Stuffing or dressing are one and the same; the term stuffing is favored by New Englanders, while dressing is the word most often used by those in the South. The age-old tradition of filling a turkey with stuffing has largely fallen out of favor because of the inconvenience of the process and the risk of food-borne illness. Cooking stuffing in a casserole dish sometimes leaves it too dry, however. A slow cooker works efficiently to cook stuffing or dressing. Cornbread stuffing comes out moist and flavorful, and the process leaves your oven free for other dishes. For groups of eight or less, use a medium slow cooker and use about 2 cups of cornbread. Double the recipe and use a large slow cooker for big groups.
Heat oil or melt butter in a large saucepan. Add diced onions and celery and saute until tender and translucent. Add any meat, if using, and cook. Raw meat must be cooked ahead of time because it won't cook quickly enough in the slow cooker to prevent bacterial growth.
Dump dry cornbread cubes into a large bowl. If the cornbread cubes are still moist, toast them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 20 minutes, or until they're dry.
Stir the melted butter, onions and celery into the cubed bread, along with any meat, dried fruit, nuts or other ingredients. If you like beaten egg in your stuffing, add it along with any seasonings.
Pour chicken broth over the stuffing and mix until the cornbread is thoroughly moistened. Cornbread stuffing cooked in a slow cooker is naturally denser and moister than stuffing cooked in a casserole dish. If you prefer a drier stuffing, add slightly less liquid.
Coat the inside of your slow cooker with butter, oil or non-stick cooking spray. Pour the stuffing into the slow cooker. Don't pack it down; instead, place it lightly in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook the stuffing on high for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook an additional three to four hours, or until the dressing is hot and a thermometer inserted in the middle of the stuffing registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook; Beth Hensperger, et al.
- Six Sisters' Stuff: Slow Cooker Stuffing Recipe
- USDA: Leftovers and Food Safety
- History.Com: Stuffing, Dressing and Filling: Thanksgiving Across America
- Cornbread stuffing can become mushy if you add too much liquid or cook it too long. Mix cornbread cubes with other types of dried bread for a drier stuffing.
- Refrigerate any leftover stuffing within two hours of serving it. Wrap it or place it in a covered container and store it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Reheat it in the microwave or oven to 165 degrees and use it within three to four days.
Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."