Thanksgiving Turkey & Dressing Recipe from Biltmore House

Thanksgiving Turkey & Dressing Recipe

The creator of this recipe, Ellen Davis, came to Biltmore House in 1899 to work as a cook for the Vanderbilts. This recipe was a favorite of George and Edith Vanderbilt’s, and it became a tradition for Ellen Johnson to prepare it for them each year.


  • 20–25 pound turkey
  • Cornbread, prepared
  • 6 buttermilk biscuits, prepared
  • 1 dozen eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup ground sage
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Rinse turkey and rub with salt inside and out.
  • Using a large boiler or cooker, place turkey in enough water to almost cover it (one gallon or more).
  • Heat to boiling point and cook on medium for about 2 1/2 hours or until breast is tender; use a ladle to baste broth over the breast meat to keep it moist.
  • For cornbread dressing: Bake a large pan of cornbread using your favorite cornbread recipe.
  • Bake about six buttermilk biscuits using your favorite recipe, or purchase frozen biscuits and bake.
  • Peel eggs and chop or grate them into large mixing bowl. Add onions, celery, sage, salt and pepper. Crumble cornbread and biscuits into bowl.
  • When turkey is done, pour turkey broth over the cornbread dressing until the desired consistency is reached. Mix well, using plenty of broth so that dressing will be moist and soft when done.
  • Place turkey in center of large baking pan. Spoon dressing into and around turkey. Bake in 425ºF oven for about 45 minutes. If turkey browns too soon, cover with aluminum foil.
  • Serves eight to ten

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