Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Old Fashioned Chicken and Fluffy Drop Dumplings

A classic southern comfort dish made of stewed chicken with fluffy drop dumplings.

Old Fashioned Chicken and Fluffy Drop Dumplings

You just cannot beat this Southern classic of stewed chicken with dumplings in the comfort meal category. While most of us Southerners can agree on that, it's the dumplings that can cause a stir as much as our cornbread can.

Some of us, like me, grew up with fluffy drop dumplings. Some of my fellow Southerners will say those are Yankee dumplings, and frankly that's just fine with me. Mama was Southern, I grew up Southern, and those are the ones I prefer so for me, they are Southern enough. Others prefer dumplings that are rolled out into squares, and say that those are more traditional for the South. I could agree with that too.

Truth is, these days folks like dumplings done in any number of ways actually - from dumplings made with biscuit dough that has been flattened and cut, or pinched off and dropped, or made with flaky biscuits that are separated into layers and tossed in flour, to flour tortillas cut into squares or strips, and today you can even buy ready made dumplings from the freezer section of your store. All of them are good.

None of them are wrong.

For the record, drop dumplings should always be tender and fluffy inside, like a good biscuit. They should not be chewy and dense. If the only drop dumpling you have every had was a hard lump of chewy dough in the middle, then you haven't had drop dumplings. The secret to fluffy dumplings is to keep them at a low simmer, never let them boil, and don't overcook them. Use a wider topped pot, give them room to expand and when they look fluffy, test them with a toothpick as you would with a cake, to see if they are done. Take care not to boil them or overcook them and you'll be happy with these drop dumplings.

I have both chicken stock and chicken base in this recipe, so be careful not to overdo it with additional salt since both of those tend to have enough sodium in them already. The base is not necessary when making a homemade stock, but adds a nice richness to the dish. Definitely add it if you are substituting a store bought chicken broth. Try to find a hen if you can - they are perfect for recipes like this. This recipe results in tender chicken, a stew that is flavorful and perfectly light and fluffy dumplings... just the way I like 'em!

I like the addition of chives in these too, though you can use any number of fresh herbs. I also like to add in some carrots and peas in my chicken and dumplings - just a little extra color and flavor and a way to incorporate a bit of vegetables in the dish. Many purists don't think there's a place for veggies of any kind in a chicken and dumplings, and in fact, someone once said my recipe was more of a chicken stew. I say in a way they are right! What is chicken and dumplings, but stewed chicken with dumplings in them?

Now, while I prefer the fluffiness of a drop dumpling, like many Southerners, you may prefer a rolled dumpling instead. Check out my recipe for a Zesty Herb Rolled Pastry Dumpling and I think you'll love those, or go the more traditional route with these Southern style dumplings. Like the idea of using canned biscuits instead? Try these canned biscuit dumplings on my shortcut chicken and dumplings for a change. Want to try flour tortillas? Cut them into squares or strips, drop into the broth and let them low simmer just until they soften.

For more of my favorite southern classics, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


Recipe: Old Fashioned Chicken and Fluffy Drop Dumplings

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 30 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings


Drop Dumplings:
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups of self rising flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried chives, or 1 tablespoon of fresh snipped chives
  • 3/4 cups of milk
Stewed Chicken:
  • 1 small hen, whole chicken or a mixture of other chicken parts
  • 1 large stalk of celery, sliced thin
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped, optional
  • 5-1/2 cups of reserved chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of chicken base (like Better Than Bouillon), optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons of bacon fat or butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of milk or half and half
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas, optional

Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until it is mealy; add chives. Set aside in the refrigerator to chill until needed.

In a large wide pot, add the chicken and top with celery, onion, carrots, chicken stock, chicken base, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Stir to mix well. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook about 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. Strain the stock into another container if desired, returning the broth back to the pot. Cut up the larger chunks of chicken and cut up, returning them to the broth.

Now we're gonna make a very blond roux. In a separate pan, heat the bacon fat over medium high heat until melted. Whisk in the 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly and smooth. Remove from the heat. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the broth from the chicken pot and slowly add to the roux - be careful because it will steam up right away and can easily burn you. Immediately turn the burner down to a medium low simmer and return the pot to the burner; add additional broth, 1/2 cup at a time for a total of 2 cups, stirring constantly until the liquid has been fully incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of milk to roux and blend in.

