Close Up of Chicken and Dumplings in a Bowl with Green Beans and Another Bowl in Background

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings – A Warm Hug In A Bowl

Chicken and dumplings is a classic comfort dish that I endeavor to make at least once every winter. Warm and filling, it is the type of stick-to-your-ribs-and-buttocks dish that I could indulge in year-round but feels particularly well suited to brisk autumn nights and chilly winter days. It is a fine example of a dish that nourishes both the body and the soul.

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My Chicken and Dumplings Story

My most treasured memories are centered around shared meals, and homemade chicken and dumplings are particularly meaningful for me.

During the early part of my career at a construction company, I was fortunate to work with my very favorite kind of person – a curmudgeonly old man with a heart of gold. His name was Richard, and despite his gruff exterior, he and I hit it off immediately. 

After noticing my consistent envy over his homemade chicken and dumplings in the lunchroom, Richard began packing a double helping of dumplings so he could share with me. And perhaps so I would stop shamelessly drooling so close to his food 😉

It became a work-time tradition that I came to treasure and sparked a meaningful relationship with both him and his wife, Joyce, that I think of fondly to this day.

On a fateful winter day, while delivering some homemade goodies as a small token of appreciation for their many kindnesses, I ventured to Richard’s home. It just so happened, I timed my trip to perfectly align with a day dedicated to dumpling-making. Richard and Joyce immediately invited me to join in, and I readily accepted! 

We spent the afternoon bringing together an absurd amount of dough, rolling it out and cutting it all into perfect little squares all while filling the kitchen with stories, laughter and a fair amount of excess flour. 

Sadly, Richard passed away in 2016. Yet, to this day, I think of him and Joyce every time I make dumplings. They are a constant reminder to me that food unifies us in the most beautiful of ways. 

Close Up of Chicken and Dumplings in a Bowl on a Cutting Board

Rolled Dumplings vs. Drop Dumplings

Dumplings cover a pretty broad category and every region, country and family have their own version. In layman’s terms, they are basically cooked batches of dough. For the dish known as Chicken and Dumplings, there are two schools of thought when it comes to the dumplings – the rolled variety and the drop variety. I have experimented with both, and I believe both are perfectly delicious and have their merit. 

I liken the drop version to a stickier, biscuity (that’s a word, right?) dough. I prefer the drop version in a brothier base. It is really fun to watch them expand as they cook! 

I grew up eating the rolled form of dumplings, so I gravitate to this form. It’s hard to beat the nostalgia associated with this comfort dish. When rolled out, this dumpling dough has the appearance of a pasta-ish type dough (I am all about the technical terms for things). The recipe I will be focusing on is the rolled version.

Close Up of Rolled and Cut Dumplings With Measuring Cup in the Background

Potential Variations for Chicken and Dumplings

The Chicken and Dumplings that I grew up eating did not have any additional herbs or veggies. They were simply chicken, dumplings and broth. 

Occasionally, I like to freshen things up by adding the holy trinity of the kitchen: onion, carrot and celery. You could also add some frozen peas toward the end of cooking.

If I have some herbs that need using up, I will add those as well. Thyme is a welcome addition and adding some parsley to individual bowls gives this dish a pleasing pop of color. We eat with our eyes first, right?

Don’t feel like you have to stick to chicken either. Dumplings are a Thanksgiving tradition for my husband’s family and since turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving protein, they add – yeah, you guessed it – turkey. And it is perfect and decadent and delicious in every way. 

Dumplings Cut Into Triangles

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Place chicken breasts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake chicken for 35 – 45 minutes depending on the size of chicken breasts. 

While chicken is baking, begin making your dumplings. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter or a fork until you have pea-sized pieces interspersed throughout your flour mixture. I like to use grated, frozen butter. I always keep an abundance of butter on hand split up between the fridge and the freezer 🙂 

Add the buttermilk and mix together until you have a homogenous dough, being mindful to not overmix.

Transfer your dumpling dough to a generously floured work surface. Dust the top of your dough with flour and roll your dough out to ⅛” thickness. I like to use this nifty rolling pin to take the guesswork out of rolling thickness. It is also super useful for pie and cookie doughs. 

While rolling out your dough, add flour as necessary to prevent your dough from sticking to your work surface and rolling pin. Don’t be shy, the additional flour is going to help thicken your broth base when you add the dumplings to the chicken stock.

Rolled Dumpling Dough with Rolling Pin and Cut Dumplings in the Background
Dumplings Cut Into Triangles With Rolling Pin and Pastry Cutter in Background

Using a pizza cutter, cut out your individual dumplings. Squares and rectangles are pretty traditional, but I have been pretty partial to cutting them into triangles as of late. I find that I can move through cutting the dough pretty quickly while still maintaining uniformity. Now, uniformity is not required when cutting out your dumplings. Dumplings are inherently rustic and unfussy, so you-do-you for this part. 

