As I began to contemplate my holiday menu, I thought about my many friends who have adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. I wondered what they would do instead of a traditional dressing made with bread. In their honor, here is my savory solution – a gluten-free cornbread dressing made with lots of aromatic vegetables and sweet dried cranberries. Everyone will eat well, and your gluten-free family members and guests will be both happy and relieved that they can enjoy.
Traditional bread-based dressing is a wonderful side dish for turkey, ham, and roast pork or beef. But if you have discovered that you must follow, or feel better, on a gluten-free diet, that tradition doesn’t work. Gluten-free cornbread dressing is a terrific solution. Filled with lots of aromatic vegetables, herbs and sweet dried cranberries to accompany the dried cornbread cubes, this dressing has great flavor and texture. Start with homemade gluten-free cornbread.
Last week I posted the recipe for my gluten-free cornbread. This is the basis for the dressing. You can make it up to two days ahead. After baking and cooling, cut the cornbread into small cubes and allow the cubes to dry for about 24 hours uncovered. Then place in an airtight container until ready to make the dressing.
To save time, you can even prep your vegetables a day ahead. Chop and mix together the leek, celery, fennel, onion and keep refrigerated until you want to prepare the dressing recipe. I make my dressing barely moist. If you prefer a wet or very moist dressing, increase your liquid a bit. I use milk. You can use almond milk or broth (vegetable, chicken, or turkey).
The day of your dinner, complete the dressing recipe and bake for a total of about 50-60 minutes. If you like a browned crisp top, take the foil off the last few minutes. Keep warm until serving time. Leftovers are good the next day and even work for breakfast with scrambled eggs.
Notes – Before you make this recipe, read my post and the recipe for gluten-free cornbread.
Cornbread Cranberry Dressing (Gluten-Free)
- 1 loaf of gluten-free cornbread (or regular cornbread)
- 1 cup chopped leek
- 3/4 cup chopped onion (1/2 medium)
- 2 large celery ribs, chopped fine
- 1 cup chopped fennel (sometimes called anise)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup or 2 ounces (60 grams) dried cranberries (or more if you prefer a wet dressing)
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2-3 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk (regular or alternative)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Start a day or two ahead by baking the gluten-free cornbread. When the cornbread has cooled completely, cut it into slices about 1/2″ wide, the cut it into small cubes. Place the cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and allow the cornbread cubes to air dry, uncovered, for about 12 hours. Place dried cubes in an air tight container and set aside until you are ready to finish the dressing. Alternatively you can oven-dry them at 300° for about 40 minutes.
- In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the leek, onion, celery and fennel and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté another 1 minute. Add salt and pepper.
- Add the dried cornbread cubes and mix in gently. Add the cranberries, parsley, thyme, and the beaten egg and milk. Mix gently.
- Spoon dressing into a 3 quart casserole or gratin dish. Cover with foil. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes for a golden top if desired (but it’s great without for a more moist dressing).
Vegetable Prep Notes
- For leek: Trim the root end and dark top greens off the leek. Split the leek lengthwise in half. Wash under cold running water to clean any sand or dirt. Cut the halves in half again and chop crosswise into think strips.
- For fennel: trim ribs off of the bulb and discard. Cut a thin slice off of the bottom root end. Cut the bulb in half, then each half into thin slices. Chop the slices into small pieces.
The pan I use is a 6 quart All Clad stainless steel saute pan. It’s a handy size for cooking larger quantities without crowding.
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