Add the peas, if using, and the roux mixture into the hot stock, stirring in well. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Retrieve the flour and chive mixture from the fridge, stir in 3/4 cup of milk. Using a cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough into the simmering liquid until all of the dumpling dough has been added. Cover immediately, so that the dumplings begin to steam; simmer on low about 10 minutes before checking. When they are fluffy, insert a toothpick to see if they are done. If not, allow to low simmer until done, without disturbing the dumplings. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Carefully scoop broth and a few dumplings into individual serving bowls.

Cook's Notes: If you have a heat resistant, glass pie plate, use that as a lid when you are ready to drop the dumplings. This will enable you to see when the dumplings fluff up, without releasing the steam. The secret to fluffy dumplings is to keep them at a low simmer, never let them boil, and don't overcook them. Use a wider topped pot and don't overcrowd the dumplings because they will need room to expand. When they look fluffy, test them with a toothpick as you would with a cake, to see if they are done.

May substitute cooled chicken stock or broth for part of the milk in the dumpling for extra flavor. To thicken the stew, use up to 1 cup of instant potato flakes, stirred in 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the first 1/2 and cook for about 5 minutes; repeat with the second 1/2 cup if more thickening is needed.

If you make your stock in advance, refrigerate and scoop off the top layer of fat. Use that fat in place of the bacon fat to make a roux. Instead of a roux, you can also substitute a can of undiluted cream of chicken soup.

For the Slow Cooker: Substitute boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs for ease of preparation. Cut into chunks and add to slow cooker. Whisk together 2 cans of cream of chicken soup with 1-3/4 cup of low sodium chicken broth and 1 cup of water. Add the pepper, rosemary and thyme above, omitting the salt. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Turn cooker to high. Prepare dumplings as above and drop into top of broth. Cover and cook another 45 minutes or until dumplings are tender.

Prefer a rolled or biscuit dumplings? Either one make a fine dumpling too.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

Requires Adobe Reader - download it free!
©Deep South Dish
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.
Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Homemade Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Dumpling Bake
Old Fashioned Homestyle Chicken and Noodles
Southern Stewed Chicken

Posted by on May 26, 2009
Thank you for supporting my work! Please note that Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Recipes are offered for your own personal use only and while pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, do not copy and paste post or recipe text to repost or republish to any social media (such as other Facebook pages, etc.), blogs, websites, forums, or any print medium, without explicit prior permission. Unauthorized use of content from ©Deep South Dish is a violation of both the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and copyright law. All rights reserved.

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Bookmark and Share


  1. One of my all time favorite comfort foods. I do a cheater version, but yours looks wonderful.

  2. I was going to make the chicken and dumpling soup tonight and then I saw the chicken and dumpling bake and decided to do it instead. In fact, it's in the oven RIGHT NOW! Hubby will be so happy. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. This looks so comforting. It's a lovely recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us. Have a wonderful day.

  4. Just popping back in to say that the chicken bake was delicious. I think next time I will add some veggies to it and make more of a complete meal. Delicious and so easy to do. Thanks again for sharing the recipe.

  5. Hi Sherri - I know what you mean. I had a taste for this and nothing else would do.

    Beverooni, you are so welcome and thanks so much for coming back to let me know that you enjoyed that!

    You're welcome Mary!

  6. My Mom used to make chicken & dumplings and I haven't had them in years! Talk about comfort food!

  7. I haven't had the fluffy kind of dumplings in ages. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  8. I love chicken chicken and dumplings! I've had my eye on your chicken and dumpling bake for a while now, but this looks so good too! Which is your favorite? Just deciding which one to try first...

  9. Yep Karen, they sure are!

    Penniwig, I never even knew there were any other type of dumpling! This is what I grew up with and know - gosh they were good. I think I could eat a bowl of nothing but dumplings with a little broth!

    Krista, well, they are both really good, but hands down old fashioned chicken & drop dumplings is my favorite for sure - and this recipe revision with white meat was great, though I would normally use a whole chicken or a bunch of chicken thighs for the flavor from the skin and bones. Course that takes a little more time to do too so the bake is speedier. Though not really chicken & dumplings, it just comes across with the same kind of flavor and reminds me of the original, so I named it that. Both are yummy!

  10. This is like a bowl of comfort!! My mom used to make a chicken & dumpling soup for us when we were under the weather, it's one of my faves :)

    Okay, I suppose homemade may be stretching it because it was from the rootbeer concentrate and you mix it up from there...so, semi-homemade? Homemade enough to feel homemade anyway :/
    The only thing with doing it this way is that you have to drink it pretty much right away to avoid losing carbonation. I've been wanting to try all-the-way homemade and was wondering if I used sarsparilla root or what!? I haven't actually gone looking for a recipe, though since this one's doing us good. It's pretty comparable to Barq's...which I love and I love A&W...and IBC, I'm easy!

