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How To Make The Best Cornbread Stuffing In The Universe

This one goes out to all my salty-sweet Thanksgiving lovers. Find more dreamy stuffings here.

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Cornbread stuffing is kind of a Southern thing. This one tows the line between sweet and savory, filled with delicious ingredients like butter AND bacon, apples, onions and pecans.

If you're into sticky, salty-sweet things, this is the stuffing for you. Did I mention that it gets drizzled with honey at the end? IT DOES.

What you'll need:

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For the exact list of ingredients and full recipe, jump to the bottom of this post.

You can make your own cornbread, buy it, or use a mix.

If you are making your own, just make sure it's a recipe that doesn't have too much crazy stuff, like a million jalapeños or something.

1. Cut the cornbread into 1 1/2 inch cubes.

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If you cut the pieces any smaller, they'll basically just dissolve when you add your liquid.

2. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet (using a spatula helps).

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3. Leave the cornbread at room temperature to dry out for at least 6 hours– if you can do this overnight, even better.

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Drying the cornbread out helps to prevent it from turning to complete mush when you add liquid. If you forgot to do this or don't have time, dry it in the oven at 325˚ for about 30 minutes.

4. Next, coarsely chop the bacon strips.

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Don't worry about them sticking together, they'll separate as you cook them and the fat melts away. Mmmm. Fat.

5. Coarsely chop the onion.

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This can be a pretty chunky dice.

6. Core and slice the apples. No need to peel them; the skin will soften as the stuffing bakes, plus it adds really nice color.

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You want large-ish, chunky pieces of everything. This will give your stuffing lots of (delicious) texture.

7. Start by cooking the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until it's starting to brown and lots of the fat is beginning to render, about 5 minutes.

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You're really just giving the bacon a head-start on the cooking and waiting for the fat to start coming out. Don't let it get too brown!

8. Add the butter and onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions have softened and are starting to brown, another 5 minutes.

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Yes, that butter IS TOTALLY NECESSARY.

9. Add the apples and cook until they're softened, but not falling apart, about 2 minutes. Then add half the thyme.

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The apples only need a few minutes in the skillet– they should still have some apple-y texture to them.

10. Now, the liquid: whisk a little bit of the stock into the eggs first. Then pour the egg mixture into the rest of the stock.

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This makes sure the eggs are well blended into the stock, so you don't have any pieces of cooked egg inside the stuffing (not what you are going for).

Season this mixture with salt and pepper, too.

11. Add the cornbread to your ~largest bowl~, followed by the apple mixture and the egg mixture.

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Everyone in the bowl!

12. Now season this all once more with salt and pepper and GENTLY mix everything together.

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Hey! I mean it. Be gentle. You want the cornbread to stay relatively intact.

That said, it's really important you mix enough times to make sure that all the liquid has been absorbed by the cornbread and that the apples, bacon, onions, and thyme are all evenly distributed.

13. Carefully transfer the mixture to a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or any 3-quart baking dish).

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This is when the cornbread is reallllllllly gonna wanna fall apart on you. Be strong. Be gentle. But if it does get a little mushy, it'll still taste amaze, so don't stress too much.

14. Sprinkle with more thyme, all your pecans and cover with foil. Pop this into a 425° oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Covering it with foil prevents it from drying out.

15. Remove foil from stuffing and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes. Once it comes out, drizzle it with AS MUCH HONEY AS YOU LIKE!

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This is where the whole salty-sweet thing comes into play and oh my GOD does this really do it for me.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Bacon

Recipe by Alison Roman

Serves 8

1 (9- by 13-inch) pan cornbread

8 slices bacon, chopped

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

2 onions, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

2 large apples, cored and sliced

2 Tbsp. thyme leaves, divided

3 large eggs

2½ cups chicken broth

½ cup chopped pecans

2 Tbsp. honey

Cut the cornbread into 1 inch cubes. Let it sit out for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight If you don't have time for this, don't panic: Just throw the bread in a 300° oven, and toss occasionally until croutons feel pretty dry but are not toasted, about 40 minutes.

It's important that the bread is dry so that it will absorb the liquid without falling apart.

So, once your cornbread is ready:

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the fat begins to render, a few minutes. Add the butter and onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring them occasionally until they start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and half the thyme and cook a few minutes, just to soften them slightly.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and pour the stock into another bowl. Whisk a little bit of the broth into the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the cornbread to a very large bowl and add your apple-onion mixture and your egg-broth mixture. Using your hands or a spatula or spoon, mix everything together. You want to be gentle yet firm — you don't want to mush the bread, but you also want to make sure the bread is absorbing all the wonderful things (for a perfect stuffing experience in every bite).

Preheat oven to 425°.

Transfer this mixture to a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or any 2 ½-3-quart oven-safe baking dish), scatter with pecans and cover with foil. Bake stuffing for 30 minutes then remove foil. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes to get the top all golden brown and crunchy (obviously the best part of the stuffing). Drizzle with honey before serving.

Need more Thanksgiving stuffing? Find your stuffing soulmate here.

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To make the rest of these dreamy stuffings, head here.