Chicken and Dumplings, one of the most quintessential of all comfort foods, is made with big, fluffy homemade dumplings and juicy shredded chicken in a light, and creamy vegetable-filled broth. An instant family-favorite, learn how to make this easy and delicious one-pot chicken and dumplings recipe.
What are Chicken and Dumplings?
A classic comfort food commonly found in the American south and midwest, chicken and dumplings is a humble and hearty comfort food believed to originate sometime during the Great Depression.
Traditionally, Chicken and Dumplings would have been made by boiling an entire chicken in water, then using the broth to cook the dumplings.
These dumplings were made from a mixture of flour, shortening (or butter), and milk (or other liquid) and are either rolled out flat and cut into thick strips, dropped, or formed into a ball. In some cases (as in this recipe), fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, dill, or chives may be added to the dumpling dough before cooking.
Given the harsh economic times, the addition of vegetables was not always possible, but popular options included chopped carrots, celery, and turnip greens.
What You Need
- Onion, carrot + celery – also known as the mirepoix, this flavor foundation is found in countless recipes including jambalaya, chicken noodle soup, and stews of all kinds. A simple base made from finely diced vegetables (the mix of vegetables will vary by country and cuisine) that are cooked in butter or oil, low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them.
- Garlic – Garlic is added once the onions, carrots, and celery are softened. You don’t want to burn the garlic, so I recommend stirring consistently for approximately 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant.
- Flour – I used all-purpose flour. Here, we’re simply sprinkling the flour over the vegetables while mixing continuously. This flour (in addition to flour from the biscuits) is what helps to thicken the soup.
- Water or chicken broth – Totally up to you. If you have homemade chicken broth, that would be the best choice, but store-bough is great, too. Water is also good, simply season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
- White wine – Because…flavor! Of course, this is completely optional.
- Chicken breasts – I added chicken breasts, poached them, and then shredded them. You may use chicken breasts or thighs or simply add pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.
- Peas – Peas are very traditional to chicken and dumplings, so naturally, they had to be added. Fresh or frozen peas are both great.
- Half and Half – No need to add a ton (or any at all, really) but I like a little splash just to drive home the creaminess.
- Fresh herbs – Fresh herbs like parsley and thyme do amazing things when added to soups.
I decided to add a mix of onion, carrots, celery, and peas as the vegetable base for this recipe. If you have any other favorites, feel free to have fun, but I’m all about the classics (especially when preparing such a classic comfort food).
- All-purpose flour – I have only ever tried making chicken and dumplings with all-purpose flour. While I assume that a gluten-free alternative would work just fine, I would expect some texture differences.
- Baking powder – You can thank this fine white powder for helping your dumplings puff up when dropped in your soup.
- Salt – No need to add much, but a little does wonders.
- Fresh thyme – and other herbs like chives, parsley, or dill. Yes, you guys, add as much or as little fresh herbs as you would like, but a little something is highly recommended.
- Milk – Any cow milk will work here. I used whole milk.
- Butter – Because butter makes everything better. just kidding (no I’m not).
How to make Dumplings
Dumplings, believe it or not, are crazy easy to make. All you need is a bowl, a wooden spoon, and a few minutes. No fancy mixers required.
There are 2 main types of dumplings:
- Rolled dumplings look more like thick, fluffy noodles than actual dumplings. They are made by rolling out the dough into a thin sheet and slicing it into thick, short “noodles”
- Drop dumplings are dumplings that have been mixed in a bowl, scooped out with a spoon or cookie scoop, and dropped directly into the pot.
For this recipe, we’re making drop dumplings.
By far the easiest, all this requires is a cookie scoop (or large soup spoon). Add the dumplings, one by one, to the simmering pot of soup, cover, and let the magic happen.
- NOTE: these dumplings will expand in size quite a bit as they cook. As such, be sure not to add all the dumplings in one place in the pot. Instead, drop them all in their own little spot in the simmering pot.
How Can You Tell if the Dumplings are Done?
To tell if your dumplings are cooked first check if they’re floating. If they’re not- they’re not cooked.
For especially large dumplings, you can also check by running a toothpick through the center. If it comes out clean, you know it’s fully cooked.
How to Make Homemade Chicken and Dumplings
Making your own chicken and dumplings is easy! Yes, we will be making homemade dumplings, but don’t let that scare you away.
It’s as easy as mixing together a few basic ingredients, scooping, and dropping them into a pot filled with simmering broth.
1. Cook the vegetables
We’re going to start by grabbing a large pot or Dutch oven and set it over medium heat. Melt some butter and olive oil, let it get nice and hot, then add the onion, carrots, and celery.
Cook until the veggies begin to soften.
It’s important to do this nice and slow so that the vegetables don’t burn or char but simply begin the softening process.
Once the vegetables are starting to soften, stir in the garlic and sauté for one minute more.
2. Sprinkle with flour and add the broth
Sprinkle the softened vegetables with salt, pepper, and all-purpose flour. Stir continuously until the flour dissolves into the veggies.
The addition of flour will help to thicken the soup so that it is nice and creamy.
