Updated: Nov 19
Both my parents and my in-laws live in the same town as us so most holidays are doubled for our family which means a lot of love and a lot of food. I remember the first time my husband (then boyfriend) and I had Thanksgiving with both our families. As we always do, Justice and I discussed our favorite side dishes and what we liked least and we said something to each other that could have ended it all right then. He told me that my mom's dressing was too dry and I told him that his mom's stuffing was too soggy. Lucky we were able to get over this betrayal and it led to this adapted version of my mom's (and her mom's) famous recipe.
This beautiful sausage cornbread dressing bundt cake is probably the very first family recipe that I altered once I became interested in cooking. I know there is a big divide between dressing-eaters and stuffing-eaters but I grew up in a home with a soggy-bread averted mother so stuffing was not really an option in our house.
My mom has made this family recipe for my entire life at both Thanksgiving and Christmas and I have always thought it was delicious. As it turns out, she altered her mother and grandmother's version by adding the breakfast sausage which is probably the only thing you need to know about my mother before you decide that she's your favorite.
While I did want to add some moisture back into this recipe, I didn't want to take a way one of my mother's favorite holiday dishes. This is where the bundt pan came in. Even though my mom's recipe contained literally zero liquid, the interior of the baking dish was still a little off-putting to her. She would only ever eat the extra crispy bits, especially the corners! Baking your dressing in a bundt pan means that no one need feel guilty about hogging the crispy edges, everyone gets some!
I hate to say it, but this dressing is usually the star of the table at my Thanksgiving celebrations. Nothing against the turkey, it's just so darn beautiful. I hope you enjoy this recipe that's been passed down through my family with new little touches along the way.
2 lbs breakfast sausage
2 sticks salted butter
1 ½ cups finely chopped white onion
1 ½ cups finely chopped celery with leaves
1-2 tablespoons each: chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, chopped sage
3-4 packages of cornbread mix (+ whatever the package requires, usually eggs and milk)
3 eggs beaten
1-2 cups of chicken stock
1-2 days before you plan to make your dressing, cook your corn bread according to the directions on the package. Allow your cornbread to cool and then cut or break into 1-inch pieces. Place your cornbread on the counter and loosely cover with paper towels or foil. You want it to get a little stale so do not seal it shut.
Brown your sausage in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
When your sausage is fully cooked, make a well in the center and add your chopped fresh herbs directly into the sausage grease. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add 2 sticks of butter to the pot and allow to melt. Toss in your chopped white onion and celery.
Once your celery and onions are translucent, turn off the heat and begin to crumble your cornbread into the pot. Avoid large chunks of crispy edges. I added a little more than 3 packages of cornbread but not quite 4. I would make 4 anyways because it makes a good kitchen snack while you’re cooking all day!
At this point you're going to want to taste your dressing for salt. With the breakfast sausage and salted butter, you may not need any at all. If you used unsalted butter, you will definitely need to add a pinch.
Beat 3 eggs and mix them into your dressing. Then add 1 cup of chicken broth. Using a strong wooden spoon, mix until fully incorporated. You want to be able to press it with the wooden spoon and have it stay compressed. Depending on how stale your cornbread was, you may need to add more chicken stock.
Fully coat the interior of your bundt pan (or baking dish) with non-stick spray. Don’t be stingy here.
Spoon 1-2 cups of dressing into your bundt pan and firmly press into the bottom. This will be the top of your ‘cake’ so make sure you press really firmly to fill in all the grooves. Continue this process making sure you add one layer at a time and press down firmly.
It’s okay if it does not fill your bundt pan completely. Just make sure the top is level. If you have too much, don’t overfill your bundt pan or else it won’t sit flat once flipped. You can put the extra dressing into a small baking dish and save it for leftovers or let one of your guests take it home!
At this point you can either refrigerate to bake tomorrow, or pop it in the oven. I bake all of my thanksgiving side dishes at 385F so that it’s not chaos getting things in and out of the oven. If your dressing has been refrigerated, let it sit on the counter for 1 hour before putting it in the oven. You will want to bake your dressing for at least 30 minutes but it totally depends on the size of your dish and if you’ve refrigerated it or not. When the top is brown and firm to the touch (think like the crust of a loaf of bread) then it is ready to come out.
If you’ve cooked your dressing in a bundt pan, don’t let it cool too much before you flip it out. Place a platter or cake stand on top of the bundt pan, use oven mitts on both sides, and flip quickly! Don’t be scared. The first time I tried this the dressing broke in half but it fits back together quite well.
Do you love your family's dressing or stuffing recipe but also want to incorporate this show-stopping bundt pan recipe? Add a few eggs, and chicken stock if necessary, and try this technique with your recipe! If you can form it into a ball with your hands then you can probably bake into a bundt pan!
If you try this recipe or technique on your thanksgiving table this year, make sure you tag me on IG @carlyrhill so that I can see your masterpiece! Click the links below to see some more of my Thanksgiving Recipe Series!