Cornbread Stuffing, but Make It Taco

October 29, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Garland Prop Stylist: Molly Fitzsimons Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

This stuffing is for all my Taco Bell lovers out there. Cornbread and ground turkey (or beef, pork, or even crumbled tofu) is showered in my patented Bell seasoning blend. The stuffing is baked until browned and served with all the fixins: sour cream, shredded lettuce, out-of-season diced tomatoes, and of course, cold shredded cheese. You can make a meal out of just this dish, or show it off at Thanksgiving.

My stuffing formula is simple: First, make crisp croutons out of any bread by cutting it up, tossing it with seasonings, and baking until dry and crunchy (just like that stuff in the box!). This adds a base layer of flavor and allows the bread to drink up even more tasty broth. You can make the croutons up to 1 week in advance, so come Turkey Day you have less to worry about.

Next, add fast-cooking or par-cooked mix-ins. Much like a strata or frittata, the mix-ins will just be warmed through in the stuffing. Dense veggies (like raw potato or squash) and raw meats (like ground beef or sausage) won’t have time to cook through. Instead try quick-cooking vegetables like spinach, corn, or shredded Brussels sprouts, or precooked ingredients like hunks of mortadella and wilted onions.

Finally, bring on the moisture with a flavorful chicken broth, vegetable stock, dashi, or milk. You want to add enough to hydrate every crouton without leaving a soggy puddle behind. Following these steps, you’ll never need a stuffing/dressing recipe again, but here’s one for you to try anyway. (And okay, and here’s one more: my Vegan Stuffing With Nori & Mushrooms.) —Sohla El-Waylly

Test Kitchen Notes

This dish is part of Residentsgiving—aka the Thanksgiving menu of our wildest dreams—created by Food52's resident experts-slash-superheroes. Devour the rest of the spread here, and while you're at it, learn how to Remix & Remaster your Thanksgiving. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Cornbread Stuffing, but Make It Taco
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Ancho chile powder (or another mild, smoky chile powder, such as chipotle)
  • 2 pounds cornbread, cut into 1 to 1 ½-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil (such as sunflower or grapeseed), divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey, pork, or beef
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) coarsely grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • Diced tomato, to serve
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve
  • Sour cream, to serve
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin and oregano until fragrant, about 1 minute. In a spice grinder, blitz the cumin and oregano until fine. In a small bowl, combine with the paprika and chile powder.
  3. Spread the cornbread onto a sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with half of the spice blend, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and toss to evenly coat. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  4. Bake, tossing once midway through, until toasty and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes. Once the cornbread is out of the oven, increase oven temperature to 375°F.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until it shimmers. Add the ground turkey, breaking into crumbles with a potato masher or whisk. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ½ cup of chicken broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits. Scrape the mixture and all the liquid into a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
  6. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until it shimmers. Add onion, garlic, tomato paste, remaining spice mixture, and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and garlic have wilted and the tomato paste looks darkened and sticks to the bottom of the skillet, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup of chicken broth and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer until reduced, thickened, and the fat starts to sizzle in the pan, about 5 minutes. Scrape this mixture into the bowl with the turkey.
  7. Add the croutons to the bowl and mix well but gently to combine. Add enough broth to make the bread moist but not soggy (you may not need it all) and half of the cheddar cheese. Toss to combine, taste the mixture, and add more salt if needed. Transfer the mixture to a 3- to 4-quart casserole dish.
  8. Bake until steamy and brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
  9. Serve hot with diced tomato, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and the remaining shredded cheese alongside (like a taco bar!).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • dtremit
  • Deanna
  • alexisfromtexas
Sohla El-Waylly is a Food52 Resident, sharing new riffable recipes every month that'll help you get creative in the kitchen. Watch her cook on YouTube in her new series, Off-Script With Sohla. Before she started developing fun recipes for home cooks, she worked as a chef in N.Y.C. and L.A., briefly owning a restaurant in Brooklyn with her husband and fellow chef, Ham El-Waylly. She lives in the East Village with Ham, their two dogs, and cat. Find out what else she's up to on Instagram @sohlae

5 Reviews

Taylor S. October 23, 2023
My husband made this for me last night and it came out extraordinarily. He made homemade cornbread (dry and unsweetened) and he subbed tofu for the meat. I love the ability to customize your "taco" with the toppings too.
dtremit November 17, 2021
Made this yesterday (with a couple of minor modifications) and it came out fantastically! I was a little skeptical that the taco flavor would translate, but it totally did.

We had leftover cornbread that was a fair bit shy of what the recipe called for, so I supplemented it with some corn tortillas I needed to use up, cut into small pieces. (Those toasted in about half the time.)
Deanna November 16, 2021
Sohla, you blew my mind with these recipes! I will definitely try making both of them and I really appreciate that you mentioned tips to make either of them vegan because that is my entire family's preference. Thank you!
alexisfromtexas November 15, 2021
Why is our love of Taco Bell's cruncy tacos tied to shame? i recently discovered that my 90 year old mother loves them as much as I do - but it was somehow a taboo topic for many years. I just watched the video, and while I will not make this stuffing for Thanksgiving, I will definitely make it for myself sometime.
Bev C. November 1, 2021
Now all you need is Taco Bell Taco Sauce 🤣🤣🤣. I haven't had time to try it yet, it came from YouTube. There were links to the Fire, etc. But I find the hotter, the less actual flavor - which is why I go mild. I prefer to taste my food!

Taco Bell Mild Sauce
From Todd Wilbur Copycat book

3 cups water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 - 6-ounce can tomato paste
3 tablespoons white vinegar
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix the chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. In a saucepan add the water, then dissolve the cornstarch. Then add rest of ingredients and mix together. Bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.

**May need up to 2 tsp cumin.
1 tsp sweet paprika

Should make approximately 1 pint.