This easy make-ahead cornbread stuffing will easily become the star of any festive meal. Slightly sweet cornbread, sage sausage, veggies, and herbs result in unforgettable mouthwatering flavors and textures that cannot be found in a box!
Stuffing hasn’t always been my favorite Thanksgiving side dish, that is, until I made this cornbread version. I love all things cornbread, so it’s no surprise that this recipe converted me into a stuffing fan. It’s so delicious and tastes amazing served alongside a roasted turkey.
Having traditional side dishes during the holidays is part of what makes a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal so special but sometimes you just want to try something new! Finding the perfect dish to introduce to the people you love can be just as special!
This homemade cornbread stuffing encompasses all that we love about traditional stuffing. Soft moist buttery bread, crunchy textures from the carrots and celery, and warming flavors from herbs and spices which come together nicely balanced with the heartiness of the sausage. It will compliment your entire meal and let’s be honest, turkey or not, the side dishes are usually what make or break a meal anyway!
It’s so easy to make and tastes so much better made from scratch. Definitely better than anything you’d find at the store. It is a recipe you will come back to again and again. Needless to say, it may very well become your new traditional stuffing!
How to make cornbread stuffing
- Prep. An important first step is making sure your bread is dry. The great thing about it is it can be done in advance by cutting the bread into cubes and leaving it out to dry for a day. You can also slightly toast the bread in the oven until lightly browned, tossing halfway. This step will help avoid having soggy stuffing! Moist, yes. Soggy? Not so much.
- Cook. In a large pan, cook the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. You can use whatever sausage you prefer, but I use Jimmy Dean’s which can be found in your local grocery store. Set cooked sausage aside on a plate, removing excess grease with a paper towel and then remove the grease from the pan as well.
- Add. Melt butter in that same pan, add chopped onion, celery and grated carrots and cook until soft. Stir in the sage and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
- Combine. Add the toasted bread, sausage, cooked veggies and fresh parsley to a large bowl and slowly stir in some of the chicken broth. Combine well. Add more broth as needed so that all the bread is lightly coated but not drenched. There shouldn’t be any extra liquid in the bowl. Add a little more salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake. Place stuffing into a buttered pan, covered in foil and bake. Uncover and bake for additional time until lightly toasted. If you are using it to stuff the turkey, it will bake along with the turkey and soak up those extra juicy flavors.
- Prepare and refrigerate. To make this stuffing ahead of time and add some extra convenience to your holiday meal planning, prepare as directed and just before baking, cover with foil and place in the fridge.
- Bring to room temperature. Then, when you are ready to bake, remove the stuffing from the fridge and let it sit to allow to come to room temperature while the oven is preheating.
- Bake. Bake as directed plus 5 minutes more.
Cooking tips & variations
- Store bought: If you’re in a pinch or don’t have any leftover or fresh cornbread, feel free to use store bought or mix up a box of Jiffy’s for an easy option.
- No meat: Going meatless? Instead of sausage try chopped mushrooms.
- Diced apples: Add a diced apple for a sweeter flavor and mix it in just before the broth.
- Added crunch: Elevate the texture and taste with toasted walnuts, pecans or dried cranberries.
- Classic: Turn this recipe back into a traditional recipe by using regular white bread or french bread if you would prefer that. You could also mix the cornbread with french bread. The awesome thing about this recipe is that it is totally customizable.
More holiday side dishes you’ll love:
- Sausage stuffing
- Garlic mashed red potatoes
- Slow cooker creamed corn
- Easy glazed carrots
- Maple roasted vegetables
- 12 ounces day old cornbread (cut into 1/2" cubes)
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 pound ground sage sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean)
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage (or 1 Tablespoon fresh)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth (more as needed)
S&P, to taste
- The first step in this recipe is drying the bread. You can place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and sit out to dry for a day, or you can lightly toast in the oven. Simply preheat the oven to 300°F. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly toasted, tossing half way.
- In a large pan, cook the sausage over medium-heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Place the sausage on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the grease. Remove the grease from the pan.
- Add butter to the same pan and allow to melt. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the sage and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
- Combine the toasted bread, sausage, cooked veggies and fresh parsley in a large bowl. Slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and stir until combined. Add more as needed. You want all the bread to be lightly covered but not drenched. There shouldn't be extra liquid in the bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place in a buttered 9x13" pan. Then bake with foil for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
- Allow to sit 5 minutes before serving. Then serve with a spoon.
- Diced apples: You can add 1 apple diced for a sweeter flavor. Mix in just before adding the broth.
- Dried cranberries: You can also add in 1/2 cup dried cranberries for a sweet kick.