Jalapeño Cornbread & Biscuit Stuffing

I remember one year when I was living out in California, taking meager solace in the sea & more substantial solace in a dear, brilliant neuroscientist shortly after my divorce, I caught the red-eye back home for Thanksgiving. Just for Thanksgiving. I remember walking in the front door. It smelled wonderful, and all I remember, truly, is my mother smiling. She was, against all reason at the time, happy to see me. I wasn’t in good shape. But there everything was, just as it had always been. My father was making his famed deviled eggs, my mother had the much revered “Coca-Cola butt ham” & her pumpkin pies ready to go, and we packed it all up in a wicker picnic basket and drove up Lookout Mountain to my Aunt Brenda & Uncle Jim’s house, for their house is the province of the feast. My Aunt Brenda is the one who orchestrates the affair—she makes the dressing & smokes a turkey out on the deck in their little Weber (it’s a skill). She also makes all manner of other treats—pecan pie & gravy not the least among them. There are usually no less than 5 pies at our Thanksgiving: buttermilk, pecan, chocolate, pumpkin, and usually something else…apple? I don’t know. I lose count. So much pie. Glorious.

When I was approached by Grains For Your Brain, a resource provided by the Grains Food Foundation that arms you with the science behind nutrition and information about how the food we eat affect our brains, about introducing you all to their nutritional resources, it was a no brainer (I’m sorry, but that pun was intended). Because there are few things I’m more for than carbohydrates and neuroscience. I couldn’t think of a better way to do so than with a Thanksgiving dressing that features two of my favorite uses of grains: cornbread and buttermilk biscuits. I’m one of those people that finds that the more I understand about the intricate dance between what I take into my body and how I think and feel, the more awe I experience each day & the more I’m inspired to make good decisions about what I eat as well as not feel guilty about foods that some factions of our culture would have me believe are bad (I love you, bread!). I can’t think of a better time than Thanksgiving to delve into knowing more about the relationship between the food I eat and the meaty, electric, ghostly mechanism that is my brain. I am immensely grateful for that amazing process. How fortunate we are that our bodies can run on dressing! Among, of course, other things too.

Jalapeño Cornbread & Biscuit Stuffing

Jalapeño Cornbread & Biscuit Stuffing

Other than my obvious affinity for the pies there are only two other things I really care about on Thanksgiving: dressing & deviled eggs. You can change up tradition all you want; lord knows it’s hard for me to leave well enough alone when it comes to the culinary. But I will not abide a Thanksgiving without dressing & deviled eggs. I can make a mean deviled egg. But I’d never made dressing before. So, of course, I called my Aunt Brenda (who is to this day one of my main culinary consultants & the only other “real” cook in our family). Torn out of a Bon Appetit in 1980, this is the dressing Brenda makes, the one I eat every year. It’s moist and flavorful, not dry and bland like lesser dressings tend to be. It’s important to me to learn the recipes from my family while they’re still with me; I don’t want to ever repeat the experience of losing so many  recipes when I lost my grandmother. Because they’re more than recipes, they’re memories and traditions. They’re the spells of our womenfolk. And they are precious.

Jalapeño Cornbread & Biscuit Stuffing

Jalapeño Cornbread & Biscuit Stuffing

So now, when it comes my turn to carry the torch, I’ll be able to do so. Of course, I’ve made a few tweaks. I added a little buttermilk (due to a pathological need to add buttermilk to everything? Also, I self-describe using the word pathological a little too often…), and I changed onion to shallot because I’m a shallot fiend and threw in a fresh jalapeño,  and I also added a hit of apple cider vinegar and sugar because I think those two things really brighten it up. They make it a little more than a side, something that could stand on it’s own. Proud and homely in a bowl. Besides, I think stuffing should be integrated into non-Thanksgiving meals as well. I’m already imagining the possibilities of different birds, herbs, spices, and vegetables. Also note, you can omit the gizzards & livers, but they add a special richness that I love.

