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
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins

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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

*16 ounces is about 5 cups cornbread.  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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54 Comments

  1. Amanda says

    I’m allergic to apples and my husband hates celery. Do you think it’ll still taste ok if we omit these two things? Or do you have any suggestions for replacements?

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, yes you can omit them or swap the apples for pears (Asian pears would be best if you can find them) and the celery for finely diced green bell peppers. Hope this helps!

  2. Jen B says

    Hi Jen, looking forward to several of your recipes for Thanksgiving! I bought a bag of fresh baked and dried breadcrumbs at the bakery and now realize they are sourdough. I’m following every other detail of the cornbread stuffing recipe but am worried the sourdough won’t absorb as well as the Italian loaf. Can you please give me any tips or will the sourdough work ok? Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jen, I think the sourdough should still work great! I double checked some other sourdough stuffing recipes and they call for similar toasting and baking times so I think you’re good to go. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Danita says

    Jen, this dressing was perfect as written. I followed the recipe precisely, for I believe strongly that in order to review a recipe one should follow it closely with no deviations. It was moist and fluffy and all the flavors enhanced eachother and went wonderfully with all the traditional holiday dishes. Thank you for sharing and this dish will be served repeatedly at our family holidays. Happy holidays.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for the high praise Danita, I’m so pleased this stuffing will be a new holiday tradition! Happy holidays to you and yours as well! xo

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