Chicken Champions

The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie Is Perfect for Busy Weeknights

updated Dec 11, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Chicken Champions: All month long, Kitchn is battling off the four classic chicken recipes everyone needs this time of year: pot pie, soup, roast chicken, and showstopper chicken. (It’s our version of March Madness: Chicken Edition!) Here’s Ree Drummond’s take on our battle: chicken pot pie.

Scrolling the internet for hearty homestyle food? I bet you’ve clicked on the Pioneer Woman’s blog more than once when a rich and comforting dinner is on the menu. So when choosing which famous chicken pot pies to try, I knew Ree Drummond’s much-loved recipe had to be on the list.

The Pioneer Woman’s recipe starts with the standard lineup of cooked chicken and chopped vegetables and is finished with a crisp pie crust. The pie earned hundreds of comments from devoted fans, but I wondered how it would compare to other celebrity-penned pot pies. Here’s what happened when I went into the kitchen.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

How to Make Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie

The recipe begins the same way most chicken pot pies do: by sautéing diced vegetables in butter. Ree uses a classic mirepoix (diced onion, carrots, and celery). You’ll stir in cooked, shredded chicken (or turkey) and a bit of flour on top. Then you’ll pour in chicken broth (and an optional splash of white wine), bring to a boil to thicken, then sprinkle in turmeric, salt, pepper, and thyme. Finish the filling with a splash of dairy — either half-and-half or heavy cream.

Everything then goes into a baking dish, and you top with a homemade or store-bought pie crust. Cut a few slits in the crust for venting, brush with egg wash, and bake until the crust browns and the filling bubbles.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What I Thought of Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie

The Pioneer Woman’s recipe is a very traditional take on chicken pot pie, with virtually no surprises, but she does give one smart tip that I’m sure to use with my pot pies going forward. When topping the filling with a pie crust, Ree brushes the dish with an egg wash before laying the crust over top and pressing it against the edge of the dish to adhere. The egg wash acts as glue to keep the crust in place in the oven. Smart!

Beginner cooks will also likely find Ree’s friendly recipe style very accessible and easy to understand. The step-by-step images and instructions build conversation and community on her blog — and help readers learn how to make recipe substitutions based on what they have in their kitchens. This freestyle approach to recipe writing is especially evident with this pot pie. When it comes to the shredded chicken, Ree suggests everything from cooking a whole chicken from scratch to leftover Thanksgiving turkey to rotisserie chicken (that’s what I used). Same goes for the pie crust, giving readers the freedom to choose whether they want to make their own pie crust or use a refrigerated one. Having already made (and not loved) Ree’s go-to pie crust, I opted for a store-bought crust.

My biggest dislike when it came to this recipe? The lack of hearty veggies. I’m into pot pies for the vegetables as much as the chicken. Although Ree’s version included the classic trio of carrots, celery, and onion, I wished there were more veggies and chicken and in larger pieces. (I also didn’t love the overly yellow hue.)

(Image credit: Patty Catalano)

If You Make Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie

1. Add more chicken and vegetables. Ree calls for 3 cups of shredded chicken, but since most rotisserie chickens (what I tested with) yield about 4 cups of meat, just go ahead and add the extra cup of chicken. Same goes for the vegetables. Instead of using 1/2 cup of onion, just chop the whole thing and add it. Another carrot and a few more stalks of celery will also do a lot of good in bulking up the pie.

2. Omit the turmeric. Just 1/4 teaspoon of this golden spice alters the appearance of the filling drastically, turning it a jarring shade of yellow. The small amount of turmeric is for appearance. Instead of artificially adjusting the color, add richness and color to the gravy by sautéing the vegetables until golden and making sure to scrape all those browned bits from the bottom of the pan when you pour in the broth.

3. Nail down the specifics. There are two points in the recipe’s write-up that required more specific instruction. As a recipe developer, I know that a lot of home cooks stumble in the kitchen when faced with seasoning (with salt, pepper, and herbs) to taste, as Ree broadly instructs here. So if you need a more specific starting point for seasoning this pot pie, here’s what I used: 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme.

I also think Ree should have given an estimate for how long to thicken the gravy. I brought the mixture to a boil, simmered about 5 minutes, then added the seasoning and dairy, and cooked it another 3. Ree also gives guidance on what to do if the sauce seems too thick, so I erred on the side of keeping the sauce thinner from the start and I wish that I hadn’t. Next time, I’d cook the broth for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the dairy for a creamier sauce.

Overall Rating: 6/10

This is a perfectly good (albeit not life-changing) everyday pot pie recipe, especially after making the suggested changes.

Read More About This Chicken Pot Pie Showdown