Classic Corn Bread Dressing

published Nov 24, 2019
Classic Corn Bread Dressing

You won't find an ounce of added sugar in this classic cornbread dressing! This cornbread dressing tastes of corn, butter, and a little tang from buttermilk.


Prep30 minutes

Cook1 hour

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling: Stephanie Yeh

This recipe is a part of our Ever-Evolving Southern Thanksgiving package. See all the recipes here.

Ann Taylor Pittman, Birmingham, Alabama

I grew up in Mississippi with very traditional Southern Thanksgivings. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized my mom tried to have a very subtle influence — and when I say subtle, I mean subtle. The Thanksgiving meal always included wild rice pilaf. As a Korean woman, I think that was her way of making sure rice was on the table, but in a way that felt at home with traditional Thanksgiving food. 

My mother moved to Mississippi from Korea only knowing my father. To her, assimilation was very important and she wanted to raise her kids to be American. She didn’t push Korean food on any of us. She learned to cook Southern food, like biscuits and gravy — things that were so radically different than what she ate in Korea. I remember she would sometimes have her own little pot of kimchi soup bubbling on the stovetop, but none of us would eat it with her. It’s sad to think about it now.

I look just like my mother; I look Korean, but all through high school I thought I was passing for a white girl. My mom would tell me that when I was an adult, I’d appreciate that I was different. When you’re a kid, you’re incapable of seeing that. I just wanted to be white and have blonde hair like my friends. I didn’t want Korean kimchi soup cooking on the stove. But my mom was right. There came a time when I embraced both sides of who I am. In college, I started to read about Korean food and try to cook it, and that’s a process that continues today. 

But I’m also a Southerner, which I think is evidenced by the fact that the first thing I ever cooked was biscuits. I was 8 or 9 years old and I got up one morning and followed the directions on a bag of flour. The biscuits were awesome — maybe the best I’ve ever made. I still remember the sense of wonder in seeing flour turn into something so light and fluffy and buttery and indulgent. 

As a Southerner, I have very strong opinions about baked goods like biscuits and cornbread. I don’t like sugar in my cornbread, at all. I’m staunchly anti-sugar in cornbread. The reason I use whole-grain cornbread in my dressing isn’t to be super healthy — it’s about chasing flavor. Whole wheat is toasty and nutty; it really amplifies savory notes. I want my cornbread to taste of corn, butter, and a little tang from buttermilk. If someone brings cornbread dressing to Thanksgiving dinner and it’s made with sweetened cornbread, I can’t even look at it. It just doesn’t taste right. 

Classic Corn Bread Dressing

You won't find an ounce of added sugar in this classic cornbread dressing! This cornbread dressing tastes of corn, butter, and a little tang from buttermilk.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1 recipe

    Whole-Grain Corn Bread

  • 2 cups

    diced white onion

  • 1 1/2 cups

    diced celery

  • 2 tablespoons

    finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 tablespoons

    finely chopped fresh sage leaves

  • 1/4 cup

    chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 3 tablespoons

    canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 1/2 cups

    unsalted chicken stock or broth

  • Cooking spray


  1. If needed, make the whole-grain cornbread and let cool to room temperature.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF. Meanwhile, prepare the following vegetables and herbs: Dice until you have 2 cups white onion and 1 1/2 cups celery, and place both in the same bowl. Finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons each fresh thyme and sage leaves, and place both in the same bowl. Coarsely chop until you have 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  3. Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and sage, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

  4. Coat a shallow 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish (such as a 9x13-inch) with cooking spray. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl. Lightly beat 2 large eggs. Add the eggs, onion mixture, and 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth to the corn bread and stir well to combine. Transfer to the baking dish in an even layer.

  5. Bake until the dressing is lightly browned, about 50 minutes (cover loosely with aluminum foil in the last 15 minutes of baking if the top is getting too browned). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman, Birmingham, AL. Reprinted with permission from Cooking Light.