Vegan Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing

by on November 19, 2012
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Vegan Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing

I recently realized that I’ve never posted the one dish that we had every Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was growing up–Cornbread Dressing. That’s mainly because I’ve always counted on my mother to make it. Even after I became vegetarian, my mother would set aside part of the dressing before she added the giblets or oysters or shrimp and bake it with vegetable broth separately for my vegan family and me. But because it’s a dish I love so much, I wanted to share it with you, so I took on the responsibility of making it myself this year.

As I mentioned, the traditional version usually has some kind of meat in it and a couple of eggs. Instead of meat, I make mine with diced portabella mushrooms, which mimic the meaty texture and add a deeper, umami flavor. And as for the eggs–well, I just leave them out and add a touch of nut butter for richness. The dressing is so full of the savory, herbal flavors of thyme, rosemary, and sage that nobody misses the eggs.

I start by making a very basic cornbread. My mother, wise woman that she is, always remembers to make it a couple of days ahead so that there’s one less thing to do right before the big holiday. She also taught me to start saving the ends of bread a couple of weeks beforehand; you can keep them in the freezer and defrost them right before you need them.

We always serve this dressing with a healthy drizzle of mushroom dressing, which also goes on top of the Baked Tofu that is almost always our holiday main dish. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Cranberry Relish, Green Bean Casserole, and either Sweet Potato Casserole or Impossible Pumpkin Pie. What a feast!

Vegan Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

If you’re still making up your Thanksgiving menu, don’t forget to check out my master list of Thanksgiving Recipes, which has everything you need, from main dishes, to side dishes, to desserts.

Also, check out this terrific Vegan Thanksgiving Pinterest board filled with dozens of recipes pinned by a select group of vegan bloggers and cookbook authors. So many recipes, so few holidays!

I wish you all a happy, healthy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Susan

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 moonwatcher November 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Susan,

This looks fabulous! So homey and earthy. And it can easily be made gluten free. I might try using some millet bread for the gluten free bread cubes. Thanks for sharing your family tradition. A happy, healthy Thanksgiving back to you and yours!

xo

Maria

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2 Susan Voisin November 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Thanks so much, Maria! Your Pumpkin Pie in the Free World looks fabulous too, and I love the name!

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3 Compton LaBauve November 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Dear Susan,

I am Cajun and a pretty darn good cook. Thanks to you I cook most of the Cajun dishes I grew up enjoying, only your recipes are much healthier and still taste great. You are absolutely great! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your site and what you do.

Compton LaBauve
New Iberia

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4 Susan Voisin November 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Compton, I’m so glad to hear that! I try to make my Louisiana recipes as authentic as possible, so I’m thrilled to hear that they’re working for you. Thanks for commenting!

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5 Sandy November 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm

This sounds so yummy-the whole holiday menu with links to the recipes sounds great too! Have a nice holiday!

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6 Susan Voisin November 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Thanks, Sandy! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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7 Melissa C. November 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I hopped online to look for exactly this! I made to Stuffed Seitan last night and loved the filling, but I am not sure how it will go over with my non-vegan parents for the big day. Tonight I am testing Dreena’s No-Fu Love Loaf. Fingers crossed for love from the omnivores arriving tomorrow night! I may just break down and get a small turkey for them, but maybe not… there will be enough delicious dishes on the table, thanks to you!

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8 carol kuntzman November 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I am not sure how to enter these two recipes, but my family’s Thanksgiving came early this yea, yesterday. Sunday we had some wonderful vegan foods and two that I made turned out absolutely wonderful so I thought I would share it before the traditional Thanksgiving in case someone else wants to make these two most simple but delicious side dishes. The cranberry sauce I made was: 1 package of cranberries cooked in about 2/3 cup water until they all burst and then cook about 3 to 5 minutes longer to condense. Pour cooked cranberries into a blender, add approx. 2 to 3 teaspoons Chia seeds and the entire inside of a peeled naval orange. Add about one to two teaspoons lemon juice, one full 8 oz. package of blueberries and some sweetener to taste. (I used three or four teaspoons of Truvia crystals.) Blend all together and pour into a serving bowl. It will “gel” pretty solid without any other ingredients. The blueberry, orange and cranberry flavors really make for a flavorful blend. Mine ended up making over a quart and with just 8 of us for dinner we almost finished the entire bowl, it was that good. The chia seeds were exactly what I needed to get it to gel naturally and of course the chia seeds adds a good nutrient also. Make this a day in advance because the chia seeds will harden even more on the second day. This cranberry sauce was better than any I have ever had and everyone at the table commented on how wonderful it was. I do not know who to credit for this idea other than to say that when someone started the chat about chia seeds, costs, etc. and I was just starting a cranberry sauce, I decided to add the chia instead of commercial stuff like gelatin to see if maybe it would work for making it thick. It was so delicious and with every bite I ate I felt I was getting healthier.
My second suggestion is an extremely simple applesauce. My girlfriend gave it to me over the phone and I think she credited Dr. Furhman for thinking of the basic applesauce recipe: 1. Pick out from the store about 6 to 8 different apples. Make at lease one of them the tart green ones. (Granny Smith)
2. Wash and core the apples being sure to remove the seeds, and cut into wedges. Put half of them in the Vita Mix, add one teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Turn on the Vita mix for a few seconds. Stop and push it back into the blades if necessary. 3. Then add the rest of the other fresh apple pieces. Run the vitamix until all of it is warm and oh so fragrant. use spatula to reposition the apple sauce if necessary. About 4 to 5 minutes off and on, ..mostly on.. The sauce will turn a pinkish brown because of the skins but the taste is divine! It will thicken slightly after refrigeration. Adjust flavors if necessary…I added about four teaspoons of truvia at the end. Again, the 8 people at the table praised that applesauce as some of the best they ever tasted. It is funny that the applesauce looks and tasted like the canned kind only much better but all it was was basically just a bunch of different raw apple wedges vitamixed together.

