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This bacon cranberry cornbread stuffing will have everyone at your Thanksgiving table going back for thirds! A gluten free cornbread base is combined with flavorful herbs, studded with salty bacon, tart cranberries, and topped with sweet honey butter pecans for a decadent side dish.
We are about to knock your Thanksgiving socks off with this Bacon Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, and we aren’t sorry about it one bit! This is the most DELICIOUS spin on a traditional turkey day side that we’ve ever dreamt up, and it met all our expectations and then some. We take a slightly honey sweetened gluten-free cornbread base (thank you Mama Garcia!), and jazz it up with a bit of tart sweetness from cranberries, crispy, salty bacon, and a picture-perfect crust topping of honey butter pecans.
If you haven’t noticed by now, we love to drop some fun knowledge bombs about the foods we create here at Fed + Fit. Cooking and creating delicious, healthy meals is so much fun, but knowing a little bit of history behind these foods makes the process so much more interesting! So let’s learn about stuffing! Stuffing, dressing, filling – there are so many monikers for this must-have turkey side, that it can get a a little confusing. They’re all essentially the same thing, but depending on where you’re from, you may call it something different around your dinner table! While we don’t know whether or not the pilgrims actually had stuffing at their dinner, by all accounts, it’s highly likely that there might have been some sort of wild-rice based side served. The first real, documented accounts of a stuffing-type side at Thanksgiving was in the early to mid-1800s, with the stuffing literally being cooked and prepared INSIDE of the bird (thus the name!). From there, the side dish has evolved to become it’s own attraction, sometimes still cooked inside the turkey, or cooked and served in a casserole style pan, depending on preference.
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Chances are, you’ve probably at some point in your life consumed that old secret family recipe – Stovetop Stuffing! The 1970s made this boxed, just add water mix wildly popular, and easily accessible to most families. While the ingredients may leave much to be desired, this is the texture and flavor that so many of us associate with our stuffing needs! Our Bacon Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing delivers on that moist, fluffy texture, but amps up the flavor and knocks the boxed options out of the park.
With a few tweaks its easy to make stuffing gluten-free and tummy friendly. First up, we make the cornbread that we’ll be using for the base gluten free. We use this corn meal and this gluten-free flour to make our tried and true base, bake it, then cool it. While the cornbread is baking, we also fry up some thick-cut bacon, saute some stuffing veggie staples like onion and celery, and get our cranberries ready to go for mixing. Once the bread cools, it gets crumbled, mixed together with our add-ons and some high quality broth, then baked AGAIN for the perfect crust. While the stuffing is baking, make sure to prepare the honey butter pecans, which make this dish so unique! Your guests will LOVE this Bacon Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing as the PERFECT spin on tradition, while still being the side dish you know and love. If you’re looking to offer a variety of choices for your stuffing option, don’t miss these other Fed + Fit favorites like our Old-Fashioned Gluten-Free Stuffing, or our Sweet Potato Cranberry Stuffing (totally grain-free). So many options for your family table, we can’t wait to see what you go with!
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For the cornbread base:
- 1 cup gluten-free corn meal
- 1 cup gluten-free flour
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea-salt
- 1 cup milk or coconut milk
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted but room temp
For the stuffing mixture:
- 10 ounces bacon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion diced
- 6 stalks celery diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1-2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
For the honey butter pecans:
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
For the cornbread base:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients.
- Pour in buttered (or oiled) cast iron skillet or 8-9” cake pan.
- Bake 30 minutes – check with toothpicks after 20 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpick is clean. Some ovens are hotter than others, so baking time may vary.
For the stuffing mixture:
- In a large pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Then remove the bacon and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Roughly chop the bacon, then set aside.
- Add butter to the pan, then cook the onion, celery, and garlic until soft.
- In a large mixing bowl, break up the already baked and cooled cornbread into small chunks, then stir in the onion mixture, chopped bacon, broth, eggs, cranberries, and seasonings (except for parsley).
- Put the stuffing mixture back into a your desired baking dish in an even layer (see notes for options).
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
- While the stuffing is baking, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the honey and butter, then toss to coat the pecans. Spread the pecans on top of the stuffing and return to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley and serve!
OMG this looks fantastic and so unique! We have a Friendsgiving this weekend- I can’t wait to give this a shot. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Katherine Lewis says
Any tips on prepping or making this ahead? Would the cornbread improve with a day of drying out?
Amber Goulden says
Hey Katherine! So what we’ve always had luck with in my house is assembling the stuffing the day before (minus pecans) then cooking day-of. You can also bake it a day ahead, minus pecans again, then rewarm it day up with the pecans on top (I’d say 20-30 minutes at 350)!
Jessica Shopoff says
Wow! I will never again make regular stuffing for Thanksgiving. We have had this for two years in a row now, once gluten free and once with regular cornbread, and everybody raves about it. Sooooo delicious!
Brandi Schilhab says
So awesome, Jessica!! Thanks for sharing this with us!
Kelly Bumgardner says
Hi! Could you half this recipe? If so, what changed should be made?
Brandi Schilhab says
I’d keep the oven temp the same and just start with 20 minutes of cooking time! If it needs more once that’s up, add 5-10 minutes more until a toothpick comes out clean!