Easy homemade chicken and dumplings take a few shortcuts just for ease–but there’s no loss of flavor. Make yours as simple or complex as you’d like them and dig in to creamy sauce, tender chicken and pillowy drop dumplings. Delicious!Jump to Recipe
Slow cooking a whole chicken in water and then thickening your broth with dumplings is the classic way to tackle this recipe. And to be honest, most people in the south would never dare put carrots and celery in theirs.
You’re welcome to leave them out here as well–I know it’s a bit controversial.
And to speed up the process and make these chicken and dumplings easier and faster, we’re roasting the chicken then adding it to good quality pre-made broth from the store or that you have made in advance.
What are chicken and dumplings?
Chicken and dumplings are a classic Southern dish similar to chicken pot pie that consists of just thickened chicken broth, chicken and dough or a more advanced version with vegetables and added flavors.
A thick chicken and vegetable soup serves as the base for my version and delicious dumplings that are cooked in the soup itself leaving you with a one-pot meal that will warm you to the bones.
Here’s what you’ll need for chicken and dumplings:
What kind of chicken should I use in easy homemade chicken and dumplings?
You have a few options to choose from. People usually boil bone in skin on chicken parts when making classic chicken and dumplings. My favorite method, however, is to roast bone-in, skin-on pieces in the oven for more flavor. Roasting produces a juicier, more flavorful piece of meat.
I realize this messes up the homemade broth part of most traditional recipes. You are absolutely welcome to simmer your chicken in water first so you can have a more flavorful homemade broth.
Or you can save time by using homemade broth you have in the freezer or canned. I use homemade chicken stock here.
In either case, you will need to shred the chicken after it is cooked before adding it to the sauce.
Cut out the long simmering time with pre made stock
Making your own stock only takes 10 minutes of active time and an hour-and-a-half-long simmer on the stove and it makes a world of a difference. Check out my post on how to make chicken stock.
Keeping good homemade on hand makes this recipe easy and fast without losing any flavor quality.
- No additives. Store-bought stocks are often full of unnecessary goop (like MSG) that has nothing to do with chicken. Chicken might be in there, but it might also be the last ingredient on the list.
- Added nutrients. The bones used to make homemade stock contribute iron, collagen, and a plethora of vitamins that you are less likely to find in store-bought versions.
- You can skim off the fat. When you make stock at home and allow it to chill, the fat will accumulate at the top. This means you can easily skim it off if you are looking to cut some calories. I prefer to keep the fat for extra flavor, but the choice is yours.
If you do choose to purchase a store-bought stock, look for an MSG-free product that is low in sodium and, ideally, organic. This chicken broth is a good one.
The first ingredient should be something related to chicken and water so read the label.
Bone broth is just way too strong here. I’d recommend staying away from that.
Different kinds of dumplings appropriate for chicken and dumplings.
This heartwarming chicken and dumplings recipe uses drop dumplings, but there are a number of ways to top the hearty sauce. Let me walk you through them.
- Drop dumplings derive their name from the way they are cooked. Make a thick batter, form dumplings, and drop them into the simmering sauce.
- Rolled dumplings are formed from a biscuit dough that has been rolled flat and cut into strips before being dropped into the sauce to cook.
- Biscuits are a great choice for those of you uncomfortable with (or too busy for) making your own dumpling dough. Store-bought biscuit dough can be rolled into balls or just quartered right from the can and cooked like the other versions.
Note: When making dumpling dough it is important not to over mix it. Overworking the dough will yield a tough, chewy dumpling.
How do I know when my dumplings are done?
Once the dumplings are done, you are ready to serve. To test the doneness of the dumplings, just poke a fork through the biggest one. If you hit a gummy center, they need a bit more time.
They will also feel firm and puff up. Based on the size of your dumplings, they should cook in 5 minutes or so.
How to thicken the sauce when making chicken and dumplings.
The sauce should thicken up nicely just from the flour from the dumplings. You probably won’t need any additional thickener.
But if for some reason you feel your sauce is too thin, you can add a cornstarch slurry prior to dropping in the dumplings. Add 1/3 cup cold water to a bowl bit then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and mixing well.
Add the mixture back to the pot and stir.
Can southern chicken and dumplings be made ahead?
Yes they absolutely can.
To keep your dumplings from getting too soft, you may want to add those when you reheat the broth to serve, but if you don’t mind the texture you can make a batch, cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Can chicken and dumplings be frozen?
Yes! Make a big batch and save some for a busy day. You can either freeze everything together in one airtight container or freeze the chicken and sauce without the dumplings.
Sometimes the dumplings can change texture when thawed and reheated or even dissolve completely into the broth so it’s really better to add them later or be prepared to thin the thawed broth and drop in a few more when reheating.
What substitutions can I use when making old fashioned southern chicken and dumplings?
This recipe is easily adaptable to a variety of dietary needs and ingredient availability. Here are some substitutions you might find useful.
- Gluten-free. Use your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour in place of conventional flour if your body cannot tolerate gluten.
- Oil. You are welcome to use avocado or refined coconut oil instead of vegetable oil here.
- No buttermilk? No problem. Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and you’re set to go.
- No heavy cream? Combine ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup melted butter instead. Whole milk will also substitute and of course I’m a huge supporter of raw milk.
Variations on southern chicken and dumplings.
Use up what you have on hand in your chicken and dumplings. While it won’t be “classic” it’s a great time to throw in extra vegetables from the fridge and any white meat you have on hand.
- Turkey and dumplings. Just use turkey breast instead of chicken for the protein.
- Vegetarian. Feel free to leave out the chicken and add some extra veggies (mushrooms are a great option) instead.
- Enhance the flavor of chicken and dumplings by adding a little Worcestershire sauce and/or mustard powder
What should I serve chicken and dumplings with?
This heartwarming classic really is a complete meal on its own. If you would like to play around with side dishes, feel free to serve chicken and dumplings with any of the following:
- Potatoes. Try these Rosemary-Butter Roasted Little Potatoes.
- Roasted veggies such as roasted radishes or roasted zucchini
- Salad. I have been loving this Wilted Lettuce Salad.
- Green beans. These Sauteed Green Beans with Mustard and Shallots are a nice swap for canned ones.
- Cornbread. My homemade Southern Cornbread Recipe is a classic.
- Onion. Arrange a few slices of onion over the dish for added bite.
Easy Homemade Chicken and Dumplings
For roasting the chicken
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil any flavorless oil works here
- 1/2 cup diced celery about 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup diced carrots about 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced or finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons all purpose flour gluten free flour works
- 6 cups chicken broth homemade preferred
- 1/4 cup heavy cream raw is best
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
To roast the chicken
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lay on the chicken, skin side up. Drizzle over the oil, and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
- Roast until no pink remains in the center, approximately 45-55 minutes.
- When the chicken is done, remove any skin or fat and using two forks, shred the meat and set aside.
For the sauce
- In a large pot, melt the butter and oil. Add the celery, carrots and garlic and cook on medium low until the vegetables start to soften--about 8 minutes--stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the bay leaf and the flour and stir to cook the flour--two minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the broth thickens slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes more.
- Add the shredded chicken and cream and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. This will depend on a lot on how salty your chicken broth is.
For the dumplings
- Once the broth is added and is returning to a simmer as directed above, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add the eggs and buttermilk or milk and stir just until no raw flour remains. Do not over mix.
- After the broth as simmered for 8 to 10 minutes, then drop the dumplings by tablespoons into the pot. Remember they will puff up, so leave plenty of space between them.
- Cover and simmer on low 15 minutes, then ladle up and serve warm.