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9 JT November 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

Sounds absolutely marvelous! Thanks for sharing. You mentioned gelatin, which made me wonder if you know it is definitely not vegetarian.

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10 Anna November 20, 2012 at 3:21 am

I’m an American living in Australia, and corn meal would be hard to find here. I can find polenta, however – it looks similar, just a different grind I would think. I know my momma, rest her soul, would say it’s not real cornbread if I used that (she was from Tennessee) but I’m wondering if I could use that in this recipe. What do you think? Otherwise the only thing I could use is Jiffy corn bread mix, which they do import here at the USA Foods store in Melbourne.

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11 Dawn November 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I think polenta is more like grits. That is how I have used it anyway. But maybe if you have a high-powered blender you could “grind” it up a bit to use for cornmeal. Does the Jiffy have extra stuff in it that you don’t want to use? If not I think I would use it—if I was craving some good ‘ole cornbread dressing, that is. (I am from AL.)

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12 Brenda@SugarFreeMom November 20, 2012 at 7:17 am

I LOVE this recipe! I am totally going to make it for my family, thank you!

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13 wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) November 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

this looks so yummy!!!!!!!!!!!! perhaps next year . . .

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14 Morgan November 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

Could we assemble this ahead of time and refrigerate until we bake it? (I’m thinking of just making it 6-8 hours in advance)

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15 Susan Voisin November 20, 2012 at 11:32 am

Yes! Making it ahead of time is fine. I should have mentioned that. Thanks for reminding me!

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16 Suenell November 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thank you for such a wonderful sounding recipe! I think I’m going to go make it!
My question: I’m wondering, why do good cooks like you not promote nor put in their recipes to use a non-aluminum baking powder?
Thanks again. 8-)

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17 Susan Voisin November 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Honestly? Because I don’t believe it matters. And the people to whom it does matter already know what to use.

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18 Con Conz November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I don’t get it! What is it? is it used to dress something….

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19 Susan Voisin November 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Traditionally it was used to “dress” or stuff a turkey. Now it’s a casserole or side dish used to dress up a plate of baked tofu!

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20 Dawn November 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Can’t wait to make this. Love dressing as I am a Southern girl too.
Thanks!

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21 Michelle@HappyHeart November 22, 2012 at 5:59 am

That seriously looks heavenly! Lots of ingredients but totally worth the effort by the look of it! Hope your having a great Thanksgiving!

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22 Lisa Henderson November 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I’m from the South as well, and my mom’s dressing is very similar (though she has never added any kind of meat to it). One thing she does differently, however, is she adds the celery, onions, and seasonings (sage, etc.) to the cornbread before baking it. And she always made the cornbread a day or two in advance as well. She said that putting almost everything in the cornbread made it a quick dish to fix the day of (Thanksgiving or Christmas). When cooking the dressing, really all she did was mix in the bread and the broth, put into a casserole dish, and dot with butter (or not if she was cutting back on fat).

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23 Lisa Henderson November 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm

And heat! I forgot to put that it!

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24 Lorraine November 23, 2012 at 12:00 am

Thanks for this great recipe! Made the gluten-free version of this vegan Southern-style cornbread dressing today to take to my parents’ for Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious, and went very well with garbanzo gravy (I didn’t have time to make the mushroom gravy, too)! I used fresh sage and thyme leaves. I wasn’t sure how much to use, so I just winged it. It seemed fine, a little on the mild side, herbally, although that might have been exactly as intended. Please let me know how much fresh sage and thyme leaves I should have used. Thanks again, and Happy Holidays!

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25 Susan Voisin November 23, 2012 at 7:30 am

I’m glad you liked it! When using fresh herbs, I always double or triple the amount of dried called for.

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26 Lorraine November 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks for the tip, Susan! Next time, I’ll try to be a little bolder in my use of the fresh herbs.

By the way, for the gluten-free bread, I used Food For Life’s Gluten Free Brown Rice English Muffin. I’d started to crumble Food For Life’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Bread, but tasted it, and realized that it, being fruit-juice sweetened, would be too sweet for the dressing. (These two breads happened to be what I had in my freezer when I decided to make the dressing.) I used up the whole 18 oz. package to make a double recipe of the dressing. I cut up the English muffin into small cubes, rather than tear it, because of its toughness (a previous attempt to make crumbs or small chopped up pieces of it in the food processor had resulted in an unusable paste).

