Spicy Eggplant Dressing with Cornbread: Always a Good Idea

Sneak Preview: This Spicy Eggplant Dressing with Cornbread stands out from the crowd. Adding veggies and leftover cornbread creates a savory side dish or a vegetarian main dish with a Southwestern flavor.

Southwestern Eggplant DressingPin

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Have you seen the Heartland TV series? The young neighbor girl named Mallory often offers opinions no adults would dare speak.

For example, she says, “What is this stuff?” as she looks at her plate. When told it was Shepherd’s Pie, she remarked, “It looks more like something the shepherd stepped in.”

This recipe doesn’t look bad, but I’ll admit cooked eggplant is the opposite of photogenic. Is there a word for that? Can somebody help me? In ultrasound, we call it “ultrasound ugly.” So, maybe we could call eggplant “food ugly.”

Three Reasons Why You Should Try This Eggplant Dressing

  1. The unfortunate appearance of eggplant won’t keep me from eating it. On the contrary, I’m obsessed with it. Here’s proof, as seen in these recipes already published on this blog: Ratatouille Soup, Roasted Eggplant and Potatoes, and Corn and Eggplant Vegetable Medley.
  2. If you are tired of green beans, broccoli, and carrots, why not try some eggplant?
  3. Although I call this “dressing” because it has cornbread, you could just as easily substitute rice or quinoa instead of cornbread.

If you often have leftover cornbread, you might want to look at this recipe for Green Chile and Yellow Squash Casserole. However, if you need a recipe for cornbread, this Sweet Jalapeno Cornbread is our favorite.

eggplant dressing in a bowl with serving spoonPin

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • EGGPLANT: People often ask me if they need to peel eggplant. Better Homes and Gardens says, “While the skin of a small young eggplant is edible, the skin becomes bitter on larger or older eggplants and should be peeled.”  I tend to peel eggplant because of its appearance, not the taste.
  • ONIONS: Use white or yellow onions. Frozen chopped onions are the most convenient.
  • CELERY: Did you know you can freeze celery? It’s perfect to use in a recipe like this.
  • RED BELL PEPPERS: Substitute yellow or orange peppers if that’s what you have. Green peppers can also be used but will give a slightly bitter edge to the flavor.
  • MUSHROOMS: White button mushrooms are perfect. Portobello mushrooms are also fine, but probably not worth the extra money if you go out to buy them.
  • MILK: The recipe specifies low-fat milk, but you can use whatever type you have.
  • SAGE: Poultry seasoning is the best substitute if you don’t have sage. Thyme or savory are other possibilities.
  • GREEN CHILES: Chopped chiles are the easiest. These peppers give this dish a Southwestern flare.
  • CORN: Can you have a Southwestern casserole without corn?? Fresh is best, but frozen is fine.
  • CORNBREAD: The next time you have leftover cornbread, throw it in the freezer. It will come in handy for this recipe. Or substitute cooked rice (white or brown rice) to make eggplant rice dressing. Quinoa is another sub.
  • CHEDDAR CHEESE: Buy it shredded or shred it yourself. I usually use medium Cheddar, but sharp or extra-sharp Cheddar would be good, too.

How Can I Cook Eggplant So It Doesn’t Become Mushy?

I’m not a fan of boiled eggplant, as called for in so many eggplant recipes. I much prefer to grill it using a grill pan so it doesn’t get mushy. Without a grill pan, sauté the eggplant in a skillet brushed with olive oil.

grilling eggplant in a grill pan to keep it from getting mushyPin

Since I’m always looking for ways to trim calories, I’m rather sparing with the cheese. Otherwise, I would stir an additional two ounces of shredded Cheddar into the casserole just before baking.

