Every Southern cook must have a good cornbread dressing recipe in their wheel house. It’s a must. An absolute. Non-negotiable if you plan to reach the pinnacle of what Southern cooking is all about. And like most recipes for this all important holiday dish, the one my family loves the most has been passed down over time. I learned to make it, like most home cooks, in the kitchen with my mother and mamaw. It was a highly anticipated cooking event, a recipe prepared with both fanfare and reverance. And there was something almost sacred about the way they would roll up their sleeves and use their hands to gently mix, coax and finally transform that cornbread into the holiday side dish we’d been waiting for all year.
Side dish? Who am I kidding? Dressing is no side dish. It’s culinary feat. A well-guarded secret. And only the best cooks in the family get to make it. In the South, cornbread dressing is the whole darn holiday show. And there is just something about a good pan of Cornbread & Squash Dressing that surpasses all other versions and varieties. While the mild flavor of yellow squash won’t overwhelm you, the moistness it brings to the cornbread will certainly cause you to sit up and take notice. Then there’s there’s the whole host of support vegetables, like green bell pepper, onion and celery that add layers of savory flavor.
What You Need to Make Cornbread & Squash Dressing
- yellow cornbread mix
- green bell pepper
- cream of chicken soup
- chicken broth
- poultry seasoning
This dressing starts off like any good cornbread should- in a sizzling hot cast iron skillet. I put a little oil in my skillet and stick it in the oven as it preheats. You know you’ve got it right when you hear that sizzle and pop as soon as your batter hits the pan. This is what puts that great crisp on your cornbread so that it will cook up nice and fluffy like it should!
I also go ahead and just cook all those vegetables right in the cornbread instead of sauteeing or cooking them down first. This has a couple of benefits. 1) It saves time. 2) All that moisture and flavor packed in those veggies goes right into your cornbread instead of being wasted in a boiler of water or sautee pan.
After the cornbread cools enough to work with, we have to break it back down. That’s right! Your beautiful cornbread. Pull it from the pan. Break it into pieces and start adding all those things that make is so yummy, like butter and eggs and broth. This is where cooking dressing gets a little bit physical, but it’s also where all the magic happens! So roll up your sleeves, add all those secret ingredients and get to squishing and mixing with your hands. You have to work those flavors into that cornbread, and no fork or wooden spoon does it quite the same as those two things God put on the ends of your arms.
When everything is mixed, it’s time to put that cornbread into a casserole dish and put it back into the oven. What goes in as cornbread, comes back out as Cornbread Dressing!
You’ll know it’s done when it’s golden brown and set in the middle. And you’ll know you’ve hit the dressing jackpot when this Cornbread & Squash Dressing is gone just minutes after you place it on your holiday table!
Note~ We can’t always wait until the holidays to enjoy this recipe. We often enjoy it in the summer too, as soon as all that fresh squash from the garden and at the farmers’ markets starts coming in!
Pretty & Useful Things for Making & Serving Cornbread & Squash Dressing
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Squash, bell pepper, onion & celery add seasonal flavor & moistness to traditional cornbread dressing.
- 2 6.5 oz yellow cornbread mix packages
- 1 C diced squash
- 1/2 C diced bell pepper
- 1/2 C diced yellow onion
- 1/2 C diced celery
- buttermilk as directed
- 1 10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken soup
- 1 14 oz cam chicken broth
- 1 stick butter room temperature
- 2 eggs room temperature, beaten
- 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1 Tbsp oil to your skillet. Place in oven while it is preheating.
Prepare cornbread in a mixing bowl as instructed on mix packages. Use buttermilk as a substitute for the water or milk designated on the mix. Use the same measurement for the buttermilk as designated on the mix for the other liquids.
Stir in the squash, celery, bell pepper and onion. There should be just enough batter to hold the vegetables together.
Pour batter and vegetables into heated skillet. Bake for the time designated on the mix package. You may have to bake a few minutes longer to compensate for the moisture the squash releases into the cornbread as it bakes.
Remove cornbread from oven after baking. Allow to cool, but not completely. Turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees.
While cornbread is still warm, remove from skillet and break into pieces in large mixing bowl. Add butter and mix together, breaking down the cornbread.
Add soup, broth, eggs and seasonings to cornbread mixture. Mix ingredients together until all are well-incorporated. Cornbread look almost like a batter again.
Spoon cornbread dressing into 9x13 casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30- 40 minutes or until dressing is golden brown and set in the middle.
This is a moist dressing that doesn't need a gravy!
This dressing can also be made ahead of time and frozen. Allow to thaw for 24 hrs and allow dish to come to room temperature before baking. If made a day before, store in fridge, then bring to room temperature before baking.