Grandma's Cornbread Dressing Stuffed Turkey {A whole baked turkey cooked in a pan of cornbread dressing}

Grandma's Cornbread Dressing Stuffed Turkey,  a whole baked turkey cooked in a pan of cornbread dressing.  The best turkey and dressing you will ever eat.  And don't forget the giblet gravy!

This is my Mother in law, Betty's recipe.  When I came into the family, I was not use to eating turkey stuffed with cornbread dressing.  I grew up eating the turkey baked separately from the dressing.  It did not take me long to get used to eating the turkey and dressing stuffed.

I still enjoyed eating my Mother's recipe, but I have to say my Mother in law's won me over to hers being the best.  

They basically cooked their turkeys the same and used the broth to make the dressing, very straightforward ingredients.  Now, the dressing is a different story.  

Betty made sweet cornbread with a cup of flour and cup of cornmeal and Mother made buttermilk cornbread with two cups of cornmeal and three tablespoons of flour, and with no sugar.  In the dressing, Betty used more light bread and added milk.  Mother's was more cornbread and less light bread and no milk.  

There are some more differences, but I will let you see them in the recipe.   

There is a lot of skepticism about stuffing the turkey versus not stuffing the turkey.   One of the skepticism is that the turkey will not be cooked all the way through, but Betty had an easy, foolproof method to solve that.

Betty always completely cooked the turkey before stuffing it into the uncooked cornbread dressing and then cooking the cornbread dressing with the turkey stuffed in it until it was completely done.  Genius!    She cooked her turkey and dressing like this ever since she cooked her first turkey in the 40's.  

The turkey is amazing, moist rich in flavor from the dressing and the dressing is moist rich in flavor from the turkey.  

We can not get enough of this dressing when Thanksgiving rolls around, but I have been known to cook turkey and dressing all throughout the year.  Enjoy!

Yield: 10-12

Grandma's Cornbread Dressing Stuffed Turkey

A whole baked turkey cooked in a pan of cornbread dressing. The best turkey and dressing you will ever eat. And don't forget the giblet gravy!


  • 1 roll aluminum foil
  • 1 whole 15-20 lbs. turkey
  • a liberal amount of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup butter (2 stick butter)
  • 4-8 cups water
Cornbread Dressing
  • 6-8 cups turkey broth
  • 1 pan + 1/2 pan cornbread
  • 8 slices white bread (toasted on both sides)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4-6 whole eggs
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons ground sage
Giblet Gravy
  • 2 cups reserved turkey broth
  • cooked giblets and neck from baked turkey (chopped and diced)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-4 boiled eggs


  1. These two steps are essential to do before handling the turkey.
    A. Line a big deep roaster (however size your turkey will fit in) pan going crosswise with heavy duty aluminum foil, making sure that it is tuck down in around the sides of the roaster and hanging off considerably to wrap the turkey once it is in the roaster.  Repeat the same going lengthwise;  then set it aside.
    B. Set on the counter ready to reach:   1) your salt and pepper containers, 2) any herbs that are going in, and 3) have the butter opened and set on the paper wrapper ready to use.  To keep from contaminating the salt and pepper containers, I  wrap them with paper towels, and put a rubber band around each of them and use them this way until I am through handling the turkey.  After I am through handling the turkey, I discard the paper towel and rubber band.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  The method of preparing the turkey to bake is the same whether you have a 10 lb. Turkey or a 22 lb. Turkey.  Remove and wash giblets from vent and neck of the turkey; set them aside.  Wash turkey inside the cavity and outside really good and pat dry.
  3. Sprinkle inside and on the back side (not the breast side yet) of the turkey liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Set the turkey backside down in the roasting pan lined with foil.  Insert one stick of butter in the cavity of the turkey.  
  5. Arrange the giblets (neck, gizzard, heart, and liver) around the turkey in the bottom of the lined roaster.  I usually find there is more room around the neck   Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on the top and sides of the turkey.
  6. Pull the second layer (the one that is lengthwise) of the foil up and around the turkey.  Pull the first layer (the one that is crosswise) of foil up together and roll down sealing the turnkey.  Gently pat the foil tight around the turkey.
  7. Pour the water around the outside of the foil in the roasting pan.  Depending on what size your turkey is is how much water you will use.  For a 20 lb. Turkey, I use 4-6 cups of water. The water needs to come up half way in the pan.  Only half way.
  8. Place in the oven and bake until the meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey is 165 degrees.   It usually takes 5-6 hours for a 20 lb. Turkey.  One hour before the turkey is done open the foil and pull away from the turkey and rub 1 stick of butter over the breast and around the legs until all is melted and bake for the remaining hour to get the golden brown color.
  9. Remove from the oven and let sit 30 minutes.  Remove the giblets and reserve for the giblet gravy.  Lift the turkey out of the roasting pan and place on a serving platter.  Let rest before placing in the cornbread dressing mixture.  
  10. Reserve 2 cups turkey broth for giblet gravy.   Leave remaining turkey broth in the roasting pan for the cornbread dressing.
Cornbread Dressing
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Crumble the cornbread over the reserved turkey broth in the same pan the Turkey is cooked in and mix with a large spoon or potato masher.
  3. Add celery and onion mixture; stir some more.  Add milk and eggs; stir well until eggs are mixed.  Add salt and pepper,  and sage; stir well until all is mixed.
  4. Place baked turkey in the middle of the roasting pan gently in the cornbread dressing mixture, pushing down gently and positioning the turkey in the roaster.   Spoon spoonfuls of the cornbread dressing mixture on top and all around the turkey.  Once the turkey has been coated with the cornbread dressing mixture, it is ready to be bake.
  5. Bake until the meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey is 165 degrees.  It usually takes one and one-half hours and is golden brown or longer if needed.
Giblet Gravy
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the turkey broth to boiling.
  2. In a small bowl or jar with lid, whisk together (or shake together if using jar and lid) cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the boiling broth, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add milk, stirring constantly.  Remember, DO NOT BOIL MIXTURE after you add the milk  Add giblets and stir until well blended.  Add salt and pepper to taste and stir until creamy and smooth.  
  4. Just before serving add sliced eggs.

Grandma's Cornbread Dressing Stuffed Turkey

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  1. We were never used to stuff turkey but have seen it. However, I have never seen it done like this. I am more cornmeal no sugar type person myself. Even though my mother put sugar in everything I never do mine.

    Charlotte Moore

    1. It really is amazing...thank you for stopping by and welcome to CWK!

  2. This is an amazing recipe! I have never seen anything like it and I am fascinated. Thank you for sharing and thanks to your Mother-in-law, Betty. It looks wonderful.


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