Cornbread Stuffing for the first-time Thanksgiving host or Baked Oyster Dressing for the pro

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Save on oven space with this slow cooker Cornbread Stuffing

An overwhelming part of Thanksgiving dinner for first-timers is timing your dishes right so everything can be served warm. In my family, that meant dedicating some oven space to random dishes so they keep hot. This cornbread stuffing takes that stress away for one dish, because it comes together in a slow cooker.

We don’t need to dive into the stuffing vs. dressing debate– I grew up calling it stuffing even though we never stuffed it in the bird, and I’ll go to the grave calling it stuffing and refusing to stuff it in the bird. In fact, the USDA recommends cooking stuffing separately in a casserole.

This cornbread stuffing is a great choice for first-time hosts. You don’t need to dedicate oven space or time to it, you can start the prep the night before and you dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker at once so you can focus on other dishes.

Make your cornbread ahead of time so it can sit out overnight with the white bread. If you use a boxed cornbread mix, be prepared for the stuffing to end up sweeter than expected. Boxed mixes are inexpensive, plentiful at grocery stores and for many of us, they lend a nostalgic taste to Thanksgiving.

If sweet cornbread is sacrilege in your house, you can make a batch from scratch. There are plenty of medium- to coarse-grind cornmeal options that have quick and simple recipes printed on their packaging.

Splurge on the classic Thanksgiving side with Emeril’s Baked Oyster Stuffing

If you want your stuffing to stand apart from the crowd, this coastal and Southern favorite is an elegant and flavorful way to go.

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s recipe expands the vegetables you may expect in stuffing to include the “holy trinity” of Cajun cuisine: onions, bell peppers and celery. It’s a deeply aromatic mixture and helps bring some unique vegetal flavor thanks to the addition of bell pepper.

Drain your oysters, reserving some of the oyster liquor to add back into the cooked vegetable and bread mixture and help bind your stuffing together. Combine the vegetable and bread mixture with the oysters, along with ⅓ cup of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and transfer into a greased baking dish.

Bake the stuffing for at least one hour, or until golden brown.

Know where you’re getting your oysters from if this is your first time making oyster stuffing. Gulf Coast oysters have a mild, buttery flavor without being overly briny, thanks to the freshwater pouring into their environment from the Mississippi River. Oysters from the East Coast have a sharper, briny profile with an abundance of minerality, while West Coast oysters tend to skew sweeter.

This recipe is a great excuse to venture out to a fishmonger for fresh seafood. They can easily point you in the right direction.