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The Best Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing Recipe

Thanksgiving.image.Geraldine Fletcher’s Old-fashioned, Southern-style
Cornbread Dressing to be more precise.


Back when my mother was still alive and doing the honors every Thanksgiving, she always seemed to fret about whether or not the dressing had enough sage.  She would call me in to taste and re-taste until it seemed just right.  I often wondered back then why she didn’t have an exact recipe to follow.

In later years, I asked BigSis if she had Mother’s recipe, and she shared it with me the way she adapted it over the many years she’s been doing the honors at her home. Maybe memory fails me now, but I think she has probably tweaked the recipe to suit her family’s taste buds.

Because The Captain did not grow up eating cornbread dressing on any occasion, I never really had to learn to perfect a recipe for said holiday menu item. Don’t get me wrong, I did bake some version of this over the years from time to time when we did not have a combined family Thanksgiving meal; but I honestly can’t tell you if I had an exact recipe, either.

However, once I ate Geraldine’s dressing, I experienced cornbread dressing bliss and needed never search for just the right amount of sage again.

A couple of days before the meal, I bought a whole chicken and boiled it on the stove, or should I say simmered or stewed.  You can look up other ways to make your own tasty chicken stock, but I just simmered it for a couple of hours with salt in the water (add bay leaf if you have it), until the chicken was about ready to fall off the bones. There is great nutritive value in making your own stock with the bones.

You can buy ready-made broth in the can if you prefer, but I can tell you that making your own stock just makes this dressing even tastier and well worth the small effort.

This is optional, but if you would like to chop some of the chicken and put into the dressing, feel free.  I chopped the cooked chicken and saved for chicken salad.

The day before the meal, I started with cornbread baked according to the recipe on the Quaker or Aunt Jemima yellow corn meal box.  You can use an 8 x 8 pan, baking dish, or black iron skillet.  It’s your choice, but I use a skillet.  At the risk of starting a big debate about animal fat and cholesterol, I will go ahead and tell you the one exception I made was to substitute bacon grease for vegetable oil in the cornbread recipe.  Why?  Because some of us are no longer eating vegetable oils (other than those that are cold pressed) and margarine or spreads.  If you want to know more about why we are doing that, please read Deep Nutrition and Primal Body.

Which leads me to the one exception I made in Geraldine’s recipe.  Her recipe calls to sauté the veggies in 2 sticks of margarine. Nope. Not gonna do it. I use real, salted, creamery butter.
Moving right along…here is what you will need:

The Best Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

Geraldine Fletcher’s Old-fashioned, Southern-style, Cornbread Dressing to be precise.

Because The Captain did not grow up eating cornbread dressing on any occasion, I never really had to learn to perfect a recipe for said holiday menu item. Don’t get me wrong, I did bake some version of this over the years from time to time when we did not have a combined family Thanksgiving meal; but I honestly can’t tell you if I had an exact recipe, either.

However, once I ate Geraldine’s dressing, I experienced cornbread dressing bliss and needed never search for just the right amount of sage again.

  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 2 Medium Onions Chopped
  • 6-8 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • 2 Bell Peppers Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley Chopped
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions Chopped-separated
  • 2 Pans of Cornbread (Crumbled)
  • 1.5 Quarts Chicken Stock (approximately 1qt. plus 2 cans)
  • 1 Tblsp Tony Chachere's Seasoning
  • 1 Tblsp Season All
  • 1/2 t Tblsp Poultry Seasoning (optional – my family doesn' care for sage flavor)
  • 1 Tsp Salt (optional-to taste)
  • 6 Eggs
  1. Melt butter in sauté pan and add the finely chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, let them simmer on low, stirring occasionally while you continue.
  2. Chop parsley and green onions and set aside – keep the dark green tops of the green onion separate from the white parts.
  3. Assemble and bake 2 pans of cornbread, cool, and crumble into a large bowl. (Put oven on 400 after removing cornbread if you plan to bake the dressing right away. See Notes)
  4. Add parsley and bulbous white part of the green onion to the sauté pan
  5. Add 2 quarts of stock to the cornbread in the bowl. (If you made stock ahead of time, you must re-heat it before adding)
  6. Add all the seasoning (and taste for needed salt)
  7. Add the vegetables to the cornbread mixture
  8. Add green onion tops to the cornbread mixture
  9. Mix eggs well and fold into cornbread mixture
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven to “set” which takes about 30 minutes. Then lower the oven to 350 and continue baking for another 30 minutes or so. Dressing is done when golden-colored and knife comes out clean. So, check it often!

