This chicken dressing recipe is simple but oh-so delicious! A wonderful switch-up from turkey dressing, this cornbread dressing is made with chicken so everyone will love it! Using 7 ingredients plus a little salt and pepper this cornbread dressing cannot be easier to make for the holidays!
Turkey dominates the holidays as the main dish of choice, but if you aren’t a fan of turkey or are simply craving something else, this old-fashoned cornbread dressing with chicken is something you need to serve this year!
It’s light and fluffy and made with cornbread, white bread, juicy chicken and tender vegetables. No poultry seasoning, cream of chicken(or mushroom!), or eggs! Just a few ingredients and a whole lot of love!
If you do love turkey, check out my Grandpa’s famous cornbread dressing, it’s can be made with turkey breast, legs, or wings, so it’s always so delicious to serve during the holidays!
What is dressing?
Dressing is a southern staple and in true Southerner fashion - dressing is better than stuffing. While both of these holiday side dishes are beloved by all, dressing is a bit simpler, especially the way my family makes it.
Old-fashioned cornbread dressing is made with cornbread, white bread, your meat of choice - turkey or chicken, broth, chopped vegetables, salt and TONS of black pepper. Everything gets mixed together and you add enough broth until it has an almost pudding-like consistency. Then it’s baked until it’s fluffy with plenty of crispy edges.
Stuffing on the other hand was originally made to be stuffed inside of a whole chicken, turkey, quail, cornish hen, etc, but more often than not, stuffing is enjoyed as a side dish during the holidays. It’s drier than dressing with a crispy exterior and fluffy middle.
Traditional stuffing is made with cubed cornbread, white or whole wheat bread, chopped vegetables, meat- usually sausage, sometimes chopped nuts and fresh or dried fruit like apples and cranberries. Sage or poultry seasoning are often added as well.
Chicken - Use 2.5 - 3 lbs of chicken parts or a whole chicken.
White bread - Use homemade white sandwich bread, Challah bread, or store-bought sandwich bread. We grew up with storebought but either one works just as well! You'll need half of a loaf of bread. (Don't use hard, rustic, or sourdough bread you want to use soft bread for this recipe).
Broth - We will boil the chicken until tender then use the broth to make the dressing. If you are using leftover chicken you can use storebought or homemade chicken broth instead. You'll need 12 cups of water and after it's boiled with the meat you end up with 9 - 10 cups of chicken broth.
Vegetables - green bell pepper, yellow onion, and celery. Half of the vegetables of cooked with the broth to give it more flavor and the other half are mixed with the dressing right before baking.
Seasonings - Salt and ground black pepper, that’s it. This southern dressing is so good you don’t need any other seasonings. The ground black pepper is key, for this recipe, we will use 2 ½ TABLESPOONS. You can use a bit less if you prefer.
How To Make Cornbread Dressing with Chicken
Step one. Rinse and place chicken into a large 8qt pot. Add water, salt, ground black pepper, chopped celery, and half of the chopped onions and green bell peppers. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low heat. Boil the chicken covered until is tender and falling off the bone. 1.5 - 2 hours.
Step two. Remove the chicken from the pot using a pair of tongs to a large plate or bowl then separate the meat from the bones. Pour the chicken broth into a separate container as well, you should have 9 - 10 cups.
Step three. In the large pot that you boiled the chicken in, add the crumbled cornbread, torn bread, and the rest of the black pepper and vegetables. Add in most of the chicken broth. Mix with a large spoon until everything is combined and well incorporated. Add more broth until you have a liquidity consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
Step four. Line a 10 x 15-inch baking dish(4.5 quarts) with parchment paper and then preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step five. Pour the dressing into the prepared pan then spread it out evenly. Cover the top with a layer of parchment paper pressed to the surface of the dressing and a layer of aluminum foil on top of that. Bake for 1 hour covered then remove both the parchment paper and aluminum foil then bake for another 30 - 40 minutes or until the top and the bottom are very nicely golden brown and it top is crisp.