I realize that dressing is one of those truly personal recipes. It’s because it is by it’s very nature a family recipe. It’s embedded in the one holiday that is devoted to the thing I love most: gathering around the table with people dear to you and partaking in wonder that is preparing edibles yielded by the earth—by wind and rain and sun—and eating them in order that we may blink and sigh. Shuffle our feet and fold our hands. Twirl a strand of hair around our finger. Everything we do is fueled by electrical impulses shooting through our bodies like stars. And that is fueled by the air we breath, the water we drink, and, of course, by the food we eat.

Jalapeño Cornbread & Biscuit Stuffing


Jalapeño Cornbread & Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 8-9 cups of stuffing, enough for a 17-20 lb bird


  • 7 cups crumbled Jalapeño Cornbread (1 full recipe below)
  • 4 cups cubes of buttermilk biscuits (recipe below)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups finely chopped shallots (about 8 smallish ones)
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded & minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery, save leaved for garnish if there are any
  • Turkey gizzard, liver, and heart OR 2-3 chicken livers, chopped in a blender (not a paste but not big chunks) (optional but trust me!)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to season
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to taste
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2-1 cup turkey or chicken stock (enough to make it quite moist but not wet)


  1. Combine cornbread, biscuits, and chopped egg in a large bowl and toss lightly to mix well. Set aside
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened. Add green pepper and celery and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. If using, add the gizzard, liver, and heart or chicken livers and sauté just until they lose their raw color. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.
  3. Add the buttermilk, cider vinegar, and sugar to the cooled cooked mixture, and then add that to the cornbread mixture and gently blend well. Stir in eggs. Blend in enough broth to moisten lightly, starting with half a cup and increasing if needed. You want it very moist but not "wet".
  4. At this point it can be tightly wrapped and frozen up to a week or refrigerated for up to 2 days. Before continuing with the recipe make sure to bring stuffing to room temperature.
  5. Heat oven to 350°F.
  6. To bake outside the turkey, place stuffing in a 9 x 13" baking dish. Place that dish in a larger, high sided baking dish like a roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with water so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the stuffing dish. Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. To bake inside the turkey, simply stuff the clean turkey and cook the turkey as you intended. Try it smoked like my Aunt Brenda & Uncle Jim do! This makes enough to stuff a 17-20 lb bird.


Do not put warm stuffing in a cold bird unless you intend to roast it right away. The warm stuffing sitting in the bird for an extended period of time could lead to food born illness.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits


  • 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) of butter (cold)
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Heat oven to 450°F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt well.
  3. Cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until no pieces larger than a pea remain. You do want chunks, but no huge pieces. Don't over work it.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk to just combine. Don't over stir.
  5. Grease a baking sheet and then plop the biscuits on by the spoonful, flattening them out slightly if you want.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool. Use in the recipe above. You will probably have 1-2 extra. So, you know, eat those.
Jalapeño Cornbread


  • 1 1/4 cup (175 g) cornmeal
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda, dissolved in a bit of water


  1. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Grease a cast iron skillet with butter and place in the oven while it heats.
  3. Mix the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Cut in the fat with your fingers or two knives, mixing well until you have a sandy texture.
  5. Toss in the cheese & peppers.
  6. Combine the eggs and the buttermilk, add to the dry ingredients, and mix to combine well. Add the baking soda and stir to combine.
  7. Pour the mixture into the hot skillet and bake for 20 minutes. Invert onto a plate.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, and I was compensated for my participation. The opinions, stories, recipes, and ramblings are, naturally, all my own.

47 Responses to Jalapeño Cornbread & Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing

  1. Rebekka says:

    This is beautiful and wonderful and perfect. Gah, dressing! I have eaten my aunt’s oyster dressing every Thanksgiving I can remember (made with torn up baguettes and hot sauce…you would love it). If I’m not with her, I make it. So right on.

