Southern chicken and dumplings is a dish with roots that stretch back further than you may think. Southern chicken, chicken and dumplings and other great chicken recipes weren’t born out of the poverty of the Civil War or the Great Depression, as romantic as that may sound.
These magnificent chicken recipes are part of our earliest heritage, reaching back to a time when the chicken was a very valuable commodity. Chicken soup recipes meant looong laborious days in the kitchen. Some things don’t change all that much.
Making Southern chicken and dumplings is a process but it’s a very rewarding process!
That’s kind of a trick question because I have a special relationship with this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe. It’s an intimate thing of beauty – a part of my innermost soul! Ya’ll know what I mean.
It’s one of those recipes. Here’s why.
- Hearty stick-to-your-ribs YUM!
- Flavor-intense and oh so very satisfying
- Fragrant herbs rolled into the dumplings
- Great for a Sunday afternoon or holiday add on
- Wholesome nutritious ingredients
- Without a doubt – it’s a labor of love!
As I sort of mentioned earlier, this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe isn’t one of those weeknight dinners kinda’ recipes.
It is a bit labor-intensive, but the end result is so very worth it! This is where I blast my favorite cooking music, sink into my own little world and throw down in the kitchen!
So, this is one of those recipes where the type and quality of your pot really do matter. If you scorch it, it’s a big deal. You’ll want a heavier gaged type stockpot – something 8 quarts or larger. It really helps distribute the heat more evenly.
Also, there’s a lot of boiling and simmering going on in this recipe. Plus, you’re making homemade herbed dumplings. These little babies are quite coveted. I use my favorite wooden spoon so as not to end up with dumpling mush.
Okay, the list may look overwhelming at first, but I broke it up into sections like the recipe to make it easier. Trust me, it’s really not all that much and a lot of it’s probably already sitting in your cabinets! OK – music up, aprons on, here we go!
Chicken – I know some women who use hens for their chicken and dumplings but they’re pretty tough and need to be cooked much longer. I just use a regular ‘ole chicken – about a 5-pounder. When it’s done you can shred it or chop it. It’s up to you.
Veggies – You’re using a reliable blend of celery, onions, carrots, and garlic. They don’t need to be cut pretty. We just need the flavor for the stock.
Herbs & spices – This herb and spice blend (thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, S&P) may seem a little thyme-heavy but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Again, it’s for the stock so you’re infusing flavor from the very beginning.
Base – Your base is a 2 to 1 combo of chicken broth and water. – And it’s gonna’ be (ahem) slap-your-knee delicious.
Flour – I use all-purpose flour for my dumplings. It just simplifies things.
Herbs – Your fresh herb mix consists of thyme and rosemary. You’ll want these to be really fresh because they’re going to be rolled right into your dumplings.
Leavening agent – You just need a liiiittle bito’ baking powder. This is a Southern chicken and dumplings recipe, so the dumplings are flat and tasty!
Shortening – Yep! We’re making these the old-fashioned way, so you need some (gasp) shortening, lard, solid at room temperature. Just like grandma used to use!
Milk – A cup of milk holds it all together and gives your dumplings that dreamy creamy type flavor that doesn’t come in a can.
Butter – This is for sautéing the fresh veggies that really will be in the finished dish.
Fresh veggies – Celery, carrots, and onions – just like you’d expect. I try to dice roughly the same size, so they cook evenly.
Frozen peas – It’s not a true Southern chicken and dumplings recipe without peas. You have to use frozen or they’ll just be green mush.
See? It’s really not all that bad.
So, this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe does make quite a bit and you’re likely to have some leftovers unless you take it to a potluck! It stores best in an airtight container in the fridge – a big one.
If your fridge is like mine and you don’t have enough room to host an extra-large covered container, you can toss your Southern chicken and dumplings in two gallon-sized Ziplocs.
Can You Freeze This?
It goes against everything I know to be true, but you can freeze this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe. Of course, it is better served fresh but sometimes we just don’t have that kinda’ time and sometimes we’ve just got that much leftover.
I will say that it’s got to slow thaw, or you’ll end up with chicken mush. You’ll also want to keep a little chicken broth on hand because it does tend to thicken up as it sits.
Make Ahead Tips
Part of the beauty of this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe is that you’ve got options! If you need to prep the day before you can go ahead and get all the chopping out of the way. Just be sure to store the stock veggies separately from the others.
You can also make the dumplings a day ahead. Just put wax paper between the layers and slide them into the fridge. I always like to make my dumplings while the chicken is boiling so that’s an option too.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
When stored properly, your Southern chicken and dumplings will stay fresh and crave-worthy for up to 4 days in the fridge. Just be sure to let it cool completely before putting it up and reserve the FDA recommended 2-hour serving rule.
