Chicken and Dumplings

This is one of BeeBop’s all-time favorite dishes and one of mine, too. Chicken and Dumplings brings up all kinds of good memories from childhood. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t remember their mama making chicken and dumplings. Just mention it and people get this wistful, longing look like they’re going back in time in their minds. I only make this about twice a year and I don’t really know why. It’s so easy to do. Even easier if you do the chicken one day, refrigerate it and then finish it up the next day.

Back in the day, this was an inexpensive meal that could feed a large family, especially if you had your own chickens. It’s still inexpensive and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like it. BeeBop’s brother, Uncle J, really enjoys chicken and dumplings, too. So we had him and our two beautiful nieces over to share this big ole pot of goodness with us. That was three adult good-eaters and two children and we still had leftovers for two more meals. That’s what I call thrifty!

1 fryer, about 3.5 pounds
2 ribs celery
1 onion
8-10 peppercorns
Water

2 tblsp. parsley
Salt

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
Fat off of chicken broth
½ cup or more milk

You know what? I had a really pretty picture of the chicken, celery, onion, etc in the pot ready to boil and I have no idea where that picture went. I’m sometimes a little too vigilant about keeping my photos and memory cards organized. Anyway, just imagine that there’s a nice photo right here showing everything in the pot ready to boil. Okay!

Trim and cut the celery ribs in half. Peel the onion and leave it whole. Place the chicken, celery, onion and peppercorns in a very large pot and add water to barely cover the chicken. Bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender.  Remove the chicken from the broth and store in the refrigerator. Remove the celery, onion and peppercorns from the broth. Store the broth in a separate container in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The recipe may be made up to this point and held for several days before proceeding.

chick&dumplings_chicken

Remove all the skin and bones from the chicken and set it aside.

chick&dumplings_broth&fat

See the top panel? That’s what the chicken broth looks like after it’s been in the refrigerator and the fat has risen to the top. Skim the solidified fat from the broth and put it in a small saucepan over low heat to melt.

chick&dumplings_addchicktobroth

Place the broth, reserved chicken and parsley in a very large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Taste for salt and add up to a tablespoon if needed. I was using dried parsley this time because that’s all I had on hand. I do prefer fresh flat-leaf parsley and would use at least a quarter of a cup of finely minced flat-leaf parsley in this. I know the parsley is not traditional in southern chicken and dumplings, but I like the little bit of color it gives to an otherwise very pale dish. It also adds a little to the taste.

Make the dumplings:

chick&dumplings_mixdumplings

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder and melted chicken fat. Gradually add milk until the dough reaches a good consistency for rolling. The dough should be slightly less firm than a pie crust. If the dough seems too wet add a little flour. If too thick, add a little more milk.

Now, this where our ideas about chicken and dumplings might diverge somewhat. In the part of the south where I grew up the dumplings were always, ALWAYS, rolled and cut into strips. They even sell the rolled dumpling strips in the freezer section of the grocery stores in the south, though they’re not very good. I know in other areas it’s typical that they are dropped by little spoonfuls into the boiling broth. I never even knew there was such a thing as dropped dumplings until I was grown. Really. I’ve had both and I prefer the rolled type.

chick&dumplings_rollout

On a well-floured surface, working with half of the dough at a time, roll the dumplings out as you would a pie crust. Cut into long strips or squares as you prefer. I use a pizza cutter to make quick work of the cutting.

chick&dumplings_intobroth

Drop the dumplings individually into gently boiling chicken stock.  Continue until all the dough is used.

Cook approximately 20 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.  Stir several times while cooking to keep dumplings separated, but be careful not to break the dumplings when you stir.

I usually serve these with some fresh green beans on the side. Green peas would also be good. And why not have a peach cobbler for dessert?

Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Old-fashioned southern style chicken and dumplings. Great for a crowd and economical, too!
Ingredients
  • 1 fryer, about 3.5 pounds
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 onion
  • 8-10 peppercorns
  • Water
  • 2 tblsp. parsley
  • Salt
For the dumplings:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Fat off of chicken broth
  • ½ cup or more milk
Instructions
  1. Trim and cut the celery ribs in half. Peel the onion and leave whole. Place the chicken, celery, onion and peppercorns in a very large pot. Add water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
  2. Remove chicken from broth and store in refrigerator. Remove the celery, onion and peppercorns from the broth. Store the broth in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The recipe may be made up to this point and held for several days before proceeding.
  3. Remove all skin and bones from the chicken and put aside. Skim the solidified fat from the broth and put in a small saucepan over low heat to melt. Place the broth, reserved chicken and parsley in a very large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Taste for salt and add up to a tablespoon if needed.
Make the dumplings:
  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder and melted chicken fat. Gradually add milk until dough reaches a good consistency for rolling. The dough should be slightly less firm than a pie crust. If the dough seems too wet add a little flour. If too thick, add a little more milk.
  2. On a well-floured surface, working with half of the dough at a time, roll the dumplings out as you would a pie crust. Cut into long strips or squares as you prefer. Drop dumplings individually into gently boiling chicken stock. Continue until all the dough is used.
  3. Cook approximately 20 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. Stir several times while cooking to keep dumplings separated, but be careful not to break the dumplings when you stir.
Notes
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Comments

  1. says

    Your photos are making me so hungry! Mom used to roll her dumplings too. Not being southern, she didn’t call hers chicken n dumplings even though she prepared them just as yours are here. It was her “chicken pot pie”. After I moved south and married a Florida boy, I informed her that her “pot pie” was really “dumplings”! Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. Neena says

    This look great and a wonderful dish to serve during the fall and winter. Actually it is good all year long. Way to go. Good job with the dumplings. They can be tricky sometimes, but with your expertise you don’t have to worry. Wish I had a bowl full now.

  3. says

    This whole post and recipe just makes my mouth water! The recipe is so deceptively simple and looks like it would be nice and warm and filling. I did grow up with dumplings being dropped by spoons full into the pot, so I was delighted to learn the southern style of making dumplings in strips. Very interested and much appreciated.

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures and especially for the recipe which I think will become one of my favorite new comfort foods!

    • says

      I do hope you’ll try it and will let me know how you like the rolled dumplings. I believe they are the legacy of German ancestry in this area. I see a lot of that influence in much of our older, traditional cooking.

  4. says

    Hey, just working on my chicken and dumplings post, and came by to compare notes, This is the first time i have ever heard of the dropped by the spoon fools. I thought our way, rolling them out and dropping one by one was dropped dumplings, I’m learning!

  5. Myrna Taylor says

    Can dumplings be made using refrigerated pizza dough? I am newly vegan and want to try making chicken and dumplings with seitan. I remember my mama making dumplings like these, but I’ve had no success with dough-making and am thinking about using pizza dough for the dumplings. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Myrna – I’ve heard of people using canned biscuits cut into quarters for the dumplings. Don’t know about pizza dough. All I can say is give it a try and see what happens!

      • Myrna says

        Thanks for the encouragement! I had this roll of pizza dough and needed something to do with it, so when I saw your pictures, I thought it might work. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

  6. says

    This looks absolutely wonderful. I am vegetarian, so I will use seitan. I grew up (in New York State), and My Mothers Chicken and Dumplings were dropped buscuit like dough. When I grew up, my mother-in-law’s were rolled. I loved both. I never had the recipe for rolled, and didn’t think much about it once I became vegetarian. Now this looks so good, I have to try it. Thank you. sjb

  7. Shelia Lay says

    This is close to what I do. I tried and tried and never could get a “good” taste and also, it just seemed too much work from beginning to end.

    So, I began purchasing a whole chicken and use the pressure cooker. This only takes about 12 minutes and your chicken is cooked. I also add carrots to the pot and put about 1/2 teaspoon of sage and 1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning (maybe a little more) along with the salt and pepper. This adds a little more flavor.
    You can strain the broth and freeze. I also freeze the chicken in batches so that it is ready anytime you decide to have Chicken n Dumplings.

    Also, I add a little sage and poultry seasoning to the dumplings.

    I know some people that add yellow food coloring, because years agon when all the chickens were raise by the cook, the fat was so rich the dumplings and broth would look like butter. I don’t think yellow color dumplings are very appetizing.

    Do you know that flour tortilla cut up work very well if you don’t want to roll out the dough yourself. My family really can’t tell if I made it from scratch or use flour tortilla. I can tell the difference, but sometimes am in a hurry to get the dumplings done and use the tortillas.

