Recipe Review

My Honest Review of Michael Symon’s Rule-Breaking Cornbread Stuffing

published Nov 18, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

You likely know celebrity chef Michael Symon from his appearances on The Food Network or ABC’s The Chew, his slew of Cleveland restaurants, or any number of his popular cookbooks. What you might not know is that he has a very popular recipe for cornbread stuffing that many home cooks swear by. The recipe receives five stars on and has more than 50 rave reviews from fans who have been making it with great success for years.

After a quick glance at the recipe, it’s immediately clear this isn’t your typical cornbread stuffing. It’s packed with smoked ham, bell peppers, and (gasp!) cilantro. Would this unexpected trio be the secret to a cornbread stuffing that ranks above the rest? I had to find out for myself.

Get the recipe: Michael Symon’s Cornbread Stuffing

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Make Michael Symon’s Cornbread Stuffing

Compared to the other cornbread stuffings I made for this recipe showdown, Michael Symon’s was relatively easy. The recipe doesn’t include its own cornbread recipe (it just calls for “8 cups cubed and toasted cornbread,”) so I opted to start with a few boxes of Jiffy. Alternatively, you could start with a different mix or make your favorite cornbread recipe from scratch. To toast it, spread the baked and cubed cornbread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can spread the cubed cornbread on a large rimmed baking sheet and let it sit out overnight to dry.

Once you’ve got your cornbread toasted, you’ll begin the stuffing by sautéing a mix of chopped yellow onions, chopped celery, fresh corn kernels, minced garlic, and diced red bell pepper. Then, you’ll mix in a half-pound of diced smoked ham. Whisk together two eggs, chicken stock, a splash of cream, and some chopped fresh cilantro and parsley, then combine everything — the vegetable-ham mixture, the herby custard, and cubed cornbread (you can either use homemade or store-bought) — in a 4-quart lasagna pan. You’ll bake it covered for 30 minutes, then finish it uncovered for 20 more.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

My Honest Review of Michael Symon’s Cornbread Stuffing

This cornbread stuffing recipe is like no other I’ve ever tasted. In fact, it reminds me more of a Western omelet than a Thanksgiving stuffing. While I approached it with an open mind, the flavors in this very untraditional stuffing just didn’t work for me. Perhaps I’m too much of a Thanksgiving purist, but the trio of bell peppers, smoked ham, and cilantro aren’t what I want paired with my roast turkey, sweet potato casserole, and cranberry sauce.

With that said, the stuffing itself is pretty good! It was packed with a ton of flavor thanks to the veggies, ham, and fresh herbs, and had a nice texture, too, with a just-toasted top and soft center.

You’ll notice that the recipe instructions are very sparse, with just two steps, when it really should be broken out into at least five or six. Nevertheless, I was surprised to find that the recipe was still pretty easy to follow.

Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Michael Symon’s Cornbread Stuffing, a Few Tips

1. Start with two boxes of Jiffy. The recipe calls for 8 cups cubed and toasted cornbread, and if you plan to make your own (which I strongly recommend), the yield from two boxes of Jiffy is just the right amount.

2. Frozen corn will work just fine. The recipe calls for fresh corn kernels, but come November decent fresh corn is a hard ask. An equal amount of thawed frozen corn will work just fine as a substitute.

3. Use a 12-inch skillet if you have one. There are a lot of vegetables in this recipe, so if you have one, I recommend using a 12-inch skillet (the recipe doesn’t specify). You can get away with a high-sided 10-inch — just stir slowly to avoid spills.

4. Stir everything together in a large bowl. Do not attempt to stir together all the ingredients in the baking dish. It’s not worth the mess. Instead, use a large bowl for this step.

5. Bake in a 9×13-inch baking dish. It’s more likely you’ll have this than the 4-quart lasagna pan called for in the recipe, and everything will fit.

Rating: 6/10

Have you ever made Michael Symon’s Cornbread Stuffing? Tell us what you thought! 

Credit: Joe Lingeman