You must first start with the Best Cornbread for the best cornbread dressing! My Dad was not the cornbread guru. It was my Grandma Ethel who made the most amazing cornbread in her old, trusty iron skillet. It was buttery and golden with just the perfect rustic, satisfying texture. She served it with beans, soup and chili. Oftentimes her dinner was crumbled cornbread in a tall glass of buttermilk (I never got up the nerve to try that..lol).
She sometimes got “a hankerin” for dressing on just a regular ole day and would make it with roast chicken. And of course, it was the start of the most delicious cornbread dressing ever made. Grandma is making cornbread on the other side now and I know she would be proud of this version…
Classic Iron Skillet Cornbread* (8 Servings)
(Gluten-Free, Vegetarian with Vegan Option)
1 cup stone ground organic cornmeal**
½ cup organic polenta (coarse ground grits)**
1/4 cup oat flour (Bob’s Red Mill is Certified Gluten Free)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon pure maple syrup (or powdered Stevia for non-sugar version)
1 organic egg** (or 2 tablespoon flaxseed mixed with 4 tablespoon water. Let stand for a few minutes until thickened)
½ cup organic applesauce (unsweetened)
1 1/4 cups more or less of milk (or unsweetened plant-based milk for vegan version)
1 teaspoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon organic grass fed butter (use Earth Balance for vegan version)
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place iron skillet* in hot oven while mixing together ingredients.
- In large mixing bowl mix together all dry ingredients. Whisk together all wet ingredients in large measuring cup. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing until just blended. Do not over mix or you will have flat bread. Batter should be very thick but pourable.
- Melt butter in hot iron skillet*. Tilt skillet to coat evenly the bottom and sides. Pour batter into hot skillet making sure it’s spread evenly. Place on center rack in oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from skillet. (DO NOT SLICE BREAD IN SKILLET).
*Note: You can use a muffin tin, glass or metal pan for this recipe. However; a good ole iron skillet is an excellent source of iron for a plant-based diet and when it is well seasoned, iron is virtually “non-stick” and a joy to cook with. See tips below for cleaning and seasoning an iron skillet.
Tips: Add a chopped jalapeno, whole kernel corn and herbs for a different spin. My favorite is fresh chopped sage and garlic. Use your imagination with this versatile southern favorite.
**Corn, Soy & Canoli are the most genetically modified food crops on the planet. Buy organic to avoid GMOs. Unless you have access to local, farm fresh eggs from well cared for chickens, look for eggs that say on the carton “organic” and “pastured” – NOT “pasteurized” . The chicken and egg industry is a very cruel one. Let’s vote with our wallet.
Southern Cornbread Dressing (15-20 Servings)
(Gluten-Free & Vegetarian with Vegan Option)
1 skillet of prepared cornbread, crumbled and dried overnight
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (rice is good)
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large stalks of celery, chopped fine
1 medium bell pepper, chopped fine (I use red, but Daddy’s prefers green)
1 large apple, peeled and chopped fine (crisp, firm red apple)
2 tablespoon rubbed sage (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped)
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon cracked pepper (or to taste)
4 cups Imagine Brand No-Chicken Broth
1 cup more or less of milk (or unsweetened plant-based milk for vegan version)
3 boiled eggs, chopped fine (or 1/2 cup extra firm organic tofu** chopped to look like boiled eggs for vegan version)
2 tablespoon butter (or Earth Balance Butter for vegan version)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Preheat deep 12″ iron skillet or 9 x 13 glass pan.
- Place all dry ingredients and spices into a very large mixing bowl and with clean hands mix well.
- Add broth and milk. Mix until well blended. Taste adjust seasonings. Add a little more milk if needed. Dressing should be very moist, but not runny. Gently fold in eggs or tofu.
- Add butter to hot pan and tilt to coat bottom and sides. Pour dressing into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour or until turning crisp around the edges and starting to brown on top. Do the shake test. It’s done when it doesn’t jiggle.
Growing up, when everyone was focused on the bird, I had my sites on the cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce. In my family, the cornbread dressing IS the main attraction. Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without my Grandma’s dressing.
After Grandma passed my Dad took over. It doesn’t matter whose house we end up at for this celebration, as long as he brings the dressing. Last Thanksgiving my Dad and I cooked at his house (the house we grew up in). I made my version and he made his. His comment, “Well Gail this is just larapin! The highest compliment coming from my Dad! I hope you enjoy my version of this southern classic!
Stay tuned for “No-Giblet Gravy” and “Cranberry, Apple & Rosemary Relish”. You can’t have cornbread dressing without the gravy and cranberry sauce – Right?
Tender loving Care For Your Iron Skillet:
I use my old iron skillets for everything from sautéing to baking. A well-seasoned iron skillet never sticks. Just a few tips from my Dad on how to keep your skillet rust free and non-stick – FOREVER!
To season a skillet, make sure it is completely rust free* and dry. Coat skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Turn upside down in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. You may need to repeat this process a few times, (depending on the condition of the skillet), until a paper towel rubbed on surface comes away clean. If you follow the next 3 tips, you will never have to do this again!
1. Avoid using soap in your iron skillet unless absolutely necessary. Scour (with plastic – not metal) and rinse with hot water. If you do end up burning food in your skillet do not scrape it! Fill pan with water and heat to simmer for a few minutes. The food will come right off.
2. To dry skillet thoroughly, place it over low heat or in a warm oven for a few minutes. Store in oven when dry to prevent any moisture from coming in contact with pan. Never put oil on a damp skillet – It will lock in the moisture and cause it to rust – overnight! Oil is only necessary for long-term storage to protect it from rusting when humid.
3. Never cut your skillet with a knife. It will damage the seasoning and cause it to stick in that spot. You will have to re-season it.
* Use lemon juice and coarse ground salt to scour a rusty skillet. Repeat if needed until no more rust remains.