How to Make Spicy Eggplant Dressing

browning eggplant cubesPin
Either grill eggplant until tender and golden brown using a grill pan or sauté it in a medium skillet over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil. Set aside.
softening onions, peppers, celery, garlic, sage and mushroomsPin
Soften onions, celery, peppers, garlic, sage, and mushrooms in butter in a large skillet.
sprinkling flour over veggiesPin
Sprinkle one tablespoon of flour over softened veggies.
adding milk to the skilletPin
Stir 1 cup of milk into the vegetable mixture.
Stir and cook until white sauce thickensPin
Cook until the sauce thickens.
Add green chiliesPin
Toss in green chiles.
add eggplantPin
Add browned eggplant.
adding corn to skilletPin
Then corn.
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Finally, add cornbread crumbs and seasoning.
Combine the whole mixturePin
Combine all ingredients and bake in an ovenproof skillet or casserole dish at 350˚F for 20-25 minutes.
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Pull the dish out of the oven and sprinkle it with cheese. Place the dish back into the oven for an additional ten minutes.
baked southwestern Eggplant Dressing covered with melted cheesePin
Serve hot as an entree or side dish. A sprinkling of parsley is a nice addition.


Add a half pound of cooked ground beef, ground pork, or diced chicken when you add the cornbread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to soak eggplant before cooking?

In my experience, soaking is unnecessary if you avoid buying overly large eggplant that appears to have been around too long. Soft spots, discoloration, and dull skin are signs of old age.

Can I freeze this casserole?

Yes. Freeze the unbaked casserole without cheese on top. Double-wrap and freeze for up to a month. When you get ready to eat it, add extra time for baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top in the last 10 minutes.

Parting Thoughts: Some people think of “dressing” as a Thanksgiving dish. But try serving this side dish with brisket, ribs, or grilled sausage. It is sure to become a favorite combination!

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

baked southwestern Eggplant Dressing covered with melted cheesePin
Yield: 8 servings

Spicy Eggplant Dressing Recipe with Green Chiles and Cheese

Southwestern Eggplant Dressing uses cornbread as a base with all sorts of veggies added, including green chiles, to create a savory side dish or vegetarian entree.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 2 votes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes


  • 1 small to medium eggplant,
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup (80 g) onions, chopped
  • ½ cup (50 g) celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup (37 g) red pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 4 ounce (113 g) button or portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (227 g) low-fat milk
  • 1 4-oz can (113 g) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup (154 g) corn, fresh or frozen
  • cups (153 g) stale cornbread, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz (56 g) Cheddar cheese, shredded


  • Use greased grill pan or skillet to cook slices of 1 small to medium eggplant, , flipping when browned. See the picture above. Set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add ½ cup (80 g) onions, chopped , ½ cup (50 g) celery, chopped , ¼ cup (37 g) red pepper, chopped , and 1 teaspoon garlic, minced and saute until soft. Add 4 ounce (113 g) button or portobello mushrooms, sliced and 1 teaspoon ground sage to the skillet and cook another 3-4 minutes.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour over the cooked veggies. Stir to distribute evenly. Add 1 cup (227 g) low-fat milk and continue to stir until thickened. Add cooked and chopped eggplant, a 1 4-oz can (113 g) can chopped green chiles,1 cup (154 g) corn, fresh or frozen, and 1½ cups (153 g) stale cornbread, crumbled, stirring gently. Season with½ teaspoon salt and Freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cook at 350˚F (180˚C) for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle 2 oz (56 g) Cheddar cheese, shredded over the top during the last 10 minutes.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 447mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 455IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

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  1. Bobbie Bentneedle says:

    My husband’s beloved grandma used to make eggplant dressing – and I’ve missed it for years now. Don’t think this is the same recipe as her’s since she used stovetop stuffing mix in her’s but this sounds mighty tasty, so I’ll try this out on the clan ;0}

    1. Bobbie,
      For years, Wyatt’s cafeteria used to make an eggplant dressing with white bread. I think it was quite popular. Wonder if Grandma’s recipe was anything like that one. Thanks for writing.

      1. The Wyatts eggplant dressing is what I want to make!! It wascso good..do yiu have tge recipe??

        1. That was a good recipe. I used to have it but can’t find it now. Did you try to Google it? paula

  2. Eggplant in its natural state is one of the most beautiful vegetables ever- so many gorgeous shades of purple and pink. Cooked eggplant however will never win any beauty contest, but I can forgive it because it is just so delicious! This sounds like a great way to prepare it. 🙂