Appalachia Appalachian Food Holidays in Appalachia

The Best Dressing For Thanksgiving

How to make cornbread dressing
With Thanksgiving only a few days away, many of us are thinking of the good food we’ll eat, planning menus, and scheduling what time we’ll eat with which side of the family. In other words, most of us have much to be thankful for.

Last year, I talked a little about how folks come to expect you to bring certain dishes, you know how we almost become famous for the dishes we make. I look forward to Uncle Charles’s peanut butter fudge the entire year knowing I’ll be able to eat some come Christmas at the Pressleys.

My favorite foods I associate with Thanksgiving are my own oatmeal rolls, Granny’s pumpkin pie, and The Deer Hunter’s cornbread dressing.

Curtis Mease

Curtis Mease

Actually, Miss Cindy’s father, Curtis, deserves the credit for The Deer Hunter’s cornbread dressing. Curtis was a good cook and liked to make up his own recipes. He handed down his recipes to Miss Cindy who in turn has handed them to The Deer Hunter.

The Deer Hunter and Miss Cindy are the “till it looks right” or “till it feels right” kind of cooks. Me-I’d rather have a recipe to follow. I did my best to get the cornbread dressing recipe out of The Deer Hunter and here’s what he said:

  • crumble half a cake of cornbread and 6 pieces of toast into a large bowl or pot
  • add 8 or 9 chopped boiled eggs
  • add 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • add 4 chopped stalks of celery
  • add 1 stick of melted butter
  • add salt, pepper, and sage to taste
  • add 2 to 3 tablespoons of mustard

Cornbread stuffing

  • add chicken stock to the dressing and begin to mix it with your hands
  • he usually adds almost a pint of stock, but he said add enough to where it feels right-the consistency should be a little wet so the dressing doesn’t dry out
  • pat the dressing into a 13 x 9 and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees
  • The Deer Hunter says in reality the dressing is already cooked you just need to warm it through and allow all the flavors to marry (he likes it better raw, so does his Aunt Wanda and Miss Cindy)
  • you can add chopped turkey, chicken, or even oysters to the dressing if you want

Do you have cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving? Is it similar to The Deer Hunter’s? What dishes are a must for Thanksgiving at your house?


I hope you enjoyed this post from the Blind Pig archives. Drop back by in a few days and I’ll share Granny’s Pumpkin Pie recipe.


This post was originally published in November of 2010 here on the Blind Pig & the Acorn.

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  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    November 19, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    My favorite dish for Thanksgiving is ambrosia salad. Make mine with raw apples, oranges, pineapple, coconut and chopped walnuts. It has to be really fresh so that it does not brown. I guess I am the one that likes it the most because there is always enough left over that I eat it for several days afterward.

    • Reply
      Darrell Cook
      November 21, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Thanks Tipper for the recipes. I will make the dressing and have carefully studied the recipe for cooking a turkey. Hopefully all will turn out okay.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    November 23, 2015 at 11:47 am

    MUSTARD! Never thought of that — I just might like it. If you omit the mustard and add some sage it sounds like the “dressing” my grandmother and my mother made. I, too, love it “raw”. No giblets in mine please. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    November 23, 2015 at 8:22 am

    They all seem great, but my favorite is the ‘old time Thanksgiving dressing. My mother used to make it and I could never get enough.

    • Reply
      Kathy Morgan
      July 6, 2021 at 8:14 pm

      I use the eggs in my cornbread! So i dont add any raw eggs to my mixture!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Late on this but I just found your blog. MymMama added sausage to her dressing. My husbands granny added a lot of chopped fresh parsley cooked down with onions, garlic, green peppers, celery. I use to add boiled eggs but now with just the two of us, it freezes better without the eggs. I do keep poking holes and adding more stock as it is cooking . Don’t like a dry dressing. I also add poultry seasoning and sage in large amounts. I love the seasonings.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Got my mouth watering for some dressing! Mine is basically the same except no mustard and I mix the raw eggs into my dressing. I always buy extra turkey necks to simmer down with onion and celery to make a good stock. I pick the meat from the necks and part of it goes into the dressing and the rest into the gravy. None of my family likes the giblets in the gravy. My gravy has been affectionately dubbed “turkey neck gravy”!

