Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of fresh homemade chicken and dumplings? A rich, thick soup base is topped with fluffy drop-style dumplings for the ultimate bowl of nourishment. This recipe is perfect for fall and winter weather as the temperature starts to drop and we all need to be warmed up from the inside out.

Pot of chicken and dumplings with a metal spoon tucked underneath a dumpling.

There’s just something about cold weather that makes you crave soup, especially soup that sticks to your bones and keeps you full all day or night. It’s safe to say that this easy chicken and dumplings recipe fits the bill!

While it’s the perfect cold-weather meal, I truly love making this comfort food year-round. I first had southern chicken and dumplings when I was in college on a beach trip with a friend and her family. It was a great meal to come home to after a long day of playing in the sun and water. 

What Makes This Chicken and Dumplings Recipe From Scratch So Special

Old-fashioned chicken and dumplings is a thick, creamy, and flavorful chicken stew made with dumplings cooked right on its surface via steaming. For maximum flavor, we make a really rich and hearty base that just screams comfort food.

Additionally, this is packed with tender chicken, fresh veggies, herbs, and spices. Think chicken pot pie, but as a thick soup or stew. And instead of a flakey pie crust, you get light, fluffy, biscuit-like dumplings. Yum!

You can make this dish even simpler to throw together any night of the week by using a cooked rotisserie chicken.

Drop Dumplings vs. Noodle Dumplings

There are two different camps when it comes to the dumplings in chicken and dumplings:

  • Noodle Dumplings – These are flat dumplings; the dough is rolled out, then sliced with a knife or pizza cutter into strips or small rectangles, and dropped into the soup to cook. If you’ve ever had Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings, these are the type of noodles they use.
  • Drop Dumplings – These are fluffy, biscuit-like dumplings that are dropped in round mounds onto the top of the soup. A lid is placed on the pot and they are steamed while being infused with the rich soup liquid. This is the type of dumplings used in this recipe.

Ingredient Notes

This recipe is twofold — the rich, creamy chicken soup and the fluffy homemade dumplings. You will use many pantry staples for both; below are a few notes on ingredient substitutions and tips:

Ingredients for the soup base of chicken and dumplings prepped and labeled.
  • Soup Base Aromatics – You will saute a mixture of onion, carrots, and celery to build the base of the soup flavor. You can use yellow, white, or sweet onion, just not red.
  • Chicken Broth – Either homemade or store-bought will work just fine.
  • Heavy Cream – This imparts a wonderful richness to the soup; for a lighter meal, you can substitute half-and-half or whole milk.
  • Herbs – The seasonings called for in this dish are salt, pepper, dried thyme, and bay leaves. If you’d like to substitute fresh thyme, use 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh.
  • Cooked Chicken – You can chicken breasts or chicken thighs. The chicken can be cooked fresh, or you can utilize a rotisserie chicken or a quick weeknight meal.
  • Milk – This is used in the dumpling batter; whole milk is preferred, but 2% will work, as well.
Ingredients for dumplings prepped on a countertop and labeled.

How To Make The Soup Base

First, we need to make the soup. Begin with a common soup starter trio — onion, carrots, and celery — aka a mirepoix. They are sautéed in butter, and then we add garlic to cook for a minute or so, just until it’s aromatic and not letting it burn.

Then we need to make a roux to thicken the chicken stew base. Stir in the flour until it is thoroughly cooked through, the vegetables are coated, and the roux starts to brown. Then, add the chicken stock and stir to incorporate before adding the heavy cream, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Let all of that simmer while you prepare the dumplings.

Side by side photos of vegetables being sauteed, flour mixed in, and broth and cream added to pot.

How To Make the Dumplings

No one wants to bite into a dense, soggy dumpling. So, I set out to perfect a method for making easy, delicious dumplings that are light and fluffy to complement this rich soup. Here’s how we make them:

  • Start by whisking together the flour, baking powder, and salt. (The baking powder is what gives the dumplings a nice, fluffy interior.)
  • Then, add the melted butter and milk for moisture and fat. These also help the dumplings hold their shape, and keep them nice and tender.
  • Don’t over-mix the dough, or it will be tough and dense. All you need is a quick stir to get them to come together, and then set the dough aside.
Side by side photos of mixing together dumpling batter.

Finishing the Chicken and Dumplings

Now that your dumpling dough is prepared, let’s get back to the soup. It’s time to add the cooked chicken, frozen peas, and chopped parsley. You don’t want to add these any earlier, or else they’ll cook for too long and can get tough, particularly the chicken.

Adding chicken, peas, and parsley to the base stew for chicken and dumplings.

Next, drop the dumplings onto the very top of the chicken soup. Cover with a lid, and do not peek! You want that steam trapped inside the pot to get those dumplings nice and fluffy.

