Southern food lovers, today is your lucky day. I’m showing you how to make flat dumplings or slick dumplings for your Southern chicken and dumplings.
A short ingredient list and an update to make this recipe an Instant Pot chicken recipe, you’ll want to make this Southern comfort food again and again.
And since you already love Southern food, you might also be interested in my pimento cheese recipe or maybe my creamy mac and cheese.
For ease of browsing, you can also find all my poultry recipes in one place. Thanks for visiting!
Now, about those dumplings…
NOTE: There is a long section of this post devoted to a friend’s funeral. If you’d rather not read all of that, please use the Jump to Recipe button or use the Table of Contents below the first photo. Or just click here. Thank you.
Recently, the Beloved and I attended a dear friend’s older brother’s memorial service. Rich was one of a kind. His family requested that his favorite song, The Wheel by The Grateful Dead, be played at his service.
The Episcopalian priest who officiated told them that he could lose his job if he did, but he used the text of the song for his homily, referencing Voyage of the Dawn Treader to boot.
Everyone who knew Rich had a favorite Rich Story. This one is mine.
One day as Rich was working in his yard, some Jehovah Witnesses approached him. Rich never shied away from conversation, so he engaged them. They stood talking on his lawn for about 45 minutes.
At one point, Rich had them bend down to grab a handful of dark, moist earth, telling them that this was what it was all about. I wonder if those Jehovah’s Witnesses still talk about their encounter with Rich.
Seems Like Old Times
After the service, we all returned to Julie and Scott’s house, which is right across the street from the house where Rich, Scott and their sister Cindy grew up.
Lots of the guys played Frisbee in the street, using Rich’s discs from his Ultimate Frisbee days. As daytime shadows lengthened into early evening shadows, the game was periodically interrupted when someone would shout “Car!”
They’d all grudgingly move aside only to resume their positions as the car passed, much as slushy ice reforms in the wake of a slow-moving ice breaker.
Those cries of “car!” took me straight back to my childhood, as I played with many of the same people in the same neighborhood thirty-five and forty years ago.
I find that creamy, carby goodness is just what the doctor ordered after sad reunions (also, whenever), so Southern chicken and dumplings were definitely in order.
Flat Dumplings vs Fluffy Dumplings
The chill breeze and a whole free-range chicken in the fridge were all the incentive I needed to make a big vat of chicken and dumplings. Southern Chicken and Dumplings.
Flat or slick dumplings. Some folks even call it chicken and pastry.
No puffy, bready dumplings for me, friends.
There is something about a fluffy dumpling that seems too much apart from the chicken. The outsides get nice and coated with the broth from the chicken, and while the insides are fluffy indeed, I find them dry.
I don’t want to have to dredge my dumpling through the chickeny gravy. I want it to be all soaked up in there. And that is what happens with flat dumplings.
Give me deep, rich chicken flavor in a broth that clings with dumplings you can cut with the side of your fork. I don’t need “crumb” in my dumplings. I leave that to bread.
Just a little puff from baking powder, and some smoky goodness courtesy of bacon fat. Or if you’re planning ahead, save the chicken fat from making stock, chill it, and use that as the fat in the dumplings. Good eatin’ friends!
And this from someone who grew up eating my mom’s “chicken fricassee,” which was really chicken and fluffy dumplings. (The linked recipe is similar to my mom’s recipe. Note to self: ask mom for her recipe.)
How to Make Flat Dumplings
Ingredients and Substitutions
As I said before, these guys are super easy to make, and you probably have everything you need.
I purchased some smoked black pepper from Savory Spice Shop, and I have to say, the stuff is magic. I am using it in everything these days.
You can certainly make the dumplings, and the whole dish, without it, but it is fantastic and I recommend you pick some up if you can.
So here’s what you’ll need:
- all purpose flour: provides the bulk and texture of your dumplings. Do not substitute bread flour unless you like really chewy dumplings. Don’t use cake flour or your dumplings may be too tender and may fall apart.
- baking powder: provides a little lift for the dumplings. You may also substitute self-rising flour for the all-purpose flour and leave out the baking powder.
