It's fall and it's almost Thanksgiving as I write this. Last year, I made an entire Thanksgiving Dinner for my website which was focused on being beginner-friendly and budget-friendly. At the time, I noticed a lot of people were looking for great stuffing recipes come November. So here we are. I had been dying to test a cornbread stuffing recipe and I finally took the time to do it. Today, I bring you a sweet and savory cornbread stuffing. I seriously could not stop eating this when it came out of the oven. And so you know, it's only slightly sweet and doesn't overwhelm in that way. The savory ingredients balance it out to perfection.
Cornbread Stuffing is a Revelation (I'm Serious)
There are so many ways to make a great stuffing and I love them all. I know it sounds crazy by I love Stove Top Stuffing as much as I love Pepperidge Farm bagged stuffing as much as I love homemade French bread stuffing and now this sweet and savory cornbread stuffing too. Phew! That was a long sentence. Main point: all stuffing is good stuffing. Can we agree on this?
My newest thought is that cornbread stuffing is truly a revelation. I wasn't sure how it would turn out since I had never eaten it or made it before. When I tested this recipe, I was torn about adding the sausage. Stuffing is an extremely important part of Thanksgiving dinner. Might be the most-anticipated food on the menu. And I don't know about your family - but we devour boatloads of it on the big day. I loved the extra level of flavor the sausage added. And with the traditional flavors of onion, celery, apple and dried cranberries? Every mouthful was like opening a little present.
Sweet and Savory Cornbread Stuffing: What's Your Consistency Preference?
Sweet and savory flavor profiles are my favorite and this recipe hits the mark. I thought it would be too cornbready, but with all the other flavors added it is the perfect blend of slightly sweet and slightly savory. I like my stuffing a bit moist and a bit crumbly at the same time. Anyone else? I opted to NOT add eggs to this recipe. For me personally, I don't think eggs belong in stuffing. However, if you must, you can beat two eggs in with the chicken broth before pouring over the cornbread and mixing all the ingredients together. That creates more of a slight bread pudding consistency which I am not crazy about. But if you like that - go for it. I thought the chicken broth and the other ingredients was enough to create a gorgeous texture.
Next important issue: cornbread cube distribution. You can make this as cubey as you like - or not. If you want larger chunks of cornbread, don't squish the ingredients together as much when doing the final mix. You could even set aside a few of the cubes after you pour the broth over the cornbread. Then place them strategically over the top of the baking dish before cooking.
Cornbread Stuffing: The Breakdown
It's that time of year when I hope we are reminded of all the good things in life. A time to decidedly not worry about the things we don't have and focus on all that we do have. Take a moment to appreciate the people and the environment where you live. Get to your kitchens and show your love by cooking a homemade meal. Gather around a table, or your couch or your fire pit and talk to the people you care about. Share your stories and your laughter. Let's put our screens down and simply exist.
Do You Need More Holiday Ideas? I've Gotcha Covered:
- Thanksgiving Dinner: The Whole Shabang! (all of it - an entire dinner)
- Stuffed Mushrooms with Sausage, Chedddar and Panko (make-ahead friendly)
- Brown Sugar Bacon Sticks with Maple Drizzle (make-ahead friendly)
- Apple Brie Crostini w/Toasted Pecans
- Crispy Thai Pork Toast (make-ahead friendly)
- Honey Butter Bourbon Shrimp
- Warm Shrimp & Gorgonzola Dip (make-ahead friendly)
Sweet and Savory Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 10 portions 1x
A perfect blend of flavors, this sweet and savory cornbread stuffing with sausage will be a hit at your holiday gathering.
- 4 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix (8.5-ounce boxes)
- 4 eggs
- 1 ⅓ cups milk
- *Mix in two separate bowls - one for each cornbread dish. You will need 2 boxes of cornbread mix for EACH 8x8 baking dish. Follow package instructions.
*You will need two 8x8 baking dishes for the cornbread. 9x9 works too. I used one of each.
- 1 ½ cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced onions
- 2 teaspoons finely diced garlic (about 2 small to med cloves)
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh chopped sage
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
- 1 apple peeled and diced small (I used green, use what you want)
- ¾ cup dried cranberries or craisins
- 4 tablespoons butter (for cooking the onion, celery, apple)
- 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
- More softened butter or non-stick spray to grease the stuffing pans
Optional drizzle topping before baking:
- 4 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Chopped parsley
NOTE: you will need TWO 9x13 baking dishes for this recipe.