Set a timer for 15 minutes. After that time has passed, test the dumplings for doneness. If they need a few more minutes to cook, you can flip them over at this point, then cover again and cook for a few minutes at a time until done.

Once the dumplings are cooked, this dish is ready to serve!

Side by side photos of dumplings dropped on top of chicken stew base, before and after cooking.

Alternative Cooking Methods

While the stovetop is the traditional way to make chicken and dumplings, you can also use a crock pot or pressure cooker following these instructions:

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

To make slow cooker chicken and dumplings, prepare the recipe through step #2 as directed on the stovetop, then transfer to a 6-quart crock pot. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. When almost ready to serve, proceed with step #3. 

Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings

To make this recipe in a pressure cooker, follow these instructions:

  1. Prepare the dumpling dough first and place in the refrigerator.
  2. Use the saute function of the pressure cooker to complete steps #2 and #3 below.
  3. Stir the chicken, peas, and parsley into the pot. Drop the dumpling mixture by large spoonfuls of dough over the surface of the chicken stew.
  4. Close the pressure cooker lid and set it to pressure cook high for 7 minutes. When complete, do a natural release, then remove the lid per the manufacturer’s directions.
Chicken and dumplings in a white bowl with a spoon and dumpling being broken in half.

Recipe Tips

  • To make this a quick dinner, use a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
  • If cooking the chicken from scratch, I like to use chicken thighs because they are more flavorful, but you can use skinless chicken breasts as well. Prepare any way you’d like – saute in a pan, poach, or roast in the oven, then chop. I typically use about 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe.
  • For uniform dumplings, I like to use a medium cookie scoop, which holds about 1½ tablespoons, for dropping the dough into the pot.
  • medium (5.5-quart) or large (7.25-quart) Dutch oven are both perfect for making this recipe.

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions

  • Storage: The chicken and dumplings can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezing Instructions: You can freeze the chicken and dumplings in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Allow these homemade chicken and dumplings to thaw from frozen in the fridge overnight. Then, reheat over low heat on the stove (or in the microwave), adding extra liquid as needed to loosen it up, until it’s bubbling and warmed through evenly.

Watch How to Make Chicken and Dumplings:

More Chicken Comfort Food:

If you love chicken-based comfort food dishes, these recipes will be right up your alley:

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Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

The best chicken and dumplings recipe made completely from scratch with a rich stew and fluffy dumplings. Make it a quick meal by using rotisserie chicken!
4.96 (165 ratings)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups (1200 ml) chicken broth
  • cup (80 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, diced small
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley

For the Dumplings:

  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk

Instructions 

  • Place the chicken broth in a small saucepan and warm over low heat.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute until the onion is translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Slowly add the hot chicken broth, stirring constantly, and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the heavy cream, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer while you prepare the dumplings.
  • Make the Dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the melted butter and milk and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough just comes together.
  • Stir the chicken, peas, and parsley into the pot. Drop the dumpling mixture by large spoonfuls of dough over the surface of the chicken stew. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Check the dumplings with a toothpick to see if they’re done; if they are still doughy in the middle, flip them over, cover and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Equipment: A medium (5.5-quart) or large (7.25-quart) Dutch oven are both perfect for making this recipe.
  • Onions: You can use yellow, white, or sweet, just not red.
  • Chicken Broth: Either homemade or store-bought will work just fine.
  • Heavy Cream: This imparts a wonderful richness to the soup; for a lighter meal, you can substitute half-and-half or whole milk.
  • Thyme: This recipe calls for dried thyme; if you’d like to substitute fresh thyme, use 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh.
  • Cooked Chicken – You can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs. The chicken can be cooked fresh, or you can utilize a rotisserie chicken or a quick weeknight meal. If you are cooking it fresh for this meal, prepare any way you’d like – saute in a pan, poach, or roast in the oven, then chop. I typically use about 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe.
  • Milk – This is used in the dumpling batter; whole milk is preferred, but 2% will work, as well.
  • For uniform dumplings, I like to use a medium cookie scoop, which holds about 1½ tablespoons, for dropping the dough into the pot.
  • Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings: See the instructions above for adapting this recipe to a slow cooker.
  • InstantPot Chicken and Dumplings: See the instructions above for adapting this recipe to a pressure cooker.
  • Storage: The chicken and dumplings can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When reheating, you may want to add a splash of chicken stock to loosen it up a bit.
  • Freezing Instructions: You can freeze the chicken and dumplings in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat over low heat on the stove (or in the microwave), adding extra liquid as needed.
Calories: 365kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 1457mg, Potassium: 535mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 4769IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 146mg, Iron: 3mg

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Photography by Ari Laing.