After everything is mixed together, you can cover and let this rest in the refrigerator overnight, which really enhances all the flavors, you can freeze it for future use, or you can bake right away. You will need about three or four baking dishes, as this makes a LOT of dressing. I used shallow glass baking dishes. Corning Ware works okay, but the edges are more prone to over-browning. Feel free to cut the recipe in half for smaller families.


Have a blessed meal with your family and friends, and I hope everyone loves this dressing!


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  1. I could adapt this dressing easily with a can of oysters in it and I think it would be yummy! Especially with the banana pudding that’s described above.

  2. Thank you!!! Now back to the grocery store!!! I would have ended up there again before Thursday anyway boys sure do eat a lot! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. Aaaaah, cornbread dressing. Sigh. I could dive into a batch and live there for quite a while. I make my mom’s/Nannie’s recipe every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Without fail. It’s a lot like the recipe you describe sans bell pepper and Tony’s. I haven’t changed a thing in their recipe. It takes me back to Grandmother’s kitchen, especially if I have squash baking in the oven, too. Remember that smell on a Sunday after church?

    As for adding oysters to the mix……I don’t know about that. It’s a texture thing for me. I need good old fashion french bread for my oyster dressing. My sister adds cut up squash to her cornbread dressing. Now that’s just wrong, I tell her all the time. Lol.

    The banana pudding sounds good with the addition of the sour cream. I’ve never made it that way but can imagine the background tang would be nice.

    Thanks for sharing these tasty dishes. Happy Thanksgiving Cuz!

    1. Hey Cuz – could I get you to email me Grandmother’s recipe? I don’t think I ever got it written down, although I’m sure that’s the one my mom used. Could you do that for me pretty please? What are your plans for Thursday?

      1. Just now reading this and guess what? Went to my recipe box a few minutes ago to dig out the recipe for the dressing! I’ll send it to you shortly.

      2. Could you please e mail me the recipe for your mom’s dressing ? It sounds so good .My mom passed away Christmas Eve and she always did the dressing so I am clueless to what all she put in it .Thanks !

        1. Welcome Susie. This isn’t my mom’s recipe, but it is our favorite. You should be able to see the recipe on a recipe card right here on this same page. So sorry about your mother. I’m sure you can make the meal special in your mom’s memory. If you can’t open or see the recipe for some reason, please leave another comment to let me know. Merry Christmas!

    2. I have to tell you, the sour cream does the opposite of adding a tang to banana pudding! That’s why I was so surprised when I found out what was in it! It adds a rich, creamy, depth of flavor that you just can’t accomplish with milk alone!

    3. Kathie
      My recipe for cornbread dressing is. from my great grandmother. Very similar to your recipe except she also added chopped boiled eggs as well as the raw eggs. She owned a boarding house in the 40 and 50’s and cooked for many people.Such an amazing cook!

      1. Hi Kathie and welcome! I’ve never known someone who owned a boarding house, and I think that’s a very interesting history. Bet she had some stories to tell! And I’m sure they loved her cornbread dressing if it’s as good or better than this recipe! Mrs. Geraldine might have added boiled eggs, too, but we love it without. Sure it’s good that way, too. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us! Come back any time! BW

  4. Please explain the sage to me. I don’t use it and don’t really like the taste. I guess you could say I just make plain jane dressing. I do boil a whole chicken and use the broth and chicken. I also put mine in the refrigerator to set for a while.

