Birdseye view of baked cornbread dressing in a white Staub baking dish.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the stuffing. It’s such an important part of the meal, and I bet you’ve never been to a Thanksgiving dinner that didn’t have at least one type of dressing! This sausage and cornbread dressing has all the classic sage, thyme, and onion flavors you know and love, but with the addition of some tart cranberries and salty ground sausage. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time, so you have less to do on Turkey Day, too. 

Close view of scooping cornbread dressing with a wooden spoon from a baking dish.

What is the difference between stuffing and dressing?

Stuffing is cooked inside a bird, while dressing is made on the side instead. In the end, both should have a similar flavor, but dressing is a lot safer and tastier than stuffing. Why? There are two reasons:

  1. Stuffing soaks up all the delicious flavors of the bird, but it leaves your turkey dry and flavorless. Dressing, on the other hand, allows you to have flavorful stuffing and a tasty turkey.
  2. With stuffing, you also run the risk of salmonella. You have to cook the turkey for much longer to ensure the stuffing is cooked and safe. So either you have safe stuffing and overcooked, dry turkey, or you have perfectly-cooked turkey and stuffing that is a food poisoning disaster waiting to happen.

So instead of dealing with potentially unsafe stuffing or a dry and flavorless turkey, it’s much better to just cook the dressing outside of the bird! This way you serve delicious—and safe—turkey and dressing to your family and guests.

What is cornbread dressing made of?

Cornbread dressing has a pretty straightforward ingredient list—you should still be able to find everything you need without any trouble.

  • Cornbread that has been cut and left to dry out on the counter overnight
  • Turkey sausage
  • Fresh onion
  • Fresh celery
  • Butter
  • Sage, thyme, salt, pepper
  • Minced garlic
  • Dried cranberries
  • Vegetable broth
  • Eggs

A spoon dips into golden baked stuffing in a white baking dish.

Do I need to make the cornbread from scratch?

Nope! You can use store-bought cornbread, homemade cornbread, or even a boxed mix to make cornbread dressing. The key is that the cornbread is dry enough to absorb the liquid, so it doesn’t get soggy. Cut the cornbread into cubes a few days before making your dressing and let it sit out on the counter to dry out.  

What kind of sausage do I need?

This cornbread dressing recipe calls for turkey sausage. If you’re going to be making it alongside your Thanksgiving turkey dinner, sticking with turkey makes sense to complement the rest of your meal. However, you can definitely switch it up and use chicken or pork sausage if you like. Both will have slightly different flavors that your guests will love!

How do I make sausage and cornbread dressing?

Like all the best sides, cornbread dressing is simple to make. Follow these easy steps to have crispy, Thanksgiving dressing ready in under 15 minutes of hands-on prep work.

Collage of six images showing how to make sausage and cornbread dressing. A text overlay reads, "How to Make Cornbread Dressing."

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease a baking dish. Cook the sausage and set aside. Using the same pan, cook the celery, onions, and garlic in melted butter until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the sausage back to the pan, and add the spices. Cook until everything is warmed through.
  3. In a large bowl, stir the sausage and vegetables with the dried cranberries and cornbread.
  4. Whisk the eggs and broth together, and stir gently into the cornbread mixture. 
  5. Pour the stuffing into the baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes.
  6. Serve!

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! You can make cornbread dressing up to two days before you plan on serving it. After baking your dressing, allow it to cool, then cover it in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. The day you serve it, bake it in an oven preheated to 350°F for 30-35 minutes covered with either a lid or some aluminum foil. Remove the cover and bake for an additional ten minutes. This will give your dressing that nice crispy crust!

Top view of Thanksgiving dressing in a white baking dish.

How do I store leftover cornbread dressing?

You can store any leftover cornbread stuffing for up to four days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer. Make sure it’s kept in an airtight plastic or glass container, and that if you store it in the freezer, the container you choose is also freezer safe.

When it comes time to reheat it, you can either pop it in the microwave, or stick it in the oven for a crispier crust.

Want more great Thanksgiving side dishes like this one?

Dressing is an essential part of any Thanksgiving dinner—but there are so many other amazing Thanksgiving side dishes you can serve alongside your bird.

 
Birdseye view of baked cornbread dressing in a white Staub baking dish.

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Everybody loves a tasty Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, and you can't skip the stuffing! This cornbread dressing is easy to make and tastes great.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound turkey sausage
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups cornbread cubes, dried
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, crumbling as you go. Cook through, then remove from skillet, drain, and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the cooked sausage back to the skillet, along with the sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir until everything is evenly mixed, then remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add the cornbread and dried cranberries to the bowl and gently mix to combine.
  5. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the broth and eggs. Pour the mixture over the cornbread sausage mixture, stirring to evenly coat.
  6. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until brown and crunchy. Serve!

Notes

  • It is really important that your cornbread cubes are dry to prevent a super soggy stuffing! The easiest way to do that is to cube your cornbread and leave it out on the counter for a few days before making the recipe.
  • You can swap pork or chicken sausage for the turkey sausage if you prefer!
  • This recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, then reheated in the oven at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes covered. Remove the cover, then bake 10 minutes more to get the crisp top again.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 639Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 1780mgCarbohydrates: 85gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 27g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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21 Comments

  1. Thanks for this recipe. I have lost my go-to recipe, and this is close to that one (except that it was split between white/corn bread volume which I prefer). Also, I prefer dressing without the fruity, nutty accoutrements. I strayed last year from that preference, and I was not happy!

    Fixin’ to get ready for next week….