  11. Hi Heather! (I hope that's right)

    Thanks for stopping by and the for the follow. After seeing all those goodies over on your blog I knew that I had to make sure to keep up with you!!

    The recipe turned out better than I could have hoped for. That is the fastest I have ever seen leftovers go I tell ya - good sign I guess!

    I'd say that's pretty homemade root beer in my book! I recall many years ago my Mama made some homemade - just can't remember if I liked it or not! Been a long time ago... might give it a try, but it'll be with an extract or concentrate like what you did.

  12. ohhh, i love chicken and dumplings. Sadly it is like 90 here so somehow not dumpling weather but how I wish it were!

  13. Hi Mommy Gourmet! Yeah, it's super hot here where I live today too - about the same really, right at about 90 and that's not even factoring in the high humidity we have today - probably puts that temp closer to 100. Ugh. Gotta love the south!

    Over the weekend with all the rain though this was just perfect. Course I think I can enjoy chicken & dumplings anytime personally, rain, shine, heat, cold, whenever!! Bring 'em on LOL!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Please do come back.

  14. This is total comfort food. I love this on a really cold night.

  15. Why don't you touch the dumplings when you put them in? Whenever I make C&D's I make a big pot so there are a lot of dumplings. I always have to push them down to get them all in. What am I messing up by doing that lol?

  16. Hi EC - maybe nothing LOL!! If your method works for you then you have it down! I write most of my recipes so that beginning cooks can understand the methods. Since these are drop dumplings intended to be fluffy, I put that in the directions so that people wouldn't fuss with them. I have found that they are more likely to become tough and lumpy pieces of dough if they are constantly fussed with. That's been my experience anyway.

  17. Any who, my grandmother always made her's with the more pa Dutch dumpling which is rolled and dropped in the broth, i am not sure where the dropped puffy dough gods came in but they are also delish and what my kids know cause i don/t roll dough well, so yes in a hurry i use the drop or the drop cut up biscuits always a hit.

    1. Well, I pretty much love them all Bev so I'm with ya!

  18. Rolled dumplings? Never heard of them (and they don't sound very good) and my family is from Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. My MiMi made the BEST dumplings - dropped, of course. Those are the only kind I make.

    1. Oh don't get me wrong! If the rolled dumplings are done well they are delicious too. Fluffy dropped dumplings are my favorite over those though, and I get ragged about liking the drop dumplings over the rolled from a lot of Southerners. Like everything else, it just depends on what you grew up with in the south.

  19. We had this for dinner at my house last night! Perfect dinner for a cold winter night!

  20. Imagine my surprise at age 61 to learn that the dumplings I have eaten, and now make myself, are considered a "northern" style dumpling. Mom was from Tennessee, Dad from Alabama. They made these as did everyone I knew growing up.

    1. So they say! I don't know that I believe that either though, because I grew up with drop style dumplings here in south Mississippi and frankly, since posting this recipe I've discovered there are quite a few other southerners who didn't grow up with the rolled ones. I guess we'll have to put that in the same category as those "southern" cornbread arguments!

  21. Well, I was checking out the recipe for the Pressure Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup when at the bottom I seen the Link to the Old Fashioned Chicken and Drop Dumplings and just had to try it first LOL. I'm not good at any kind of dough so I figured it was going to be a challenge! I used my crock pot instead though to cook the chicken thighs that I used and the veggies.I made the dumplings just as instructed and dropped them on top at the end. Since the crock pot lid was see through I could see the dumplings fluffing up. It was hard not to lift the lid up to take a quick taste! It was well worth the wait though, first time ever I made perfect dumplings! Overall flavor was wonderful!! My dumplings usually consist of boiling a single can of Campbell's chicken broth from the soup section of the grocery store and dropping in pinched off pieces of a can of biscuits! Thanks for a wonderful recipe! A keeper for sure, as all of your recipes are!

  22. Yay! That's fantastic!! I'm glad you took the plunge.

  23. I have a fear of making chicken and dumplings, especially the dumplings. But these look easy and your instructions are, for the most part, are very clear. I'm sure if anyone has any ?'s, you will be happy to answer them.