- salt: brings all the flavors into focus
- pepper (or the smoked black pepper): adds a hint of heat and bite
- poultry seasoning: It’s technically optional, but adding the poultry seasoning really underscores the flavor of the broth and the chicken itself. You can also use a little bit of rubbed sage and/or thyme if you don’t have poultry seasoning
- butter: or solid chicken fat, bacon grease, butter, or shortening (any will work. My vote is either the chicken fat or the bacon grease)
- whole milk: You may substitute 2% here if you like.
What To Do
If you can make pancakes, you can make these slick dumplings. They’re made using the biscuit method.
Here’s how it goes:
- mix dry ingredients together.
- Rub in the fat until the mixture looks like cornmeal.
- Make a well, pour in the liquid and stir with a fork until it comes together.
Once you have the dough, knead it in the bowl just 3-4 times, turn it out onto a well-floured counter, and dust more flour on top.
Roll it out to about 3/16″ thick and cut it into any shapes you want. I usually use a pizza cutter to cut dumplings about 1 1/2″ by maybe 3″. But I don’t measure.
You can also cut them into triangles. My friend Brandy from Nutmeg Nanny grew up in Ohio eating chicken and dumplings with triangle-shaped flat dumplings.
I love hearing from folks who make my recipes!
My Facebook friend Janice made flat dumplings for the first time ever using my recipe. Here’s what she said about the chicken and dumplings:
I decided to add some tarragon, which I adore with chicken!! Yum!! It’s delicious!!! I may have rolled my dough not thin enough and it wasn’t that “wet” after mixing in the milk but it’s all in the learning…Thanks, as always, for the fabulous recipe and guidance!Janice of Flour Power Pies
And here are a couple of her photos of making and serving them.
Reader Ann and her family were huge fans of this Southern classic as well:
Made this yesterday for Sunday supper. AMAZING! The ultimate comfort food. Thanks for sharing.Reader Ann
How To Make The Chicken
The ingredients for the chicken part of chicken and dumplings are pretty simple and straightforward.
You are trying to make a rich chicken stock, and often, simpler is better.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- whole chicken: Traditionally, you’d use a whole chicken, but you can use a cut up chicken or all white meat or all dark meat. Bone-in will yield more flavor and body for your broth.
- boxed chicken broth: or boxed stock. You could just use water, but using broth or stock to make stock allows for a rich and flavorful end-product. Your chicken and dumplings will thank you!
- onion: sweet or yellow onion
- apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar adds a subtle tang, but more importantly, it pulls more flavor and body out of the chicken bones
- salt: brings out the flavor. I use kosher salt
- garlic: minced or cloves. You can also substitute granulated garlic if you don’t have fresh
- pepper: I use the smoked pepper, but any black pepper will work
- poultry seasoning: You can also substitute a sprig of rosemary, a few sage leaves, and some thyme leaves for poultry seasoning
Here are some other ingredients you can use to make your rich chicken stock.
- diced celery
- diced carrot
- washed and chopped leeks
- diced fennel
All these ingredients would lend flavor before you strain your stock. True Southern chicken and dumplings doesn’t have a lot of vegetables hanging out in the broth.
It’s mainly just thickened basic chicken stock coating delicious flat dumplings and large chunks of tender chicken.
It’s the best!
Tips for Success
Be sure to bring your stock/broth to a full, rolling boil before adding the dumplings. If the stock is not hot enough and is just simmering, your dumplings could dissolve.
Once you cook your chicken, allow the chicken to cool in the pot, whether you used your Instant Pot or a Dutch oven. Removing the chicken from the liquid to cool separately results in dry chicken, even when you add it back to the liquid later.
Southern Chicken and Slick Dumplings Q & A
Even though they are flat, it still takes some time for the dumplings to cook through. I allow at least 15 minutes and up to 25 minutes (if I roll them a bit thicker) to make sure they’re completely cooked. If you undercook them, it’s not the end of the world, although they will be just slightly gummy inside.
The easiest way to tell if your dumplings are done is to fish one out of the pot and cut it open. Blow on it for a few seconds, and then take a taste. It should be tender and not at all gummy on the inside.
Often, I find that the flour that sticks to the dumplings is enough to thicken my broth sufficiently. If I want it a bit thicker, I add a slurry of water and flour, a little at a time, until I like the thickness. Make a slurry by whisking together flour and enough cold water or broth so it’s pourable. Do not make a slurry with hot liquid or your flour will clump up.
Yes. Some people leave out the baking powder entirely, even when using all-purpose flour. If you still like the slight “puff” that leavening brings, you can substitute self-rising flour and leave out the baking powder.