    The banana pudding sounds ok but I prefer made from scratch and that is the reason I never have it.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, my friend.

    1. I can’t explain it. I guess the recipe she used called for it. It is an ingredient of “Poultry Seasoning”, I do believe. Plain Jane is good – that’s how my sister makes it, which is probably very similar to my Cuz Katy Bug’s recipe, since they both came from Grandmother.

    2. Well, maybe this way you WILL make it and be surprised at how much you like it NOT made from cooked pudding, etc. You just never know until you try it, ma’ am!

  5. SWEET… Listen as a insulin shooting fishing machine I got to stop using that term. How’s the pecan crop? Eat more Loozy sweet taters, y’all. OMG it stopped raining gone fishing.

    happy holidays and all dat….

  6. We use white cornmeal and leave out the bell pepper and Tonys. But I may be printing this out to try next time I make the dressing. Sounds very good and my husband loves banana pudding you may have to give a complete recipe for that also.

    1. Judy, make your dessert as usual, but this is the filling. Layer with vanilla wafers, sliced banana, and she topped hers with fresh whipping cream (I think) and not meringue. Dotter can correct me if I’m wrong, as she has had it herself, and I have not.

    2. Yep! Just mix TWO small boxes (or whatever size box calls for 2 cups milk) of instant vanilla pudding with 3.5 cups milk and 8oz sour cream! Let it set and layer it with banana slices and vanilla wafers. I have put CoolWhip on top before, but of course, real whipped cream would be even better!

  7. The dressing is very similar to what I make but, I do use sage which I love and which the neighbor has growing in her yard. I love good, cornbread dressing and made 2 iron skillets full last night for the dressing.
    The banana pudding surprised me with the sour cream. I have added rum extract to it before though. May have to try the above recipe but, will not be able to tell hubby what is in it.

    Do you use vanilla wafers or graham crackers in the pudding?

          1. They must have liked it just fine because the little bit that was left got snatched to take home with the grandkids.

  8. BW, I think I am in love,real butter,bacon grease,cornbread dressing with lots of sage and cooking in cast iron!!

    I do get a small pan of cornbread dressing made for me every thanksgiving by one or the other sweet ladies around town but I think for Chrismas I am going to try your recipe out and make my own. thank you.

    1. You are so funny, Ronnie! And you know what’s even funnier, The Captain doesn’t even eat my cornbread dressing 🙁 So, cut that recipe in half and bake away, my Florida friend. I promise you will not be disappointed. Just don’t over bake it!

  9. Oh, YUM!

    I’ll eat dressing in almost any shape or form but your’s sounds divine.

    I think dressing is about the best part of any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Give me a some dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce and I’m in heaven.

    I wasn’t introduced to the delights of cornbread dressing until I was grown. Granny made her dressing with bread. I’m not sure what all went into it but it was so good. I would sneak into the kitchen after everything was cleaned up and put away, filch a hunk of dressing straight out of the icebox and eat it cold. It was THAT good.

    I just wanted to stop by and wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks for the well wishes, Gue, and we did have a wonderful meal and day with family. The dressing was just as good after being frozen and thawed out for a day; then baking just as directed in recipe. I like dressing, too, but not enough to eat a hunk cold right out of the frig!!!! Thanks for stopping by!

    2. I am gonna make this dressing for Christmas.. I can’t wait! I also wanted to comment on the pudding recipe. I’ve never made it with sour cream but would love to try it. I have made with a block of softened cream cheese and it totally off the chain GOOOOD!.. lol.. if you never tried it, you may want to. I also use heavy whipping cream and make my own sweet whipped topping. Pudding is amazing cause you can add different fruit, nuts, even marshmallows and turn it into a tropical pudding.. just another idea I thought I would toss out there. Sincerely, Tammy

      1. Hi Tammy and thanks for stopping by. Just let me add a tip about the dressing.. . some folks have stated there’s too much liquid, so add the chicken broth as you go to moisten – not too soupy!!! Good luck and happy holidays!

