lab is all locals (we do have a very diverse population of students around these parts). And in three different cornbread stuffings, I've never used dairy, either, though I'm eager to see how it comes out.


                              2. re: BJK

                                Cook's Illustrated can put anything it wants into its Yankee version of Cornbread Stuffing.
                                Dairy products don't belong in any proper Cornbread Dressing however. That's not Kosher, Cajun, or Southern and it just ain't right.

                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  Hasn't gone in the oven yet, but the unbaked stuffing smells darn good. ;)

                                  It's amazing how a holiday that's all about tradition and comfort food seems to bring out the stuffing police in we who are supposedly all about yumminess!


                                  1. re: BJK

                                    BTW, best cornbread stuffing yet.


                                    1. re: BJK

                                      I'd like to try your half and half, but I'm also wondering how to handle the meat end of the deal. Are oysters completely out of the question? Is there a particular kind of sausage? How crumbly should said sausage be?

                                      1. re: broncosaurus

                                        Mine included chorizo, which I simply sliced lengthwise into
                                        quarters and then crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces. I'm sure
                                        oysters would be great, though don't know if you'd add them
                                        later in the cooking process?


                                      2. re: BJK

                                        I have made the CI cornbread stuffing with sausage the last 2 years in a row and it's a huge success. I think the addition of dairy adds richness.

                                      3. re: BJK

                                        For some, tradition comes in the form of taste memories & culturally-specific culinary practices...

                                      4. re: MakingSense

                                        Making Sense, I'm with you. This talk of half'n half, oysters, SUGAR!!! JIFFY!!!! in cornbread dressing is making me kinda sick.

                                        Non-sweet, no-flour stoneground-cornmeal cornbread made in a skillet with sizzling bacon drippings the day before and crumbled to dry out overnight, about 1/2 that much dry cubed white bread/biscuits, lots of sauteed-in-butter onion & celery, sage, S&P, chix broth & melted butter til it tosses just right with a fork. Only thing I ever add--if we've cooked several turkeys and don't need it all for the giblet gravy--is some of the chopped cooked giblets and that delicious neck meat . Bake 400 degrees ~30 min. or til golden brown on top.

                                        There was a perpetual dispute between my mother & grandmother re: eggs. I've come around to liking a couple of eggs in the dressing but they're not essential.
                                        What do you think? Or you, Candy? You sound very sound on cornbread dressing.

                                        For some reason that escapes me now, I made the CI "Absolutely perfect--or whatever they called it--cornbread dressing" when it came out in the mag a few years ago. Lots more work and It almost ruined my reputation as the family cornbread dressing queen.

                                        1. re: PhoebeB

                                          Hey PhoebeB Try adding the eggs but leaving out the bread crumbs or biscuits, an adjustment may be needed to the Chicken broth and use more butter, My grammy passed that recipe down thru 4 generations and we can all tell if one of us messes it up LOL

                                    2. Thanks everyone. I am going to pick up my loaf tomorrow and dry it out in the oven. Next time, I will probably make my own cornbread. This year, I don't have the time... or I should clarify, I didn't put it in the cooking schedule.

                                      Ahh, turkey, a holiday devoted to eating and cooking. I can't wait.

                                      1. After allowing the cornbread to dry out overnight, I crumble it and brown it in a large pan. The browning brings out the "nuttiness" of the corn bread. Turn/stir it often and watch it like a hawk so it doesn't burn.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sheron

                                          OH yeuh great idea I will try that certainly!

                                        2. My reason for letting my cornbread sit and dry out for two days is so that it can absorb more turkey juices without getting completely soggy. I'm a Southerner, but I make my cornbread Yankee-style, using half cornmeal and half flour and some sugar; maybe it's because I have a New-Yorker husband who likes his cornbread sweet. In the South, cornbread dressing (as we call stuffing) typically is made with cornbread that has no wheat flour and no sugar in it, yet please note that the dressing often includes biscuit crumbs as well (in equal parts with the cornbread) -- there's the flour.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: browniebaker

                                            I am in southern Georgia...No biscuts or bread for me just good ole cornbread made with 1c flour to 3c. meal. Just let cool to the touch and start adding the vegies and by time to get eggs involved it will be dry enough..ya let thu steam escape!

