Nothing says comfort food like a bowl of southern chicken and dumplings. A creamy soup base is lightly seasoned and filled with shredded chicken and homemade drop-style dumplings.
Chicken and dumplings is a classic comfort soup made with a creamy, thick soup base, shredded chicken, and fluffy dumplings. It's made from scratch and filled with cozy, soothing flavor.
While there are several styles of dumplings, such as flat and drop, I like to make mine drop-style. The dumplings are made of a biscuit-type dough that's dropped into the soup base and steamed until cooked through and fluffy.
Serve chicken and dumplings any time of year - it's the perfect comfort food when you're in need of a warm, hearty meal.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Butter - Necessary to make a roux along with the flour, which is used to thicken the soup. You'll also need some very cold butter (I like to grate mine with a box grater) for the dumplings. If using salted butter, reduce the listed salt by ¼ teaspoon.
- Onion & celery - Add flavor to the soup base. I don't recommend omitting either ingredient. If desired, add a diced carrot along with the onion and celery.
- Garlic - Adds flavor to the soup base. I recommend using fresh minced garlic or garlic powder (½ teaspoon) rather than garlic in a jar, which often has a harsh flavor.
- Flour - Necessary to make a roux along with the butter, which thickens the soup base. You'll also need flour to make the dumplings. I haven't tested this recipe with anything other than all-purpose flour.
- Chicken - Today we're using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but chicken thighs would also work just fine in this recipe.
- Chicken broth - Adds flavor to the soup base. If using low or no sodium broth, you may want to add additional poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to make up for the lost flavor.
- Milk - Makes the soup creamy and used as the liquid in the dumplings. I recommend whole milk for best flavor and a creamy texture. Lower fat milks will work, but soup will turn out thinner.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning add a mild, savory flavor to the soup. Poultry seasoning can be substituted with an equal amount of thyme and/or sage.
- Baking powder - Necessary to help your dumplings puff up while cooking.
Tips and tricks
- Use a meat thermometer - To prevent overcooked, dry chicken, use a meat thermometer. Chicken is cooked through when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.
- Work on the next step while your soup cooks - While the chicken is cooking in the soup base, the dumpling mixture can be prepared. While your dumplings are cooking, the chicken can be shredded. This helps reduce your overall time in the kitchen.
- Don't overwork the dumpling dough - Stir the dough until it's just combined and a bit sticky. There's no need to keep mixing - this can make your dumplings turn out tough.
- Don't stir the dumplings - Once the dumplings have been added to the soup, try not to move them around too much. Otherwise, they can crumble apart before cooking.
Frequently asked questions
Flat and drop are the two styles of dumplings that are commonly used in chicken and dumplings. They can be made with a from-scratch dough or by using canned biscuits. Flat dumplings are rolled out and cut into square "noodles", then added to the soup base to cook. Drop-style dumplings are made by dropping spoonfuls of dough directly into the soup base.
Depending on where you're from and what your family made growing up, you may prefer one to the other. This recipe can be prepared with flat or drop dumplings.
Yes, simply skip the step of cooking the chicken in the soup base and add the cooked shredded chicken as directed in the recipe card.
Chicken and dumplings is a hearty meal on its own, but can easily be stretched to feed more when served with a side or two. Here are a few ideas:
- Skillet cornbread
- Roasted zucchini and squash
- Kale apple slaw
- Strawberry walnut salad
- Broccoli cauliflower salad
- Parmesan brussels sprouts
Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days when stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm up in a saucepan over medium heat until warmed to your liking.
Southern Chicken and Dumplings
- ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
- 32 ounces (907 g) chicken broth
- 16 ounces (454 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 16 ounces (454 g) whole milk
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, cold
- 1 cup (227 g) whole milk
- In a stock pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and celery and cook until lightly browned around the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add flour and stir to coat vegetables. Cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to catch any browned bits.
- Add chicken breasts, salt, pepper,and poultry seasoning to the soup and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken breasts are cooked through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center (while chicken cooks, prepare the dumpling dough below). Remove chicken from soup base and set aside to cool slightly before shredding.
- Add milk to soup and stir to combine.
- In a bowl, add flour, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine and remove lumps. Grate cold butter using the large side of a box grater and add to flour mixture, tossing to combine.
- Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and add milk. Gently stir until ingredients are just incorporated. Dough will look shaggy and sticky.
- Drop dumplings: Using a spoon, scoop dough and drop gently into the soup.Flat dumplings: Toss dough out onto a floured surface and roll to about ¼" thickness. Slice into 1 inch strips, then cut strips into squares. Drop squares gently into the soup.
- Bring soup to a simmer, cover tightly with a lid, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through to your liking.
- Remove lid and add shredded chicken. Stir gently to combine, then remove from heat and serve.
- Leftover soup will keep for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. To reheat add to a saucepan over medium heat and stir gently until warmed to your liking.
- Dumpling ingredients can be substituted with biscuit dough to save time if desired.
- Chicken can be substituted with rotisserie chicken or any cooked, lightly seasoned chicken if desired.