Southern Chicken and dumplings recipe that is as comforting as it is flavorful. It’s perfect for a hearty make-ahead weeknight dinner or just enjoy it on a Sunday dinner get together.
An old school southern comfort dish requires music from someone with an old soul. Anthony Hamilton fits the bill and “Mama Knew Love” is the perfect track to crank up in the kitchen as you make this dish.
I grew up with my grandparents but went to live with my mother when I was 16. It was an adjustment, a big one for both of us, but food helped greatly with the transition. Mama knew food, so mama knew love and her chicken and dumplings recipe was my favorite dish. Her recipe is the inspiration to my version. My dumplings are tender but not as tender as Mom’s.
What are dumplings?
I remember the first time I had chicken and dumplings. My grandmother served up a pot and probably for the first time ever, asked her, “What is this?” Immediately, I got the look, the one that said just shut up and be grateful you have a meal. I did what her look said to do and enjoyed the finest chicken and something stew I had ever had to that point. It wasn’t until I lived with moms that I learned those tender, fluffy micro pillows were called dumplings.
So exactly what are they you ask? To avoid any confusion Southern dumplings bear no resemblance to Asian dumplings. Asian varieties include dough with some type of stuffing. Down south the dumpling in its basic form is just dough that is simmered in liquid. Southern dumplings are a delightful treat, made with humble, basic ingredients (flour and water) but an exhibition in ingenuity, creativity, and survival.
How To Make Chicken and Dumplings
Step 1: Prepare the Chicken
Allow chicken to marinate at least 4 hours for more intensely flavored chicken. Remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature. Brown the chicken on both sides in butter or olive oil. Don’t worry about the nasty bits of chicken skin left behind, as there is all kinds of flavor there.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables
Saute onions, carrots, and celery in the same pot. Add seasonings after 2 minutes for more depth of flavor. The heat actually intensifies the spice flavors.
Step 3: Make the roux
Add the flour to the vegetables and mix well. This thickens the soup and adds flavor as well. Let brown just a tad for about 90 seconds.
Step 4: Make the soup
Add chicken stock, fresh herbs bundle, and bay leaf to the pot and mix well. I season as I go so I add more seasoning here. Add chicken back and simmer for two hours.
Step 5: While chicken cooks, make the dumplings.
I’m not much for baking or anything baking related so I borrowed a dumpling recipe from Saveur. I have cheated with shortcuts like using ready-made biscuit dough. They work well but aren’t as light and fluffy as homemade dumplings. I also like these because they include fresh parsley which adds color, flavor, and aroma. I tweaked the recipe by adding seasoning (paprika and curry powder) to the flour before making the dough. This is optional.
- When making your dough stir slowly
- Mix to the point of just combining all the ingredients, but don’t go beyond this
Step 6: Remove the chicken.
Let cool then pull the chicken away from the bones and fat. Discard the latter two, then chop the chicken and add back to the pot
Step 7: Add the dumplings and cook covered 20 minutes
Southern Chicken and Dumpling Cooking Tips
- The roux should make this thick enough, but if at the end of cooking you prefer it thicker make a slurry of corn starch and water and then add small amounts to the broth.
- For the best flavor use darker chicken pieces with bone-in. These do wonder for dialing up the flavor.
- If you have the time, use homemade chicken stock. If not then go for low-sodium store-bought.
- To save time use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Just pull it apart and add to the broth
- For smoother/creamier chicken and dumplings add heavy cream
- Tie fresh herbs together before adding to the broth. This makes it easy to remove and ensure no stems are left behind.
Making Chicken and Dumplings
If you make this Southern chicken and dumplings recipe, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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For the chicken
- 4 chicken thighs bone-in and skin on
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground sage
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Olive oil
For the Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic diced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 3 ribs celery diced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves diced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/2 tbsp sweet smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tbsp Curry powder
For the Dumplings
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 5 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the chicken
- Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic and sage. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Remove chicken from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.
- Add olive oil to large pot and brown the chicken on both sides at medium heat. Remove chicken and set aside.
For the soup
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots and saute 3-5 minutes. After 2 minutes add half the spices. Onions should be near translucent. Make sure to stir enough so vegetables don’t stick.
- Add cider vinegar to deglaze the pot.
- Add flour and mix well. Add additional fat if needed. Cook 2-3 minutes
- Add stock, bay leaf, fresh herbs, and remaining spices. Mix well.
- Add the chicken back to the pot and simmer for about 2 hours.
- Remove the chicken, set aside and let cool. Once cool pull the chicken from the bones and remove the fat. Shred the chicken and add back to the soup.
For the dumplings
- While the soup cooks prepare the dumplings. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.
- In a separate bowl, combine the butter, buttermilk, and parsley. Pour into the flour mixture and stir to make a thick batter. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop assemble the dough into balls and drop the batter in 6-8 large spoonfuls over the top of the soup. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked, 20–25 minutes.
For the best flavor use darker chicken pieces with bone-in. These do wonders for dialing up flavor.
To save time use a store bought rotisserie chicken. Just pull it apart and add to the broth
For smoother/creamier chicken and dumplings add heavy cream
Tie fresh herbs together before adding to the broth. This makes it easy to remove and ensure no stems are left behind.
I used a very large serving spoon for my dumplings. I was aiming for individual serving sizes so wanted larger dumplings. Make them to your prefer size.