Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Old Fashioned Easy Homemade Chicken a la King

Old Fashioned Easy Homemade Chicken a la King

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5 from 1 vote
My old fashioned Chicken a la King with its creamy mushroom and pimiento sauce will have your family asking for seconds, guaranteed!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
A serving of chicken a la king over toast points on a white plate.

This homemade, from scratch, Chicken a la King is a recipe straight out of my childhood. It’s tender, moist chicken cooked in a creamy mushroom and pimiento sauce.

We’re reaching back in the vintage files for another delicious vintage recipe today – Chicken a la King. Just in case you’ve never enjoyed this dish before, it’s another one of those great old recipes that people just don’t seem to make very much these days.

A serving of chicken a la king over toast points on a white plate.

It contains bite-size pieces of moist chicken in a creamy mushroom and pimiento sauce. It’s one of those homemade, comfort food, lick-your-plate clean recipes. For real. And it’s super easy to make.

While many people assume that Chicken a la King has French roots, it really doesn’t. It’s the “a la” part that seems to give that impression and, I confess, I thought it came from France. Turns out, there are several origin stories.

The most popular of these belongs to Chef George Greenwald of the Brighton Beach Hotel in New York. It’s said that this classic dish was invented there in the 1890s for E. Clark King, II.

Even though it was invented in the 19th century, it didn’t really take off until the 1950s and was phased out of most restaurants by the end of the 60s.

Regardless of its origins, Chicken a la King is an old fashioned dish that I keep around. Maybe it’s the cream sauce. Maybe it’s the mushrooms. And even with its origin in the North, I always think of it as being decidedly Southern. It was a dinner party staple when I was growing up and also made frequent appearances on our Sunday dinner menus.

My easy to follow recipe below gives you instructions for making it all at once. However, you can also cook your chicken in advance and then proceed with the deboning when you’re ready to make the recipe.

Also, if you don’t mind using a pressure cooker or instant pot, you can speed the process up significantly by cooking your chicken that way. Your choice!

How to Make Chicken a la King

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Make an Aromatic Chicken Broth to Start

Whole chicken and aromatic vegetables in a stock pot.

Start by cooking a whole chicken in water with some lovely aromatic seasonings. Celery, carrot, whole allspice, peppercorns, and an onion stuck with whole cloves make a delicious stock! I always leave the peel on my onion when making chicken stock. It gives a pretty golden color to the finished stock.

You’ll have quite a bit of stock, but you only need one cup for this recipe. Take that out and freeze the rest – it will make a wonderful chicken soup later!

Prepare the Chicken

Shredded, deboned chicken in a white bowl.

Once your chicken is done and has cooled, remove all the meat and discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Set that aside for now.

Make the a la King Sauce

Photo collage showing sauce base and a whisk in a deep pan.

Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a large pan. Add the flour and stir together with a wire whisk until well blended. Add the cup of chicken stock and whisk rapidly until smooth and well blended. Cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the half-and-half and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the lemon juice.

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. To the yolks, add 1/2 cup of the hot sauce mixture and stir rapidly. Scrape the yolk and sauce mixture back into the pan and bring barely to the simmer while stirring. Remove the pan from the heat.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook stirring contantly until wilted and golden brown.

Adding drained pimientos and Tabasco sauce to pan.

Add the pimientos and Tabasco and continue cooking just long enough to heat the pimientos through.

Combine the Chicken and Sauce

Adding mushrooms and chicken to the cream sauce.

Add the shredded chicken and mushroom mixture to the cream sauce. Stir together.

I’ve heard of people serving Chicken à la King over thin pasta, but the traditional service is over toast points. Or, if you’re serving it for a luncheon, puff pastry shells are nice.

(Note: to make toast points – preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove crust from 4-5 slices of bread. Cut across the bread to create triangles. Spray each side of the bread with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and slightly crispy. May be made ahead of time.)

A serving of chicken a la king over toast points on a white plate.

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute turkey or tuna for the chicken. It’s a great way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey and Tuna a la King is delicious!
  • Instead of pimientos, you can always substitute finely diced roasted red peppers.
  • Half a green bell pepper, diced very finely, is an excellent addition to the sauce.
  • Instead of fresh mushrooms, substitute drained, jarred mushrooms.

FAQs

How do I store and/or freeze this recipe?

Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, allow it to cool completely and freeze in an appropriate freezer safe container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. I’d suggest reheating in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. If the sauce separates when reheating, stir in a little milk or half and half.

What can I serve with this?

Chicken a la King doesn’t need much embellishment. I usually serve it with a fresh tossed green salad dressed with an oil and vinegar based dressing to provide a contrasting acidity for the cream sauce. A mixed fresh fruit salad or mixed steamed vegetables would also be nice.

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Recipe

A serving of chicken a la king over toast points on a white plate.

Classic Chicken a la King

My old fashioned Chicken a la King with its creamy mushroom and pimiento sauce will have your family asking for seconds, guaranteed!
5 from 1 vote
Print It Rate It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 386kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken under 4 pounds if possible
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion stuck with 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 1 carrot peeled and cut in large pieces
  • 3 ribs celery cut in large pieces
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks beaten
  • 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup diced pimiento drained
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 16 toast points

Instructions

  • Place the chicken, water, bay leaf, onion, allspice, carrot, celery, salt and peppercorns in a large pot.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Let the chicken cool in the broth.
  • Strain the broth, reserving one cup of broth for this recipe and freeze or store the remainder for another use.
  • Remove all the meat from chicken and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the flour, stirring with a whisk.
  • When blended, add the cup of reserved broth. Stir rapidly until the sauce is blended and smooth.
  • Cook about five minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the half-and-half and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the lemon juice.
  • Beat the two egg yolks in a small bowl.
  • Add ½ cup of the hot sauce mixture to the egg yolks and stir rapidly.
  • Scrape the mixture back into the sauce and bring barely to the simmer while stirring. Remove pan from the heat.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and add the mushrooms.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms are wilted and nicely browned and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add the pimientos and Tabasco and stir well. Cook just long enough to heat the pimientos.
  • Add the cubed chicken and the mushroom mixture to the sauce.Serve over toast points.

For the toast points:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Remove crust from 4-5 slices of bread.
  • Cut across the bread to create triangles.
  • Spray each side of the bread with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake until toasted and slightly crispy.

Notes

Recipe Variations
  • Substitute turkey or tuna for the chicken.
  • Instead of pimientos, you can always substitute finely diced roasted red peppers.
  • Half a green bell pepper, diced very finely, is an excellent addition to the sauce.
  • Instead of fresh mushrooms, substitute drained, jarred mushrooms.
FAQs
How do I store and/or freeze this recipe? Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, allow it to cool completely and freeze in an appropriate freezer safe container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. I’d suggest reheating in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. If the sauce separates when reheating, stir in a little milk or half and half.
What can I serve with this? Chicken a la King doesn’t need much embellishment. I usually serve it with a fresh tossed green salad dressed with an oil and vinegar based dressing to provide a contrasting acidity for the cream sauce. A mixed fresh fruit salad or mixed steamed vegetables would also be nice.
 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 721mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2099IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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20 Comments

  1. My grandmother made a northern PA version of this with just peas and pimentos on toast. I loved it….

  2. Oh my gosh! I remember when I used to eat meat and LOVED chicken ala king but it was from a can! Wonder if they still sell that stuff? I used to have it over toast.
    I’ll have to use your recipe and make it for my husband. I know he’ll love it and it will be SO much better than what I rememeber.

  3. My mom used to love this one, I never made it will have to give it a try… Florida is so hot during the summer months, this looks like a light meal, we love hotsauce!

  4. Lana another great recipe! Like Liv, I love tabasco. I am sure my family will enjoy this recipe :)

  5. It is funny how some things we love get forgotten over time. I was just reminded the other day how much I actually love my meatloaf recipe which must be 35 years old (OK, probably love the sandwiches the day after even more!).

    Here’s another one…so thanks for the memories and the reminder; it’s needs to get done!

    1. Barbara – I just love reviving some of these old recipes. Just because they’re not the latest fad doesn’t mean they’re not worth cooking from time to time, right?

  6. I just love it, Momma used to make this all the time and I thought it was so fancy… maybe just the name…
    I think so many church casseroles are based on this recipe, I know every time I start researching a chicken/mushroom dish, I am reminded of this one….

  7. This just looks so filling and delicious. I could eat at your house everyday and be so happy! Not that you would take me on to raise or anything. :)

  8. What delightful pictures ! Especially the one with the whole onion. Never saw this done before. Delicious looking recipe. I certainly enjoy your presentations. Thank you.