It is not possible to have Thanksgiving without stuffing- so that’s why I have a brand-new stuffing recipe to share with you today! But I have to say, this Apple Cornbread Stuffing with Pecans is so good, you may want to make it every night! I have complete make-ahead instructions, a short-cut, a gluten-free option and a vegetarian version as well.

a tables scape with cornbread stuffing, flowers and apples

Last month while I was testing this recipe, I had my family over for dinner- my mom, my sister and their hubbies. It was eight of us all together, and I feel like I really gave this a good test drive as a result.

I also tested the recipe a bunch of other times because I wanted to cover all the variables. Vegetarian broth, homemade gluten-free cornbread making it a day in advance, trying with different brands of cornbread stuffing mix and getting just the right amount of moisture. You may have caught that on my Instagram stories??

Anyway, I am pleased to say, it worked really well and everyone loved the stuffing. Several of us had seconds. And my husband had leftovers the next morning with a fried egg on top! I would say that qualifies as success!

a black plate with stuffing on it

Ingredients For This Apple Cornbread Stuffing Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, yellow or sweet
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery (3 to 4 stalks)
  • 2 apples such as golden, honey crisp or gala, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup hard cider or apple cider
  • 2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or home-made unsalted chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 large eggs
  • a 12 to 14-ounce bag cornbread stuffing cubes or 8 cups home-made see tip*
  • ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and bubbling. Add onion, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring often until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 2: Add apple, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until the herbs are fragrant and combined, 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 3: Add cider, stir to combine and simmer until evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer.

Step 4: Whisk eggs in a large bowl. To temper the eggs, whisk about 1 cup hot apple and broth mixture into the eggs to temper the eggs. Stir in the remaining vegetable and broth mixture, stirring constantly.

Step 5: Add cornbread and pecans and toss to combine. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray(9 by 13- or similar volume.) Transfer the stuffing to the baking dish and cover with foil. Can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.

Step 6: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake covered with foil until the stuffing is heated through, 35 to 45 minutes for cold refrigerated stuffing or 25 to 30 minutes for freshly mixed stuffing. Remove foil, and continue baking just until the top is browned, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

a white casserole dish filled with stuffing with apples around it

Expert Tips For This Recipe

Make Ahead Instructions

  • When you have to time this stuffing with the turkey, you have a couple options. What I did on my test run dinner party was the following: I prepared the recipe through step 2 in the morning, and refrigerated all day. Then about 15 minutes before the bird was finished cooking, I put the apple mixture back into the skillet, and warmed it back up. Then I continued on with the recipe. The reason I like this option is that it takes about 35 minutes to bake it, start to finish when the stuffing starts out warm- which is about perfect for timing your turkey to rest.
  • If you want to let your turkey rest for a full hour, or you are lucky enough to have a second oven, then you can do the following: Prepare through step 5. Refrigerate the stuffing, covered with foil up to 24 hours. Then, bake the stuffing, covered with foil, for about 35 to 35 minutes until it is steaming hot. Then proceed to uncover it and follow along to brown the top for 15 minutes or so.

Gluten-free and Vegetarian Variations

  • To make this apple cornbread stuffing gluten-free, you can either purchase gluten-free cornbread stuffing mix, or you can make your own gluten-free cornbread from scratch.
  • If you do make it from scratch, I highly recommend my gluten-free skillet cornbread recipe. It is lower in sugar- so it lends itself well to this savory dish. You’ll need about 3/4 of a batch. Of all of the variations we tried, this was one of our favorites!
  • Follow the from scratch tips below if you are using home-made gluten-free cornbread.
  • Feel free to use vegetable broth. If you use full-sodium broth, make sure to decrease the added salt

How To Make This With Homemade Cornbread

  • If you are making this recipe with cornbread from scratch, you can do some of the prep in advance. Make your cornbread the day before.
  • Let it cool completely, then cut it into tiny cubes, try for 1/3-inch cubes.
  • Spread them out onto a large rimmed baking sheet and then dry them out in a relatively cool oven. Stir it occasionally, since the sheet pan will be pretty full. But try to not break up the cubes. The point is to dry it- not brown it. So test to see if it is dry.
  • Then you’ll need to adjust the seasonings a tad, because most cornbread stuffing mixes you buy in the store have added sodium and seasonings. I found that when using home-made cornbread, it worked best to increase the salt by 1/2 teaspoon (1 1/2 teaspoon total) and adding 1/2 teaspoon dry sage or poultry seasoning helped to make up for it.
  • The cornbread stuffing will have a softer texture when made with home-made cornbread- so it needs sligtly less broth. Compensate by only using 2 cups broth.