You can absolutely cook your dumplings separately in boiling water and then add them to your broth, but I prefer that the dumplings soak up all the flavor from the cooking liquid. Plus, your broth won’t thicken if you pre-cook your dumplings.
You need to add your dumplings to rapidly boiling liquid or they will fall apart. Adding them to hot and not boiling stock allows them to dissolve rather than cook, so make sure you are cooking your dumplings at a rolling boil.
Keep it simple.
Or serve with rolls. Garlic-chive rolls will go beautifully with this dish.
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For the Chicken
- 1 fryer/roaster, (4-5 pounds)
- 2 quarts organic chicken stock
- 1 medium onion, washed and quartered
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked black pepper or several grindings of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- Additional salt and pepper
For the Dumplings
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked black pepper or several grinds of black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons solid chicken fat, bacon fat, butter, or shortening (or a mix. Your call)
- 3/4 cup whole milk
For the Chicken
- Remove the pouch of giblets from the cavity of your chicken and use for another purpose. If your chicken came with a neck, you can cook that right along with the rest.
- In your Instant Pot or a Dutch oven, place the chicken (and neck, if you have one), boxed stock, onion, garlic, vinegar, salt, poultry seasoning and smoked pepper or peppercorns.
- Bring up to pressure and cook at high pressure for 33 minutes. (If using a Dutch oven, simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through and you have a nice, rich stock, about 2 hours. You may have to flip the chicken to get it to cook evenly).
- For the most tender meat, allow for complete natural pressure release, about 30 minutes. If cooking in a Dutch oven, allow the meat to cool in the pot.
- Carefully remove all the meat from the carcass, get rid of as many bones and onion pieces as you can. Once you've removed most of the larger pieces, pour the stock through a strainer to get all the little bits.
- Return the meat to the pot, cool and then refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, spoon off the layer of chicken fat from the surface of the stock. You can use this in your dumplings, to make matzo ball soup, or you can discard.
- Place your Instant Pot insert back in your Instant Pot and turn to saute or place your Dutch oven over. Stir occasionally until the stock has melted back to liquid (it will probably be like soft Jello straight from the fridge). You don't have to make it hot at this point, just warm enough to melt the gelatin in the stock.
- Pour the stock and chicken through a strainer. Press down on the chicken to get as much of the stock as possible. Refrigerate the chicken.
- Taste the broth and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to saute and bring stock to a rolling boil. If using a Dutch oven, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Drop dumplings (procedure below) into the pot, a few at a time so they don't stick together.
- Boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through. NOTE: A few of the smaller bits of dumpling may dissolve, and that's totally fine. This is what thickens your broth into a silky, dreamy gravy.
- Return the reserved chicken to the pot to reheat, about 5 minutes.
- Serve in bowls with a fork and a spoon. Have some good bread or rolls handy to sop up the extra sauce.
For the Dumplings
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, poultry seasoning and black pepper.
- Drop in the chicken fat, bacon fat, butter, or shortening, and rub in with your fingertips until it is completely incorporated. No pea-sized pieces here. You want it to disappear.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stream in the milk.
- Bring the dough together with a fork. It will be fairly wet.
- Liberally flour your counter.
- Scrape the dumpling dough onto the floured surface. Liberally flour the top of the dough and roll out into a rough rectangle about 1/8-3/16" thick. If the dough sticks, add some more flour to assist with rolling, but don't knead it in. Use your dough scraper to lift the dough and toss some flour underneath and add some to the top as necessary.
- Brush excess flour off the top of the dough. Cut into 2"x3" rectangles (don't measure--just use a pizza cutter and go for it), and they're ready to be cooked.
Using boxed chicken stock for the initial cooking liquid adds depth and intense chicken flavor to the dish.
You don't have to use bacon fat in the dumplings. You don't even have to season the dumplings. But I think you'll be happy if you do both!
Notice I'm not giving weights here. No need to be super precise, even with the dumplings.
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Nutrition InformationYield 8
Amount Per Serving Calories 435Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 2.9gCholesterol 137mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 1.3gSugar 2.3gProtein 54.7g
If you are in need of comfort, I hope you try these southern chicken and flat dumplings. They’re good for what ails you.
And if you’re already feeling good, they’ll make you feel even better.
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.