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 Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pecans is so good, you may want to make it every night! I have complete make-ahead instructions, a short-cut and a gluten-free option and a vegetarian version as well.
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, home-made 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 left-overs the next morning with a fried egg on top! I would say that qualifies as success!
Make Ahead Tips
- 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 brown the top- 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, before proceeding to step 6, bake the stuffing, covered with foil, for about a half hour until it is steaming hot. Then proceed to uncover it and follow along for step 6 and so on.
Gluten-free and Vegetarian Tips
- To make this 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
From Scratch Tips
- 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 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.
Cooking Tips for Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pecans
- I tested this recipe without the egg, and it didn’t hold together the way I think stuffing should.
- To temper the eggs, you’ll need to whisk about a cup of the hot broth and apple mixture into the whisked eggs. This will keep them from scrambling.
- I tested this with Bourbon and Hard Apple Cider. I think they are both great so choose your poison! Or for an alcohol free version, use apple cider.
This recipe is part of a round-up of Eat Seasonal recipes: Here are the other recipes in the collection:
Shredded Brussels Sprout Apple Salad by Mountain Mama Cooks
Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes by JoyFoodSunshine
Sweet Potato, Kale & Lentil Meal Prep Salads by She Likes Food
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Savory Mushroom Gravy by Letty’s Kitchen
Roasted Delicata Squash with Pomegranate and Goat Cheese by Floating Kitchen
Roasted Vegetable Chicken Soup by Vintage Mixer
Thanksgiving Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pecans. A gluten-free option, vegetarian option, and time saving option. Make-ahead or prepare while the turkey roasts, then bake it when the turkey is resting.
- 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 corn bread stuffing cubes or 8 cups home-made see tip*
- ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans
- 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.
- Add apple sage, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring until the herbs are fragrant and combined, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add cider, stir to combine and simmer until evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until the top is browned, 35 to 45 minutes longer.
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.