The Best Cornbread Stuffing

with walnuts and dried cherries

Thanksgiving is a week from tomorrow! It’s the best holiday ever. You don’t have to worry about gift giving or argue with your relatives about religion or dodge creepy fake Santas in the subway. All you have to do is cook a bunch of delicious food and eat it until you feel like you should probably sit down and take a load off. There’s nothing better than that. We’re hosting Thanksgiving at our apartment again this year, with a whopping 19 people set to attend, if you can believe it. I’m determined to make it work, though. We’re going to be serving this meal buffet style, I’ll set up some folding tables and chairs, and we’ll be ready to feast. What’s on your Thanksgiving menu for 2014? At the Kramer house, we’re going Southern again this year. That means another big batch of fried chicken, hatch chile macaroni and cheese, biscuits and an ice box cake (probably this mocha one that I made a month or two ago). Oh, and of course, this cornbread stuffing. I try to do some sort of interesting stuffing each year. Last year I made my waffle and maple sausage stuffing, which involved making a big batch of waffles, then cubing then, toasting them, and tossing them together with sausage, maple syrup and some vegetables. I think everyone really loved it – I mean, who doesn’t love seeing little cubes of cut up waffle in anything, really? This year, though, I wanted to tackle my favorite kind of stuffing: cornbread. So, I did a test run, which I HIGHLY recommend everyone do this weekend if you’re trying something new. This is the best way to avoid tears on the big day. I remember crying over four failed pie crusts in a row one year. Just saying. This test run turned out pretty damn good, though, so I’m happy to share the recipe with you.

the best cornbread stuffingPumpkins, baking mess, the ever-so-tempting cereal isle and shooting a Thanksgiving video at my apartment! Follow me on Instagram for more.

The problem that I generally have with cornbread stuffing is that it’s soggy. You can barely tell it’s cornbread, it’s more just like cornbread crumbs with whatever ingredients were tossed in with it. To avoid the mush factor, I went a little overboard with making the perfect cornbread. I didn’t have time to test out a bunch of different cornbread recipes to start with, so I went on a hope and a prayer with King Arthur Flour’s cornbread recipe. It’s actually the best cornbread recipe I’ve ever tried. I made muffins, because I figured they would both bake faster and be slightly drier than if I did a big sheet of it. After the muffins cooled a bit, I cut them into cubes and toasted them until they were nice and golden – perfect stuffing cubes. I like my cubes a bit bigger, because again, I’m trying to avoid having the cornbread fall apart into little, indistinguishable crumbs. While the cornbread cubes cooled a bit, I cooked some sausage, then some celery, shallots and garlic, then tossed everything together with some dried cherries, apple and toasted walnuts, followed by some chicken stock. Once the mixture reached the level of moistness that I wanted it to be at, I put it all in a huge 14×10-inch casserole dish, topped it all with some cubes of butter, and baked it until golden. To finish it off, I drizzled some honey over everything once it was out of the oven. I was really happy with the final product, but I brought it into the office to have my coworkers be the final judges. Everyone seemed to think it was just as tasty as I thought it was, so there you have it. This is the stuffing that I’ll be serving on Thanksgiving. What about you?

the best cornbread stuffingthe best cornbread stuffingMix together your cornbread dough – I love that this recipe doesn’t require a mixer!

the best cornbread stuffingDivide your batter among your muffin cups and bake.

the best cornbread stuffingBake until golden.

the best cornbread stuffingOnce cooled, cube and toast!

the best cornbread stuffingthe best cornbread stuffingNow it’s time to make the stuffing.

the best cornbread stuffingCook your sausage.

the best cornbread stuffingAnd cook your onions, celery and garlic.

the best cornbread stuffingNow combine all of your stuffing ingredients and toss.

the best cornbread stuffingAdd to your well buttered casserole dish, add some cubes of butter to the top of the dish, then bake until golden.

the best cornbread stuffingDrizzle with a little honey and serve warm.

