These are the best chicken and dumplings from scratch! Our recipe cooks the chicken and makes a flavorful broth in one step, and our easy drop dumplings are incredibly light and fluffy. I know you’ll love it!
Watch the Video
Related: We also love this homemade chicken noodle soup.
How to Make Chicken and Dumplings
Last year, on a cold night, our friend Richard made us chicken and dumplings inspired by his childhood and grandmother. We loved them! The dumplings were melt-in-your-mouth tender and so unbelievably fluffy. We immediately asked if he could share the recipe with us, and here we are. I’m so excited to share this recipe with you (and thank you to Richard for sharing it with us).
You can break this cozy classic chicken and dumplings recipe into three easy steps. We love starting with a whole chicken and making the broth from scratch (it only takes an hour). If you are short on time, I have included a speedier option using store-bought broth below.
Step 1: Make broth and cook the chicken. Many recipes we’ve looked at call for store-bought chicken broth and chicken breasts. In our recipe, we make the broth ourselves (it’s so worth it and is much easier than you might think). By making the broth ourselves, we also gently cook the chicken, which guarantees juicy and tender chicken meat for our soup (takes about 1 hour).
Step 2: Make the soup. Since we make our chicken broth, making the soup for this recipe is quick and simple. After straining our broth, we add some chopped carrot, celery, and the shredded cooked chicken (from cooking the broth).
Step 3: Make the dumpling batter. This recipe has Southern chicken dumplings (similar to drop biscuits). We make a somewhat wet dumpling batter and then drop it by the spoonful into simmering broth. The dumplings then steam on top of the broth to cook (about 15 minutes).
Chicken and Dumplings Ingredients
Our recipe cooks the chicken and makes a flavorful broth in one step. To make the broth, we simmer the following together for just under an hour: one whole chicken, an onion top (the part you usually throw away — you can see what I mean by looking at our photos or watching the video), carrot, celery, garlic, and spices.
When making the soup, we’ll use the broth as well as the poached chicken meat. I shred all of the chicken and use it in the recipe. As you can see from our photos and video, we keep the chicken pieces pretty large. It’s more rustic this way. You will be left with bones and skin, which are perfect for making another stock. I use them to make this bone broth recipe.
For the dumplings, we use self-raising flour. I’ve included a note at the bottom of the recipe for making homemade self-raising flour if you need it. In addition to the self-raising flour, we need:
- Salt and pepper to season the batter.
- Parsley adds a touch of fresh flavor and color. We love it, but you can leave it out if you need to.
- Whole milk brings the batter together and helps make our dumplings tender.
- Butter adds flavor and keeps the dumplings moist.
I would like to try using gluten-free flour to make the dumplings. I’m pretty sure that a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose blend (with baking powder and salt added as described below the recipe) should work. If you try this before we do, please let us know how they turn out in the comments section.
Our Tips for Cooking the Dumplings
The best part about this recipe is those light and fluffy dumplings. After some time testing the recipe and chatting with Richard, we’ve come up with a few tips for you:
- Drop the dumplings into gently simmering broth with a spoon or cookie scoop and don’t worry if the pot is crowded. Depending on your pot shape, you might even have a few dumplings on top of each other.
- If the dumplings fully cover your soup, use a spoon to make a small hole in the middle to allow steam and some of the simmering bubbles to release.
- The dumplings need to steam, so cover the pot with its lid.
The most important tip: Keep the pot at a gentle simmer when cooking the dumplings. An aggressive simmer or boiling will break them apart. Keep the heat low and keep your pot covered so that they steam. The dumplings can cook longer than the suggested times without issues, but agitating them with an aggressive simmer will make them fall apart.
The batter for these dumplings is very similar to the batter for our easy drop biscuits. We also have a recipe for more traditional biscuits. Some chicken and dumplings recipes use the more traditional approach for the topping, but I love how light and fluffy drop style dumplings turn out. They also make this more of a thick and creamy soup than a casserole since some of the batter will ultimately fall down into the broth and help thicken it.
I mentioned above that I’d share a speedier version using store-bought broth or leftover chicken broth, so here it is. Whenever I have leftover chicken broth and chicken, I love using it to make quick and easy chicken and dumplings. Here are the details. If you have broth and cooked chicken, you’re looking at less than 30 minutes:
Bring your chicken broth to a low simmer, and add chopped carrot and celery. Stir in shredded cooked chicken — consider these juicy chicken breasts or use leftover roasted chicken. Then, make the dumpling batter and drop it into the simmering soup. Cook the dumplings by gently simmering them covered with a lid, per our instructions below.
Make Ahead Tips
Homemade chicken and dumplings are at their best when they are first made. That said, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days and gently reheat them. The dumplings will be a little more moist and might fall apart, but the flavors will all be there. We do not recommend freezing them.
To cut down on the preparation time of the recipe, you can make the broth and chicken up to three days in advance. Then, when you are ready to serve, reheat the broth, add your carrots and celery, and then make your dumpling batter.