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    November 22, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I, also, like it raw. Janet

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Oh, I think the mustard is an interesting addition – I am going to try the dressing and thank you (and the Deer Hunter and Miss Cindy) for sharing it 😉 Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    This morning coming to work I spotted a big old wild turkey trotting out of a field into the woods. It had something hanging from inunder it’s chin. I don’t know what it was but it was about 8 or 10 inches long. Could’a been longer. Reckon that could be it’s giblet bag that had come outta its neck?
    PS: I ain’t telling anybody where I saw it, especially not Jim Casada.

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    B.Ruth and I have a similar approach to making stuffing (in the turkey) and dressing (on the side). Variations I use include mincing the giblets – that gets them past the complainers; adding some apple and some pecans; and finally (the reason we don’t sample ours raw)chopping bacon real small and adding that to the mix as well as throwing in a few eggs to help bind things together. An assortment of vegetables and things such as water chestnuts and pine nuts might get thrown in depending on what’s in the refrigerator or pantry and it’s pending expiration date – guess our approach is like making kitchen soup.
    This topic made me think of one other thing – the turkeys I’ve been able to find in recent years have been drier than I would like so I have begun separating the skin from the turkey in places and putting slice of bacon in there. Not as good as a decent turkey but it helps. I’ve got to find a good butcher that can get me a good fresh turkey!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    We call in stuffing in the bird and dressing on the side too, Ours was most always on the side as my dad thought it got too greasy in the bird. We use cornbread and bread stuffing mixed with the water from where we boiled the giblets, celery and onion chopped. The giblets were not used in the dressing but in the gravy.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    When chopping the giblets, toss the skin from the neck…It is mainly used for the attached fat for flavoring the stock…Also you can add, a carrot, onion, celery while cooking all and makes even better stock for the dressing flavors…

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Tell Ed if he finds a coon or possum with gizzard giblets to please rush me a letter. I will forward it to U of T so they can investigate this new critter with a gizzard!
    In my neck of the woods the giblets are in the turkey bird..wrapped in some kind of paper…neck, heart, liver, and gizzard! When boilin’ them down for giblets, leave the skin on the neck…’cause of the fat, wash good the gizzard, heart and liver…Try not to think about all this mess too much. When done pull the meat in the little stringy thingys off the neck, chop fine the heart, liver and gizzard may have to dump the tough (craw) part, depending on how old your bird was..the bigger the bird the tougher the craw *gizzard”…Don’t wait too late to check your bird for the giblets, as I have opened the inside of the birds breast opening and someone at the packing house forgot to put in the giblets…Once I got a shock, there were two necks…that made for some interesting conversation while cooking…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    November 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Bought a 24# turkey today. Wife makes good dressing, don’t know the recipe, I just do as I am told. Along with the giblets and neck, I also take the meat off of the wings to mix in the gravy. Hard to decide what I like best!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Kat could you tell me why your family called dressing “cush”?
    If our recipe was put inside the bird, it was called “stuffing”! What was left over and put in a pan to bake, it was called “dressing”!
    The stuffing was very moist, and flavorful due to the bird fat and liquids dripping into it while cooking…That is why it is very important for everything to be cooked done…My Mother always took the stuffing out of the bird immediately after the meal…and put in the refrigerator…After all the stories of uncooked stuffing and samonella she quit stuffing the bird and just made pan dressing…
    Thanks Tipper and Kat
    We (children) called one cake that Mom made when we were growing up, “stomach ache cake,” because every time we ate it we got a stomach ache…Mother said it was because it was so rich with coconut, nuts and dates…In other words it moved things along!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    November 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I use Pepperidge Farm dry stuffing mix and add cranberries, celery, apples and chicken broth. In this part of PA it’s called “filling” , not stuffing…

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    November 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Don’t eat much at my age. but after reading all these good people’s recipes, I’m starved.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    B.’s comment suggests that she starts with giblets from two possums and a coon, if I am reading it right. Her recipe looks larapping good but I don’t know if can find the critters for the giblets in time for Thanksgiving. Possums are plentiful and I only see a coon now and then. Does she have a substitute in case I can’t find one or the other?

