Cranberry-Orange Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage

Listen, I love stuffing. I. Love. Stuffing. Nothing beats homemade stuffing. I knew that once I became an adult I’d have to make it from scratch like all of the lovely women in my family. You can seriously take your recipe variations to the moon, the possibilities of flavor are endless. That’s because I truly believe everything tastes amazing with bread. Seriously, it’s the one part of the meal that always fits no matter what. They serve a variation of bread with practically every meal in every cuisine, so when you take that concept and run with it, you get delicious stuffing.

Cranberry-Orange Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage

Cranberry-Orange Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage

Personally, stuffing may be my favorite necessary accompaniment to the turkey, period. If someone told me they’d toss of my delicious sides but I could only keep one, I’d have to keep the stuffing. It goes best with the turkey and gravy, and can be eaten alone as a meal all itself.

My favorite breads to use for stuffing are any variation of cornbread, sourdough, marbled rye, or pumpernickel. Today the cornbread is the star, and its studded with orange zest. There are so many harmonious flavors going on here, your palate will sing. It’s extremely easy to make too. This flavor combination isn’t uncommon, but it’s popular because it’s truly delicious. The best part of this recipe is the fresh cornbread. It’s slightly sweet without tasting like cake, but with a good corn flavor. The better quality cornmeal you use, the better these will taste. It’s a very basic recipe you can whip up in minutes, and is a great for use in this recipe. Feel free to use your own cornbread recipe if you already have one. You’ll find that the fresh cornbread soaks up the broth and other built up flavors very nicely — giving you a perfect balance of savory, spicy, and just a little sweet. I’ll show you some variations if you’d like to adjust the sugar content.

Cranberry-Orange Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage*Tools you’ll need for this recipe are a muffin tin, large pot or dutch oven, wooden spoon, and rasp grater to zest an orange.

bake your corn muffins or cornbread fresh. the moment they come out of the oven, cut them into chunks so the steam escapes. allow them to cool and dry out a little. In a large pot, saute the onions, celery, and sausage. Add seasonings and aromatics.

Bake your corn muffins or cornbread fresh. The moment they come out of the oven, cut them into chunks so the steam escapes. Allow them to cool and dry out a little. In a large pot, saute the onions, celery, and sausage. Add seasonings and aromatics.

toss in the cooled, slightly dried out cornbread and toss evenly with the sausage, onions, and celery mixture. make sure everything is evenly distributed. it's ok i the cornbread breaks down a little. add half of the chicken stock, mix and let it sit for 10 minutes. see if you need to add more moisture, and if so, add it in half-cup increments until you get the right texture. remember, it'll take a little time for all of the cornbread to soak up the flavors, so add your broth a little at a time to avoid adding too much at one time. once it's to your liking, bake it in a 425 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Toss in the cooled, slightly dried out cornbread and toss evenly with the sausage, onions, and celery mixture. make sure everything is evenly distributed. It’s ok if the cornbread breaks down a little. Add half of the chicken stock, mix and let it sit for 10 minutes. If you need to add more moisture, add it in half-cup increments until you get the right texture. Remember, it’ll take a little time for all of the cornbread to soak up the flavors, so add your broth a little at a time to avoid adding too much at one time. Once it’s to your liking, bake it in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

The perfect holiday dressing. Simple, easy, adaptable and delicious. Your family will love you.

Cranberry-Orange Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage
Copyright 2013 CarnalDish LLC, corn muffin recipe slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated.
Serves: 10-12
For the cornbread muffins:
  • 2 cups (10oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (5oz.) stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (5¼oz.) granulated sugar
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tsp orange zest (see note below)
For the stuffing:
  • olive oil
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 9-11 ounces Italian sausage (about 3-4 links, casings removed)
  • 1 tsp herbes de provence
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • pinch of ground fennel seed (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5oz dried cranberries
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 dozen basic corn muffins or about 10 cups of cornbread, chopped into chunks (recipe below)
For the cranberry-orange cornbread muffins:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, middle rack. Spray a muffin pan with vegetable spray and set aside.
  2. In one large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs for 20 seconds until paler in color. Add sugar to eggs and whisk for 30 seconds until homogeneous.
  4. Add melted butter in 3-additions, whisking to fully incorporate it each time.
  5. Add half of the sour cream and half of the milk to the egg, sugar and butter mixture, whisking to fully combine. Repeat with the second half of the sour cream and milk. Stir in the orange zest.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix fold with a rubber spatula, just until combined. Do not overmix!
  7. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tins. Do not level or flatten the batter.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the stuffing:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, middle rack. Butter a large baking dish and set aside.
  2. Pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil begins to show a webby appearance, add celery and onions and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the sausage and break up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the herbes de provence, crushed red pepper, a nice pinch of coarse sea salt, black pepper, and pinch of fennel (if using) to the sausage to bloom and infuse the meat. Continue cooking until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are softened, about another 5-7 minutes or so. Add the fresh herbs and cook for just 1 minute to bloom their flavors. Add the dried cranberries and heat thru for about a minute. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the cornbread to the pot and toss everything together until evenly coated and distributed. Add half (16oz.) of the chicken stock to the cornbread mixture, tossing to evenly coat. Let sit for 10 minutes. This gives the cornbread time to fully absorb the liquid you just added. Check to see if you need more liquid after 10 minutes, and add in ½ cup increments, waiting just 1 minute in between to let it absorb before adding more. Remember, you can always add more liquid but you cannot take it away. Give the stuffing a taste and season accordingly if you need to.
  4. Pour stuffing into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  5. Serve and enjoy.
You can either toss the orange zest and cranberries into the cornbread dough, or toss it into the pot with the stuffing. It seriously doesn't matter. It will get in there someway, somehow ;)



