Ever since I was little, my favorite Thanksgiving side has been cornbread dressing. I have fond memories of my grandfather, Poppy, cooking up the annual feast in their tiny, yellow kitchen. Poppy loved to cook at the holidays and is the source of many of my cherished family recipes. Growing up I loved Poppy’s dressing, but I never gave it much thought until we had to figure out how to make it without him.
Our biggest challenge was huge – we had no recipe. Over the years, Mia tried to recreate the cornbread dressing, but each year we decided there was ‘just a little something missing’. Then a few years ago my uncle jotted down some instructions for us. As you can see, these notes hardly constitute a recipe. But once we decoded the handwriting and regained our composure from laughing at all his editorial comments, we realized we had the information needed to attempt THE dressing. Years of watching his father prepare Thanksgiving dinners paid off and my uncle was the missing link to our beloved dressing.
Flash forward a decade or so to my first Thanksgiving with Husband’s family. You can’t begin to imagine my elation when I realized my mother-in-law’s dressing tasted exactly like my beloved cornbread dressing. The exact.same.dressing. I wept with joy. I was already in love with then-to-be-Husband, but his mother’s cornbread dressing sealed the deal. It was fate.
It took me a while to work up the courage to ask my mother-in-law for her version of the recipe. I guess I was waiting to make sure things were going to work out between Husband and me. Soon after our fourth baby was born, I figured it was as good as time as any to ask for her recipe. And you know what? She didn’t have one. I remember the phone conversation as clear as if it was yesterday. She told me she had watched her mother make the dressing so many times she just had it committed to memory. A week later, her hand written instructions arrived in our mailbox. And just as I suspected her dressing and my grandfather’s dressing were almost identical.
I’m not sure where this dressing originated but it must have been widely known in Texas during the early part of the 20th century. My guess is that Pepperidge Farm published it and both my grandfather and mother-in-law’s mother had access to the recipe. Here is our family’s version of Texas Cornbread Dressing passed down through generations of both my family and Husband’s.
Texas Cornbread Dressing
Cornbread one pan, crumbled
1 large bag of Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing Mix
2 cups onion
2 cups celery
2 Tbs butter
turkey drippings (optional)
1 – 2 (32 oz) Swanson Organic Chicken Broth *
3-4 raw eggs, slightly beaten
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2-3 Tbs dried sage
salt & pepper to taste
Crumble cornbread and and stuffing mix in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Saute the onions and celery in butter until soft. Pour in bowl over bread mixture. Add turkey drippings, if using, and chicken broth. You will need to eyeball exactly how much broth to use. The mixture should be very moist, but not runny. Add raw, beaten eggs and continue to stir until combined. Add sage, salt and pepper. Gently fold in chopped hard boiled eggs.
Put mixture in a large, greased baking dish. At this point the dressing can be covered and refrigerated over night. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until dressing feels firm and begins to brown.
From my uncle: Add paprika and chopped parsley on top of dressing for decoration.
* Both original recipes call for about 3 – 4 cans of Swanson’s chicken broth. I always, always use Swanson’s organic broth, so I’ve taken the liberty of updating the original recipe.
What a cute story. I had a grandfather I called Poppy too. I have never heard of eggs in dressing, cooked or raw. But then again we have ‘stuffing’ in our house, and it’s my Mom’s job because hers is so good. I asked her for a recipe a few weeks ago and she laughed, she doesn’t have one either, it’s all in her head. I guess my job this year is to observe and try to write down a recipe. Yay, I’m glad you get to enjoy your Poppy’s beloved dressing. Thanks for sharing. I love your new look and your gorgeous kitchen!
Chef E says
Yeah, I know the feeling, my mother passed and my sister and i felt the same way about all her recipes, the cornbread dressing, gumbo, banana pudding…and her date nut candy! Then my aunt said she learned how to cook from my father’s mom, and she had the recipes…how happy this southern girl is today…good ole Texas cookin…
Karen G (Let There Be Food) says
Hi there! Just a quick heads up that the cornbread link doesn’t seem to work. It gives me an error message about not on the server or some such. This looks really delicious! I can’t wait to try it.
