Cornbread for Stuffing

Seasoned corn bread - Inhabited KitchenThanksgiving preparation is well underway, here. I don’t have as much precooked as I did a year ago – but cooking some things ahead is still part of my game plan. I’m still playing around with a first course… A Carnival squash, perhaps with cranberries and pecans? A light soup? Someone commenting on Facebook told me about a wonderful sounding soup she’d made… I don’t want something that hearty for a first course (though I plan to try it another time) but she reminds me that I can make a lovely light soup from onions and beets… both of which I have. (One factor in my planning is that it feels silly to go out and buy vegetables with a kitchen full of vegetables… I want to show thanks for the harvest I already have!)

Anyhow – then perhaps the squash (if we didn’t already eat it,) definitely Brussels sprouts, either sweet potatoes or just possibly garlic mashed (if I start thinking this meal is too orange…) perhaps something with celeriac or kale (which I certainly do have…)

And, oh, yes – the turkey. When I get it ready for the oven, I’ll set the giblets simmering for stock. I plan to make gravy from the drippings – but I have roux cubes on hand, as a fallback… And we’ll have cornbread stuffing.

Seasoned cornbread for stuffing.

I have made cornbread stuffing before… and we liked it. We enjoy a little sage breakfast sausage, and onions, and other aromatics and seasonings tossed in with the bread. It occurred to me this time that, since I would be making the cornbread specifically for the stuffing, one convenient make ahead would be to bake the aromatics and seasoning right into the bread. I’ll crumble it to let it dry a little on Wednesday – and then all I’ll have to do on Thursday is moisten it with a little chicken stock and a touch of melted butter, and stuff the bird.

Directions for Cornbread Stuffing

I used my corn muffin recipe as the batter. But I decided that, instead of baking it as muffins, I’d bake it in my 10″ cast iron fry pan, to get a nice brown crust. (Now, it is important here to understand that this is not something I’ve routinely done before, and that, for various reasons, we just recently totally re-seasoned the pan – so gluten in the pan is not an issue.) The pan particularly made sense since I’d be sauteing the aromatics before adding them – why not use the same pan?

So, that’s what I did. I made just one  muffin recipe worth of stuffing – there are only 2 of us, it won’t be that large a bird, we don’t need much. You may very well want to double the recipe, in which case use a 12″ pan. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, but your frying pan is oven proof – many but not all are – make sure it is good to 400°, and you can use that. Or just use a cake pan – 2 if you double the recipe…

First, preheat the oven to 400.

Sausage and aromatics for cornbread - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI took just a little breakfast sausage – 2 ounces, about enough for one good hearty sausage patty – and crumbled it into the heated pan. I used a pork sausage, but a chicken or turkey one would be fine… even appropriate! And it is optional, if you want to keep some on the side for a vegetarian guest – or for that matter if you want a meatless stuffing for something other than turkey yourself. As it browned, I finely chopped half a medium onion, half a green pepper (you see how easy it will be to double this? I’m really making half a recipe, here…) one rib of celery, and one jalapeno. (I have red fully ripe jalapenos, so used one of them because the color is pretty… but a green one, or any other not too hot pepper would work as well. There’s a little black pepper in the sausage, and I want some zip, but not serious heat.)

After the sausage had started to brown, I added the chopped vegetables and stirred them all around.  I just wanted the vegetables to soften a little, and give up a little moisture – they’re going to be cooked twice more, when I bake the bread and then when I roast the turkey… so I didn’t want them overcooked. I scooped most of them out of the pan, so that I could mix them into the batter – and let them cool a few minutes, so their heat wouldn’t start the batter cooking. Now – I took out most but not all the vegetables – and when you look at the pictures, you will see a few that were on the bottom of the pan are just a little… overbrowned? That’s fine with us – but if you’d rather avoid it, remove all the vegetables and sausage.

I did not drain the fat, as this will grease the pan for the bread – but sausage varies a lot in fat content. Go ahead and drain a little, if it looks too greasy… and conversely, if the pan looks dry, add a touch of oil. You don’t want the bread to stick.

While the vegetables were cooling, I made the muffin batter. Note: I use masa harina to give the muffins a nice tender crumb. If you don’t regularly bake the muffins, you can use just regular cornmeal here, instead of buying a bag of masa harina for 1/4 cup… a little crumbly is fine for stuffing.

Cornbread batter in cast iron pan - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThen set the pan over heat again, and get it hot. (And skip this if you’re using a cake pan… ) Traditionally you put the pan in the oven while it is preheating, but we’re using it here… so it is already pretty hot… and since I’d left some vegetables in it, I didn’t want to burn them, so I didn’t get quite as crisp a crust as I might have. If you’ve chosen to remove all the vegetables, you can get it hotter… Then pour some of the batter into the pan as a base, mix the vegetables quickly into the rest, and pour it in. Put the pan in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. (If you double the recipe, check at 40 minutes…)

When it was baked, I took it from the oven, and set it to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. The bread shrinks slightly away from the pan in that time, and it becomes firmer and less likely to break up when you remove it from the pan. Then I loosened the edge with a spatula, and very carefully (remember the pan is still hot!) turned it out onto a cooling rack.