  10. My cornbread dressing is VERY similar to this one. I’d make it for Hubby’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at work before he retired. The first time it was a single batch. They were hooked. I had to triple it after that. There was 50 or more people to feed. When he retired, I passed on the recipe to his secretary.
    I might just have to try the pudding soon. Sounds good. Different, but good.

    1. I’ve been trying to think if there is anything about this dressing I might change . . . . and I think I might reduce the amount of butter to saute` the veggies. It is a good recipe, though!

      1. I wonder how adding a small amount of chopped jalepenos would turn out? ‘Course, that might not work if you’re serving children and folks that don’t like a bit of kick or can’t handle spicy foods.

        1. I like spicy, so I would love it; but you’re right. Some folks and kids don’t care for spicy. Could make the jalapeno cornbread first, and do it that way!!!

          1. I think Jalapenos would change the taste. It might “fight” with the Poultry Seasoning (sage) also.To give it a kick, sometimes my mom would add Cayenne (Red Pepper). It didn’t happen often though, usually it was made for a large group of people.

  11. That dressing’s almost exactly what I do, except I add mushrooms and plenty of sage. Fresh ground pepper, too. I’d reduce the butter some, too – but it has to be real butter, for sure.

    I’m going to give that banana pudding a go, too. I love me a good southern banana pudding, but I’ve never gotten anyone who makes a good one to give up the recipe. Maybe this is the secret!

  12. Long ago the dressing recipe came up, see dressing is my most favorite food in the world. Now my Baby Sis, she will not eat it cooked, she wants her’s raw, she always was a strange kid. I think Mom dropped her on her head as a baby.

    Dressing, one day about the same time in our lives we decided we needed to get the recipe. I don’t think anybody’s Mom has the recipe if she is a good cook. You can stand and watch and I swear Mom would mess it up or send you off to get something forgotten, never failed. I finally figured it all out. And my Sister complained this very evening because she was making the dressing and still didn’t have it down, (you should see the grin on my face while typing).

    I no longer cook for any holiday, I think it’s time for the kids, grand kids and Pop’s great grand kids to be making their memories for the future. I am one of those folks, I can’t share a kitchen and now ….. I just can’t do stress. So, they need to be putting their stamp on the holiday, because to me the food is like the mortar that makes the holidays communal. The stories are boring at the table until someone opens up with the truth about the new waxed bean casserole (waited too late to buy the green beans and had to buy canned waxed beans). After the confession and the laugh then everyone relaxes and has a good time by telling all the old lies again.

    I know that the south Louisiana lifestyle nearly always includes eating with any important event. I think that the memories surrounding those special cooking’s are what you’ll always remember and with them the family. Besides when someone is responsible for a part of the feast, it harder to duck out to the duck camp or want to travel to a LSU game or help your buddies move or any number of other things especially when these days the relaxed time together is already taxed. We were never required to be home for a holiday, and Mom was always gracious about it if we had to miss, but it had better be a good excuse like work, hospital or military service.

    BW this recipe is pretty close to my Mom’s, I love it, but the reason I love it was because it’s how Mom made it. Not because it tastes best, although I got lucky there, No it was because of the smells in the air, because Pop cooked the biscuits ever day Thanksgiving week so she could get enough left over to use. Or she always cooked her corn bread on Sunday night so it could properly stale before using it. All the little nuances and smells and sounds but mostly the smiles because you had to really mess up (I could usually find a way) to get in bad trouble this week.

    Moving right along, I spend nearly all day cleaning house so everyone coming didn’t see what a slob I am. But I did find time to make 10 jars of Kumquat Marmalade (I never even ate any before, I was an abused child)! LOL and got in some pineapple, honey crisp apple, and kumquat liqueurs put up.

    My week now is about getting in shape and ready to eat and enjoy all the stories and I’ll be grading this year as to who’s story has grown the most since last year!

