Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

This Cornbread Sausage Stuffing is the only recipe you ever need!

This Cornbread Sausage Stuffing (Dressing) is loaded with nutty cornbread, juicy sausage, dried cranberries, apples and pecans for the BEST Cornbread Sausage Stuffing of your life!  This wonderfully savory, buttery, herb infused stuffing is moist, flavorful, easy and absolutely addicting!  It is destined to become your new go-to recipe!!

up close of a spoon scooping up old fashioned southern cornbread dressing recipe

Cornbread Stuffing Recipe

Thanksgiving stuffing is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as turkey.   Pile it high and hope you are the first one back in line for seconds before it disappears.  And this Cornbread Sausage Stuffing will disappear.

While I understand that stuffing is a uniquely personal thing, I really hope you will fall in love with this Cornbread Stuffing because I am SO IN LOVE with it!  I was craving this stuffing leftovers for breakfast lunch, dinner and when I wasn’t hungry at all.  Seriously, the BEST stuffing I have ever tried!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DRESSING AND STUFFING?

Some call it dressing, some call it stuffing, some call it both interchangeably.  Who’s right?   Basically stuffing is stuffed inside and cooked in the turkey – a name that makes perfect sense!   Dressing, on the other hand, is cooked outside of the turkey in a baking dish, so technically this Cornbread Stuffing is actually Cornbread Dressing!  No matter what you choose to call it though, everyone can agree on one name, “Delicious!”

Ingredients for the Best Cornbread Stuffing:

There are a few elements that make this Cornbread Stuffing the best – but not just the best cornbread stuffing – the BEST STUFFING:

  • Cornbread:  first and foremost, the cornbread.  Cornbread adds a wonderfully savory character to the stuffing with an added dimension of buttery cornbread flavor without tasting too much like cornbread.
  • White bread:  that is in part because we also mix the cornbread with white bread.  I like to use an Italian loaf.
  • Crackers: we also add a sleeve of Ritz crackers for a layer of buttery, salty, crumbly flavor/texture.  All three of these starches are delicious alone and exponentially better together as the base of our stuffing.
  • Sausage:  sausage elevates this Cornbread Stuffing like you never thought possible because everything is better with sausage AND fat equals flaVOR!  The sausage adds the moistness and fat that the bird drippings traditionally add to create a moist, rich stuffing. I use sage flavored sausage by Jimmy Dean but if you can’t find it or don’t like the taste of sage, feel free to use plain and add in the amount of dried sage you prefer.
  • Add-ins:  some people are purists when it comes to their cornbread stuffing which is completely fine, but I like to add what makes it taste better!  My mom always added sausage to her stuffing along with celery and Granny Smith apples – so, so good.  In addition, I’ve also added toasted pecans and dried cranberries to this Cornbread Sausage Stuffing, and while it might sound like a lot of goodies, they come together in one harmonious bite that is addictingly delicious!  The tartness of the apples is complimented by the sweetness of the dried cranberries and the pecans add the needed bit of texture.
  • Seasonings:  you can have the best textured, juicy Cornbread Sausage  Stuffing, but if it’s lacking flavor it will be a disappointment.  But never fear, seasonings are here!  The sage seasoned sausage as well as the cornbread and Ritz crackers provide a delectable base for our stuffing. It is then adeptly seasoned with garlic, chicken bouillon, dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt and pepper.  The seasonings add just the right amount of flavor and enhance the tasty stuffing without distracting from it. 
  • Chicken broth:  please use low sodium chicken broth so our Cornbread Stuffing isn’t too salty.  The amount of chicken broth you need will range from 3-4 cups depending on how moist you like your stuffing.
  • Why Do I need Eggs?: while you don’t typically need eggs in stuffing recipes with white bread, cornbread is more crumbly so the eggs will help everything hold together better.  They bind the stuffing together but won’t make your stuffing taste “eggy.”

a white casserole dish of Thanksgiving Cornbread Sausage Stuffing garnished with parsley