Bring your chicken stock up to a boil. While waiting for your stock to come up to temp, shred your chicken. Once your stock has reached a rolling boil, add your dumplings one at a time to avoid sticking. Stir frequently as you add in your dumplings. 

Once your dumplings have been added to the stock, add your shredded chicken and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow your dumplings to cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until cooked through and tender. As your dumplings cook, you will notice that your stock base will naturally start to thicken due to the excess flour on your dumplings. 

And there you have it – ultimate comfort in a bowl!

Two Bowls of Chicken and Dumplings on a Cutting Board with Green Beans and Spoons in the Background

Tips and Tricks

  • I like to double and sometimes triple the recipe featured here so that I can keep some frozen dumplings on hand at all times. This is how Joyce and her family did things, and I adopted the same practice. Having ready-made components on hand assist in putting a home-cooked meal on the table during busy weeknights. 

For most things, it doesn’t take much longer to double up on the recipe than if you were just sticking to one batch. To freeze the dumplings, I very generously flour cookie sheets covered with wax paper and add the dumplings in a single layer after cutting. 

If adding multiple layers to the same cookie sheet, add more flour and wax paper between the layers. I then keep the cookie sheets in the freezer for a couple of hours before transferring to freezer bags for long-term storage. Putting them directly into freezer bags without first freezing them in single layers causes them to stick together pretty badly when thawing out. 

  • I always keep homemade chicken stock on hand in the freezer until ready to use. If using store-bought, I highly recommend the low sodium variety so you can control the salt content. I have had the misfortune of eating heavily salted chicken and dumplings (It is super possible that I made the salty batch myself before I started making my own stock…), and it was pretty hard to choke down. 
  • Don’t overwork the dough. Knead the dough until just incorporated. Working the dough too long can be the difference between tender, soft dumplings and rough discs of dough in a gravy-like broth. I also like to work in small batches when I roll out and cut the dough. 
  • Don’t have buttermilk on hand? No problem! You can make your own in no time. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk, stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Voila! Homemade buttermilk. In a pinch, I have also made the dumplings with chicken stock in lieu of the buttermilk. 
Close Up of Chicken and Dumplings in a Bowl with Green Beans and Another Bowl in Background

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

Add warmth to chilly nights with this Chicken and Dumplings recipe that is sure to nourish the body and the soul. 
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 326 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 chicken breasts or about 3 cups of cooked chicken
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsps cold butter cubed or grated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place chicken breasts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake chicken for 35 - 45 minutes depending on the size of chicken breasts.
  • While chicken is baking, begin making your dumplings. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter or a fork until you have pea-sized pieces interspersed throughout your flour mixture. I like to use grated, frozen butter.
  • Add the buttermilk and mix together until you have a homogenous dough.
  • Transfer your dumpling dough to a generously floured work surface. Dust the top of your dough with flour and roll your dough out to ⅛” thickness.
  • While rolling out your dough, add flour as necessary to prevent your dough from sticking to your work surface and rolling pin. Don’t be shy, the additional flour is going to help thicken your broth base when you add the dumplings to the chicken stock.
  • Using a pizza cutter, cut out your individual dumplings.
  • Bring your chicken stock up to a boil. While waiting for your stock to come up to temp, shred your chicken. Once your stock has reached a rolling boil, add your dumplings one at a time to avoid sticking. Stir frequently as you add in your dumplings.
  • Once your dumplings have been added to the stock, add your shredded chicken and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow your dumplings to cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until cooked through and tender. As your dumplings cook, you will notice that your stock base will naturally start to thicken due to the excess flour on your dumplings.
  • Once dumplings have cooked through, serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Feel free to use any part of the chicken you would like for this recipe. I generally make chicken and dumplings on days that I am also making a new batch of chicken stock, so I break down a whole chicken and bake. I then reserve roughly 3 cups of the cooked chicken for this recipe and freeze the rest. Using a cooked rotisserie chicken from your local supermarket is a great time saver. Don't shy away from using turkey if that is what you have on hand. 
  • Make this recipe a full meal by adding veggies. Carrots, celery and onions work great in this dish. Peas are a tasty option as well. 
Keyword Homemade, Chicken and Dumplings
Delicious and Comforting Homemade Chicken and Dumplings Pinterest Pin Image

Chicken and dumplings definitely hold a special place in my heart due to all of the heartfelt moments I associate with this dish. 

What is your most meaningful memory centered around food?

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