Note: We’ve been having weird technical issues this morning, so I’m hustling to get this post up while I can. Just imagine me in hologram form, like Princess Leia, whispering, “Make this sagey cornbread dressing, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

This is the Cornbread Dressing recipe Mama uses. You could blindfold me and send me from door to door on Thanksgiving Day, and I’d know home by the smell of this dressing. It fills the entire house with the peppery scent of sage and cornbread and sweet celery and onion.

We like our dressing a little crusty on top (it soaks up gravy like a sponge), but if you love a soft dressing, just keep adding chicken broth until you get the consistency that feels right to you. You could even fluff it up and serve it in a pretty bowl, but we heathens have never been able to wait that long. Poor Mama.

Cornbread Dressing

If you like your dressing really sagey, look for dried sage leaves to crumble into the mixture instead of using a lot of ground sage. Either one will work, but excess ground sage can give your dressing a greenish cast.

Adapted from “The Nashville Cookbook”

Makes 12 servings

  • 1 8-inch pan day-old cornbread (suggested recipe below)
  • 6 slices toasted white bread OR 6 stale biscuits
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage (More, if you like it. Mama uses more than 1 tablespoon.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or butter.
  2. Crumble your cornbread and biscuits (or bread) into a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Cook until soft but not brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, sage, poultry seasoning (if using), salt, and pepper, and cook for another 30 seconds.
  4. Scrape your cooked vegetables (including the butter) into the big bowl of cornbread and biscuits. Stir gently until blended.
  5. Taste the dressing now, and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. (The flavor of the dressing won’t change much in the oven, so if your dressing needs another pinch of salt or some extra sage, now’s the time!)
  6.  Gently stir in the eggs.
  7.  Pour on enough chicken broth to moisten the cornbread. Start with 3 cups of broth, and add more, if necessary. (Use less broth for a crustier dressing; more broth for a wetter dressing. Just make sure you don’t cross the line from moist into soupy.)
  8. Spoon the mixture into your prepared baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered, until golden brown on top and cooked through. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, and dig in.
Note: Some people like their dressing crusty; others like it soft. If your dressing is too wet, just pop it back into the oven, and keep checking it every 5 minutes or so. If it’s too dry, warm up some chicken broth, stir it into your dressing, slide the dressing back into the oven, and check every 5 minutes or so.
Storing: You can cover the dressing and keep it in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

To Make Ahead: The day before you bake it, place the mixture in the prepared dish, and then cover and refrigerate it overnight instead of baking. To freeze, transfer the mixture to your baking dish, cover and freeze it. Then, thaw it for 24 hours in the fridge, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Alison Krauss’ Winning Cornbread

Slightly adapted from Alison Krauss (via Martha White)

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 cup Martha White® Self-Rising Enriched White Corn Meal Mix, plus additional for preparing pan
  • 1/4 cup Martha White® Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch cast-iron skillet with bacon drippings. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and place the skillet into the oven to heat for at least 7 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the corn meal mix, flour and sugar.
  3. Add buttermilk, oil, and egg. Blend well.
  4. Sprinkle a little corn meal mix into the hot skillet. Quickly pour the batter over the cornmeal, and return the skillet to the oven.
  5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.