    Everyone here, I would like to wish you all a happy and unhealthy Thanksgiving. I understand that on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, all harmful foods are rendered totally healthy for the day. That means all the stuff that makes food taste good is beneficial for each of the aforementioned holidays. So eat without guilt! And have a great time.

    You mean people actually make banana pudding with a recipe that’s not on the Nilla Wafer box? Who Knew!

    1. How bout that kumquat marm and liquour recipe. I’m over-run with them now and can’t seem to get rid of them all.

      1. Right now NOAA weather report for tomorrow night says the citrus season is over if it holds true. A hard freeze with do in the citrus. Last I looked it says 25 degrees.

        But ya never know with weather forecasters. But I find that NOAA is usually pretty good at it. So pick up a big bag tomorrow.

        I’ll see if I can find a friendly courier. I never had marmalade except in those little tubs of jelly in a restaurant, and then because I was last to the table. The only people who eat marmalade are stiff neck English on their tea bisquits right?

        I gave the neighbor a jar, only right since I stole ’em off his tree….. He brought another big bag of ’em (already picked and cleaned), tonite. LOL

        Hope ya like ’em, Oh, and the hardest part about the liqueur is waiting long enough for them to smooth out. LOL

        Happy Thanksgiving

    2. Hey! How in the world did you remember about the banana pudding recipe? I deleted that from this version of this post. Did you print the recipe out two years ago or something? Anyway, I love your post, and especially what you say about all those generations taking over and putting their stamp on the holidays. You know what we do down here? ALWAYS, we talk about food while we’re eating, and not usually the food we’re eating at the moment. we’re always talking about something we ate somewhere or asking did you every try so and so? Just pay attention and see if it isn’t true! Thank you for the great holiday wishes, and I will be making this dressing again this year. Have a great holiday, Goldie!

  13. OMIGOD…. That sounds heavenly. I love, absolutely love dressing. I’ve had dozens of versions and will eat them all.

    Hubby won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. I think the man was switched at birth. By aliens. Who doesn’t like dressing?

    I like turkey and ham and all the traditional holiday sides dishes but you can give me a plate with nothing on it but dressing, gravy, a little cranberry relish and I’m happy. If there’s some collards, I’m even happier.

    1. Just got mine all mixed up and ready to be baked tomorrow. Yummy is right! It has become our family favorite and my no-fail go-to dressing of choice for the holidays! The Louisiana sweet potatoes are baking and will be ready for fixing up tomorrow in a casserole dish with mini marshmallows on top in honor of our mother. And oh yes, there will be turkey gravy for the dressing. We’ve decided to do two meals–one traditional, one not, but we’re still not having turkey, LOL!

  14. Dressing is in the oven right now, and life is good today. Happy Thanksgiving to all you faithful readers, and I hope your day is one to savor until tomorrow’s leftovers!!!

  15. Although it’s late in the day…

    May your stuffing be tasty
    May your turkey be plump,
    May your potatoes and gravy
    Have never a lump.
    May your yams be delicious
    And your pies take the prize,
    And may your Thanksgiving dinner
    Stay off of your thighs!

    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

  16. I am getting the books. I am happy to find someone who believes margarine is very bad! I have not used it for years.

    1. Linda, if I may say so, they are both good and different, but I enjoyed and learned most from Primal Body. Just an FYI. I haven’t used margarine or refined oils for about 16 years(and only fry in peanut oil on the rare occasion we fry oysters or shrimp). Our bodies know what to do with natural fats, even though we should not over indulge in them, of course. What turned me around was leaving a cast iron skillet with vegetable oil in it in the oven at the camp. When I went back about a week later, the oil had formed a plastic film on top, and I could only imagine what it was doing inside my body. That was it for me. No more “plastic butter” and very limited amounts of refined oils. Now, I fry my eggs in coconut oil and also use it for popcorn. Delicious.

