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Classic African American Cornbread Dressing

This Classic African American Cornbread Dressing is made the traditional way and is the version prepared and served by most Black families. It’s baked with the Holy Trinity ingredients, green pepper, onions, celery, and sage. Serve this for soul food side dish for Sunday dinners, Christmas, or Thanksgiving.

a spoonful of cornbread dressing in a white baking dish

No holiday is complete without the dressing! We like to drizzle it with gravy or mix it in with our cranberry sauce.

What is Cornbread Dressing?

Stuffing is when a turkey, hen, or chicken is actually stuffed with a bread mixture. So technically, any bread or cornbread side dish that is baked outside of a turkey is dressing. Most Southerners and Black folks will skip stuffing the turkey and opt for cornbread dressing. I actually had never heard of “stuffing” until I came in contact with folks who had roots from the North.

A good soul food recipe is made using Southern-style cornbread and is served moist. Stuffing is made using cubes of bread and it’s really dry.

You may also enjoy our Oyster Dressing recipe.

onions, garlic, celery, and green peppers diced in separate bowls

Staple Ingredients and Spices

Classic ingredients include white onion, green peppers, celery, and of course sage. You can use fresh or dried sage.

eggs, broth, cream of chicken soup, and spices in separate bowls

Day Old Cornbread

If you use fresh cornbread, your dressing mix will be really soupy and hard to thicken. Your cornbread has to be dry and pretty much stale.

I like to make my Southern Homemade Cornbread Recipe the night before. You can use cornbread mix if you wish.

Once baked, allow it to cool. I store mine in the fridge overnight loosely covered in foil. If your wrap it in plastic it tenders to stay moist and you want it to dry out.

If you can’t use day-old cornbread, you can also over-bake the cornbread until it’s really dry.

day old cornbread dressing on a cutting board

How to Make African American Cornbread Dressing

Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, celery, onions, garlic, and green peppers.
  2. Saute.
  3. Place the cooked cornbread in a large mixing bowl. Crumble it.
  4. Add in the cooked vegetables, ground sage, salt, and pepper. Mix well. S
  5. Add in the eggs and cream of chicken soup. Stir.
  6. Slowly pour in the chicken broth.
  7. Pour the dressing mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and spread it throughout the bottom of the pan.
  8. Bake.
collage of 4 photos with sauteed vegetables and day old cornbread
collage of 4 photos with cornbread, spices, vegetables, and broth

How Long to Bake

Bake the dish for 40-45 minutes uncovered on 350 degrees until a toothpick returns clean.

How to Keep the Dressing Moist

Moisture is key and it’s a signature element of African American Dressing. This recipe uses broth and Cream of Chicken soup to ensure the dressing doesn’t dry out. I like to make homemade cream of chicken soup because it’s essentially, milk, flour, and broth and can be made without processed canned ingredients.

You can use canned soup if you wish. The results and texture of the dish are the same.

unbaked cornbread dressing in a white baking dish

Can You Add Chicken?

Yes, cooked chicken is added to a lot of Southern dressing recipes. You can add 8 ounces of shredded chicken breasts to the dressing. Layer it in by adding half of the dressing mixture to your baking dish, followed by the chicken, and then cover it with the remaining dressing.

How to Make it Ahead the Night Before

You can prepare it the night before and place it unbaked in the refrigerator. From there, you can bake when you like. Allow the dressing to come to room temperature prior to baking.

Freezer Tips

Place the dish in sealable bags or containers. Ensure they are tightly sealed. It can be frozen for up to several months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in the oven until warm.

baked cornbread dressing in a baking dish

Pair With These Side Dish Recipes

Collard Greens with Ham Hocks
Turnip Greens
Southern Green Beans and Potatoes
Southern Fried Cabbage with Bacon

Pair With These Main Dish Recipes

Chitterlings Chitlins Recipe
Hog Maw
Pig’s Feet
Chicken Feet Soup

Be sure to check out our full collection of African American Cornbread Dressing recipes here.

a spoonful of cornbread dressing in a white baking dish
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Classic African American Cornbread Dressing

This Classic African American Cornbread Dressing is made the traditional way and is the version prepared and served by most Black families. It's baked with the Holy Trinity ingredients, green pepper, onions, celery, and sage. Serve this soul food side dish for Sunday dinners, Christmas, or Thanksgiving.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 289kcal
Author Brandi Crawford

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves Minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage Adjust to taste. 5 leaves if using fresh
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 14 oz cream of chicken or celery soup I use homemade linked here.
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth 2 cups for firm dressing, 3 cups for really moist dressing.
  • 2 eggs Beaten

Instructions

  • You will need cooked cornbread for this recipe. You can use this Southern Homemade Cornbread recipe or Jiffy Cornbread Recipe here. After preparing the cornbread, store it in the fridge overnight and prep the dressing using day-old cornbread.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil, celery, onions, garlic, and green peppers.
  • Saute until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Ensure the vegetables are soft. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Set aside to cool. Prep the remaining ingredients.
  • Place the cooked cornbread in a large mixing bowl. Use a large spoon and/or your hands to break down the cornbread. You want to fully crumble it.
  • Add in the cooked vegetables, ground sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Stop and taste the mixture here. Before adding eggs always taste the dressing and additional spices if necessary.
  • Add in the eggs and cream of chicken soup. Stir.
  • Slowly pour in the chicken broth. The chicken broth quantity noted above is a guide. You have to really monitor the dressing as you prepare it to determine how much broth you will need and if you will need more or less.
  • Start with a little chicken broth and then stir until the dressing is thick. Add more when needed. You should get the consistency of thick oatmeal.
  • Pour the dressing mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and spread it throughout the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes uncovered on 350 degrees until a toothpick returns clean.

Notes

You can add chicken using 8 ounces of cooked, shredded chicken breasts to the dressing. Layer it in by adding half of the dressing mixture to your baking dish, followed by the chicken, and then cover it with the remaining dressing.
If you are using Jiffy or a boxed cornbread mix you’ll need 2 cups, which is about 16-17 ounces.
If you like really moist dressing, cover it with foil while it bakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g
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