How to Make Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

  • Make Cornbread:  You can use your favorite cornbread recipe or one 16 oz. pkg. cornbread mix and prepare  it according to package directions – either will work great for our purposes because we are going to be drying it out anyway.  
  • Dry Bread on Counter:  One of the most important elements to stuffing is drying out the bread and cornbread.  You want your bread to be as dry as possible so it will soak up more seasonings/juices/broth and become saturated with yum while still holding its shape and not becoming soggy. I make my cornbread the day before my stuffing and leave it on the counter to dry it out and I also use day old Italian bread.
  • Toast Bread:  In addition to leaving the bread out overnight, you are going to toast your cornbread and white bread in the oven until they resemble croutons to ensure they are dry as possible.  Toasting the chopped bread also adds yet another dimension of flavor.  If you don’t have time to make your cornbread and let it sit out overnight, then you can toast it an additional 10-15 minutes or until its completely dried out.
  • Cook Sausage:  Cook the sausage in a skillet until completely browned, then remove with a slotted spoon so the excess grease stays behind.  You will want to transfer it to a VERY large bowl –  bowl large enough to hold all of the Cornbread Stuffing ingredients with some wiggle room to toss it around.

showing how to make Cornbread Stuffing by mixing cornbread, Italian bread, sausage, apples, onions, pecans in a big bowl

  • Saute Onions: Next, we go to flavor town by melting butter in the remaining sausage grease and sauteing the onions for a few minutes followed by apples, celery, garlic and adding all seasonings.
  • Combine:  Transfer this mixture to the sausage bowl along with toasted bread, crushed Ritz, pecans, and cranberries, then stir in some chicken broth until evenly coated.  Whisk eggs in a small bowl until frothy then whisk in 1 cup chicken broth. Pour over stuffing and gently mix until evenly combined.
  • Bake:  Cover the Cornbread Stuffing with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. If you like a more moist stuffing, bake for less time, for a less moist stuffing bake for longer.
two hand holding a white casserole dish of the best Cornbread Stuffing with sausage

DO I NEED TO MAKE MY OWN CORNBREAD?

Nope!  You can buy a box of pre-made cornbread stuffing and prepare according to package directions.  Look for cornbread that does not include extra seasonings.  If it is a box of pre-seasoned crumbs, you run the risk of over-seasoning your stuffing, or you can leave out some of the seasonings in the recipe – but then you run the risk of under-seasoned Cornbread Stuffing.  So, always go with a box of PLAIN cornbread!

How to Get the Best Texture of Cornbread Stuffing

Texture is probably where the biggest discrepancy between stuffing connoisseurs lies.   Some people like their stuffing light and airy, others like it firm and solid and I like it somewhere in between so its light and moist, seasoned buttery bread without being soggy at all.

I use two eggs to bind the stuffing a little together – just enough so its not falling apart and crumbling all over but not too many so it doesn’t stick together in one solid homogeneous piece.

If you like a more moist, dense stuffing, feel free to use more chicken broth/eggs.  If you like a drier stuffing, simply bake the stuffing longer.

Either way, you are going to want to remove the foil at the end of baking to create a wonderfully golden, slightly crispy top that is arguably one of the best parts of any stuffing.

far away shot of a spoon scooping up easy cornbread stuffing

CAN YOU PREPARE UNCOOKED STUFFING AHEAD OF TIME AND REFRIGERATE IT?

Traditional stuffing can be assembled two days in advance, placed into a covered pan, and refrigerated until ready.  This method works because sourdough, ciabatta, etc. can drink up quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.

Cornbread, however, is not as dense or crusty as bakery bread, and will lose its special texture and can even turn mushy if allowed to sit in liquid overnight.

Therefore, I do NOT recommend completely assembling Cornbread Stuffing with the liquid ahead of time, but you an certainly prep all of the ingredients and keep them separate.  To prep ahead:

Dry the bread, cook the sausage and combine it with the cooked onions, celery, apples, garlic, pecans, cranberries, chicken bouillon and all seasoning/spices.  Keep the toasted bread, crushed Ritz, chicken broth and eggs separate.

When ready to bake, you literally have less than 5 minutes of prep!  Simply stir in your toasted bread/cornbread, Ritz, chicken broth and whisked egg, and bake!

CAN I USE STUFFING IN A BOX?

