I have to start this post by saying that it is not easy to take an appetizing photo of chicken and dumplings. You’ll just have to take my word that this is my favorite way to make them!
There’s about a billion and three ways to make chicken and dumplings. Sometimes the dumplings are rolled out almost flat and cut into squares before cooking, which results in a chewy, more uniform texture. Sometimes the dough is rolled into balls, which results in puffy lil matzo ball looking things that have a soft biscuit texture on the inside. The latter method has always been my go-to method for making dumplings. The change in texture from the outside to the inside of the dumpling, with that warm biscuit texture on the inside… that’s the stuff comfort food is made of, right there.
You’ll also find variations in the broth itself. Sometimes it’s very thin and broth-like, resulting more in chicken dumpling soup than anything else. Sometimes it’s super thick, more like a biscuit gravy than a soup… and sometimes it’s in between.
There’s even talk that the method used to make these puppies varies by region, though the jury is still out on that one. The general consensus is that southern chicken and dumplings consists of the rolled, flat dumplings, while northern chicken and dumplings go the “matzo ball” route. There’s not a lot of evidence to back up this claim, considering both types of dumplings have been found all over the country, so you can take that bit of info with a grain of salt.
This recipe for chicken & dumplings has gone through a few revisions over the years, but the method for making the actual dumplings has remained the same since my mom used to make these for me as a kid. The original version, straight outta my mom’s recipe box, calls for adding a can of cream of chicken soup to the base. That’s all fine and good, but Matt and I removed condensed soups from our diet (watching the ole sodium intake) a few years ago, so I needed a different way to add some oomph and extra flavor.
So I turned to another favorite, my easy chicken pot pie recipe. This one starts by sauteing some onions in butter, adding some flour to create a roux, tossing in some chicken broth and milk, and letting it thicken. We both love the flavorful base in our chicken pot pie, so I had the idea to use that exact same method as a starter for my homemade chicken and dumplings recipe, and let me tell you, it worked exceedingly well.
Here’s the recipe!
|Easy Chicken and Dumplings|| |
- FOR BROTH
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and Pepper
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup milk
- 2 to 3 cans of chicken broth
- ⅓ cup onion, minced
- 2 TBS butter
- FOR DUMPLINGS
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups buttermilk
- 3 TBS shortening
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- PREPARE THE BROTH
- Cook chicken using either a slow cooker on low 4-6 hours with chicken covered with salted water, or boil chicken in a pot on stove top for 12-13 minutes. If boiling, add just enough water to cover the chicken and add a pinch or two of salt.
- Chop or shred chicken and return to the water in which it was cooked.
- In a metal skillet on medium heat, melt butter and add onions, cooking until translucent and fragrant.
- Add salt, pepper, and ⅓ cup flour and mix together.
- Add a can of chicken broth and use a spatula to break up any clumps.
- Add milk, stir, and continue to cook on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens.
- MAKE THE DUMPLINGS
- Meanwhile, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) for the dumplings in a separate bowl.
- Use a fork and knife or a pastry blender to cut in the 3 TBS of shortening, then slowly add buttermilk and mix until combined.
- With floured hands, form dough into small balls and place them on wax paper. You should have about 28 dumplings.
- FINISH THE BROTH
- When your onion mixture has thickened, add it to the chicken and water. I like to add an extra can of two or chicken broth at this point, depending on how much broth you want.
- Bring mixture to a low simmer and allow to cook for a few minutes.
- If thickening is desired, create a slurry by scooping out ¼ cup of the broth and whisking in 2 TBS of flour. Return the slurry to the pot and mix.
- COOK THE DUMPLINGS
- When your broth is the desired thickness, bring the mixture to a low boil and gently drop the dumplings in by hand, one at a time. Do not stir or bump the dumplings at this point, as they may fall apart by too much handling.
- Allow to boil for 5-7 minutes or until dumplings are puffy on the outside and have reached a biscuit-like texture on the inside (I like to peek at the inside of one to make sure).
- Remove from heat and serve.
Just a few notes on this – if you have the time to slow cook your chicken, the meat will be more tender than if you boil it on the stove. Both methods work fine, of course, and boiling it is much faster. If you do use the slow cooker, consider also using bone-in chicken, as you’ll get more flavor in the broth. Just make sure you get all of those little bits of bone out of there when you shred the chicken and return it to the broth.
Also, you don’t want to overcook your dumplings – they quickly become hard and extra chewy on the inside if left to boil for too long. I recommend checking the inside of a dumpling on the lower end of the recommended cook time, just until you get the hang of it. When done, the outsides of the dumpling will look puffy and they will be bobbing like corks at the top of the broth.