Cornbread stuffing is a must have Thanksgiving side dish. This delicious recipe is equal parts salty, savory, sweet and herby for a flavorful and moist gluten-free vegan stuffing that’s soft underneath and crispy on top.
Stuffing is a quintessential Thanksgiving side dish. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of stuffing….but this cornbread stuffing recipe has changed my mind.
To the classic stuffing combination of onion, celery and sage, I added mushrooms, kale and fennel. Now, it’s loaded with veggies to go along with the cornbread. Winning combo!
This is the perfect gluten-free stuffing recipe. It’s both savory and a bit sweet with plenty of vegan umami too. Easy enough for everyday and ideal for a holiday since it can be made ahead.
How to dry out cornbread for stuffing
The best cornbread stuffing is made from scratch with homemade cornbread, If you can, make your cornbread a few days in advance so it has time to dry out. Cut it into cubes and leave on a baking tray overnight.
After sitting out all night, the only thing I noticed in the sheet pan full of cornbread cubes is that some were missing. Par for the course at my house….and I bet at yours too! But, they weren’t dried out enough to use in stuffing. So, I popped them into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and they got dry, and a bit crisp, which is exactly what you want for your stuffing. Kinda like a crouton texture on the outside.
PRO TIP: Don’t discard the crumbs. Include all the bits and pieces, as they will lend a varied texture which is key to a good stuffing.
How to cut fennel
Don’t skip the fennel, just because you don’t know what it looks like or how to chop it. It’s really delicious! Cooking fennel reduces the licorice taste and brings out a sweet caramelization that is just divine.
- First cut off the fronds. Set them aside, they make great decorations for the top of the finished stuffing.
- Then, stand the fennel bulb on its flat end so you can slice through the center.
- Place one half with the flat side down and then cut into thin strips. Afterwards, cut across the other way so you have small pieces.
- Repeat with the other half of the fennel.
Ingredients, Tips and Substitutions
Gather your veggies and get them ready. Make sure everything is prepped before you begin. Everything combined adds a wonderful earthy, rustic savory taste to this stuffing.
- Mushrooms. Any kind will work well. I used baby bellas, sliced thin. They will shrink when cooked, but I like the slices as part of the texture in the final product. Mushrooms add a vegan umami that really adds to the overall flavor. If you don’t like mushrooms, omit and add a Tablespoon of miso paste to the broth and whisk well before pouring over the stuffing.
- Fennel: Contributes to the overall flavor and savory sweetness. Save the fronds to sprinkle onto the top of the cooked stuffing. Add additional celery if you skip the fennel.
- Celery: If you have the leafy tops, include them as well. No celery? Add a teaspoon of celery seed when you add the salt and pepper for the flavor and then substitute for another veggie like yellow or red bell peppers. A chopped green apple would also work. Or, you could double up on the fennel or use bok choy sliced thin, including the green leafy part.
- Onion: I think purple onions add another sweet dimension, but you could also use yellow or white onion. Shallots or leeks would be another equal swap.
- Sage: If you don’t have fresh sage, use 2 teaspoons dried sage as a replacement for the 2 Tablespoons fresh. .
- Parsley: Fresh chopped parsley adds great flavor. Use oregano or thyme if you need a sub.
- Kale: Why not? Added nutrition and texture…plus it’s the perfect partner to mushrooms and it looks pretty too.
- Garlic: Recipe calls for 3 cloves. More would be good too.
- S+P: I like the smoky taste of white pepper in this dish, but freshly ground black pepper would also work well.
Ready to make some stuffing?
Time needed: 1 hour.
How To Make Stuffing
- Saute veggies.
Heat heavy skillet over medium heat. Swirl in olive oil (water or veggie broth will also work OK) and add in mushrooms, onions, celery and fennel.
- Add garlic S+P
Stir in garlic, salt and pepper and continue to cook and stir until veggies are soft and beginning to caramelize.
- Stir in herbs and greens
Turn off heat and stir in kale, sage and parsley until it wilts. Then stop for a moment…appreciate how amazing your kitchen smells.
- Mix veggies with cornbread croutons
- Fill baking dish and add broth.
Use a large bowl †o mix together cornbread cubes (plus all the crumbs) with the sauteed veggies. Pour into baking dish and spread evenly. Pour veggie stock over. The bottom will soak up the stock and be soft, while the top will become crispy.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes to allow the top to get brown.
