If you are looking for the perfect dressing for Thanksgiving, you are in the right place. Southern Make Ahead Sausage Cornbread Dressing is the perfect dressing and a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. It’s perfect because it’s delicious, it can be made ahead, it freezes beautifully, it’s simple and easy to make, and, did I mention when it’s cooking the aroma wafting through your house is intoxicating!
Make Ahead Sausage Cornbread Dressing was my Mom’s recipe, and I can still see her now on Thanksgiving mixing all of the ingredients in a big bowl and trying to keep me and my brothers and sisters from trying to sneak a piece of crusty cornbread, tasty sausage, or a toasted pecan. For me, it epitomizes Thanksgiving, and all that is good about it. Every time I make it, it brings back many happy memories. Since my Mom is no longer with us, it’s our family’s tradition for me to bring our favorite dressing to our Thanksgiving gatherings and I have done so for many years now.
If you are not from the south, you may be wondering what the difference is between stuffing and dressing? Well, many folks believe that if it’s cooked inside a turkey, it should be called stuffing; but if it’s cooked outside the turkey, then the proper name for it is dressing. But here in the south, most home cooks call it dressing and that’s what I’m sticking with regardless of whether it’s cooked it in the turkey or not. Stuffing sounds, well it sounds just a little unpleasant…
Stress-Free Thanksgiving Tip # 2: About two weeks before Thanksgiving check to see if you have everything you will need for the big day, i.e. meat thermometer, turkey baster or brush, large roasting pan, roasting rack, serving dishes, kitchen twine, etc.
To make this yummy dressing, all you need is cornbread, onion, celery, sausage, toasted pecans, chicken or turkey stock, egg, and poultry seasoning. You can make the cornbread yourself, which I always do (check out my recipe for Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread), or you can buy cornbread already made. Around Thanksgiving, most grocery stores have it available. Just don’t buy the sweet stuff or get me started about whether you should put sugar in cornbread. That’s a whole other post.
If you are ready to make this delicious dressing, gather your ingredients and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook sausage, onion and celery in a large skillet over medium-high heat approximately 8-10 minutes or until the sausage is thoroughly cooked. Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel. (If you are making this ahead, once the sausage mixture has cooled, you can put it in a freezer safe bag and either freeze or refrigerate it until you are ready to make the dressing. )
To toast the cornbread, cut it into small cubes or crumble and place on a baking sheet. Place it in the oven and toast for 8-10 minutes or until the cornbread is light golden brown.
Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees F.
Mix 1 cup of the chicken or turkey stock and egg together in a small bowl until well blended.
When ready to assemble, add the toasted cornbread, sausage mixture, poultry seasoning, pecans, chicken or turkey stock and egg to a large bowl and mix well. (Add 1 cup of chicken or turkey stock and mix. If you like moister dressing, add additional stock, about 1/4 cup at a time until the dressing is the consistency you like. It will dry out a little when it is cooked. )
Add the mixture to a 2-quart baking dish which has been sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray. (If you are making ahead, you can cover tightly and either freeze for several weeks, or put in the refrigerator for several days until you are ready to bake it.)
To bake, cover the baking dish and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Serve immediately.
Bonus: If your turkey has giblets, it’s easy to make turkey stock. Simply place the giblets and 3-4 cups of water in a medium size saucepan, add about 1 tsp salt and pepper and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove the giblets. Voila turkey stock!
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? Check these out.