Cornbread baked for stuffing with sausage and aromatics baked right in. An easy and traditional, and gluten free, stuffing recipe.

It is now in the refrigerator, broken into a few large pieces to make it easier to store (and start it drying a little.) Wednesday – or possibly Thursday morning – I will crumble it into a bowl and proceed from there.

Cornbread baked for stuffing with sausage and aromatics baked right in. An easy and traditional, and gluten free, stuffing recipe.

Cornbread for stuffing

Cornbread baked for stuffing with sausage and aromatics baked right in. An easy and traditional, and gluten free, stuffing recipe.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 1 recipe corn muffin batter
  • 2 oz sage breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 rib celery chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
  • Broth to moisten


  • Preheat the oven to 400.
  • Break up sausage and saute it in a 10" cast iron or other ovenproof fry pan, until it is starting to brown.
  • Add the vegetables, and saute them until just softened.
  • Mix one recipe of corn muffin batter (or your preferred recipe - enough for 6 muffins)
  • Stir the vegetables into the batter. Heat the pan, then pour the batter into it.
  • Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.
  • When ready to use, crumble into pieces, moisten with broth, and stuff your turkey or whatever else.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Cornbread baked for stuffing with sausage and aromatics baked right in. An easy and traditional, and gluten free, stuffing recipe.

Cornbread baked for stuffing with sausage and aromatics baked right in. An easy and traditional, and gluten free, stuffing recipe.



30 thoughts on “Cornbread for Stuffing”

    • Thanks!

      As an alternative, it fits my approach to gluten free living. In most circumstances I’d rather go with something that never needed gluten to begin with, and that stands on its own. This doesn’t look, taste, or (emotionally) “feel” like “Gluten Free Stuffing, poor me, I can’t have the real stuff” but rather like “Oh, wow, homemade cornbread stuffing!”

      And I think that’s particularly important when eating with family or friends… They don’t feel put upon that they don’t get the “real thing” and it answers the “But what on earth do you eat?” question beautifully!

  • I love anything that can be done in one pot! This looks so delicious for your stuffing. Sounds like you have a very tasty Thanksgiving dinner planned.

    • Thank you! Definitely like one pot… LOL

      I actually made this last year – so, while I foolishly seem to have not taken a picture, I can tell you it was just as good as I thought it would be. And it was very easy to use, on the day, since I didn’t have to fuss at all about seasoning it then. I’m all about keeping the actual holiday easy!

    • Great! I hope you enjoy it!

      I absolutely had to have something basically pretty easy, that I could make ahead – I was not going to be fussing with it on Thanksgiving Day. And this worked beautifully.

  • I’ve made corn muffins, corn pancakes, corn waffles, cornbread. The recipe is so interchangeable. Cornbread stuffing sounds great because I eat gluten-free, and it sure doesn’t sacrifice on flavors and is more adaptable than other gluten-free options.

    • That’s why I did it in the first place – I’d rather use something like cornbread that stands alone, instead of worrying that gluten free bread isn’t exactly the same as guests are used to. This isn’t a compromise – it’s a treat!

    • Thank you – I do enjoy cornbread, and hope you do too! And the flavor of this works well for stuffing all kinds of things – it doesn’t have to be poultry.

    • I hope you enjoy it!

      I should tell you though – my own recipe for the actual bread (or muffins,) which I link to uses something called masa harina, and I wouldn’t expect it to be easily available in Australia. (Though one never knows – it’s a Mexican cornmeal treated to make tortillas and tamales…) I used it because I am making a gluten free cornbread.

      If you don’t have it, you can use regular cornmeal for the whole thing (though it may be a little crumbly – which is not a problem for stuffing!) or if gluten is not an issue for you, just use plain flour instead. It will still be good.

    • Thank you!

      Yes – baking it in the skillet in which I’d browned the sausage and vegetables was easier, of course, but it really did make the flavor and texture even better.

    • I’d made it a number of years ago, when Rich’s parents came for Thanksgiving, and we really liked it – had alternated it with bread stuffing since. Then, for me, it solved the whole issue of finding a gluten free stuffing – and when I realized how easy it was to make a pre-seasoned version ahead – well… It just simplifies everything.

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

    • Thank you! It really was easy to make. And really, I like that it isn’t “gluten free stuffing” as such (though it is, of course) so it doesn’t put people off or feel like deprivation.

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