Chicken and dumplings. A southern classic homemade with bone-in chicken braised in a creamy gravy, and tender drop dumplings, is comfort food defined.
I brown chicken parts in butter and add a splash of white wine to the gravy for grandeur. For extra richness, stir warm cream into the gravy just before serving—a tip I learned from Jennifer Hill Booker’s Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent. She also saves time stirring leftover roasted chicken into this chicken and dumplings dish instead of cooking a whole bird.–Toni Tipton-Martin
Classic Chicken and Dumplings
For the chicken
- One (3 1/2- to 4-pound) frying chicken cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup bacon drippings mild vegetable or olive oil, or butter
- 1 cup (5 oz) chopped onions
- 1/2 cup (2 oz) celery cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) dice
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) carrots cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) dice
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
For the drop dumplings
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons melted shortening or mild vegetable oil
Make the chicken
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Place the flour in a paper or resealable plastic bag or shallow dish, add the chicken, and toss to coat.
- In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the bacon fat, oil, or butter until sizzling, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Working in batches and being careful not to crowd the pan, add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme to the drippings in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add 4 cups chicken stock and the wine, if using, stirring and scraping up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add salt to taste. Add the bay leaf and return the chicken to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Make the drop dumplings
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and thyme. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Stir in the eggs, milk, and melted shortening or oil until well mixed.
Finish the chicken and dumplings
- Remove and discard the bay leaf from the chicken. Increase the heat under the chicken and gravy to medium-high and wait until bubbles begin to appear around the sides of the pot, about 1 minute.
- Drop the dumplings by the tablespoon on the surface of the chicken and gravy.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, without opening the lid so the dumplings steam and become tender, for 15 to 20 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: The dumpling dough will puff and turn into irregular pillows. This is to be expected. Let go of any perfectionist tendencies you may struggle with and just let them take whatever shape.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the cream.
- When the dumplings are cooked through, stir in the warmed cream. Sprinkle with parsley before serving the chicken and dumplings straight from the pot.
☞TESTER TIP: If you have leftovers or prefer to make this in advance, simply keep the chicken and dumplings in the pot and let it gently simmer until heated through. As with so many things, this recipe improves vastly with age.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
A snuggle from a puppy, the coo of a baby, and this hug in a bowl bring all the warm fuzzies.
The chicken was falling off the bone in the end, it was so tender and well-seasoned from cooking in the gravy. Having young kids who aren’t expert bone navigators, I pulled the chicken from the Dutch oven at the end, cut the meat away, and added it back in so the entire pot was boneless.
The consistency of the dumplings was a bit breadier than expected but still very good. I missed that gummy texture I think of when dreaming of dumplings.
The gravy or broth was divine. It was herbaceous and creamy but not overwhelmingly creamy. It was just enough cream to bring it together but retain the brothy consistency. The mirepoix and herbs added a depth of flavor that reminded me of Thanksgiving.
Chicken and dumplings is a dish I would consider a labor of love and it took some time to say the least. You could save a lot of time buying a rotisserie chicken, for sure. You’d sacrifice some flavor but it would make this dish a quicker weeknight option.
I’ll be adding this dish to several of my lists. The “when I have the time and don’t mind washing some dishes on a lazy Sunday” list, the “when somebody is sick and they need a belly warming, hug in a bowl pick me up” list, and the “when I’m sick I hope there is some in the freezer or someone makes this for me” list.
Eating this is like going to sleep in sheets that are still warm from the dryer…the pinnacle of comforting. Family members will swear that someone’s grandmother must be in the kitchen as the smells of browning chicken, wine, and thyme waft through your home. Everyone who ate it knew it was a winner…
…but the real magic isn’t the day you make it. It’s the next day, or even SEVERAL days later. Three days after we made it, we pulled the pot back out of the fridge with the 4 to 5 servings left in it we didn’t finish. We set it right on the stove and brought it to a simmer until heated through. THIS version was exceptional. The drop biscuits, which were a little dense, had softened just enough. The starch from the biscuits had thickened the broth every so slightly, which clung to the chicken. And that chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender. There wasn’t a thing we could have done to improve it. Make this dish and make it in advance. Having that pot of joy you can pull out of that fridge on a weeknight is worth its weight in gold.
Originally published September 30, 2020