Chicken and Dumplings

Favorite WinterComfort FoodChicken StewDumplings

Here's how to make classic chicken and dumplings! Start with a hearty chicken and vegetable stew, then add delicious homemade dumplings that cook up light and fluffy.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Chicken and dumplings are the ultimate comfort food, aren’t they? When we were kids, my mother used to make chicken and dumplings for us by simply adding Bisquick biscuit dough to chicken stew.

We would always fight over these dumplings. (Ever wonder why people from big families eat fast? The first kid who finishes gets seconds on the dumplings.)

Homemade Dumplings

Making dumplings that are tasty, light, yet hold together isn’t a given. The Bisquick dumpling version, although light and fluffy, tends to fall apart.

At the other end of the spectrum, my dad remembers his mother’s dumplings which were, in his words “as hard as hockey pucks.” Leftovers would be grated the following morning and fried up like potatoes.

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings in Bowl

Tips for the Best Homemade Dumplings

The dumplings in this recipe are firm enough to hold together without disintegrating even after multiple reheats of the stew, yet still, manage to be light and fluffy. Below are some tips to achieve the best chicken and dumplings:

  • Don’t peek! The key is to not peek into the pan while the dumplings are cooking. The dumplings need to gently steam in the simmering stew to result in a light texture.
  • Use cake flour: Using cake flour in place of all-purpose flour will also help the dumplings be lighter, as cake flour has less gluten than regular flour.
  • Brown the chicken: To coax more flavor into the stew base, we brown the chicken pieces before cooking them in the stew.
  • Make a roux: Browning the flour in a roux with rendered chicken fat will give the base more flavor, while thickening the stew.

What to Serve with Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is basically a meal unto itself. But if you’d like something extra on the side, go for a simple green vegetable, like steamed broccoli, sautéed greens, or roasted Brussels sprouts. A simple salad would also be great.

Looking for more classic comfort foods?

Updated February 28, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

For the chicken and vegetables:

  • 3 to 3  1/2 pounds chicken thighs and breast parts, skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons butter or extra virgin olive oil, or a combination of both
  • Salt
  • 1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best)
  • 2 to 3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or vermouth (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Ground black or white pepper

For the dumplings:

  • 2 cups (250 g) cake flour (can sub all-purpose flour, but use cake flour if you have it, your dumplings will be fluffier)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh herb leaves such as parsley, chives, and tarragon (optional)

Method

1 Heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a medium pot.

2 Brown the chicken: In a large 8-quart or larger thick-bottomed pot, heat the butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat dry the chicken pieces and sprinkle with salt.

Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces, placing the pieces skin-side down first; this will render out fat you will use to build the stew later.

brown chicken for chicken and dumplings chicken and dumplings brown the chicken first

3 Poach the chicken in the stock: Once the chicken pieces are browned on all sides, remove them from the large pot, and turn off the heat. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken pieces and put the chicken pieces into the pot of simmering stock.

Poach the chicken in the stock until cooked through, about 20 minutes or so.

Remove the chicken pieces and set on a tray to cool for a few minutes. When the chicken pieces are cool to touch, pull the meat off the bones and cut into 2-inch chunks. Set aside.

4 Cook the vegetables until softened: Return the heat on the large pot to medium-high. When the pot is hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and thyme and sauté until soft, but not browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.

chicken and dumplings saute vegetables

5 Add the flour and stir well. The flour will absorb the fat in the pot and will stick a little to the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir the flour vegetable mixture constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let it burn.

chicken and dumplings add flour chicken and dumplings saute vegetables

6 Add sherry, slowly add stock: Get a ladle ready and have the pot of simmering chicken stock nearby. Add the sherry to the flour vegetable mixture. It will sputter and seize up.

Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to and stir well. It will be goopy. Add another ladle, then another, stirring all the while, until the broth comes together.

Chicken and Dumplings add stock

Add the rest of the chicken stock and the reserved chicken meat. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer while you make the dumplings.

7 Make the dumpling batter: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add (optional) chopped fresh herbs. Add melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients.

Gently mix with a wooden spoon until mixture just comes together. (Note: do not over-mix or your dumplings will turn out too dense.)

8 Add dumplings to the stew: Drop dumpling batter into the simmering stew by heaping teaspoonfuls, over the surface of the stew. (Note that the dumplings will easily double in size as they cook.) Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

chicken and dumplings drop dumplings into stew chicken and dumplings form single layer with dumplings

Once you have covered the pan, do not uncover and peek while the dumplings are cooking! In order for the dumplings to be light and fluffy, they must steam, not boil. Uncovering the pan releases the steam.

If after 15 minutes the dumplings are still not cooked through (use a toothpick or skewer to test), then cover pan again and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.

9 Finish the stew: Gently stir in peas, parsley, and cream, if using. Add more salt to taste. Ladle portions of meat, sauce, vegetables, and dumplings into soup plates and serve. Note that the stew will continue to thicken the longer it sits.

chicken and dumplings add peas chicken and dumplings stew

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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122 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Barb

    Can I make the chicken stew several hours ahead then add dump!ings mixture before serving?

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Miranda

    Do I brown both sides of the chicken or just the skin side? About how long does that take?

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Lisa

    This is so similar to Grammy’s recipe! Talk about comfort food; this is such a wonderful recipe. Remember the sherry is key in flavoring! Don’t be afraid to add other veggies or roots to add a little twist

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Sean

    Excellent recipe, have made it many times and it is delicious. The herbs in the dumplings are a nice touch.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. CS

    It was awesome!!! Even my kids loved it! Requested it again and I freaked out scouring the web for the recipe…so relieved when I found it!!!It’s cold out and we’re having it for dinner!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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