You can’t go too crazy with the variations of this dish because you literally build layers of intensely delicious flavors from the ground up. A few simple changes will give you an entirely new dish. Here’s what I mean.
Can I Add Rice?
I get it, not everybody likes dumplings. Although, I would urge you to try these awesome herbed dumplings before making your decision.
But – if Southern chicken and dumplings just aren’t your cup of tea, you can always make Southern chicken and rice! No rolling – no lard, but you may need to add a little flour to thicken up your base. That is, of course, unless you’d rather make an instant pot chicken and rice soup.
What Salad Can I Partner This Soup With?
I have to recommend, southwest chicken salad. If your Southern chicken and dumplings is ready to serve and you’ve got some chicken left, use it to try this southern chicken salad recipe. It’ll totally change your relationship with chicken salad!
Can I Add Some Spices?
This Southern chicken and dumplings has so much incredible flavor you really don’t need to play with the spices at all. For something with a little more heat, you can use half the base, substitute pasta for dumplings and add some spice to make a Cajun chicken pasta that will knock your socks off. I Guarontee!
I’ve always loved a little heat and been known to make Cajun chicken alfredo on occasion too.
Can I Add Potatoes?
Okay, my friend. There are simply no potatoes in Southern chicken and dumplings! If you’ve got a few lingering potatoes that need to get used up, one of my favorite cold-weather dishes is chicken gnocchi soup. Don’t have that kinda’ time? Make chicken potato soup instead!
What Other Southern Chicken Dishes Can I Make?
This Sothern chicken and dumplings isn’t the only Southern chicken dish that will rock your world! Louisiana chicken is a Creole-style dish with a zesty sauce that will perk up those taste buds and chicken Lazone is an easy pan-fried chicken in a luscious cream sauce. It tastes so good you won’t believe how easy it is!
If you’ve got leftovers, they can always go into a made-from-scratch chicken bog that everyone will love.
Southern Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Stock:
- 1 4-5 pounds whole chicken
- 4 large carrots cut into thirds
- 4 celery cut into thirds
- 2 large yellow onions quartered
- 6 garlic cloves smashed
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh herb mix of thyme, rosemary, and parsley
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons shortening
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup carrots diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- 1 cup yellow onion diced
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- Cook chicken and make stock by combining all ingredients in an 8 quart or larger heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is falling off the bones tender, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until it's cool enough to handle. While chicken is cooking, prepare the dumplings.
- Make the dumplings: In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and the fresh herbs with a fork. Add the shortening and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives (the mixture will look like coarse crumbs). Add the milk and stir until combined. Gather the dough into a ball. Flour your countertop. Turn your dough out on the floured counter. Knead the dough gently until it comes together about 6-7 times. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll out the dough, one third at a time, until it's 1/8 inch thick. Cut the rolled out dough into roughly 1-inch strips then cut the strips crosswise into roughly 1 1/2 inch rectangles. (Use a floured knife or pastry cutter to do this don't worry if your pieces aren't exactly the same size...they're handmade!). Place cut pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat the rolling and cutting with the rest of the dough then stack the other layers of cut dough between sheets of parchment paper on the same baking sheet. You can refrigerate the dumplings at this point if you aren't serving right away, for up to one day.
- Remove the skin and bones from the cooked chicken and shred or cut it into bite-size pieces; set aside.
- Strain the broth into another large bowl or pot and discard the cooked veggies. Set aside. Add the butter to the original large pot and saute the diced carrot, celery and onion for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Carefully add back the strained broth to the pot, increasing the heat to high, and bring to a boil. When the stock is boiling add the dumplings in batches, stirring between additions. Return the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir the dumplings. Cover and cook another 15 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken and the peas. Bring the stock back to a gentle boil then cover the pot and remove it from heat. Allow the Chicken and Dumplings to sit, covered for 20 minutes before serving.
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Southern chicken and dumplings is pretty much a delicacy in some parts of the country. Just because you don’t always have the time for this labor of love doesn’t mean your family doesn’t want chicken and dumplings!
Here are some other great chicken and dumplings recipes you may enjoy.
- Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings – Set it and forget it comfort food.
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings – All the flavor of the original dish in a fraction of the time!
- Bisquick Chicken and Dumplings – Flavor, comfort, and convenience!
- Easy Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings with Biscuits – This one is just down-home lip-smackin’ good!
- Chicken Dumpling Soup – That salty satisfying flavor of chicken soup with the yummy dumplings too.
I must admit, there’s just something magical about this Southern chicken and dumplings. It warms the heart and nourishes the soul. The finished product is so delicious and intensely satisfying, I don’t mind the little bit of work to put it together. It’s part of what makes me a mom.
When your family is ready for some down-home comfort food or if you need a really great holiday add-on, reach for this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe. You’ll be glad you did!