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Credit: Joe Lingeman
Recipe Review

We Tested 4 Popular Cornbread Stuffing Recipes and Found a Clear Winner

published Nov 22, 2019
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When it comes to Thanksgiving sides, I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing more essential than the stuffing. Personally, I prefer one made with crumbly chunks of cornbread, dotted with vegetables and fresh herbs, and with just the right balance of crispy and soft pieces.

There’s a lot that goes into making a truly delicious and memorable cornbread stuffing, and once you place it on the table there’s no going back. That’s why I battled off four of the most popular recipes to find the one most deserving of a spot on your Thanksgiving spread.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How I Chose the Cornbread Stuffing Contenders

There are so many different kinds of stuffing (from fruit-studded to sausage-filled), so to keep this battle fair and consistent we settled on one specific kind: cornbread. From there, I narrowed it down to three extremely popular recipes by eliminating any that didn’t have a five-star rating. I wanted to battle the best of the best! We chose Jiffy’s widely used basic recipe as the fourth, to act as our control.

How I Tested the Cornbread Stuffings

The cornbread itself is the cornerstone of these stuffings, and has the power to make or break them. It’s also the biggest variable among recipes. Some recipes include a sub-recipe for homemade cornbread, some recipes leave it open-ended by simply calling for a specific amount of cubed cornbread. Still others specifically call for store-bought cornbread.

To keep the test as fair as possible, I used a box of Jiffy mix unless a recipe specifically included instructions for making cornbread.

Meet Our 4 Cornbread Stuffing Contenders

Here’s how they ranked, from my least favorite to most.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. The Most Untraditional Stuffing: Michael Symon’s Cornbread Stuffing

There was nothing wrong with this stuffing recipe, but compared to the others it was my least favorite. If you want a cornbread stuffing that eschews traditional flavors in favor of smoky ham, bell pepper, and cilantro, this is the one for you.

Rating: 6/10

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. The Fast and Fancy Stuffing: Tyler Florence’s Caramelized Onion Cornbread Stuffing

I really wanted to love everything about Florence’s fast and fancy stuffing recipe. Unfortunately, the stuffing was simply too sweet for my tastes. The recipe starts with store-bought cornmeal muffins, which are a time-saving shortcut, but also the source of the sweetness. I’d make it again, but I’d skip the muffins and bake a batch of unsweetened cornbread. I’ll also note that the word “caramelized” here is a little generous. Following the instructions, the onions become softened, but they aren’t caramelized in the traditional sense.

Rating: 7/10

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. The Meat-Lover’s Stuffing: Jiffy Cornbread Stuffing

I was skeptical when this recipe called for bacon and breakfast sausage, but it turns out that this is a big part of what makes it so memorable and delicious. Most importantly, this recipe reminded me that good cornbread stuffing starts with good cornbread, and this reliable mix delivers consistent results. This isn’t the fastest recipe, but the result is well worth it.

Rating: 8/10

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. The Very Best Cornbread Stuffing: Tia Mowry’s Cornbread Stuffing with Fennel and Sausage

If you’re after classic cornbread stuffing that, thanks to a few easy upgrades, feels extra-special for your holiday table, this is it. The combination of sautéed fennel, Italian sausage, two types of bread, and brown butter packs this stuffing with a lot of flavor. Mowry’s recipe also uses a clever technique that results in both super soft and tender pieces as well as crisp and toasty ones.

Ratings: 9.5/10