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I’ve never tried uncooked dressing.
    The ingredients are similar to the
    ones mentioned but I just like mine
    browned and hot out of the oven.
    The boiled eggs cut into pieces and added to the giblet gravy.
    Thanksgiving is my favorite time of
    the year…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Her I’d say that Jim and Jim’s better half could be or would be purty much of experts on turkey fixin’s…seeings how he has put to rest over 290 of those gobblin’ creatures…and surely he has et quite a few of em!
    He is so right about the corn meal…I was just sick when my favorite yellow cornmeal company went out of business…some meal is a’liken to flour..yuk!
    Now then about those chesnuts..I remember all the talk about the demise of the chesnut when I was a child sitting around listening to my relatives talk..Some saying there is still one on so, so ridge but it don’t look so good, and one down at so and so’s farm out by the fence row..etc. etc.
    But, like my Mother..ewwwwww, I cannot not think of chesnuts with out getting the air caught in my guzzle and other places for thoughts of the little white wiggly wormies. They are very easy to miss, even when there is not a noticeable hole in the chesnut…
    Yes sir, I have eaten roasted chestnuts, boiled chestnuts and chesnut stuffin’ of old…
    Just make sure you are in company of other takers of the famed nut!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

    For those keepin’ score! Two possums..and last night the the third raccoon…I tell you we are ate up with them…
    Let’s see now! I have now had the giblets cooking in a sauce pot of water, covered and let low stew!
    Pan of Skillet Cornbread crumbled..(only made with buttermilk)no water, skim or whole milk…
    Now dump in some left over biscuits or dried bread crumbs..Do not measure these it will mess up the recipe!
    I already have sauteing about a cup of chopped 1/4″ celery and onion in a mite of butter and mite of water.
    If I am in the mood, and mostly not I might add a small drained can of mushroom pieces!
    Two aigs are warmin’ on the counter…
    A big box of rubbed sage sittin’ and waitin’ and maybe some poultry seasoning too.
    The turkey is in the oven and the drippin’s are dripping…leave access to them with the steel spoon!
    In the biggest pan you have start puttin’ it together, first the cornbread and leftover breads..Mix.
    Add the sauteed celery and onion..mix again
    Add a Tablespoon of the turkey drippins’…mix again
    Add the eggs…usually the beginnin’ dressing is cool enough..mix again
    Add 1 cup or so of giblet stock…with a smidgeon of giblets chopped fine..mix again
    Start with a tablespoon of Sage, add a smidgeon of salt and pepper..Stir again..
    Check for moisture, add more stock, sage, and if your stock doesn’t have that good turkey flavor add some poultry seasoning..
    Add, stir and mix until it tastes right and the right consistisy for you…
    Put in a 9 x 13 pan, use another pan or two for the rest..for the kids to take home!
    Bake until set…
    Change ups…
    I have used some instant turkey, stuffing…along with my cornbread..Aldo, have used Pepperidge farm mixed in (herb blend) as I use it also for toppings on some casseroles, etc.
    and already have on hand..
    I have used cream of chicken and or cream of celery soup and or chicken stock to moisten my stuffin’ if the farmer left out the giblets…LOL
    Check over and make sure you didn’t forget anything…Ha!
    Bake til set…
    Hot dressing should come out of the oven after the turkey is on the stove settin’ and flavors are settleing in/on the bird…with the rest of the casseroles…while the taters are being whipped and the last stir of the giblet gravy is done while reaching for the gravy boat!
    No, I didn’t for get the rolls..
    They are in the bowl wrapped in the warmer!
    I am absolutely starvin’ to death!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I am going to try your hubbys recipe for dressin’ Roy just loves mustard and boiled aigs…so Deer Hunters recipe would fit him to a tee…

  • Reply
    janet Smart
    November 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

    My husband thinks dressing is the best part of the Thanksgiving meal. It’s interesting how people make it differently. We don’t make cornbread stuffing, and I have never heard of adding mustard or boiled eggs. Mom boiled chicken pieces, giblets from turkey and turkey neck in water and reserved the broth. She tore and shred the meat from the bone and put it in a large bowl. Added cooked, chopped celery and a couple bags of herb seasoned stuffing and poured on as much of the reserved broth as needed and then baked. My kids loved eating bites of it before it was baked. Delicious!