  24. Made this tonight and it was really good! I'm a 44 year old seasoned cook, born and raised in Alabama. This was only my third time ever making chicken and dumplings (my family never really liked 'em when I was growing up). I followed your recipe exactly and then tasted it - before adding 1/4 cup sherry to it. (I really love sherry with milk/cream-style dishes but it was only proper that I taste it before I added anything.) ;) It was so good I almost didn't add the sherry! I had looked at several different recipes to compare them and found yours to be the one that sounded the best. I want you to know that I will never use someone else's recipe for Chicken and Dumplings. Even without the sherry it's perfect. Thank you for sharing this recipe - and all the others, too. I really do appreciate your time and effort with all of them and the fact that you don't keep this good sh!$ to yourself! Lol! Thanks!

    1. You're welcome Catherine and thank YOU so much for taking the time to stop back by and share your comment with me!! That really means a lot.

  25. Thank you for posting this recipe! I haven't had chicken and dumplings since I was a little girl. Let's just say it's been a few decades! I started craving chicken and dumplings and after searching online, this recipe looked the closest to my mom's. This was the best I've ever had! Even my husband who said he didn't like chicken and dumplings loved this recipe. He said to make sure I print this and keep it. Soooo good!

    1. The husband approval is always the best indication - thanks so much for stopping back by to let me know y'all enjoyed the recipe Sheila. That really means a lot to me - thank you!!

  26. Hi Mary, I have been making chicken & dumplings for many years but my problem is that most of my dumplings "go away" into the broth & the ones that are left are dense. The only ones that are fluffy are the very 1st ones taken out of the pot. After that the ones left are to dense, but most of them have dissolved into the broth. I use a whole hen, no veggies, & a can of cream of chicken soup. To be honest the flavor of my broth/stock is wonderful & I wouldn't change a thing. I don't need the roux as its plenty thick...I guess its because most of my dumplings dissolve. The one thing I do differently than you is I use buttermilk instead of whole milk to make my dumplings & the 1st ones out of the pot are perfectly light & fluffy. After that the few dumplings left are best pushed aside. I think my problem is cooking them in boiling broth, & pushing them down with the back of a slotted spoon to make sure they are covered w/ broth. I have never cooked them on low/simmer,& I believe I over cook them based on reading your recipe. Can you please comment if you think I am right as to what I'm doing wrong? I was told that I was putting to much Crisco in my flour & that's what made them melt I to the broth so I only put 1 tsp in my last batch & it was the same thing. Dense dumplings after the 1st serving(s). HELP! I must say the very 1st servings are perfect, but I make a big pot of dumplings. Its disheartening for the rest of the pot to be a thickened stew with very few dense dumplings.

    1. The most likely culprit is the buttermilk. With that you have to make a very stiff dough, almost like a biscuit dough, otherwise the buttermilk makes them too tender and they break down. Try them using less buttermilk. Also, yes, avoid boiling the dumplings. You want a "bubble" but not a boil because that will also break them down. Let them simmer for 10 minutes without peeking until you check them. They helps to set them. Hope that helps!

  27. Thank you so much for replying. I never dreamed my buttermilk was the culprit. I always use buttermilk in my biscuits because the flavor is much better than it is w/ milk. On my next pot, I will cook on low simmer & use milk. Keep your fingers crossed for me, & thanks again for replying!

    1. Oh you can still use your buttermilk Eve - just use a bit less! Buttermilk is what makes those biscuits so moist and tender, so dropping basically a tender buttermilk biscuit dough into a simmering broth, they will tend to break apart unless the dough is a bit more stiff than your biscuit batter. Either way, I hope that your next batch of chicken and dumplings will be a success!

  28. Made these tonight and talk about spoon after spoon full of flavor! I didn't have any chives but used parsley in the dumplings. I flash roasted the chicken in the oven, then stewed on top of the stove to finish cooking. I did add ground turmeric (something my grandma did) to the roux and a package of frozen mixed vegetables (we are trying to eat more veggies with every meal) went in to the broth mixture. My husband moaned with every bite. I think that is always a good sign! Using the ice cream scoop is genius for making these big fluffy dumplings!! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe.

    1. You're welcome CindiJ - I'm so glad that you enjoyed the recipe!


Thanks for taking the time to comment - I love hearing from readers and I read every single comment and try to respond to them right here on the site, so stop back by!

From time to time, anonymous restrictions and/or comment moderation may be activated due to comment spam. I also reserve the right to edit, delete or otherwise exercise total editorial discretion over any comments left on this blog. If your comment serves only to be snarky, mean-spirited or argumentative, it will be deleted. Please mind your manners.

Related Posts with Thumbnails