Chicken and Dumplings (Light & Fluffy!)
Our chicken and dumplings recipe starts with a whole chicken, simmered with aromatics like carrot and garlic, to create a rich and flavorful broth while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Our drop-style dumplings are incredibly light, fluffy, and easy to make. For the dumplings, we use self-raising flour. I’ve included a note at the bottom of the recipe for making homemade self-raising flour if you need it.
As the dumplings cook on top of the soup, some of the batter will ultimately fall down into the broth and begin to thicken it, which makes the broth more of a creamy consistency (you can see this in our video).
Recipe shortcut: If you are short on time, we have included a speedier option using store-bought broth in the article and in the recipe notes.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will NeedChicken and Broth
1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
1 onion top, see notes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 large carrot
2 stalks celery
3 bay leaves
8 whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
12 to 14 cups (3 liters) water
1 bunch fresh thymeDumplings
2 ½ cups (325 grams) self-rising flour, see notes
8 twists black pepper
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ cups (350 ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (60 grams) butter, melted
- Make Broth and Cook Chicken
1Cut a 3-inch section of the carrot, about 1/4 the size of the whole carrot, and set aside. Chop the remaining carrot into small cubes. Cut a 4-inch piece of celery stalk and set aside with the carrot. Chop the remaining celery into small cubes. Save the chopped carrot and celery for later.
2Place the chicken, breast facing up, in a large pot (we use a 9-quart Dutch oven). Then, toss the 1/4 carrot, 4-inch piece of celery, onion top, smashed garlic clove, bay leaves, peppercorns, and a tablespoon of salt around the chicken.
3Pour in 12 to 14 cups of water, depending on the size of your pot. In the video, we used 14 cups. It is okay if the chicken is not fully covered; an inch or so of chicken breast above the water is okay.
4Cover the pot with a lid, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Once the broth is at a simmer, reduce it so that it’s a gentle simmer — the bubbles should be slowly dancing around in the pot.
5Cook at a gentle simmer for 50 minutes. Peek under the lid occasionally to see if the heat needs to be reduced.
6After 50 minutes, the broth will be aromatic, and the chicken will be cooked through (you can test this with an internal temperature thermometer — it should read above 165° F).
7Carefully transfer the chicken to a plate and allow it to cool until you can handle it.
8Strain the broth, wipe any foam stuck to the sides of the pot, and then pour the strained broth back into the pot used to make it. Place the pot back over medium heat, add the thyme, chopped carrots, and chopped celery.
- Finish Chicken and Dumplings
1When it is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken by hand, removing all the bones and skin. Shred as big/little as you like. We keep the chicken in larger pieces.
2To make the dumpling batter, melt the butter. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, pepper, salt, parsley, milk, and melted butter until mixed.
3Remove the thyme from the soup, scraping a few leaves off the bundle as you remove it.
4Stir the shredded chicken and any juices left on the plate into the soup.
5Bring the broth to a gentle simmer, and then use a spoon to scoop golf ball-sized portions of the batter into the soup, scraping them off with your finger. (If you have a large cookie scoop, scoop balls of batter into the soup.) Do this until all the batter is in the soup — it will look crowded. Some might sink.
6Cover with a lid and cook the dumplings at a low simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until they look like they are firming up on the bottom. Then, carefully turn each one over to simmer the other side. If there’s no space for the liquid to bubble up past the dumplings, use a spoon and make a small hole in the middle of the pot.
7Once they are all turned over, simmer over low heat with the lid on for another 8 to 10 minutes. You can test a dumpling to check they are done — The center should look cooked through and fluffy, not doughy. When cooking the dumplings, keep the pot at a gentle simmer. An aggressive simmer or boiling will break them apart. Keep the heat low and keep your pot covered so that they steam. The dumplings can cook longer than the suggested times without issues, but agitating them with an aggressive simmer will make them fall apart.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Onion top: We are only looking for a mild onion flavor in our broth. Slice an onion at the top, keeping the skins on. Use the top (what you would normally throw away) to make the broth, and save the onion for another recipe. You can also use a 1-inch slice of onion in its place.
- Self-rising flour: Unlike all-purpose flour, self-rising flour adds baking powder and salt. For 2 ½ cups of homemade self-rising flour (what you need for this recipe), whisk 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour with 3 ¾ teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Pot size: The perfect size for this recipe is a 9-quart Dutch oven, which is large enough to make the broth and cook all the dumplings. I have also used a 7 ½-quart Dutch oven with this recipe and found that I could only fit 12 cups of water with my chicken. If you don’t have either of these, make sure the pot is large enough to hold at least 12 cups of water with the chicken.
- Store-bought broth: Use 10-12 cups of broth. Bring your chicken broth to a low simmer, and add chopped carrot and celery. Stir in 3 to 4 cups of shredded cooked chicken. Make the dumpling batter and cook by gently simmering them covered with a lid, per our instructions above.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.