Southern Cornbread Dressing

My mom: “Mmmm, this is closer to my mother’s cornbread dressing than anything I have ever tried to make.” (My grandmother never wrote any of her recipes down, so we have had a terrible time trying to replicate the dishes that mean so much to my mom, gluten-free or otherwise. My Aunt Sarah has given me some guidance over the years since she usually helped my grandmother do the cooking).

I had a serious "Whatchu Talkin' 'Bout Willis?" moment!

Me: WHAT!!! “But this is Gluten-Free…”

My mom: “Well, I am not sure what to say other than it is very good.”

Oh, Happy Day!

I have a lot of folks taste test for me. I cook all day on most days when my boys are in school. A tweak here, a tweak there…I think it has become an obsession. Only a mild obsession though! LOL! There is nothing quite like having gone without for so long, and then figuring it out and finally getting it right. I do not do well with being told “no”, I never have. Tell me “no” to something and I become a very determined woman! For example: I was never a Twinkie fan, but once I knew I could NEVER have one again, (even though I hadn’t had one since I was probably 8 or so) all of a sudden, even a telephone pole looked like a Twinkie! I just had to have one! And only because I “technically” couldn’t! So I made my own. 😉

While most of my taste testers have said they really like my “GF replica” creations, my mom has been my toughest critic to win over. As she puts it, “I’m just set in my ways.” I actually appreciate her (at times, painful) honesty, as I always knew she would never spare my feelings and say she liked something if she in fact, did not. My mom has been my driving force on this little obsession of mine.

My mom’s seal of approval for this cornbread dressing recipe has been the single most rewarding experience of my gluten-free life.

Gluten-Free Southern Cornbread Dressing

I try to do as much as I can ahead of time for big meals like Thanksgiving so I can relax and enjoy the day too! I will make my cornbread about 4 days ahead of time and let it dry out naturally on a cookie sheet. You can also dry it out in a 250° F. oven if you prefer.

First, you need to make the cornbread. This recipe calls for self-rising cornmeal, so you will need to make some (we are gluten-free after all!).

Self-Rising Cornmeal:

1 cup All-Purpose Flour (I used Tom Sawyer’s GF All-Purpose Flour)

3 cups Cornmeal (I used Quaker’s Yellow Cornmeal)

2 Tbs. Baking Powder

2 tsp. Salt

  • Mix all ingredients well.
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • Use in any recipe calling for self-rising cornmeal.

Cornbread: (Yes, you are reading this recipe correctly, there is ZERO sugar in this cornbread recipe! As my mom would say, “No self-respecting southerner puts sugar in their cornbread!” 😀 )

1 cup Self-Rising Cornmeal

3 Tbs. All-Purpose Flour (I used Tom Sawyer’s)

1 Egg, beaten

2/3 cup Buttermilk

1 Tbs. Water

1 Tbs. Shortening, melted (I used Crisco’s Butter Flavored Shortening) or Canola Oil

  • In a bowl, add the self-rising cornmeal and flour. Stir with a whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, add the beaten egg, buttermilk, water and melted shortening or oil. Mix well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Grease (I just used Pam) an 8 or 9-inch baking pan (my grandmother always used a cast iron skillet, but I have yet to replace mine since going GF).
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cornbread Dressing:

1 batch of Cornbread (see above), crumbled and dried out.

5 slices Ener-g Light Tapioca Loaf, “toasted” in a 250° F. oven for about an hour or so, then broken into small pieces. (My grandmother always used biscuits instead of bread in her dressing, but GF biscuits have never worked out for me). The Ener-g Light Tapioca Loaf is the bread that I had settled on before Udi’s came into my life, but you would NEVER want to eat it straight out of the bag like you can Udi’s bread’s. It HAS to be microwaved or toasted.  As much of an Udi’s fan as I am, I only use this bread in my dressing recipes. Something magical happens to the texture of this bread when it has been dried out, (which it pretty much comes in that state anyway, but I still toast it up for a little added insurance) and then you add liquid to it in a dressing recipe. It does not break down into a gritty mess like a lot of GF breads (and my GF biscuits). I honestly do not know if this happens with the Udi’s bread because I have not tried it in a dressing recipe yet. I can’t seem to wrap my brain around letting go of my sandwich bread for experimentation purposes!).

1 cup Onion, diced

1 cup Celery, diced

1/2 cup Butter (I used Smart Balance)

3/4 tsp. Poultry Seasoning (more or less, depending on your taste)

4 Eggs, beaten

1 Tbs. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 quart (32-oz.) Chicken Broth or Stock (I am a HUGE fan of Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock)

  • In a large sauté pan, melt butter then add onions and celery. Reduce heat and cook until translucent. Add poultry seasoning to the celery and onion mixture and cook a few minutes longer to allow the flavors to blend. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit (so the heat does not scramble the eggs).
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add crumbled cornbread and bread pieces. Toss to blend. Add baking powder, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, beat eggs with a fork or whisk. Add to the bread mixture, stir.
  • Add the cooled sauteed vegetables with poultry seasoning to the bread mixture, stir.
  • Add chicken broth or stock. You will want this mixture to be soupy and I do mean soupy! If you do not add enough broth or stock, the cornbread dressing will be very dry.

Can you see how "soupy" it should be? I thought I would show you because I remember when I first made it, I never thought in a million years all of that chicken broth would get absorbed, but it does! This is the key to moist cornbread dressing.

  • I made mine in a slow-cooker, set to low for a couple of hours. You can also bake it in the oven at 350° F. for 45 minutes or until the dressing is lightly brown on top and the middle is set. My grandmother would always lay a few pecan slices on top of the dressing before she baked it to make a pretty presentation. The pecans would come out nice and toasty. The pecans do not work in a slow-cooker because they get very soft and are neither pretty or tasty!

A picture without the gravy so you can see the end result of the slow-cooker cornbread dressing.

Doesn't everything taste better with gravy?? 😉

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2 Responses

  1. Very impressive!!! We love our cornbread dressing here!

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