How to Make Easy, Weeknight Chicken and Dumplings

updated Feb 21, 2020
How to Make Easy Chicken and Dumplings

This version of chicken and dumplings starts with a couple smart shortcuts, without skimping on the rich, savory flavor and tender dumplings you expect.


Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 50 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

When it comes to comforting “bowl” foods, people tend to fall into one of three camps: team soup, team stew, or team chili. Well, I’d like to present you with a fourth option, which is where I fall: team chicken and dumplings. This hearty dish straddles the line between soup and stew, with a thickened broth, bite-size bits of chicken, a mix of vegetables, and a blanket of light and fluffy dumplings that covers the top of the pot. I feel strongly that it’s the real comfort food star of the season.

This version of the classic dish starts with a couple smart shortcuts to make it easy enough to pull off on a weeknight, without skimping on the rich, savory flavor you expect. It also delivers dumplings that promise to be tender and not gummy, all while holding their shape. Here’s how to make quick and easy chicken and dumplings.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

Start with Broth and Boneless Chicken Breast

Many recipes for chicken and dumplings have you start by simmering a whole chicken or bone-in, skin-on cuts in water. There’s a time and a place for that method, and it’s not on a Wednesday night after getting home from work. To minimize the cook time and cut back on some of the prep, this version uses quick-cooking boneless chicken breasts, and replaces the water with store-bought chicken broth, which packs the dish with rich, savory flavor.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

The Easiest Way to Check Dumplings for Doneness

Perhaps the trickiest part of cooking chicken and dumplings, especially if it’s your first time, is figuring out exactly when the dumplings are cooked through. To minimize confusion, I’m going to tell you all the visual cues to look for.

After the dumpling dough is mixed together, you’ll drop heaping spoonfuls onto the top of the simmering stew. Place the lid on the pot (and leave it there!), which allows the dumplings to steam until they’re tender, puffed up, and cooked through. Let them cook for 17 minutes, then open the lid and check them to see whether they need an extra two minutes of cook time. The dumplings are done when:

  • They’re about quadrupled in size. The dumplings should be swelled up against one another, blanketing the surface of the stew.
  • A toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the dumpling comes out clean with no crumbs, the dumplings are cooked through. But if there’s some small crumbs stuck to the toothpick, give the dumplings another two minutes to cook.
  • Cut a dumpling in half to check the center. If you really want to be sure, remove a dumpling from the pot (go for a large one) and cut it in half. It should look cooked though, with the texture of a dinner roll. If the center looks a little raw, let the dumplings steam for another couple minutes.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

4 Tips for the Best Easy Chicken and Dumplings

1. Sear the chicken, then let it finish cooking in the stew. The cubed chicken is cooked in two steps. First, it’s seared in batches in a Dutch oven until the outside is nicely browned (the meat won’t be totally cooked through yet). Then, after softening the vegetables and boiling the broth, the chicken is returned to the pot and finishes cooking while the stew simmers.

2. Mix the dumpling dough just until it comes together. After the melted butter and cream are added to the dry ingredients, stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated and you have a soft dough. Avoid over-mixing, as it can lead to tough dumplings.

3. Leave the lid on when cooking the dumplings. I know it’s tempting to peek in and check on the dumplings, but resist the urge. You’ll get a better batch of dumplings for it. The dumplings cook by steaming, rather than boiling, in the closed simmering pot — this is what gives them a light and tender consistency. When you open the lid to the pot, all that wonderful steam escapes.

4. Avoid stirring the pot at the end of cooking. Once the dumplings are cooked, you don’t want to stir everything in the pot together, as it can break the dumplings. It’s okay to move the dumplings around, just skip the stirring.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell
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Here's how to make easy chicken and dumplings.

How to Make Easy Chicken and Dumplings

This version of chicken and dumplings starts with a couple smart shortcuts, without skimping on the rich, savory flavor and tender dumplings you expect.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 50 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


For the chicken:

  • 1

    large onion

  • 3

    medium carrots

  • 2

    medium stalks celery

  • 2 cloves


  • 2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 6 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    frozen peas

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

For the dumplings:

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    cold heavy cream


  1. Cut the aromatics. Prepare the following, placing them all in the same bowl: Dice 1 large onion, peel and dice 3 medium carrots, dice 2 medium celery stalks, and mince 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Dry and season the chicken. Cut 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Pat dry with paper towels, then season all over with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  3. Sear the chicken in 2 batches. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the chicken in a single layer and sear on two sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. The chicken will not be cooked through.

  4. Soften the aromatics. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pot. Add 2 teaspoons dried thyme and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

  5. Add the butter and flour. Add 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and cook until melted. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

  6. Add the broth. Pour in 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil.

  7. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer. Reduce the heat to low, return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot, and simmer uncovered until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings.

  8. Make the dumpling dough. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and 1 cup cold heavy cream and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

  9. Add peas and dumplings. Stir 1/2 cup frozen peas into the stew. Drop heaping tablespoon-size portions of the dough onto the stew.

  10. Cook the dumplings. Cover and cook for 17 minutes. Uncover and check for doneness. The dumplings are ready when they have about quadrupled in size and are no longer raw and doughy in the center. If not fully cooked, cover and cook 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, finely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  11. Serve the chicken and dumplings. Divide the chicken stew and dumplings between bowls, and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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