NOTE: Prep and cook times here do not include making the cornbread which you should do the day before. Shouldn't take more than 30 minutes
- Start by making the cornbread. This can be done a day or two before Thanksgiving. You will need to make two cornbreads to make two 9x13 baking dishes of stuffing. Each cornbread requires TWO boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. Simply follow the instructions on the box. I used an 8x8 baking dish and a 9x9 baking dish for the cornbread which is why the sizes are slightly different.
- Your cornbread should be completely cool when you cut it into cubes. Slice the cornbread into long, thick strips, rotate the cornbread and cut in the opposite direction to make cubes.
- Lay out all the cornbread cubes on a large sheet pan (or two smaller ones if that’s what you have). I took a moment to cut some of the really large cubes in half here.
- Bake the cornbread cubes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. We’re looking to get them a little toasty here. When they are toasty, remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Cut your celery stalks into celery sticks by cutting lengthwise down the stalk. How many sticks depends on how big/thick your celery is. From there, start dicing it down into small pieces. Set aside.
- Do the same with the onion. I always cut my onion in half, slice into thin strips, then dice down into smaller bits from there. With stuffing you want the celery and onions finely diced and mostly uniform in size.
- Finely dice the garlic.
- Chop the fresh sage. Start by stacking maybe 10 leaves one on top of the other – you may need more or less depending on how big your sage leaves are. Roll them up like a cigar. Then slice the sage, then dice it down finely. Set some leaves aside for garnish too if you like.
- Chop the fresh thyme. Hold the thyme stems and gently pull from top to bottom to remove the leaves. Then chop them finely. Put in a ramekin with the chopped sage. Set some leaves aside for garnish too if you like.
- Measure out the dried cranberries and put in a small bowl or ramekin.
- Peel one large apple, cut into large chunks around the core. Then chop into small pieces. Set aside in water if it’s going to sit on the counter more than a couple minutes.
- On medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pan and add the onion, celery and apple. Give a good stir. Add salt and pepper here – about ¼ teaspoon each. Cook and stir continuously for 5-8 minutes until soft. At the end of cooking, make room for the garlic in the middle of the pan and add the garlic and a little pat of butter. Let it cook for 20 seconds on own. Then add the dried cranberries and stir everything well.
- In another large pan (at the same time you are cooking the onions), add one tablespoon of olive oil and let heat on medium. Add the ground Italian sausage. Break apart the sausage while cooking. You will do this throughout the cooking process until all the sausage is broken down and is a crumbly consistency and cooked through. This will also take about 5-8 minutes.
- When onion mix is done cooking, turn the heat off and then add the fresh sage and thyme. Mix together well.
- Add the cooked sausage and any drippings into the onion pan and mix everything together well. This is the flavor base of the stuffing.
- Get your largest mixing bowl (or use two bowls if you have to, but make sure to split the flavor base equally between the two bowls). Put the cornbread cubes in the bowl and pour half the chicken broth over the cubes. Gently mix the cubes a few times. Then pour remaining broth over the cubes and let it sit a couple of minutes.
- Add the sausage and onion mixture (the flavor base) on top of the cornbread. Gently mix the cornbread to your desired consistency. I used my hands and gently tossed and squeezed the mixture making sure to leave some larger cornbread cubes intact.
- Make sure to test it here. I found it need a touch more salt so I added a little here – maybe about ½ teaspoon or just under that amount. It’s up to you. If you used low or no sodium chicken broth you may need a little more.
- Get your baking dishes ready and grease them with soft butter or non-stick spray if that’s what you prefer.
- Split the stuffing between the two baking dishes and even them out on top. This is optional, but I melted more butter here and drizzled over the baking dishes (see optional drizzle amounts in the recipe above). I also drizzled my favorite local honey on top too.
- You can store these overnight in the fridge and cook on Thanksgiving Day if you want. Bring to room temperature first. Preheat the oven to 350 and cook for about 30-40 minutes.
- I chopped some parsley for a garnish for serving and that is optional.
- Serve right from the baking dish or transfer to serving bowl and garnish with sage and thyme.
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