the best cornbread stuffingthe best cornbread stuffing

The Best Cornbread Stuffing
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
My perfected cornbread stuffing recipe, made with cornbread muffins.
Ingredients
For the Cornbread Muffins:
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs
For the Stuffing:
  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey, for drizzling
Instructions
For the Cornbread Muffins:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter 2 12-cup muffin pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together your milk, melted butter, and eggs.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Scoop the batter into your muffin cups, filling them about ¾ of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until set but not browned. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the muffin tins by running a butter knife around the edges of the muffins.
For the Stuffing:
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Cube your muffins into 2-inch bite-sized pieces. Scatter the muffin cubes among 2 parchment lined baking sheets, then place in the oven to toast for 10-15 minutes, checking and tossing often so the cubes don't burn. Once well toasted and golden, set aside to cool, then add to a large bowl. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a medium sized pan, cook your sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Remove from the pan and set aside. In the sausage fat leftover in the pan, add the onion and celery, and cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add your cooked sausage, onion, celery and garlic to your toasted cornbread cubes in a large bowl. Also add in the dried cherries, chopped walnuts, salt, sage and rosemary. Toss to combine. Add in the chicken stock, enough to moisten the mixture well, and toss to combine.
  4. Butter a large casserole dish (mine is about 14x10) or two smaller dishes. Spoon the stuffing into the dish, using your hands to press it down well. Sprinkle the top with cubed butter, then bake at 400 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, until golden and warmed through. Drizzle the top of the stuffing with honey and serve. This will keep well in the refrigerator and can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
Adapted From

 

16 Responses

  1. melakamoon says:

    This looks divine! I’ve been making cornbread/sausage dressing for 20 years and I always use a half ‘n half mix of both cornbread and white bread (practically anything I have on hand, like old sourdough, Kaiser rolls, sandwich bread, etc.), this keeps it from getting too moist and holds together well. You can’t really even tell there is white bread in there. Also I use the Hot Jimmy Dean sausage, which gives it a wonderful kick. Adding the dried cherries would be a great complement to this stuffing!

  2. Betsy says:

    Do you have to do the cornbread in a muffin pan? I only have 1 and was just curious if you tested making the cornbread just in a normal baking pan like a 9×13 as well.

  3. Mike says:

    Is it possible to make it without the sausage? This looks fantastic but I’d like to make it vegetarian (butter is ok) and I’m afraid that leaving out the sausage would make it way too bland.

    • Sydney says:

      Hey Mike – of course! Cook the vegetables in olive oil (or vegetable oil), but add in some button mushrooms. I would even maybe cube and roast some butternut squash or sweet potatoes and add those, too. Add some extra salt, maybe something smokey like paprika. I think the butternut squash might be even better than sausage, honestly.

  4. Dawn says:

    When you say can be made up to 2 days before does that mean the whole dish fully cooked then stored in frig?

  5. Gabrielle says:

    This is officially going to be my stuffing this Thanksgiving! Super excited & can’t wait to try it :D.

  6. Betsy says:

    This stuffing is the bomb.com. I was lazy about the muffins and did it in a 9×13″ pan. I also made the cornbread gluten-free by replacing the all purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flour mix. I used more celery than just two stalks… didn’t quite look like enough to me. I think I did around 5-6. Also, I definitely used the full 5 cups of stock, and potentially could’ve used a touch more.

    Next time I would increase the sausage to 1 1/2 pounds… but that’s just because I personally prefer my stuffing to have a bit more meat in it!

    Would definitely make this again. Got great reviews.

    Thanks, Sydney!

  7. Dawn says:

    Sydney another question. Would it make sense to add 2 eggs as a binder then bake. I would think this additional step would help avoid the corn bread from breaking apart. What do you think?

  8. This looks scrumptious! Cornbread stuffing is hands down my favorite. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  9. lola says:

    This sounds awesome… Thought I would share that one thing my mom does which makes cornbread dressing have texture is bake a pan of cornbread 2-3 days ahead and let it sit uncovered on the counter or stove top to dry out. Break apart with hands to start the dressing. An old fashioned way that works great.

  10. Gabrielle says:

    Just so you know, this stuffing has been made and it tastes SO AMAZING. Still have to bake it tomorrow but oh my god. The textures and the flavors and everything. I’ve cooked a lot of things, but I’ve never made stuffing, this is my first! So thank you for posting this recipe and for all of the great recipes you post all year long. Happy Thanksgiving, Sydney!

  11. Nina Wichman says:

    It’s in the oven right now! I think next time I will increase the sausage and also add some tart apples. Love the combo of sausage, apples, cornbread, dried cherries. I gotta say that those cornbread muffins on their own are FABULOUS! I can only imagine how the stuffing will be!!

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