Now, whisking continuously, slowly add the water (or chicken stock) and dry white wine to the vegetables and bring to a boil.
3. Poach the chicken
Add the chicken, sugar, and bay leaves to your pot. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes – or until the chicken is fully cooked.
4. Prepare the dumpling dough
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and thyme. Use a spoon or spatula to dig a well, or hole, in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the milk and butter to the center and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together into a giant dough ball. Set aside.
5. Shred the chicken
Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes or so before shredding as it will be very hot.
Add the shredded chicken and the frozen peas to the pot. Return to a low boil.
- TIP: it’s best not to poach chicken breasts for much longer than 25-30 minutes as they will start to dry out on the outside.
6. Cook the dumplings
With the soup base prepared, it’s time to cook your dumplings.
Use a large cookie scoop to form equal-sized dumplings. Add each dumpling, one at a time, directly into the simmering soup, each in a different part of the pot.
Gently press each dumpling down to submerge beneath the broth. Cover and reduce heat to low.
Cook dumplings for approximately 20 minutes.
7. Add the half-and-half
Once the dumplings are fully cooked, remove the cover and stir in the half-and-half, parsley, and chopped thyme. Stir to combine.
- TIP: Feel free to add more or less half-and-half (or heavy cream) depending on how rich you like your soup.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or hot sauce, if desired.
How to Thicken Chicken and Dumplings?
You may thicken chicken and dumplings two ways,
1. Make a roux.
Technically, this is something you can do at any point in cooking, however, it makes the most sense to do this while the onions, celery, and carrots are cooking.
Roux is a simple combination of fat (usually butter) and flour.
To make a roux, you will need approximately 2 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour. Grab a whisk, and melt your butter over medium heat. Whisking continuously, add the flour and mix until completely combined.
Add to the softened vegetables after the garlic has been added but before the broth. When adding the broth, slowly whisk to combine, taking extra care not to let the roux burn.
Add a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch to a couple of tablespoons of water and thoroughly mix to combine.
At the end of cooking, add this cornstarch “slurry” to the soup and mix well to combine. Allow the soup time to thicken, then decide if you would like to repeat the process with more cornstarch.
Careful, however, as cornstarch will thicken as the soup cools.
How to Store Chicken and Dumplings
Lucky for us this chicken and dumplings recipe is super yummy leftover or frozen!
- Allow the soup to cool completely. I recommend refrigerating overnight, if possible.
- Transfer the leftover dumplings to their own freezer-safe ziplock bag, removing as much air as possible from the bag. Seal completely. Add the soup base with the chicken and vegetables to a separate gallon-size ziplock bag. Again remove as much air as possible and sealing completely.
- Transfer to the freezer.
- Remove both the soup base and the dumplings from the freezer.
- Transfer the soup to a large, wide, soup pot over medium-high heat. Allow soup to come to a low boil.
- Meanwhile, place the bag with the dumplings in a warm water bath to start the thawing process. Once the soup is simmering, add the dumplings, one by one, and cover. Allow dumplings to cook until fully reheated.
More Soup Recipes,
If you try making this Easy Chicken and Dumpling Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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The Best Chicken and Dumplings Recipe
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 5 medium carrots (chopped)
- 5 celery ribs (chopped)
- 6 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 cups water ((or low-sodium chicken broth))
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (plus more for serving)
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme (plus more for serving)
- Melt the butter and add the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic to the vegetables and sauté for 1 minute more, stirring often.
- Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and flour, stirring well to combine. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often to prevent burning.
- Slowly whisk the water or chicken stock and dry white wine in with the vegetables and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, sugar, and bay leaves, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and vegetables have softened.
- Meanwhile, as the soup simmers, prepare the dumplings. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and thyme). Use a spoon or spatula to dig a well, or hole, in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the milk and melted butter to the center. Use a wooden spoon to mix together into a giant dough ball. Set aside.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the cooked chicken from the pot and allow it to rest until it is cool enough to shred.
- Add the chicken, after it has been shredded, back to the pot and add the peas.
- Use a large cookie scoop to form equal-sized dumplings. Add each dumpling, one at a time, directly into the simmering soup, each in a different part of the pot.
- Once each dumpling has been added to the pot, gently press them down to submerge beneath the broth. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook dumplings for approximately 20 minutes.
- Once the dumplings are fully cooked, remove the cover and gently add half and half, parsley, and chopped thyme. Stir to combine.
- Best served hot. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or hot sauce, if desired.
- You may also use bone-in chicken thighs in place of chicken breasts. They will be less likely to dry out if cooked for too long.
- If the dough is dry, add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
- If you’re short on time, grab a can of canned biscuits and use those instead. I don’t recommend simmering the store-bought pre-made biscuits for longer than needed.
- To make your soup a little creamier, swap the half-and-half for heavy cream, adding more or less to taste. Alternatively, keep it light by skipping the half-and-half altogether.
- Avoid the temptation to check the status of your dumplings every two minutes as they cook. After all, the whole idea is that in addition to cooking in the broth, they also steam gently.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)