Time Saving Tips for Cornbread Stuffing

  • If you want to make this Apple Cornbread Stuffing as fast as possible start to finish, theres good news! It can be made in 30 minutes of prep and 35 minutes in the oven. That’s it!
  • The trick is brining the broth to a simmer before mixing it into the eggs and crumbs.
  • You’ll have to buy cornbread stuffing mix at the store. I tried Stove Top Signature Cornbread mix (12 ounce bag), Arnold (14 ounce bag) and Pepperidge Farm (14 ounce bag) and they all worked best with 2 1/4 cup broth.

Cornbread Stuffing FAQs

Is cornbread stuffing gluten-free?

Cornbread stuffing is not necessarily gluten-free because many cornbread recipes include wheat flour. This recipe can be made gluten-free by using homemade gluten-free cornbread instead of purchased cornbread stuffing cubes.

What is the difference between cornbread stuffing and cornbread dressing?

Dressing is cooked in a casserole dish in the oven, whereas stuffing is cooked inside the turkey cavity.

Can this cornbread stuffing be cooked inside the turkey?

Yes, but it is important to cook stuffing to a safe temperature once it is removed from the turkey. To do so, remove the stuffing from the turkey cavity and transfer it to a casserole dish. Bake until it is steaming hot and a digital instant thermometer reads at least 165 degrees F.

Why do you put eggs in stuffing?

The eggs help to hold the stuffing together so that it is not crumbly and dry. I tested this recipe without the egg, and it didn’t hold together the way I think stuffing should.

Should cornbread be dry for stuffing?

Yes the cornbread should be dry so that it can absorb the broth and egg properly.

A close up of Stuffing and Cornbread

More Stuffing and Thanksgiving Recipes

If you are looking for traditional stuffing with classic flavors, this Sausage and Cranberry Stuffing is one of our all time favorites that we make.

For non-traditionalists, there is this Gluten-free Quinoa Stuffing with walnuts and kale. It has all the traditional flavors of stuffing without the bread!

This Vegetarian Thanksgiving Pumpkin Quinoa Pilaf is another side dish to make for the feast!

Some favorite stove-top vegetable recipes include these Simple Brussels Sprouts with garlic, our Easy Cheesy Butternut Squash and our Vegetable Mash which is a nice alternative to mashed potatoes.

For dessert try out Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Pie, our no-corn-syrup Pecan Tart and this amazing Cranberry Apple Crumb Pie.

Don’t miss our complete Thanksgiving Planner with timelines, recipes and more!

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

Print
close up of stuffing

Cornbread Apple Stuffing

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: Stove top/Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Thanksgiving Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pecans has a gluten-free option, vegetarian option, and time-saving option! Follow the make-ahead instructions or you can prepare it while the turkey roasts, then bake it when the turkey is resting.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, yellow or sweet
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery (3 to 4 stalks)
  • 2 apples such as golden, honey crisp or gala, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup hard cider or apple cider
  • 2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or home-made unsalted chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 large eggs
  • a 12 to 14-ounce bag cornbread stuffing cubes or 8 cups home-made see tip*
  • ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and bubbling. Add onion, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring often until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add apple sage, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring until the herbs are fragrant and combined, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add cider, stir to combine and simmer until evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer.
  4. Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Whisk about 1 cup hot apple and broth mixture into the eggs to temper the eggs. Stir in the remaining vegetable and broth mixture, stirring constantly.
  5. Add cornbread and pecans and toss to combine. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray(9 by 13- or similar volume.) Transfer the stuffing to the baking dish and cover with foil. Can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake covered with foil until the stuffing is heated through, 35 to 45 minutes for cold refrigerated stuffing or 25 to 30 minutes for freshly mixed stuffing. Remove foil, and continue baking just until the top is browned, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Notes

Tip* to make this recipe with home-made cornbread, bake batch of cornbread. My gluten-free skillet cornbread works perfectly! Cool and cut into small cubes, about a half-inch each. Spread 8 cups cubes (about ¾ batch of cornbread) on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 300 degrees until dry, 28 to 32 minutes. Cool completely. Follow the instructions with the following modifications: add ½ teaspoon dried sage and ½ teaspoon salt in step 2. Decrease broth to 2 cups in step 3. Use the 8 cups dried cornbread in place of the purchased in step 5.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2/3 cup
  • Calories: 242
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 4
Apple Cornbread Stuffing with Pecans {with a Gluten-Free Option}