Sausage Cornbread Dressing is a delicious blend of vegetables, herbs, sweet cornbread, and savory pork sausage, such as Jimmy Dean. This side dish pairs wonderfully with any kind of roasted meat, especially during the holidays.
Why you will love this
This dressing is just bursting out of the pan with seasonal flavors. Fresh sage and thyme, smoky maple syrup, sweet cornbread, and sage-infused sausage pack incredible flavor into this holiday staple.
You'll love how versatile this dressing is. It pairs well with any roasted meat - pork, beef, or poultry - and you can substitute different herbs or even add in some dried cranberries or nuts.
You can save time and last-minute stress by prepping this dish 1-2 days in advance. Prepare the dressing and transfer the mixture to a casserole dish, cover, and refrigerate. When ready to bake, bring the dish to room temperature and bake per the recipe instructions.
What's the difference between dressing and stuffing?
This is a popular debate, especially during the holidays. Generally, dressing and stuffing are the same thing, but the different names refer to the cooking method. If the mixture is stuffed and baked inside of the turkey, it's called stuffing. If you bake the mixture in a casserole dish to be served on the side, it's called dressing. Either way, this Sausage Cornbread Dressing is a must on my Thanksgiving table and is absolutely delicious!
- Sourdough - Provides wonderful flavor and texture. Use a day old whole loaf from the bakery and cut it into 1-inch cubes. French bread is another delicious option. An artisan rosemary loaf would be excellent too!
- Cornbread - I love the touch of sweetness that cornbread provides. I buy cornbread from the bakery at my local supermarket for ease and convenience. You can certainly make your own if preferred. You will need an 8x8 pan of cornbread.
- Sausage - I love using sage or maple pork sausage such as Jimmy Dean. These seasonal varieties are available during the fall months at most supermarkets. You can always substitute regular pork sausage or even turkey sausage if preferred.
- Fresh herbs - Fresh herbs are so aromatic and provide so much flavor. I love sage and thyme in this recipe. If using dried herbs, substitute 1 teaspoon of dried for each tablespoon of fresh.
- Maple syrup - This may seem like an unusual ingredient, but maple pairs beautifully with sausage and it also enhances the sweetness in the cornbread.
Step by step instructions
See the recipe card for complete instructions and ingredient amounts.
- The night before, crumble the cornbread and cut the sourdough into cubes. Spread the bread on sheet pans and allow to dry overnight. Alternatively, if short on time, bake the crumbled/cubed bread at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until the bread has dried out.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, crumbling it as it cooks, about 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the butter to the remaining sausage drippings in the skillet. Stir in the onions and celery.
- Cook the veggies in the butter until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs.
- Combine the bread, sausage, onion-celery mixture, and maple syrup in a large bowl.
- Toss together. Add the chicken broth and fold together to moisten. If you prefer a drier dressing, starting by adding 1 cup of broth. Then add more until the dressing reaches the desired consistency. I like to add enough broth to hold the mixture together without being overly wet. You can adjust the amount of broth to achieve the consistency you like.
PRO TIP: When adding the liquid, gently fold the ingredients so the cornbread doesn't break down too much and create a mushy consistency.
- Transfer to a 9x13 casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees until brown on top.
- To re-heat leftovers, cover the baking dish with foil and heat in a 350-degree until warm. If the dressing starts to dry out, pour a little chicken broth over the top before reheating. Individual portions can also be reheated in the microwave.
Cornbread dressing is a holiday must in our house, right alongside mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and applesauce cinnamon jello. If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, these are some of my favorite ways to enjoy them.
- Hash and eggs - Crisp the dressing in a skillet and top with an egg for a hearty breakfast or brunch dish.
- Thanksgiving panini - This warm sandwich tastes like a Thanksgiving hug. Layer all of the turkey day components on toasted bread for the most incredible bite. My favorite combo is turkey, dressing, a few green beans, and a spoonful of applesauce cinnamon jello (or cranberry sauce) as the condiment. Sweet and savory - all in one bite!
- Soup - Add a few spoonfuls to a pot of turkey soup. The bread will almost melt into the broth, thickening it, and the sausage adds wonderful flavor and an unexpected bite. This is a great way to amp up a pot of ordinary chicken or turkey soup.
Absolutely! This recipe works wonderfully as a make ahead, which is so helpful especially during the holidays. Prepare the dressing according to the recipe directions. Instead of baking, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, allow the casserole to come to room temperature. If it seems a little dry, add a drizzle of chicken broth over the top. Then bake per the recipe directions.
It's best to use day old or stale bread for dressing or stuffing. If using fresher ingredients, prep the bread the night before. Crumble the cornbread, cube the bread, and spread both on sheet pans and allow to dry overnight. Alternatively, you can bake the cubed bread in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until dried.
Adding too much liquid or overmixing can break down the cornbread and create a soggy-like texture.
I hope you try this dressing on your family's Thanksgiving table or as a side dish to any roasted meat. The flavors will not disappoint!
More Thanksgiving favorites
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Sausage Cornbread Dressing
- 1 8x8 pan (18 ounces) cornbread ((day old))
- 1 16-ounce loaf sourdough bread ((day old))
- 16 ounces pork sausage (sage or maple variety such as Jimmy Dean, if available)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 large yellow onion (diced)
- 6 stalks celery (diced)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 cups chicken broth (plus extra as needed)
Bread cubes (night before making the dressing)
- Break the cornbread into chunks and cut the sourdough into 1-inch cubes. Spread on sheet pans and air dry overnight. Alternatively, you can dry out the bread on a sheet pan in a 350-degree oven for approx. 10 minutes.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes, breaking the sausage into pieces as it cooks. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. Remove the excess fat.
- In the same skillet, melt the butter and add the onion and celery. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the cornbread, sourdough, crumbled sausage, and onion and celery mixture. Toss to combine. Add the maple syrup and 1 cup of the chicken broth, folding to combine. Continue adding chicken broth until the mixture is moist but not overly wet.
- If making ahead of time, cover the casserole and store in the refrigerator for one-two days. Bring to room temperature before baking as noted above.
- To make this recipe ahead of time, prepare the dressing according to the recipe directions. Instead of baking, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, allow the casserole to come to room temperature. If it seems a little dry, add a drizzle of chicken broth over the top. Then bake per the recipe directions.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.
This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated.