Stuff your bird with the Best Ever Sausage Cornbread Stuffing — sure to add so much flavor to your turkey! This recipe uses lots of veggies, herbs, and sausage, for a delectable Thanksgiving side dish with a lighter twist.
Celebrate with the BEST Turkey Stuffing
Growing up, my Grandma’s stuffing was the highlight of our Thanksgiving menu. The smell of the sweet cornbread and savory herbs filled the house, making it feel impossible to wait for the meal to be served!
I have continued her tradition of making cornbread stuffing. When we celebrate with the family, I always make this for our Thanksgiving table.
Over the years, I have tweaked her Cornbread Dressing recipe ever so slightly to keep it fun.
A few years back, I made these adorable Sausage Stuffing Balls. I highly recommend trying these! I They have sausage and chopped apples and are such an elegant addition to your table!
This version has sausage added to it. I kept it on the lighter side with Italian chicken sausage. If you prefer the flavor of a pork sausage, go for it!
Cornbread has so much flavor, no one will miss the white bread! If this is your first time using cornbread for your dressing, you’re in for a wonderful surprise.
How can I keep Cornbread Dressing from Being Gummy?
If you’ve had cornbread stuffing in the past that has ended up gummy, you’re not alone! There are several things that cause this:
- Using fresh cornbread leads to too-soft, mushy dressing. I cut the cornbread in chunks and place it on a baking sheet to dry out overnight (or 2 nights). If you don’t have time for this step, place it on a baking tray and put it in the oven on 300º F for about 20 minutes to toast the cornbread.
- Too much liquid. Cornbread dressing doesn’t need to be overly complicated with milk and egg. Many Southern recipes call for this addition, making something similar to a bread pudding. This will cause the stuffing to be gummy if it isn’t properly cooked – and in my opinion, ruins the texture of the stuffing.
- It hasn’t been cooked long enough. If you’re baking stuffing separately from your bird, uncover it, and allow the tops and sides to dry out longer.
What You’ll Need
- Cornbread (this is best with homemade cornbread. We use this Moist & Fluffy Gluten Free Cornbread for a gluten-free sausage cornbread stuffing!)
- Chicken Sausage (I use Mild Italian Chicken Sausage. Use pork sausage, breakfast sausage, or even andouille sausage if you want a spicy sausage!).
- Green Bell Pepper (to me, this is essential! It adds
- Sea Salt
- Poultry Seasoning (I use this in addition to fresh herbs to get the maximum flavor.)
- Fresh Herbs (I use fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary)
- Chicken Stock (or turkey broth from your roasted bird)
*Cornbread dressing is a Southern tradition. As with so many Southern dishes, it starts with sautéed onions, green peppers, and celery. This vegetable mixture is known as “the Holy Trinity.” This is the aromatic base of Cajun and Creole dishes, similar to a French mirepoix.
Don’t skip this step for the most flavorful stuffing!
How to Make Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
Step 1: Cut cornbread into chunks, and allow to dry out overnight or even up to 2 days. If you don’t have time for this step, preheat oven to 300º F, and bake cornbread for 20-30 minutes until lightly toasted. This will remove enough moisture for the perfect dressing. Note: I cut my cornbread into larger pieces and break it up as I stir it into the other ingredients. Feel free to cut it into smaller pieces if you’d like a more uniform stuffing.
Step 2: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on your Sharp Induction Cooktop and add sausage. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. When it’s fully cooked, remove it from the skillet.
Step 3: Into the skillet, melt the butter. Add the celery, onions, and green bell pepper to the melted butter. Sauté the vegetables for about 15 minutes over medium heat. The vegetables need to be very tender.
Step 4: Season the vegetables with sea salt, poultry seasoning, and fresh herbs. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
Step 5: Into the skillet, add back in the sausage and the dried-out cornbread. Add the chicken stock, and use a wooden spoon to combine the vegetables, cornbread, and sausage, breaking up the cornbread to the desired texture. The cornbread stuffing is ready if you’re using it to stuff your roast turkey.
Step 6: If heating your stuffing on the side, add it to a baking dish, and cover it with foil. Bake it at 400º F for 30 minutes. I like to remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking to so the top turns a golden brown and it gets more crispy parts around the edge of the pan.
*If you have room in your oven, use a large Dutch Oven for sauteing the vegetables and baking the stuffing to save on dishes!
Tips on Adding Stuffing to a Turkey
If you plan on stuffing your turkey with cornbread dressing, keep these tips in mind.
- The vegetables don’t have to be sautéed as long. They will cook for hours along with your bird and become soft.
- Don’t overstuff your turkey. Overstuffing the turkey or underbaking it could lead to salmonella in your stuffing. Be sure to use a meat thermometer and check the temperature of both the turkey (or chicken) and stuffing is at least 165º F.
- If you’re unsure the stuffing is fully cooked, put it in a casserole dish and bake it at 400º F for 20 minutes prior to serving it.
After removing the innards from your turkey, add stuffing loosely to the cavity of the bird. Season the turkey as you normally would, and then bake it based on it’s weight.
Leftover stuffing can be added to a casserole dish and warmed alongside the turkey.
How to Store Leftover Cornbread Dressing
Wrap leftovers tightly or store them in an airtight container, and refrigerate the leftovers for up to 4 days. Fully reheat the leftover stuffing, especially if it’s been used to stuff a turkey, prior to serving.
Can I Freeze Cornbread Stuffing?
Yes! Cornbread stuffing is a great thing to make ahead of a holiday and freeze until ready to use. The vegetables are cooked until they are very soft, so freezing them doesn’t change the texture, like more crisp vegetables.
Wrap cornbread stuffing in an air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months, until ready to use.
How to Make Cornbread for Stuffing
Use your favorite cornbread recipe or store-bought cornbread for this recipe. The cornbread needs to dry out, so it can absorb the flavors of the chicken broth, turkey drippings, and herbs, so cut it in chunks and allow it to dry out overnight. It can also be cut in chunks and dried out in the oven (on a low temperature), to save time.
Make Stuffing Balls
Use this recipe for Sausage Stuffing Balls, which include apples and sausage. The individual portions are an elegant addition to a holiday table!