  2. Beautiful post, and the thought of stuffing made with biscuits will haunt me until I try it for myself!

  3. Cynthia says:

    In our house it was always called “stuffing” and it was – still is – my absolute favorite thing on the Thanksgiving table and -in my mind – the one thing that must be there if it’s Thanksgiving (well, okay, maybe pies too…). Our roots are in New England and Mom always made her stuffing with white bread, celery, sage and sausage. But somewhere in my twenties I stumbled onto a recipe for corn bread stuffing and it has been the recipe I return to over and over (corn bread, apples, chestnuts…). I can smell the warm cornbread when I look at these photos. And to add biscuits to the mix? Oh my.

  4. Rikki says:

    Dare I say this very well may be one of my favorite foods you have photographed, not so much for the food (although I’ll get to that), but most for the display, light, and props. As if a garden, painting, aesthetically displayed food, unique kitchen utensils, and photography all came together in one holy moment to showcase the birth of this new medium, showcase, and display all in one. As well, of all the items to have been passed down in my family, I posses the only heirloom family recipes, but no other family history, and of all things missing, would be a dressing. A dressing is something I’ve never much cared for, in light of its all too unique ways to be made, most of which, I simply can’t tell what that is in there. No thanks. I’ll be sure to try this one and share what I feel confident will be a new and undying love for dressing and will indeed make for more days than just this one.

  5. Linda says:

    This year, is the first i try an American thanksgiving evening! We always eat turkey back home in sweden, but thats just an november tradition. This year we´re celebrating at some friends in Norway, where i live, and the malefriend there si from Tuscon.
    Going to be amazing. We all going to bring some, so i thought i suprise him withsomething homecooked, american way. Thank you so much for theese recepies! I tlooks lovely!

  6. Beth says:

    What a lovely post. Those family recipes represent much more than food, and you’re so wise to collect as many as possible while you can.

    P.S. I can’t imagine having so many pies that I would forget about the apple pie.

  7. Beth,
    I enjoyed reading your story of family shared recipes! You know that gets me at the heart. Your writing in this piece is lovely, vulnerable and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your gifts, the gifts that helped you create beauty in this mess of a world, with the rest of us. You are a gem!

  8. Quyen says:

    Totally stealing this idea for thanksgiving, but will change it up a bit and use cornbread instead. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. What a stunning post Beth. <3 this..one of my favorites.

  10. Sherry says:

    I am working on a collection of recipes of my dearly departed mother-in-law and I am totally using this excerpt of yours to describe family recipes – “It’s because it is by it’s very nature a family recipe. It’s embedded in the one holiday that is devoted to the thing I love most: gathering around the table with people dear to you and partaking in wonder that is preparing edibles yielded by the earth—by wind and rain and sun—and eating them in order that we may blink and sigh. Shuffle our feet and fold our hands. Twirl a strand of hair around our finger. Everything we do is fueled by electrical impulses shooting through our bodies like stars. And that is fueled by the air we breath, the water we drink, and, of course, by the food we eat.” I will be sure and give you the credit. Thank you!!!

  11. phi says:

    We used to make a whole batch of cornbread just for Thanksgiving stuffing… and then eat a little of it as you go along. I’m actually shocked when I see stuffing made without it.

    Lovely story, you & your mom…it’s always so nice to see writers open up about their familial history. It gives you a sense of where they are coming from.

  12. Buttermilk biscuits and jalepeno cornbread?! Sweet goodness!! This looks awesome!

  13. jensen says:

    I’ve never been much of a dressing fan, but this, this I want to go make RIGHT NOW.

    (also, yay for a maybe book *fingers crossed*)

  14. kim says:

    first of all, your site is gorgeous! second of all, i’d love to try this!

    i’m giving away a kitchenaid mixer on my blog! i’d love it if you came by and said hi!:

  15. Cintia says:

    I love that light Brett and is a very lovely story, thank you for sharing.

  16. The typography nerd in me feels it’s necessary to comment that the ampersands on your body text font are just too beautiful… Anyway, so is this stuffing! Such a unique savoury twist with the boiled eggs and biscuits. Talk about capturing the spirit of Thanksgiving with this post; thanks for a lovely read!

