Mama’s Cornbread Dressing: A Southern Thanksgiving Staple

There’s something about the recipes handed down through generations that carry not just flavors but also memories and traditions. Mama’s Cornbread Dressing is one such cherished recipe, especially in the Southern United States, where it’s a Thanksgiving must-have. This dish is more than a side; it’s a tribute to family, comfort, and the heartwarming flavors of the South. Unlike stuffing which is often cooked inside the turkey, cornbread dressing is baked separately, allowing it to achieve a unique texture and flavor profile that is both moist and slightly crispy.

The Heart of Southern Cooking

Cornbread dressing starts, naturally, with cornbread – a staple of Southern cuisine. The recipe combines this with a savory blend of herbs, vegetables, and often, a mix of broth and butter, creating a dish that is flavorful, hearty, and deeply comforting. What makes Mama’s version special is its simplicity and the warmth of home-cooked goodness.


  • 4 cups crumbled cornbread (preferably a day old)
  • 4 slices of day-old white bread, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: chopped hard-boiled eggs, giblets, or sautéed sausage


Preparing the Foundation:

  1. Preheat the Oven: Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). This ensures the dressing cooks evenly.
  2. Sauté Vegetables: In a skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery until they’re soft and translucent. This step is crucial for building flavor.

Creating the Dressing Mix:

  1. Combine Breads: In a large bowl, mix the crumbled cornbread and white bread. The combination of these two types of bread gives the dressing an ideal texture.
  2. Add Flavors: Stir in the sautéed vegetables, beaten eggs, sage, and poultry seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Moisten: Gradually add the broth until the mixture is moist but not soggy. The amount of broth needed can vary depending on the dryness of the bread.
  4. Optional Add-ins: If desired, add chopped hard-boiled eggs, giblets, or sautéed sausage for an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Baking to Perfection:

  1. Bake: Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the edges are slightly crispy.
  2. Rest and Serve: Allow the dressing to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the flavors meld together and improves the texture.


Mama’s Cornbread Dressing is more than just a side dish; it’s a warm hug on a plate. It embodies the essence of Southern comfort food with its rich flavors and homey feel. Each bite takes you back to family gatherings, laughter around the dinner table, and the joys of shared meals. Whether you follow this recipe to the letter or add your own twist, it’s sure to bring warmth and deliciousness to your holiday table. Enjoy this hearty, comforting dish as part of your Thanksgiving feast or any time you need a taste of Southern comfort.

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