Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and in the menu line up, Cornbread and Sausage Dressing is hands down my number one favorite side dish. Save the turkey. Keep your sweet potatoes. Just give me all the dressing.
I have been making this Cornbread and Sausage Dressing for years, testing it, tweaking it, and falling in love with it over and over again. The flavors are quintessentially Thanksgiving, and the smell alone can make me crave turkey and family and football.
This dressing incapsulates everything I love about the Thanksgiving meal, and today I am so excited to share my recipe with you. I also have included a video tutorial to walk you through the entire process.
If you only read one thing in this blog post, read this. I have a hack that is going to blow your mind and save you stress without compromising quality or taste. Make your dressing ahead, fully cook it, and then freeze it. Yes, I am serious. No, I would not steer you wrong. I swear this works.
I discovered this hack accidentally when we had to delay a photo shoot. I had already made the dressing, so I just stashed it in the freezer and then warmed it for the shoot a week later. It was so moist, so perfect, and so easy! I will never go back.
My plan is to make my dressing the week before Thanksgiving (when I have lots of time), bake it, cover it well with plastic wrap and then pop it in my freezer. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I will take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw.
On Thanksgiving morning, I will take it out of the fridge, let it sit on the counter for an hour, and then warm it in a low oven (covered with foil) for about an hour. I might even put it in my Breville Smart Oven so that my main oven is still open for the other sides. I cannot emphasize enough how magical this hack is, and how it really removes a huge amount of stress (and cooking!) from Thanksgiving week.
You can use store-bought cornbread, but if you want to make it from scratch, here is my recipe for Buttermilk Cornbread.
The video tutorial is included below, and the recipe is at the end of this post!
Cornbread and Sausage Dressing
- 1 9X13 pan of cornbread
- 2 pounds breakfast sausage (I like Jimmy Dean Original)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, 1/2 cup)
- 3 cups chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- The first step is to dry out the cornbread. Start by cutting the cornbread into large two-inch squares. Spread the squares of cornbread out on a baking sheet, leaving room between each square. Preheat the oven to 250 and dry the cornbread until stale and crisp, but not browned. This will take 60 to 90 minutes, depending on your cornbread. Alternatively, you can do this step at room temperature, uncovered over the course of two to three days.
- Once the cornbread is dry, you are ready to make the dressing.In a wide, open skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. Don’t just cook it until it’s not pink anymore…cook it until it is browned.
- While the sausage is browning, make the liquid base. In a bowl large enough to hold everything, beat the eggs. Add the stock and half and half and stir to combine with the eggs. Add the chopped parsley, sage, thyme, 2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Once the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan directly into the egg mixture. To the now-empty pan add the butter and allow it to melt.
- Add the chopped onion, chopped celery, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft and just beginning to brown.
- Remover the onions and celery from the pan and add them to the bowl with the sausage and egg mixture. Carefully stir the sausage, vegetables, and egg mixture together.
- Add the dried out cornbread, carefully breaking up the squares into large chunks, but not creating mushy crumbs. Stir to coat and combine the cornbread with the egg mixture. It should look even while still maintaining texture.
- Pour the dressing into a large baking dish, pressing it in to fit. I suggest placing the baking dish on top of a sheet tray to catch any drips and to make it easier to transfer in and out of the oven.
- At this point, you can either bake the dressing now or cover and bake it the next day. I
- f you are baking it now, preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 45 to 50, or until very hot in the middle.If you are baking it later, cover and refrigerate the dressing.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the dressing for 75 to 90 minutes, or until very hot in the middle.