It depends on what you’re looking for.  I don’t recommend boxed stuffing for this Cornbread Stuffing Recipe.   But if you’re looking for a quick and easy alternative, you can start with the boxed mix and doctor it up by adding anything from sautéed mushrooms, onions, sausage, bacon, apples, pears, pecans, water chestnuts, celery, carrots, craisins, raisins, etc.  Be creative!  It can be a different stuffing every time.

I hope you make this Cornbread Stuffing, love it, crave it and it becomes a new family favorite for generations to come!  xo

Looking for More Thanksgiving Recipes?

up close of cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples, pecans, craisins

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REPLACE

Cornbread Stuffing

This Cornbread Stuffing (Dressing) is loaded with nutty cornbread, juicy sausage, dried cranberries, apples and pecans for the BEST Cornbread Sausage Stuffing of our life!  This wonderfully savory, buttery, herb infused stuffing is moist, flavorful, easy and absolutely addicting!  It is destined to become your new go-to recipe!!
Servings: 12 -16 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz. pkg. cornbread mix prepared according to directions*
  • 4 cups cubed (1/2-inch) day old white bread (I like Italian)
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (26 crackers)
  • 1 pound fresh sage pork sausage (I use Jimmy Dean)**
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 celery ribs, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried basil, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme , pepper
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (crasins)
  • 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  • Prepare cornbread according to directions. Allow baked cornbread to sit out overnight in order to dry out.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice cornbread and white bread into ½ inch cubes. Add to 2 baking sheets and bake for 35-45 minutes or until completely dried out (they should resemble croutons).
  • Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet until nicely browned, breaking up any clumps. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a very large bowl.
  • Melt butter in remaining fat in skillet. Add onions and cook 5 minutes. Add celery, apples, garlic, chicken bouillon and all seasoning/spices and cook for 2 minutes, while stirring. Transfer to bowl with sausage and stir in toasted bread, crushed Ritz, pecans, and cranberries.
  • Stir in 2 ½ cups chicken broth until evenly coated. Whisk eggs in small bowl until frothy then whisk in 1 cup chicken broth. Pour over stuffing and gently mix until evenly combined. Optional – If you like a super moist stuffing add an additional 1/2-1 cup broth to stuffing.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. For a less moist stuffing, simply bake longer.

Notes

*If you don’t have time to make your cornbread and let it sit out overnight, then bake it an additional 10-15 minutes in step 1 or until its completely dried out. 
**If you can’t find sage sausage, then use plain and add 1/2-1 teaspoons dried sage, according to taste.

HOW TO PREP AHEAD

Traditional stuffing can be assembled two days in advance, placed into a covered pan, and refrigerated until ready.  This method works because sourdough, ciabatta, etc. can drink up quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.  Cornbread, however, is not as dense or crusty as bakery bread, and will lose its special texture and can even turn mushy if allowed to sit in liquid overnight.  Therefore, I do NOT recommend completely assembling Cornbread Stuffing with the liquid ahead of time, but you an certainly prep all of the ingredients and keep them separate.  To prep ahead:
Dry the bread, cook the sausage and combine it with the cooked onions, celery, apples, garlic, pecans, cranberries, chicken bouillon and all seasoning/spices.  Keep the toasted bread, crushed Ritz, chicken broth and eggs separate.
When ready to bake, you literally have less than 5 minutest of prep!  Simply stir in your toasted bread/cornbread, Ritz, chicken broth and whisked egg,, combine and bake!
 

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44 Comments

  1. Kristen says

    Hi Jen, I am so excited you posted a stuffing recipe because I am in charge of stuffing this year and I know your recipe is going to be the best! I have been making at least one of your recipes once a week since I found your blog 6 months ago and every single one has been a hit! Thank you for all your hard work and wonderful recipes!

    • Jen says

      What a kind comment to wake up to, thank you so much Kristen! I am thrilled you have made so many of my recipes and are loving them – yay! I think you will really love this stuffing too – I couldn’t stop eating it! Happy Early Thanksgiving!

