Chicken and Dumplings
Homemade Chicken and Dumplings recipe is creamy, hearty, flavorful and comforting with the BEST tender, fluffy dumplings and easier to make than you think! This old-fashioned Chicken and Dumplings recipe is a meal-in-one the whole family will love without any condensed soup! It’s blanketed with fluffy, biscuit-style dumplings that are delightfully tender and not gummy but still hold their shape and don’t disintegrate when cooked all due to my secret ingredient. The dumplings are made from scratch in minutes without any kneading, rolling or cutting! This creamy stew is also bursting with juicy chicken, hearty carrots and celery, and aromatic onions, garlic and herbs for a symphony of rich and savory flavor in every slurp. This easy Chicken and Dumplings recipe is also extremely versatile and pantry friendly – swap the chicken for ground beef or sausage, swap veggies or add more favorites, make it creamy, brothy or stew-like (all variations included).
Servings Prep Time
6-8 servings 20minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 servings 20minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Chicken and Dumplings
Ingredients
Soup
  • 4tablespoons olive oildivided
  • 3tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1pound boneless skinless chicken thighspatted dry OR rotisserie chicken (see notes)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large oniondiced
  • 4stalks celerychopped ½-inch thick
  • 4 medium carrotschopped ½-inch thick
  • 1/4cup all-purpose flour
  • 8cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4-6cloves garlic minced
  • 1teaspoon chicken bouillonor better than bouillons
  • 1tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2tsp EACH dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2cups half and halfor evaporated milk
  • 2tablespoons cornstarch
Dumplings:
  • 1-1/2cups flour
  • 1/2cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1tsp EACH dried parsley, dried chives, salt, sugar
  • 1/4teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4cup buttermilk(see DIY in notes)
  • 1 egg
  • 5tablespoons unsalted buttermelted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes)
Instructions
  1. For the dumplings, whisk buttermilk and egg together in a measuring glass/small bowl and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper then sear until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate but leave drippings.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery; sauté for 4 minutes scaping up the golden bits on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds; sprinkle in flour then cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes (it will be thick); don’t let flour stick to the bottom of the pot or it will burn later. You can add additional oil if needed.
  4. Stir in chicken broth, chicken bouillon, all seasonings, 1/4 teaspoon salt, bay leaf and chicken broth. Add chicken back to the pot. Cover the soup to bring to a simmer, then displace the lid so it’s partially covering the pot, with about a one-inch opening. Simmer the soup for 12-15 minutes or until chicken is tender enough to shred, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid. Meanwhile, make dumpling dough.
  5. Dumplings: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir melted butter into buttermilk/egg mixture until small clumps form.
  6. Stir curdled buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula just until combined and the batter mixture slightly begins to pull away from the edges of the bowl – DON’T overmix; set aside.
  7. Once chicken is tender, remove to a cutting board, shred and add back to the pot. Whisk cornstarch with half and half until smooth then stir back into the pot. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer.
  8. Using a greased tablespoon or #50 cookie scoop, drop dollops of dough into the simmering soup, spacing them out a little. Cover, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. You can check a dumpling by cutting it in half. Allow the soup to rest for 10 minutes before serving to allow the dumpling to soak up some of the soup. Season individual bowls with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe Notes

TIPS AND TRICKS 

Chicken and Dumplings is surprisingly easy to make but there are a few helpful tips and tricks for the BEST Chicken and Dumplings:

