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Stop Searching and Start Cooking: This Is THE Dish You Want to Bring to Thanksgiving

Photo: Brian Woodcock

Each year, you're tasked with "Just bring something," which, as you know, isn't much of a directive. But this year, let us take the worry and search off your hands. We've found the one dish you should make, and we'll tell you why.

If you're at the receiving end of an email or text message that says, "Just bring something," you know the agony and dread that comes with picking out "something" from the heaps of Thanksgiving recipe possibilities. You need a dish everyone will love, but not something everyone has had a million times over. You want something that can impress but not deter picky eaters. You want something people will talk about for many Thanksgivings to come—and not in infamy.

We searched our entire collection of Thanksgiving recipes (we have a lot of them) to find the single best dish you should bring to Thanksgiving this year. It took a few back-and-forth arguments about green beans and Brussels sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauces, but we finally agreed on the one dish you should bring to Thanksgiving if you're only bringing one and really need to knock it out of the park.

And that dish is: Classic Corn Bread Dressing.

"Corn bread dressing is something my Mississippi-born soul craves because it's just so good, and it's what I grew up with," says Ann Taylor Pittman, Cooking Light's Executive Food Editor.

Dressing is the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish in the South. If you're not from the region, or don't hold dearly a Southern grandmother's recipe for corn bread dressing, you may know it as stuffing. Hear us out, everyone expects stuffing which is made with day-old French or sourdough bread, but if you shake things up wildly with homemade corn bread that you've crumbled into this spectacular side, you'll be headed for a spot in the holiday hall of fame.

The texture of this dish is different from our Southern Corn Bread Dressing Squares, which have a texture that's more like a savory corn bread pudding than a traditional stuffing. This corn bread is crumbly, not spongy. We mix it with loads of aromatics that give it the same dressing or stuffing flavor you know and love, but it's wholly unique. Don't skimp on the herbs and aromatics. They're what makes this dish really shine.

Don't have a corn bread-making bone in your body? Don't worry. We have an answer for that, too, with our recipe for Whole-Grain Corn Bread. We specifically chose that recipe because it holds up best during the cooking process. Make a pan of this corn bread a day in advance, and then use it Thanksgiving Day or the day of your big feast for the dressing. You're going to want to write us a thank you note when you see how much your featured dish is favored, but you don't have to. We know how good it is, and you're welcome.