  17. This is completely new to me, must try for sure. Photography and styling stunning as always!

  18. I love this post, Beth! The recipe sounds amazing and even though I’m more than a little terrified to try cooking with livers or gizzards but you’ve sold me on the fact that I need to at least try! I love what you wrote about gathering as a family too. I can’t wait to gather with mine next week. Oh and AMEN to not jumping on the all-grains-are-evil bandwagon! Everything in moderation; a healthy diet and lifestyle is all about balance, amiright?

  19. Estuaire | says:

    […] fainted at the thought of cornbread+biscuit stuffing.  Also, I want to move to Tennessee/see the world through Beth’s lens. […]

  20. Andi says:

    This looks amazing!

  21. Ileana says:

    This looks delicious. I am with you on serving dressing/stuffing at meals beyond Thanksgiving. It’s too good!

    Also, I need to get with my abuelita and get her recipes for arroz aguado and sopa de frijoles.

  22. […] jalapeño cornbread and buttermilk biscuit stuffing. […]

  23. EMS says:

    WOAH- this is gorgeous! &… were you on MasterChef?

  24. […] jalapeño cornbread and buttermilk biscuit stuffing. […]

  25. Joy says:

    Sounds fantastic. Your background and story to where you are today is simply fascinating. Can’t wait for Thanksgiving this year!

  26. Angela Brown says:

    Beautiful photographs! I haven’t done anything with cornbread in ages — this is a great idea for our Thanksgiving menu. Thanks for sharing :)

  27. Sarah says:

    What fat, and how much (for the cornbread recipe)?

  28. […] there are a lot of ingredients in this jalapeno cornbread and buttermilk biscuit stuffing, and you’ll have to make two other recipes before you can even start on the stuffing itself, […]

  29. Skye says:

    Stuffing is one of my most favourite things. Every year my mother makes the most wonderful sausage, sage and chestnut stuffing with chunks of ciabatta bread at Christmas. I eat it once a year and crave it all year round. This looks amazing though – I feel like I have to try it…

  30. Laura says:

    Quick question – how many would you say this serves roughly? We have about 20 people coming to Thanksgiving. Should we make 2?

  31. Ryan says:

    Beth, I knew immediately, viscerally, while taking in your post and pictures – I wanted this to accompany our dinner this year. Fried turkey has been my dad’s go-to for years, and it’s been my regular contribution to our ever-eclectic expat Thanksgiving in San Juan the last few years, Actually, this year there were two dinners – we welcomed a couple from Hawaii into our fold earlier this year, and they organized a pit BBQ on the beach, slow-roasting pig and turkey under palm leaves on the beach, starting at 4 am Thursday. We were expecting an old friend of the island to arrive from California around midnight, so I decided the fried bird should wait for “2nd Thanksgiving” well after the sun went down and our first dinner was reduced to scraps. My girlfriend was hesitant, after a long day of prepping and indulging in our friends’ first dinner, to help me throw together a 2nd. But we had made the cornbread and the biscuits earlier, so there wasn’t much left to do, and she agreed (a couple of cocktails may have sweetened the deal). So we threw her Caribbean sweet potato mash in the oven to warm, heated up the skillet and began sauteing aromatics, while I pulled the bird from its spicy brine to dry, and heated up the fryer…

    Our humble “2nd Thanksgiving” was not only loved and appreciated by our late-night guests, but by everyone who had stuck around from the BBQ earlier (naturally, it had become an after-party of sorts, at this point). The bird was a hit, as always, and my first time brining paid off incredibly – but it was your aunt’s recipe that stole the show. One of my neighbors enthusiastically kissed my girlfriend (in front of his own!) because he loved the dish so much; the Hawaiian couple contemplated divorce as the husband decided he needed to marry whoever came up with such a sinfully good stuffing. It was everyone’s request for leftovers. (So, yes, Laura – I hope you made two!)

    Thank you again for sharing. I directed everyone who asked to your beautiful site, as simply sharing the recipe doesn’t cut it. Love what you do!

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  34. […] Jalapeno Cornbread and Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing by Local Milk Having tried many types of stuffing (or dressing, as we call it!) my favorites will always and forever be the ones with a biscuit and cornbread base. […]

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