                                          2. I made corn bread for stuffing this year. I ended up making two 8"x8" pans. One I let get stale and kept the other fresh. I combined them both to make stuffing (plus onions, celery, apples and roasted chestnuts. Mom's a vegetarian so I didnt put any meat in the stuffing.) The combination of the two different consistencies of the cornbread made for great texture to the stuffing. I didnt put any dairy into the stuffing except for what went into making the cornbread.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jes

                                              It's too late now, as the turkey is out of the barn, but i make a corn bread stuffing almost every year. I make it from basic yellow corn meal, but use less sugar and a bit more salt than if made for eating. Also, rather than bake it in the specified 8 x 8 pan, I bake it in a considerably larger pan so that it spreads out and rises to no more than a half inch. That way, when I go to cube it after it cools, I don't have to cut it latitudinally; i just slice it into squares and air-dry it for a day or 2. And I usually mix it with equal parts country white bread cubes and an assortment of dried cherries, apricots and cranberries that have been steeped in Calvados or Jack Daniels or, this year, Old Yeller, and then the usual tart apples, onions and celery and toasted hazelnuts. I meant to add chopped bacon this year, but forgot [probably because half the Old Yeller went to the dried fruit and the other half to me].

                                            2. This is my company recipe for holidays. But, I have found that I can make a dressing for the two of us using Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing (the one in a bag) and Pepperidge Farm white bread in equal amounts, along with sauteed onion and celery, one egg, chicken broth to moisten, and seasonings.

                                              * Exported from MasterCook *

                                              Southern Cornbread Dressing

                                              1 Cornbread recipe (follows)
                                              6 sl Firm white bread
                                              1 md Onion, diced
                                              2 lg Celery ribs, diced
                                              2 Eggs
                                              1/2 c Butter, melted
                                              4 c Chicken broth
                                              2 ts Baking powder

                                              Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Break
                                              bread and cornbread into a large bowl and pour the chicken broth over to
                                              moisten. Meanwhile, saute the celery and onion in the melted butter until
                                              tender but not browned. Add the celery and onion mixture to the bread
                                              mixture and beat in the eggs. Add additional broth if needed to make a
                                              batter. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add any herbs your
                                              family likes, such as sage, poultry seasoning, fine herbes, thyme, etc.
                                              Just before pouring the batter into the baking pan, quickly beat in the
                                              baking powder.

                                              Bake about 40 minutes, or until nicely browned. (One cup chopped oysters,
                                              drained, OR, one cup chopped cooked chestnuts may be added.)

                                              CORNBREAD: Mix 1 cup white stone ground cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, 3
                                              teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a
                                              medium bowl. Mix 1 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a
                                              small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just
                                              until all is moistened. Bake in a greased pan at 450 degrees F. for 15 to
                                              20 minutes until brown.

                                              Cut into squares and serve with gravy.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: magnolia

                                                That's a pretty solid basic recipe, but the eggs and baking powder--do they make it into more of a--how to say it-- firm sponge-cakey sort of dressing rather than a moist but crumbly one? The Southern dressing I'm used to can be scooped into a loose ball but hardly be cut in squares.

                                                As I said, there was a long-standing debate in my family on whether or not to use eggs, and I've never seriously tested it both ways to see which I like best. Next time I make it I'm going to make one pan with eggs and one w/o.

                                                1. re: magnolia

                                                  I know this thread is kind of old, but did you mean that you cut the cornbread into squares and serve with gravy or the stuffing?

                                                  Either way, these recipes sound great! Thanks!

                                                  1. re: OysterHo

                                                    PhoebeB, I am with you all the way, I do like boiled eggs in my dressing, but I agree
                                                    with all that you have mentioned. thats just the way I make my dressing/stuffing every
                                                    time. I know I would enjoy setting at your table. happy holidays.

                                                2. Hunny I am in South Georgia and my Gramma told and showed me just how to make it only thing is I just cant show you the texture it is supposed to be. To make corn bread you put 1/3 cup flour to 3 cups cornmeal and use that that has the stuff added like Complete cornbread mix. Then add only one egg and 1/4 cup grease or oil to the mix and put 1/4 cup in the iron skillet. pour it in and bake at 400 till medium browned. then that was easy!!! When you can git yer hands into it crumble it all up and let it sit while you chop onion celery put that in then pepper the whole thing and add yer sage I use 4 tbsp and add 2 eggs and 1 stick of butter now here is where ya don't need to add toooo much juice...ya use the juice from yer turkey and it should feel like oatmeal not too wet not too dry bake at 400 till nicely browned and ya got dressin' If too dry put some more juice and let sit if it too soggy crumble it up with a fork and cook longer to dry it out some
                                                  I hope ya get it right remember some like it stuck together and some like it crumbly so suit yer self!