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  1. Catherine says

    Hello, thank you for all of your wonderful recipes and the way you personalize each one for us! I am finally ready to jump in, and start with the cranberry orange cornbread stuffing and the mac and cheese. I am making these the night before Thanksgiving and traveling to my family home with them Thanksgiving morning. My question– are these 2 dishes appropriate for making the night before, refrigerating, and baking the next day? Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    • says

      You’re so welcome! You can absolutely make them both a day in advance. Instead of baking the mac and cheese at 425, start it out in a 350 degree oven since it’ll be cold and you don’t want it to cook faster on the outside and not in the middle. 350 will warm it thru all the way. and you may need to bake it a wee bit longer, but once it starts bubbling up and whatnot, you’ll know its ready. you can make the stuffing completely the night before, bake it, and reheat it in the oven when you arrive to your destination.

      enjoy your Thanksgiving and I’m always happy to post recipes for you guys <3 enjoy hun

  2. says

    Hey Resha!
    Do you have a recipe for cranberry sauce? I normally do cranberries, orange juice, pineaple juice, agave nectar and ginger. Any suggestions on how to enhance the flavors?


    • says

      Hi Sonjacharde! here’s my cranberry recipe, it’s a very basic one but it’s really delicious. I always taste every few minutes to see if there’s anything I need to add to it, so make sure you taste as you go. Enjoy!

      1 lb fresh cranberries
      1/4 cup granny smith apple, grated on the large boxholes of a cheese grater
      1/4 cup pineapple, chopped (you could use juice instead)
      1 cup water
      1 cup sugar (or sweetener of choice, plus more if needed)
      1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      juice from half an orange
      splash of rum (about 2 tablespoons)
      a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
      a tiny pinch of black pepper
      1 teaspoon orange zest (add this right at the end)
      coarse sea salt
      2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, chopped (optional, add right at the end)
      In a saucepan over high heat, whisk and dissolve the sugar into 1 cup of water, then add the cranberries, apple, pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, orange juice, rum, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and bring to a rapid boil. Stir occasionally until mixture has cooked down to desired consistency. This can take anywhere between 12-20 minutes, depending on how you like your cranberry sauce. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes. When you’ve reached your desired consistency, remove from heat and add the orange zest and walnuts (if using). Mix everything together and let cool to room temperature before serving.

      **can be made in advance and refrigerated

  3. Katrina says

    So you kind of answered the question I’m about to ask already but I want to be sure. I’m also making your 5cheese baked Mac and cheese posted on this site and the cran and orange dressing. I’ll be making these dishes on Thursday and traveling about 30 minutes to my destination. I want everything fresh out the oven.

    Should I prepare the dishes and bake at their respective temps and times at my destination or bake at home and slightly reheat when I arrive? I don’t want anything to dry out. I’ll leave my house at 3 arrive at 330 for a 4pm dinner.

    What do you suggest? And thank you. I know its the holidays and you’re probably busy.

    • says

      you can absolutely bake before you arrive. it should still be warm after an hour, if not, a quick pop in the oven will bring it back. the stuffing won’t dry out as long as you moisten it well before baking. the macncheese will be fine. just make sure the mixture is creamy before it’s baked and not too gloopy. keep extra pasta water on hand to thin it out while you’re preparing it if you need to.

  4. Medea says

    Just wanted to say I am a huge fan… I’ve been hooked since the chipotle lime sticky wings!!! I damn near licked the bottom of the pan… But I digress… I would love to try this recipe but my boo is allergic to cranberries… Do you have any other combos to add to the stuffing? Thank you so much in advance.

  5. Meka says

    So I know it is after Thanksgiving and not yet Christmas but dang it I was craving dressing so last night it went down! I could have just ate the freaking cornbread muffins alone! I will be making this for Christmas and showing off to the fam! Thanks

  6. RaquelSeymone says

    I made this for christmas and it was a hit! I ended up having to make an additional batch of cornbread muffins because samplers kept taking them. I think i’ve tried a good 80% of your recipes and they are always successful. I really hope you do a full spread cookbook or a cooking videos. My god, dont let you open a restaurant.


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