For the gluten-free flour in the cornbread, I used a homemade gluten-free flour mixture (sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca starch) that I also already had in my freezer.

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27 moonwatcher November 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Hi Susan, Hi Lorraine,

I, too, made this dressing gluten free. I had Food for Life Millet Bread in my freezer, which is also fruit juice sweetened. I took a different tack than you, Lorraine, with respect to the sweetness. I decided to go with it. So instead of a yellow onion, I substituted a leek and a shallot from my garden, which are also “sweeter” than a regular yellow or white onion.I was shy a couple of pieces of bread, so I also cooked a bit of actual millet in broth and dried mushrooms and added that. My gluten free mixture for the cornbread was 1/4 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup potato flour, 1/4 cup quinoa flour, and 1/4 cup brown rice flour, or thereabouts. It worked very well. I, too, used fresh lemon thyme, since I still have some growing in a pot. It took a lot of chopping to get two tablespoons of it, but I had my prep cooks handy to do that. :) I also used a homemade broth from veggie leavings like leek greens, winter squash innards and kale stems, accented with some my dried mushrooms. The result was really tasty. We all liked it. The English Muffins sound like they made a good substitute, too. There are many ways to tastiness. It’s a wonderful recipe, Susan. Thank you!!

moonwatcher

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28 Lorraine November 27, 2012 at 4:09 am

Hi Moonwatcher,
I’m glad the fruit-juice sweetened bread worked out! I’d thought of going ahead with the sweetened bread, too, but I was trying to recreate, as much as possible, the flavor of the bread stuffing I’d loved before I quit wheat, which was savory rather than sweet. I like your McGyver approach to substituting cooked millet for the missing bread slices. I’ll remember that for the future!
Best Wishes!

29 Werner November 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

This dish turned out to be the star of our family’s first plant-based Thanksgiving! Actually, our TG was sponsored by you, since we also made green bean casserole, Thanksgiving Loaf, and mushroom gravy. Planned for the glazed carrots, but time got away from us. I am devoted to your site, have learned so much – thank you! P.S. I totally share your TG holiday sentiments…was so glad to get back to my oats and blueberries this morning :)

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30 Esther J November 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

All I have to say is : Delicious!

I hadn’t planned on making it, but had a stuffing shortage at my house yesterday.

It’ll probably be on the menu for Christmas dinner.

Thanks so very much, Susan.

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31 Esther J November 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

And, yes, to complement it, I made your always-good mushroom gravy. :)

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32 Carolyn Burnoski November 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I love you! Your recipes are great. I have a question–how do I print the recipes from Vegan Thanksgiving Pinterest board? Thanks

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33 Susan Voisin November 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Sorry– you’ll probably have to go to the individual pages that you like. I guess you could try printing from your browser but the photos will be small.

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34 khachapuri November 25, 2012 at 1:56 am

Mmm delicious…

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35 Radhika Sarohia November 27, 2012 at 6:20 am

This looks so good

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36 moonwatcher November 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

Hi again Lorraine (and Susan!)

Just wanted to say that you made me laugh out loud with your reference to my “McGyver approach” in adding some whole millet to make up for the lesser amount of millet bread I had on hand. Indeed! LOL Thanks. :)

moonwatcher

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37 Juliana November 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Thank you! This was Awesome!

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38 Juliana November 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

A Question.

Before plant based I made a Strata for Christmas breakfast with old bread, milk, eggs, Italian sausage and lots of cheese. all the bad stuff. Wondering if you have a recipe for a savory strata. Sort of like the stuffing but different.

Love Your site! Use lots of your recipes!

Juliana

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39 Travis Ehrenstrom December 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm

This looks like such a great recipe! I have been dabbling in vegan recipes lately, and this one is going to be a must try! Does the applesauce help with thickening the cornbread mixture? Thanks for posting this, I can’t wait to taste!

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40 Ed Dawson November 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm

The “Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing” interests me be I come from the South and an impeccable, unsurpassed cornbread tradition from my mother herself (the only one). I don’t think she ever served any turkey “stuffing” thing. The dressing, always cornbread, was a separate dish.

Her cornbread itself was a lifetime best, although I have enjoyed others. My question is, does this cornbread work as bread? By itself? It sounds good.

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41 Susan Voisin November 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm

It works, but it’s a little plain. I have a more flavorful recipe here: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2007/07/confetti-cornbread.html

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42 Lauren November 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm

This was my fave of all the delicious vegan things I prepared for this year’s Thanksgiving! So, so flavorful! Even the non-vegetarians at our Thanksgiving loved it and some liked it better than the “normal” dressing/stuffing that was served!

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43 Kim January 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I’m coming up on one-year vegan, so this was my first holiday season finding alternate options to what the rest of my family was eating. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes!! I made the cornbread dressing for my family in Wisconsin at Thanksgiving and it went over very well. Christmas was the true test, as I made it for my husband’s family in Georgia. Success!! They all had their turkey, etc. as well, but only compliments from both families on this, as well as the green bean casserole (a recipe I’ve made for a few years, but veganized this year). So, once again, thank you for your hard work and tasty treats!

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