    • says

      Hi Shelia. Yes, I do know about the shortcuts using the pressure cooker and the flour tortillas. Also, I know that some people will use canned biscuits rolled out and cut up for the dumplings. However, what I wanted to show in this post was the old-fashioned, slow cooked method. For me, part of the enjoyment of cooking is taking my time and doing things the way my mother and grandmothers did them. There’s nothing wrong with shortcuts when needed, though! We’re all busy these days and can use all the help we can get just to get dinner on the table some nights.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ll visit again.

  8. says

    This looks very interesting and you might be surprised by this, but very exotic and foreign to me. Dumplings around here are like giant ravioli and are meat filled. Although chicken fat flavoured dough sounds alright by me. Is your dish served with the cooking liquid or is it strained?

  9. Sandy says

    I just came across your blog and I am so glad I did! I’m a southern cook, too…learned at my momma’s knee in Tn. She cooked chicken and dumplings just like this. To me it’s just not the same with the dropped dumplings. I also use rolled dumplings when I make blackberry cobbler. Oh boy, now I need to go make some!!

  10. Evelyn H says

    Hi I just love your recipes I can get lost in good recipes. I came here to see your cheesecake pecan pie recipe and found this one. I have had a lot of chicken and dumplings in my life the dropped kind and also the rolled kind. I have seen many recipes for them too. Your recipe sounds just wonderful. (I prefer the rolled dumplings over the dropped. They both are good though). I did see a cooking show a while back can’t remember which one but the guy made dumplings like yours as rolled out and he made them to the rolled out strips and then he froze the strips. When he was ready to cook the dumplings he brought his stock to a boil, took the frozen strips out of the freezer and broke one piece at a time and dropped the pieces in his boiling stock, till he had enough after they were cooked he then gently put in the shredded chicken, he said that way they were less chance of the chicken scorching as the broth from the dumplings thickened and made gravy. He also put parsley in his flour mixture for the dumplings. Not sure what his other ingredients for the dumplings were but I really like your ingredients. He said he cut them in strips, put them in the freezer on parchment paper cookie sheet then when they were frozen he then put them in large freezer bag and zip. When ready he took out what he needed that way he had fresh dumplings when needed for his restaurant.
    I am going to try your recipe, with his technique and see how it goes I think this will be my Go To recipe from now on and I can make a large batch of dumplings and freeze them and take out as many as I want. Dropped are easier to make and a little cleaner but rolled are so much better, now I think I can have the best of both worlds :)

  11. says

    Thanks so much for your recipe! I am sending it to my fiance in Egypt. My grandma used to make the dropped dumplings and I loved them. But since, I have had the rolled ones and they are great too. Never knew you could buy them in the store! The photos will be very helpful for cooking. Thanks again!

  12. Clint says

    Hi Lana,

    My mom was a wonderful cook, but for chicken and dumplings, no one in our neck of the woods surpassed my Aunt Nell, who passed many, many years ago – long before I could beg her for her recipe. After reviewing many recipes since, yours is as close as I’ve come to the spirit of what she did. With one big exception — Nell was a spoon as opposed to roll kinda cook. My question: Do you suppose your dough would work either way, or is spooned dough a different enough animal that I need to keep looking for that portion of Nell’s recipe? Many thanks!!

    • says

      Hi Clint – this dough would probably be too stiff for dropped dumplings. The spooned dumplings are the most common type and are a lighter, fluffier dough. Just Google for “dropped dumplings” and you’ll find thousands of recipes for those.

      • Clint says

        Lana, thanks so much for your feedback – and your website! I have to say, I got to you this morning via a link from another site for one specific recipe. The chicken n dumplins was a 2nd click for me. From there, I took my time perusing the whole shebang! What a great site!! Thank you!! (You’ve even convinced me to break out the old pressure cooker again!)

  13. Melia says

    Bisquick makes very good, easy drop dumplings. Thank you for your great recipe! I have done them all, canned biscuits and flour tortillas included. I like to add poultry seasoning and carrots as well. My son scarfs all of them down. Regards from Texas!

  14. valisha says

    Did anyone ever find out if you can use refridgerated pizza dough to make the dumplings? I have a lot on hand

  15. Joyce says

    My family made a ham version of this. Ham broth made with the end of a smoked ham and a large whole onion and generous amount of black pepper. Remove the ham from the broth and discard the onion. Make and cut the dumplings and let them sit while you peel and quarter potatoes. Bring the broth to a boil and add the potatoes. When the broth comes back to a boil drop in the dumplings and stir gently occasionally until the potatoes are tender. Serve with the ham and Cole slaw. My only problem is the recipe I have usesCrisco and has no measurements so how much much do you think the chicken fat amounts to? My family called the dish ham pot pie or hounds ears.