I have no doubt that this stuffing recipe will become a favorite. For Thanksgiving and for everyday dinner with family and friends. Cornbread stuffing with tons of veggies satisfies my need for balance, and totally earns its spot on the buffet. Super flavorful and a perfect blend of savory and sweet that is so delicious, they’ll be coming back for more.
More Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Vegan Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Butternuts Squash Salad
- Green Beans Almandine
- Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Gluten-free Stuffed Mushrooms
- Roasted Delicata Squash
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- Roasted Root Veggies
- Kale Caesar Salad
- 8 cups cubed vegan cornbread
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 8 oz. mushrooms*, sliced thin
- 1 large purple onion, sliced thin
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 cup chopped curly kale
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoons fresh sage*, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 cups veggie stock*
- Preheat oven to 350
- Turn cornbread into croutons. Essentially, you want to dry it out. It's easiest if your cornbread is a few days old. You can cut it into cubes and leave on a baking tray in a single layer to dry. If they're not crumbly yet, or if you have just made the cornbread, you can bake them on a baking tray in a single layer at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Place cubes, plus any crumbs in a large bowl.
- Turn oven up to 400 degrees.
- Heat heavy skillet over medium heat. Swirl in olive oil and then add mushrooms, onions, fennel and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, as veggies soften. Add in salt, pepper, and garlic. Continue to cook for another 5-ish minutes, stirring, until veggies are soft and beginning to caramelize. If pan becomes too dry, add in 1 Tablespoon veggie stock at a time, as needed.
- Turn off heat and stir in kale, parsley and sage. Stir well and continue to stir until kale is wilted and thoroughly incorporated into mixture.
- Add veggies to bowl with cornbread croutons and mix well.
- Pour cornbread/veggie mixture into 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour on 2 cups veggie stock and cover with foil. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.
CORNBREAD CROUTONS: These can be made up to a week in advance and stored at room temperature or up to 3 months in advance and stored in the freezer. Bring to room temp before continuing recipe with step #3.
MUSHROOMS: I used baby bellas. Any of the following, or a combo will also work well: crimini, oyster, shitake, button, white. If you don't like mushrooms, add 1 Tablespoon white miso paste to the veggie broth and whisk to fully incorporate before pouring over baking dish.
FENNEL: See photos on how to chop fennel. Save some of the fronds to decorate your finished stuffing. If you don't like/don't have a fennel bulb, add one additional stalk celery and use a larger onion.
SAGE: If you don't have fresh sage, substitute with 2 teaspoons dried sage.
VEGGIE STOCK: If you like a more moist stuffing, use 3 cups veggie stock. I like to make homemade stock so I can control the ingredients. If you use store bought stock, they often have salt in them already, so reduce the amount of salt you add to veggies when sauteeing.
MAKE AHEAD: See note above on making croutons in advance. Also, you can make until step 7, and set in the fridge overnight, or frozen then thawed and then baked as directed.
SMALLER BATCH: You can easily halve this recipe, or even cut down to 1/3 if that's the amount you need. Extra cornbread can be frozen in larger pieces. Only dry out and make cubes for the amount you'll use in the stuffing. I would go ahead and use the entire fennel....or at least sautee with the veggies...because that veggie mixture is delicious on its own. Make that part of the recipe in advance and serve any extra as a side dish as is. Mix the rest with the croutons before you make the stuffing.
Amount Per Serving Calories 356Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 0mgSodium 723mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 12g
The nutrition calculations were done using online tools. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients you used. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information is accurate, complete and useful.
Stuffing and dressing are used interchangeably, and which you use generally depends on where you grew up and what your family used. But, technically, dressing is cooked in a pan outside of the turkey and stuffing is cooked in the turkey cavity.
My Grandmother never cooked it inside the turkey and we always called it stuffing. So, I still call this stuffing, even though it’s baked in a casserole dish.
Yes! You can make it all the way until putting it in the baking dish and then refrigerate overnight before baking. OR, you can freeze it, then bring to room temperature before baking.
No, not stale, but definitely dry. You can cube and leave it out overnight or bake it if it’s too fresh and moist.
Eggs are not necessary. Some people like to add scrambled eggs to the stock they pour over the stuffing mixture to create a more custard like texture. You can achieve a similar result from pouring on extra stock and letting it soak up into the cornbread for 30 minutes or even overnight before baking the stuffing.