  2. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! I have never met a stuffing/dressing that I did not like, it is my favorite food at Thanksgiving! While everyone else is reaching for turkey I’m going for the stuffing! This one has so many wonderful components! I like to add oysters to mine and sometimes I use pears instead of apples. Aren’t holiday dinners the best!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Dorothy, I agree, the stuffing is one of the best parts! I am so intrigued at the use of oysters – sounds super yummy and such a fun way to dress it up! pears also sound divine! Yes, holiday dinners are the best, so many wonderful flavors and so many friends and family to share them with!

  3. Jillian says

    Hi again! This is kind of random, but I was wondering if you’d ever do a blog post on your top favorite recipes (your recipes) or the ones you make the most?!

    I have tried so many of your recipes and have loved them all – so I’d absolutely love if you’d share your personal top!

    Have a good evening! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Jillian, I am so happy you are enjoying my recipes! As far as favorites, I haven’t done a post on my personal favorites but I could try and email you some of my favs, all though it is going to be HARD 🙂 What ones have you tried and I’ll give you some suggestions from there 🙂

  4. Carmen says

    Do you use a sliced italian loaf or an italian loaf similar to a french bread baguette? So excited to try this recipe for Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Carmen! I use an Italian loaf similar to a french bread baguette. Hope you love it and Happy early Thanksgiving!

  5. Megan says

    Hi, I was wondering if this recipe is good for make ahead. If I were to make the entire dish the night before but didn’t bake it until just before dinner, would the stuffing still be good?

    • Jen says

      Hi Megan, the stuffing loses its great texture if made but not baked the night before. You could make and BAKE the night before and reheat the day of OR you could prep up to step 5 then add the chicken broth/eggs the day of – that would be super quick. Hope this helps! Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Melissa says

        Perfect! I was looking for the make ahead/reheat option also. Looks delish, will be trying it this Thanksgiving. Thanks!

        • Jen says

          You are so welcome! Hope its a hit!

  6. Allie says

    Hi there! Great recipes!
    Question: What is dried sausage?

    • Jen says

      Hi Allie! No dried sausage here – just fresh 🙂

      • Nicole says

        I believe it’s meant to read “dried sage” (in the footnote, if you can’t find sage sausage).

        Looking forward to making this today!

        • Jen says

          hahaha! Yes, it should be dried sage – thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!

          • DeDe Mason says

            I don’t see sage in the recipe… How much is needed? Thanks!

          • Jen says

            Hi there, it is sage sausage – that is where the sage comes from 🙂 Hope that helps, enjoy!

  7. MaryLiz says

    Sounds delish Jen! Do you use white or yellow
    Cornmeal or pkg cornbread mix?

    • Jen says

      I use a Famous Dave’s cornbread mix. Hope that helps! Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Koree says

        Hi Jen! I’m planning to make your stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving. How much cornbread does the 16 oz Famous Dave’s coornbread yield? An 8×8 pan? Or 9×13? The reason I ask is that my husband is in the Navy & we’re currently living in Japan. I can get Jiffy Cornbread mix on base – it’s an 8.5 oz box, but says it yields 6-8 muffins or an 8×8 pan. Should I pick up 2? Thanks!!

        • Jen says

          Hi Koree, you will need a 16 oz. cornbread mix – so you would need two Jiffy boxes. Enjoy!

  8. Allie says

    Jen… I handed this recipe to my son this Thanksgiving. At age 50, he is interested in cooking. Thank you so much for recipe! It was outstanding! The best stuffing I have ever tasted! Good job, says “I”.

    Son’s wife thought there were too many ingredients…….no wonder he is learning to cook…..ha….

    • Jen says

      Wow, “the best stuffing you’ve ever tasted” is the ultimate compliment, thank you so so much Allie! I truly am thrilled you loved it so much! I hope you son has success with it as well – a few extra ingredients makes it extra special! As my mom always said, “if you can read you can cook” so I hope he gives it a try!

  9. Melissa Howell says

    Hi Jen! I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! I just used Italian sausage (because it is what I had) and omitted the Italian-type spices listed in the recipe and it was fantastic! Thanks for coming up with something totally delicious again!