    • Lana Stuart says

      Wow, that’s a new one to me Joyce. I’ve never heard of a ham version of dumplings. It really sounds delicious! About the chicken fat – I would guess it’s around 1/3 cup. But that’s just a guess.

  16. Linda says

    Lana, thank you for your recipe of Chicken and Dumplings! Wonderful, like watching my Mama make them! I grew up with the rolled dumplings too, didn’t know about the dropped ones til after reading about them on a Bisquick box. Still prefer the rolled ones. Thank you for all your effort and the great stories and pictures. My Mama also baked a very tasty Pineapple Pie, not too many recipes to be found for that, would like to read yours if you have one. Again, thank you and God Bless.

    • Lana Stuart says

      Thanks for your sweet comment, Linda. It always makes me happy to know that I’ve brought back a fond memory for someone through one of my recipes.

      The pineapple pie sounds really good. I don’t have a recipe, but I’ll be looking for one.

  17. says

    LANA..I am now a senior citizen , and no longer have to cook. However,in staying with each of my daughter’s 3-6 mos. at a time,I enjoy cooking for them at times. And chicken ‘n dumplings remind us of a favorite aunt who was famous for them. No one could ever match hers. Recently I visited her & she made them for me. I now know her secret..she makes regular biscuit dough and refrigerates it overnight,and rolls it out cold. Swears this makes a difference ! But I can’t find a recipe that says do this…bot my daughter has started doing it this way. But you recipe is very close….I feel like I’ve found a new friend, and will use you site often!

    • Lana Stuart says

      Now that’s a new one on me! I’ve heard of all kinds of different ways to make dumplings, but never cold biscuit dough. I just might have to try that!

  18. gloria patterson says

    Hate to say but it is true my mother has never been able to make a dumpling that is good. She has tried many different trick that people have told her but nothing is worth eating. My late aunt was the dumpling maker they were so good! When I think of my aunt I always see and taste her chicken & dumpling and her fried apple pies. She would cut up her apples and dry them outside on window screens like her mother did. When I came home to visit she would always make me a batch of apple pies not to share with anyone. Memories :-)

  19. Bonnie N says

    I have ALWAYS preferred and made the flat dumplings. And you’re right about the commercially prepared flat dumplings being ‘just not right’. If I’m served the puffy dumplings, it seems like I’m just biting into a spoonful of air. My grandmother made the best flat dumplings out of the whole family. I truly miss her and her always made-from-scratch everything.

Trackbacks

  1. […] This is a great recipe for how to make southern chicken and dumplings with homemade rolled dumplings. Chicken and dumplings is a classic southern comfort food. Almost everyone has beautiful memories of their grandmother’s chicken and dumplings. I make it the same way my granny use to, and the same way my grandmother did. This is a recipe that has been passed down in my family for many generations. It is a very special recipe, and takes a bit of time, so I only make it a few times a year. It is so delicious and economical though, I should make it more often. It is a favorite dish in my family, and I find it to be the perfect Sunday supper. The only ingredients that I have added to this cherished family recipe, to make it my own are marjoram, thyme, and parsley. You can use a whole cut up chicken for this recipe, but I like to use only dark meat in soups. It is also more economical and tasty to use dark meat. The dumplings are rolled out and dropped into the soup pot one by one. Everyone that I grew up around rolled out their dumplings.  You can also buy frozen dumplings, but I feel they are extremely un-tasty. You could also be lazy and just drop the dough by the spoonful, but where’s the fun in that? If you are taking the time to make this indulgent recipe, you might as well get a work out from rolling out the dough yourself. Remember, at any time in this recipe, do not try and skim any fat from the chicken broth. You need the fat for flavor, and after it is done, it will all come together. After the soup has had a one to two hour simmer, the dumplings will be very tender and begin to break apart. By this time, the soup is very thick, creamy and oh so delicious. There are many different ways to make chicken and dumplings, I highly recommend making your own dumplings, they are so much better than store bought or using pre-made biscuit dough. Here is another great chicken and dumplings recipe: Chicken and Dumplings from Never Enough Thyme […]

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