How to Make Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

January 9, 2011

In my family, a high standard has been set for Chicken and Dumplings. One so high that few people or recipes can successfully reach it. Why? Well, because we grew up with my mom making my great grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings.

My mother did such a great job perfecting the recipe that even my grandmother would fail and call my mom to make them for her.

As you can imagine, we tend to judge other recipes by this high standard. Let’s start by saying that noodles that try to pass as dumplings are insulting. We’ll pass on those drop biscuit dumplings as well.

The dumplings must be flat, yet puffy with a firm bite, and most importantly, homemade.

I realize now that these dumplings are a lot like a large version of spaetzle. This makes complete sense considering my family is of German descent. There is a good chance that these dumplings were spaetzle at one point in my family history.

As a kid I would fish out all the dumplings from the pot and leave the chicken for my dad. I can’t say that this has changed too much, but as an adult I do include some chicken too, but mostly the white meat.

When we started buying locally raised, pastured chickens from nearby farms, and once I finally mastered cooking a full chicken and not just pieces, I knew it was time to try my great grandmother’s chicken and dumplings.

The whole process is actually quite simple and requires few ingredients. To summarize, you make a stock with the whole chicken, make your dough for the dumplings and cut it, remove the cooked chicken, cook the dumplings, then add the shredded chicken back in.

My mom warned me before I started that the key to the perfect dumplings is no stirring. Once you drop them in the boiling water, resist the urge to stir. Simply use a spoon to push them gently to the side and add more. If you stir them, they will break up and you’ll be left with a doughy mess instead of individual dumplings.

Are you ready to try it yourself? Well, here you go. It’s only 8 easy steps.

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

1 whole chicken
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
¼ cup oil (I used olive oil, the original recipe calls for lard)
¼ to ½ cup milk
3 cups unbleached white flour

Step 1:

Place your chicken in a large soup pot. Cover it completely with water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to just above a simmer and partially cover the pot.

As the water begins to boil the chicken will be making your broth. Once the water is hot, the skin will begin to cook immediately and look a bit like this. Be sure you have a pair of tongs handy to work with the chicken.

Continue to cook the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, begin your dumplings.

Step 2:

In a bowl, combine the eggs, salt, baking powder, oil and ¼ c milk. Whisk with a fork. Begin to add in the flour, a little at a time, until a dough is formed. It should be firm and only slightly stickier than a bread dough. If the dough is too dry, add in more milk until you reach the right consistency for the dough.

Step 3:

Place the dough on a floured surface and begin rolling it out into a large circle. You want it to reach about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in thickness. Continue to sprinkle the dough with flour as you roll to keep it from sticking.

Step 4:

Next, check your chicken. It is best to allow it to cook until the chicken begins to fall apart. Use a large spoon and tongs to help you carefully remove it from the hot water. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool to the point where you can shred it with your hands or with a fork.

Ensure that your broth is at a low boil, you may need to increase the heat a bit after removing the chicken.

Step 5:

Return to your dumplings and begin slicing them. I used a steak knife with a serrated edge. Cut the dumplings into strips about 1 to 1 ½ inches wide. Cut across from the opposite direction to create diamond shapes.

Step 6:

If your chicken is cool enough to work with, begin shredding the meat you want to use for your dumplings. You can use all the dark and white meat you are able shred off the bone, or reserve some of the meat for later use. It really depends on how meaty you want your dumplings and how many people you are serving.

Shred the chicken and set aside. If all of the meat isn’t cool enough to touch continue on with the dumplings and you can shred the rest of the meat once the dumplings are cooking.

Step 7:

Carefully grab a handful of dumplings, keeping them somewhat separated and slowly add them to the boiling broth. Continue dropping the dumplings in one to two at a time and be cautious of hot water splashing out.

The dumplings will immediately rise to the top as they cook. As you need space, use a spoon to gently move the cooking dumplings to the side of the pot as you add in more. Do not stir! Continue this process until all your dumplings are in the pot.

Once they are all in the pot, allow them to cook 2 to 3 minutes and test one. They should be firm and cooked through, yet they will be soft and flexible, a little like a noodle.

Step 8:
Once the dumplings are done, or are very closing to being done, begin to add in the shredded chicken. At this point you can gently stir the chicken and the dumplings.

Allow the chicken to heat through and the meal is ready to serve! Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serves about 6.

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  • Tamara Marnell January 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I have a bad case of congestion right now and this looks perfect. Although I have to violate the principle of Fake Food Free by using frozen chicken breasts and canned broth because I need dinner, like, now.

  • OysterCulture January 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Chicken and dumplings is something I absolutely love yet never make myself. Once again you have me inspired to stretch my cooking. Thank you!

  • Jessica January 10, 2011 at 4:46 am

    This looks delicious! I’ve never made those types of dumplings before. In Asia, dumplings are always wonton wrappers stuffed with veggies and ground meet!

  • Faith January 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I can’t think of a better meal than this for a cold winter’s day! Your family’s version of this classic looks really fantatic…thanks for sharing!

  • kat January 10, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Oh I have some homemade chicken stock & cooked chicken in the fridge…so tempted to go make this…

  • emily (a nutritionist eats) January 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Yum! I still have not cooked an entire chicken…need to try it soon!

  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance January 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Oh, now I thought the chicken would be IN the dumplings, like raviolis or something. Obviously I’ve never had or made this!

  • Joanne January 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a truly awesome version of chicken and dumplings. Isn’t that sad? these are definitely going to have to be made to make up for lost time!

  • 5 Star Foodie January 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Chicken and dumplings is the ultimate comfort food! This is an excellent step by step tutorial!

  • Lori January 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Tamara – It would be perfect when under the weather. Sometimes when your sick you definitley need it quick.

    OysterCulture – This was the first time I attempted them on my own. I hope to make them again before our cold weather is over with. 🙂

    Jessica – Asian dumplings have a special place in my heart. 🙂 All kinds rank in my top 5 favorite foods.

    Faith – Thanks! Such a good meal for the witner for sure.

    kat – If you try it out, hope you all like it! Having those things on hand already would definitely speed up the process.

    emily – It’s so easy and much less scary than I thought. Lots of extra meat to work with for leftovers too.

    Michelle – Ha, ha! I think maybe my saying, “It’s a southern thing,” might be appropriate here. 🙂 That’s a good idea though!

    Joanne – Honestly this is really the only version I like. It’s not one of my very favorite foods, but this is one of those that brings back memories.

    5 Star – Thanks! It’s really ideal for this time of year.

  • tamm grenon August 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    As a kid I watched my Grandmother make Chicken and Dumplings. She let the broth cool down, and skimmed some of the fat off before she returned the chicken. The dumplings she used lard, and buttermilk. she pinched off the dough and dropped it into the pot. never stired …
    the rest of the dough she made bread.

    Also, using 1 can of cream of chicken soup makes it creamer.

  • Lori August 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Your grandma’s version sounds great! We don’t eat canned soup due to it being a processed food (pretty much the theme of my blog), but that’s a good suggestion for those who do and who like creamy dumplings.