Karen, Thanks for the heads up! I just changed the link! 🙂 Kristin
Karen G (Let There Be Food) says
I made this for Thanksgiving and got rave reviews. I did also add 1 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped pecans, courtesy of the suggestion on the back of the Pepperidge Farm bag. It was so freakishly delicious. By far this is the best I’ve ever had and it will become the staple for me. Thank you for the introduction! Hope you had a wonderful day!
making it this year! Trader Joe’s style though 🙂
Trader Joe ain’t a Texan! 😉 Whatever you make it will be delicious. Happy Thanksgiving!
Cousin Karen says
I got tears in my eyes when I saw Aunt Laverne’s beautiful handwriting and for cornbread dressing. It was a spiritual feeling because I make mine exactly the same way and do not use a recipe either. Some things are just bred into us!
Hip K says
My grandmother passed away a few years ago and took her dressing recipe with to the grave. Poppy and Laverne’s seem similar so I am trying it this year. Here’s my question: it calls for a large bag of stuffing, but I can only find one size in stores: 14 oz. Would this be considered the “large” bag?
I have many recipes from generations before me that call for ingredients they don’t even make any more. I not sure if Pepperidge Farm used to sell a larger bag or smaller bag.
Debbie W. says
Can you explain what you mean on the chicken broth – 1-2 (32 oz)? Want to try it if I know soon enough to go buy the ingredients. Sounds much like my Moms.
Debbie – I buy chicken broth in the 32 oz cartons. Swanson’s has a low sodium/organic version I like. I use between 1 and 2 cartons depending on how much liquid the cornbread and Pepperidge Farm mix absorbs. You want the mix to be wet, but not drenched/soupy. Does that help? I hope you make the dressing and that it brings you great memories and joy, like it does our family.
Dana Young says
This is exactly the same as my great grandmothers dressing! No other dressing even compares! We don’t have a written recipe either….. Just years of watching it being made and passed down.
Lisa McElroy says
What is the actual size of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix 12 ounce or 14 ounce and do use the cubed or just the regular one
Peggy Foster says
I use the same recipe from my mother with one small addition. When we cook the giblets and turkey neck, I pull the meat from the turkey neck and add that to my dressing before cooking.
Kristin, this is almost exactly the way that my mother (from West Texas) makes dressing/stuffing. She does not put eggs in it, but her family did put hard-cooked eggs in their gravy (a tradition we have not continued!). But everything else — the cornbread, the Pepperidge Farm mix, the butter, onions, celery, broth, and sage is the same. I think her mother, my grandmother, must have had the same recipe! I’ll forward your theory about Pepperidge Farm publishing the recipe to her. I came here because my daughter is doing a report on our culture, and I suggested cornbread since we use it in dressing, and I googled “Why do Texans put cornbread in stuffing?” Thanks!
Angie Cooper says
Sounds a lot like my moms dressing too! She didn’t put boiled eggs in hers. LOL She saved those for the giblet gravy. She always food processed the onion and celery because some didn’t like chunks in their dressing Haha. The first year I had to try and make it, I stood at the counter and cried and prayed for her to help me. FINALLY I was able to get the thumbs up from the dressing critic (my youngest brother). Happy Thanksgiving!
Courtney Boatright says
How many people does this serve?
So glad to come across your recipe! I never got my grandmother’s recipe before she passed away and like so many others she just knew it by heart but didn’t have it written down. I was beginning to imagine that I remembered it with boiled eggs in it but never could find a recipe that had those in it. I am so excited to make your recipe this year as it sounds exactly what I have been looking for! I also love the story of acquiring your uncle and mother-in-law’s recipes.
Amy, I’m so glad you came across the recipe. I hope it brings joyful memories of your grandmother. Merry Christmas! xo, Kristin
Your Texas Cornbread Dressing looks delicious. Can you tell me approximately how many cups of crumbled cornbread is needed?
Thank you…Happy Thanksgiving
Angelo Bolton says
you can boil some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in chicken broth till they are done, (ie white) then shred them and add to the dressing. That’s what we down here in Tyler, Tx call chicken and dressing. Does not need to be served on a holiday. Eat anytime. Good stuff. Also, poultry seasoning helps.