TIPS FOR DUMPLINGS

  • DIY buttermilk/sour milk:   Add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring glass. Add enough milk (not nonfat) to equal 3/4 cup.  Give it a stir and let sit 5-10 minutes in order to activate.
  • Use Cornmeal.  Cornmeal not only adds a delightful nutty corn flavor but promotes superior texture and prevents the dumplings from becoming gummy.
  • Clumps are good!  Combining the buttermilk, egg and melted butter is the key to tender biscuits.   As the warm, melted butter mixes with the cold buttermilk/egg, small clumps of hardened butter form, making it look curdled.  The curdled butter bits are what aerate the dough and create the ideal texture without having to cut the butter into the flour.
  • Don’t over-mix!  After the wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients, stir the dough slowly and gently just until it comes together.  You want your dough to be loose and well-aerated.  Over-mixing causes the gluten in the flour to form elastic gluten strands which result in a dense, chewy tough, texture.  Stop mixing as soon as you see the dough is combined and starts to pull away from the bowl.
  • Don’t pack dumplings. Use a cookie dough scoop or spoon to form your dumplings – don’t shape the dough with your hands after it is scooped as manipulating the dough packs the dough and will create tough, chewy dumplings.
  • Cover and don’t peak!  After you add the dumplings, make sure to cover the pot so the dumplings can steam and cook evenly to light and tender perfection.  Resist the urge to lift the lid until it’s time to check for doneness.  If you lift the lid, all the beautiful steam escapes and the dumplings will start to boil instead of steam as the pot builds up steam again. If you don’t have a lid for your pot, cover as tightly as you can with foil.
  • Have fun!  Dumplings are a match made in heaven to create Chicken and Dumplings but the dumplings can also be added to any soup!   Drop dumplings into Minestrone Soup, Chicken Corn Chowder, your post-holiday turkey soup etc.  You can’t go wrong with these gorgeous dumplings!

TIPS FOR SOUP

  • Use chicken thighs. This easy Chicken and Dumplings recipe will work with chicken breasts or chicken thighs, but for the best flavor and most juicy chicken, use chicken thighs or shredded rotisserie chicken.
  • Rotisserie chicken. Add about 3 cups shredded chicken to the soup when you would add the shredded chicken thighs.  I like to stock shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken portioned into 3 cup freezer bags so I always have chicken ready to add to any soup.
  • Customize vegetables.  In addition to the mirepoix, you can add whatever veggies you have on hand or mix it up just for fun! Green beans, corn, potatoes, zucchini, etc. would all be delicious.  Just be aware most vegetables will not need the full cook time – see my detailed instructions in the Variations section.
  • Vegetable size.  Chop carrots and celery at least ½-inch thick because they are going to simmer for longer than many soups.  Avoid chopping your vegetables too thin or they can become mushy.
  • Half and half substitute. If you don’t have half and half, use half milk and half heavy cream or use evaporated milk.
  • Don’t burn flour.  Don’t let flour stick to the bottom of the pot or it will burn later.  You can add additional oil if needed if the flour is sticking.
  • Consistency.  You can make this Chicken and Dumplings recipe creamier, more gravy-like or thin and brothy.  See my section on how to adjust consistency.
  • Don’t stir at the end of cooking.  Once your pot is blanketed with gorgeous, fluffy dumplings, don’t stir or the dumplings can break apart.

PREPARE AHEAD

This homemade Chicken and Dumplings recipe is very simple but it does require some prep work as far as trimming the chicken and chopping vegetables. You can save time by:

  • Trim chicken:  trim off excess fat from chicken thighs then store chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Chop vegetables:  chop the vegetables and aromatic’s a couple days ahead of time, the night before dinner or just a few hours before cooking then store the veggies and aromatics in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Measure Spices:  it doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container.

HOW TO FREEZE 

As a general rule of thumb, creamy soups do not freeze well as the texture can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. You can still freeze the soup with these expectations, or omit the half and half when freezing.  Alternatively, you can swap the half and half for evaporated milk which freeze better.

  1. Cook the Chicken and Dumplings recipe according to recipe directions.
  2. Cool the soup completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and prevent it from entering the “danger zone.”
  3. Transfer soup to an airtight freezer safe container, taking care the dumplings are on top.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to use, defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Reheat the thawed soup very gently over low heat to help incorporate the cream back into the soup.  If freezing with half and half, add some fresh cream or softened cream cheese to improve the grainy texture if desired.