“Dirty” Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Note:  this post made possible by my friends at Johnsonville® Sausage, but all recipes and thoughts are my own.

There are a lot of people who think Southern-style dressing and stuffing are interchangeable, but they are absolutely not.  Stuffing, so named because it was stuffed into a turkey, has morphed into a baked dish (for food safety and not overcooking a turkey, please don’t stuff one.)  However, even though “dressing” and “stuffing” are generally baked separately from the turkey now, they still are different.  This recipe for Dirty Spicy Sausage and Cornbread Dressing combines the best of both versions.  It’s “dirty” as a nod to the cajun “Dirty Rice” dish.  The depth of flavor from cajun flavors, hot Italian sausage, and the moistness of Southern dressing make an irresistible combination, and I think you’ll love it!

The Difference between Southern Dressing and Stuffing

Stuffing generally has more cubed white bread, is less moist, and maintains more individual pieces in the dish.  Dressing is made with all or almost all cornbread, is more moist, and has a more homogenous appearance.  I grew up on dressing, and I simply can’t understand the preference for stuffing when a nice, sage-laden dressing is an option.  In this Grilled Spicy Sausage and Cornbread Dressing recipe, I take it up another notch by adding some Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage and spicy cajun seasoning to bring the flavor.  If you are a fan of fried turkeys, this is the absolutely perfect accompaniment!

The basis of Southern Dressing

Sausage stuffing is a pretty common recipe, but mixing it with southern-style dressing is fairly unusual.  However, I think if you try this you’ll love it.  This recipe brings the spiciness of the hot Italian sausage and cajun seasoning, plus the moisture and sage-forward flavor of a Southern dressing.  For the cornbread, you can either buy some or make it yourself.  Either way, you want it a bit dry.  Either make a day ahead and let it sit out lightly covered to dry some, or open up your purchased cornbread a day ahead to dry some.  I much prefer to make my own from scratch, as most store-bought or mix-made corn bread is sweet.  While I enjoy sweet cornbread occasionally, for dressing you want a more neutral flavor.

A good Southern Dressing has a “cracked” top

Putting Together the Dirty Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

After your cornbread prep, this is really an easy recipe.  First, brown the sausage.  If you’re using links, remove the casings and brown while breaking it up.  If you’re using ground sausage, you can simply brown it.  After browning, put on a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.  From then on, it’s easy peasy.

In a large mixing bowl, add the crumbled cornbread, torn white bread, sausage, celery, onions, sage, and seasonings.  Then add the chicken stock.   For 8 cups of cornbread, I use 6-7 cups of chicken stock.  You want this really wet.  Mix well, taste for seasonings, then put in a large casserole to cook.

Dressing on the Grill for Extra Flavor!

For the extra flavor bomb for this recipe, I cooked it on a grill.  You’ll get a hint of smoky goodness to add to the amazing sausage and cajun flavor.  I make this totally on the grill, using the side burner to brown the sausage before assembling.  For presentation, wrap the casserole dish in foil before placing on the grill.  This will keep the smoke or grill grates from staining your ceramic dish.  I like running my grill hot, 325 to 350 degrees, to cook this dish. It’s amazing with fruitwood smoke in your grill to give that extra hint of goodness.

As always, I hope you enjoy.  Now get out there and grill!

Like this recipe?  Check out my recipe for Spicy Sausage and Butternut Casserole

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Grilled Spicy Sausage and Cornbread Dressing


This recipe for Grilled Spicy Sausage and Cornbread Dressing combines the best of Sausage-stuffing recipes and Southern Dressing recipes.  Plus, cooking it on the grill frees up space in the kitchen and adds some amazing smoky nuance to your dish.  Perfect for fried or smoked turkeys!



1 pound fresh Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage, browned and drained

8 cups lightly crumbled cornbread

4 pieces torn white bread

68 cups low sodium chicken stock

3 stalks celery, finely diced

2 medium yellow onions, finely diced

1 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS rubbed sage

1.5 TBS cajun seasoning

Salt and pepper


Preheat smoker or grill to 325 to 350 degrees

To a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients except chicken stock.  Add in chicken stock 2 cups at a time, stirring while adding.  Keep adding stock until mixture is very wet.

Place in a large casserole dish.  Wrap outside of dish with aluminum foil.  Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until set and browned on top.  Remove foil, and serve.