Step six. Allow the dressing to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Large cooking pot (8 quarts) - for boiling the chicken to make broth and mixing the dressing ingredients together.
Tongs - for removing the meat from the pot
Dressing should be liquidity BEFORE cooking. Dressing will bake for a long time so it’s important to add enough of the chicken broth and/or water so that you don’t end up with dry dressing for Thanksgiving.
Cornbread dressing should have the same amount or more cornbread as bread. Be careful not to add too much bread otherwise you’ll end up with a bland tasting dressing with a gummy texture.
Make the bread(if using homemade) and cornbread the day before Thanksgiving or whenever you are serving it. We also like to chop the veggies beforehand as well, that way all you have to do is boil the chicken and put everything together day of.
Don't over fill your baking dish with dressing. Make sure to leave ½ inch of headspace otherwise the liquid can spill over and make a mess at the bottom of your oven. Place baking dish on a sheet pan if needed.
How To Store/ Make Ahead
Homemade cornbread dressing will spoil very fast in the refrigerator. It’s best to slice and portion out any leftovers the same day you make it or the next day at the latest.
Wrap your dressing sections tightly with plastic wrap then place it in a freezer safe bag to store in the freezer for several weeks.
Reheat frozen dressing covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until heated through.
Make ahead. If you want to make the dressing ahead of time, chop the vegetables, bake the cornbread and bread(if using homemade) up to 3 days before the holidays or whenever you are serving it.
You could also boil the chicken for the broth 1 - 2 days beforehand as well. After boiling, separate the meat from the broth then discard the bones. Store the meat and broth separately in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the dressing, simply reheat the broth until warm before combining it with all the other ingredients. (The broth will have probably gelatinized so it will be easier to tell how liquidity the dressing is if the broth is warm)
Frequently Asked Questions —
Dressing and stuffing a pretty much the same thing. The main difference is that dressing is usually simpler and it’s made with more broth than stuffing, which can be drier and often includes sausage, chopped nuts and fresh or dried fruit.
This chicken dressing is made with chicken, water, a pan of cornbread, white sandwich bread, chopped vegetables, salt, and ground black pepper.
By not adding in too much bread. Bread is helpful to thicken the dressing but if you add too much it can make the dressing gummy with a bland flavor. Always use the same amount or less bread as cornbread when making dressing.
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Chicken Dressing Recipe
- 2 ½ - 3 lb whole chicken or chicken parts
- 12 cups water
- 2 ½ tablespoons ground black pepper divided
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 large green bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1 large yellow onion roughly chopped
- 1 stalk celery thinly sliced
- 6 - 7 cups cornbread 1 pan, crumbled
- 5 cups white bread half of 1 loaf (homemade or store-bought), roughly torn
- Start by rinsing the chicken then add it to a large pot (8 quarts) with the water, salt,1 tablespoon of ground black pepper, celery, and half of the chopped onions and green bell pepper.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer then cover. Boil the chicken until the meat is very tender and falls off the bone, around 1.5 - 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 10 x 15 inch (4.5 quarts) baking dish with parchment paper then set aside.
- Once the meat is tender, take the chicken out of the pot and set it on a plate or bowl. Separate the meat from the bones.
- Pour chicken broth into a separate container. You should have 9 - 10 cups.
- In the same pot that you boiled the chicken in, add the crumbled cornbread, torn white bread, shredded cooked chicken, the rest of the ground black pepper, and the rest of the onions and green bell pepper.
- Finally, pour in enough broth so that your dressing mixture is loose and a little liquidy but still has some resistance when you stir it. I like to add most of the broth and then slowly add in more until it reaches the right consistency.
- Taste the dressing mixture for seasoning. Adjust as desired. It should taste more like cornbread instead of bread.
- Pour dressing into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Cover the top with a layer of parchment paper pressed gently onto the surface of the dressing and then a layer of aluminum foil.
- Bake your cornbread dressing for 1 hour covered, then remove both the parchment paper and aluminum foil then bake for another 30 - 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom is crusty.
- Allow the dressing to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!