  17. 2014: READERS, I know this is a repeat, but I wanted to share it again in case anyone wants to shop for the necessary ingredients before the big 2 day cooking marathon! I’m leaving the older comments for reflection, posterity, enjoyment! I will be making this on Monday, since we are celebrating Thanksgiving on Tuesday evening. With 3 sons working opposing hitches on tugboats, this is the only evening that 2 of the 3 will be off the boat. So, we flex!!!

    1. Yes, it is delicious, but we all have delicious holiday recipes we could share! Happy Thanks giving to you and yours, Louise. I hope it’s extra special!

    1. Yes, so are you going to make it in honor of your north Louisiana heritage? Hmmm? Happy Thanksgiving, Brenda. It’s great to have you back commenting again!

    1. We had our meal last night, and everything was so good. All the kids were here except my oldest son, who is on the boat. With three of them working on tugboats now, it’s, as I said, very hard to get us all together on the holidays, so we do what we can! Enjoy your family, too, Steffi!

  18. Happy Advance Thanksgiving! Actually, any day ye have a meal like this is a day to be thankful…

  19. Can you please tell me how to make the giblet gravy. I was raised up in southern Mississippi about two hours from NOLA and the dressing sounds just like my grandmother used to make.

    1. I will have to come back later and add this on a recipe card, but for now, here’s basically what we do. Remove the thawed giblets from the inside of turkey and put in saucepan with 4-5 cups of water; bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour (keep the liver out and add it the last 30 minutes so it doesn’t fall apart). Strain giblets, cool, chop and set aside. Reserve the broth. In another pan, put half a stick of butter (4 Tbsp.) and heat up slowly on low heat. When hot, add 4 Tbsp. of flour, stir out all lumps, cooking to a light golden color (NOT BROWN). Then slowly add your chicken broth until the consistency you like. Simmer and add chopped giblets, salt and pepper to taste. (Some folks chop up a boiled egg and add to the gravy, too.) This makes about 3 Cups of delicious gravy for dressing! Thanks for asking, and I hope it works well for you, Ann!

      1. That is the same way I make my giblet gravy except I use cornstarch to thicken it. And I do had a couple of sliced, boiled eggs.

  20. My recipe minus the bp’s & Tony C’s, and of course, gotta have the sage-that’s what sets it apart from just plain cornbread dressing. Maybe those two ingredients are what makes yours so good. I just might have to try it for Christmas. A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all.

    1. Hi Joyce, and welcome to this bayou. Well, there is some sage in the poultry seasoning that I use; but my family doesn’t care for the strong flavor of sage, so the Tony’s and Seasonall work well together with the poultry seasoning. I promise you, it has a great flavor! Well, at least everyone who has eaten it thinks so! If you try it for Christmas, be sure and come back and let us know if your crew approves!

  21. Thanks so much for sharing this brought back long forgotten memories. I found if you can let if set for 2 to 3 days the flavor is that much more…of course that’s hard to do!!! Thanks

    1. You’re most welcome, Philip. I must confess that I ate this dressing leftover until it was all gone! It is just that good! Four days in a row, I think!!!!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Please read post on home page and comment there to be entered in a random drawing for a giveaway!! BW

  22. This is the same way we have always made dressing, my favorite, but there are only 4 of us, now. Is it possible to just half the recipe?

  23. In your recipe it says to use 3 or 4 baking dishes, but could I use larger glass casserole dishes to cook this in? Is there any way to only use one dish? Also, I’m having around 10 to 12 people over for Thanksgiving, will this be enough?

    1. Hi Sandy and welcome. Yes, this will be enough for your group. The problem with using one huge, deep dish is that by the time the inside cooks through on a deep dish, the outside edges are too brown. Let me suggest using the largest shallow baking dish you have. Mine is 11 x 13 and use that to serve your guests. Put the rest in another one and bake both at same time. If the large dish goes empty, then you have the backup standing by. That’s the best solution I can think of! Hope everyone loves your dressing!!

    1. sorry for the delay and thanks for the question. I use the recipe on the cornmeal box and bake it twice using a cast iron skillet, so I’m going to say that would be the equivalent of two pans. Good luck!