    • Jen says

      This makes me so happy Melissa! I am flattered you would make one of my recipe for such a special occasion and thrilled it was a hit! Thank you, thank you! xo

  10. Phil says

    Just tried this recipe over the weekend. It was a huge hit. Looks like I will have to make it again: I am already getting requests for Christmas dinner. It was everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, and I was the talk of the table.
    Thanks to you!
    Will definitely be trying more of your recipes.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for such an awesome comment! I am thrilled this was the hit and you were the talk of Thanksgiving dinner – that makes me so happy!!! Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Dona says

    Can you substitute gluten free bread & corn bread? Looks delicious!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Dona, I have never tried with gluten free substitutes but I don’t see why you couldn’t!

  12. Kathy says

    This sounds like a great recipe & I’m planning to make it for Thanksgiving. Do you think it would be ok to use Andouille sausage? If so, should there be any changes to the spices?

    • Jen says

      Hi Kathy, I’m not sure the exact adjustments you would need (I would need to experiment), but I think if you add 1/4 teaspoon dried sage and leave everything else the same it should be great. Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. freddie6 says

    do you toast the bread cover and leave out for a day to dry out?
    Do the cranberries have to be added?

    • Jen says

      Hi there, you leave the bread out uncovered for a day to dry out and the next day you toast it in the oven. You don’t have to add the cranberries but I find they balance the savory with a pop of sweet. Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Christina says

    I’m excited to try this, I was wondering what kind of baking dish do you recommend using? If I was to add to two foil trays will the cooking time change?

    • Jen says

      Hi Christina, I use a 9×13. Yes, smaller trays will require less baking time but I haven’t experimented with this so I can’t tell you exact times- sorry!

  15. Jenn says

    Hey Jen-
    Before i ask my question I would just like to echo what everyone has said. Your recipes are amazing, thank you for all the deliciousness. They are always a hit with the family.
    I have a question about this stuffing recipe. Can I actually stuff it in the turkey to cook? Hope you are staying safe and healthy.
    Jenn

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Jenn, I’m honored your family is loving my recipes! I honestly have not tried cooking the stuffing in the turkey. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you technically can safely cook your stuffing inside of your turkey, but, to do so, you’ll need to loosely pack the stuffing into the cavity so that it has more room to properly cook. So, it might not be worth the health hazard. Good luck!

  16. Kim says

    This recipe sounds so good! Can I substitute pre packaged seasoned breadcrumbs for the white bread or will it be overly seasoned. Thx!:)

    • Jen says

      Hi Kim, unfortunately it will be over-seasoned. You will want to reduce the seasonings in the recipe if you go that route. Happy Thanksgiving!

  17. Carlin says

    I made this for Thanksgiving dinner today and it was incredible! It was the hit of the whole meal. It was absolute perfection- exactly what I want stuffing to be. This will be my go to recipe forever. I did add the extra cup of chicken broth and I’m glad I did- it was the perfect amount of “moist”.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Carlin, I love hearing this stuffing was the hit of the whole meal! I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. Karen says

    Hi Jen! Happy day after Turkey day! This is one of three recipes from your ‘Best Ever Thanksgiving’ collection I made and it was amazing! First time making a stuffing without using the ‘boxed’ stuff on the shelf and I am so glad (and so was my family!) I took the time to put it together. As we all know, Thanksgiving dishes do take some time to prepare but I wanted to make sure this year’s feast was especially wonderful and this recipe didn’t disappoint. Only sad my entire family couldn’t enjoy it so I halved the recipe and it was still plenty for 5. I prepared everything the day before and early yesterday morning, I assembled it and put it into the oven (had to beat the turkey!). Because I was reheating it later in the day, I used extra chicken broth and it came out just the right texture! During dinner, I had to give a detailed account of all the ingredients as everybody loved it. Only wish you could have been there to hear and see people’s reactions after they took their first bite of this wonderful stuffing. Thank you! There are still many things to be grateful for this year and you, dear Jen, are one of them. Have a lovely, happy and healthy holiday season!

    • Jen says

      Aw, thank you Karen! I am grateful for you, for making my recipes and for your awesome comments! I’m so pleased this stuffing was a hit with the entire family, and I love the visual of everyone enjoying the stuffing! I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season as well! xo