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I learned to cook by watching a Mama that was a pinch & smidgen type cook, so i know til it feels right means. I put boiled eggs in my cornbread dressing but never heard of using mustard. Never heard it called dressing til i was grown cause we always called it cush. Oh well, regardless of what it’s called, it sure does taste good and mine’s put together and waiting in the freezer to be cooked.

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I don’t have a cornbread dressing, but I love that Pepperridge Farm has some good dry dressings that I prepaare my own way. I’ve used it for years. However, your recipe does tempt me to try something different. I love turkey and dressing. I heard this past week that dressing can be prepared and cooked in a crock pot. I might try that this year.

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Corn bread stuffing is the best for Thanksgiving. My stuffing has most of the ingredients as the Deer Hunters except for the mustard and boiled eggs. I think I will try the mustard this year – that sounds really good. I have never used a recipe either. My husband and daughter always wanted a bowl of raw dressing for breakfast and I must admit that I have eaten it that way also.

  • Reply
    steve in Tn
    November 22, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Have to have homemade cranberry relish, made with whole cranberries. We make our dressing in the crockpot with chicken…a lot easier and to us, just as good. I remember eggnog pie from my youth…get one every once in a while now as a special treat.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 22, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Tipper–Cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving has been a tradition in our family all of my life and well before, but other than the common ground of cornbread, it is strikingly different from Matt’s offering. The key ingredient is chestnuts (once upon a time Grandma Minnie used American chestnuts, but with their demise before readers of this blog were even born, Chinese chestnuts became a substitute).
    Anyone who is interested in the recipe can contact me or look at my current e-newsletter. It is also available on “The Read on Western North Carolina.”
    Matt’s recipe sounds scrumptious, and I particularly like the idea of boiled eggs.
    One other thought. The type of cornmeal used makes all the difference in the world. You can’t beat stone-ground meal. It’s light years ahead of the store-bought stuff.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    November 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I have always made cornbread stuffing. Never tried adding mustard though, but I may try it this year. I like to add a half can of creamed corn to each batch of cornbread. Makes it extra moist.

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 7:54 am

    My stuffing is about the same, except no eggs. My husband likes raisens in it so I stuff the neck with his special stuffing. I will try The Hunter’s dressing with oysters. Sounds good! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 22, 2013 at 7:34 am

    When the Deer Hunter was a little boy he refused to eat mayonnaise on sandwiches he ate just mustard. He loved cheese and mustard sandwiches.
    The two of us share a fondness for things that have a tart/sour flavor like mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice.
    When My dad made the dressing he used a little less mustard than the Deer Hunter and I use. The recipe evolves with each generation. I’m sure my dad got some of this recipe from his mother, Dollie Sharp. She was a fantastic cook.
    All the people I’ve made this dressing for thought it was so good they wanted the recipe and of course there isn’t one. We just make it without even thinking bout it.
    My dad used to make it the night before Thanksgiving in the lid of the roaster pan because we didn’t have a bowl big enough to mix it in. We all gathered around and tasted to see if it was right or suggest what else it might need.
    Like the Deer Hunter, I like it better before it’s cooked. I guess it’s a little like your cornbread salad, Tipper.
    Yes, we all have a lot to be thankful for!
    My Dad was a good looking man, wasn’t he. The deer hunter looks a lot like him.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    November 22, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Mother has been freezing left over cornbread and biscuits for weeks. Mixed 2/3 cornbread, 1/3 biscuit both crumbled, onion, sage, salt, pepper. Add stock from cooked hen until almost soupy. Add meat from hen,boned. Cook in large roasting pan, the big oval kind, 350 degrees about 90 minutes or until firm in center. Make milk gravy with giblets and neck from hen. Stew them in a little water, chop them when cooled, pull meat from neck, mix tablespoon flour and a little water to paste, add to water, giblets and 2 cups milk, cook until as tick as you like. My mouth is watering!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I know what “until it feels right” means when mixing dressing ingredients (or other recipes).
    Instead of boiled eggs chopped, I use raw eggs in the dressing I make, and bake it until it is “set”. Otherwise, the ingredients I use are about the same as the Deer Hunter’s.
    Happy Thanksgiving, all your Blind Pig friends! And enjoy wonderful fare and family, and giving thanks!

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