Photos by Donna

Photos by Donna

I lead my too-stupid-to-cook post with Donna’s roast chicken photo (a spur of the moment shot while I finished the meal) because roast chicken is the iconic home meal.  It’s delicious, satisfying, economical, and easy. But why I love roast chicken is that it keeps on giving if you’ll let it.  I almost always throw the carcass into a 2 quart sauce pan and cover it with water for stock (here’s my oven method for making stock).  One carcass will give you a quart of great stock.

If I also have plenty of leftover chicken, I’ll make chicken and dumplings, especially in the winter (basically an inverted chicken pot pie!).  When you’ve got this delicious stock, it’s impossible to wind up with anything other than fabulous.  Two hearty meals from one little chicken.

The dumplings are what make the dish so much fun to make and to eat.  I use a basic pate a choux, mixed with plenty of fresh herbs. (Here’s a video of how to make pate a choux dumplings.)

I did mine in water because the stew was so packed with ingredients I didn't want to damage them, but you can cut them right into your pot i you're making soup.

I did mine in water because the stew was so packed with ingredients, I didn't want to damage them; but you can cut them right into your pot if you're making soup.

Chicken with dumplings is a meal that combines everything I love about food and cooking.  It brings it all together: delicious food, economy, craft (that is, it’s fun to make).  The recipe below uses two cups of leftover chicken but if you want to make this really flavorful, or if you ate all your roasted chicken and only have the stock, use boneless skinless chicken thighs, about a pound or so; roast them for twenty minutes in a very hot oven to give them some color and flavor first).

And if you don’t want a thick stew, if it’s April and not January, say, and you want something lighter, simply omit the roux  and it’s chicken and dumpling soup (cook the dumplings right in the soup).

Food doesn’t get better than this.

Chicken with Herbed Dumplings

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

1/3 cup flour

1 quart stock from one chicken carcass (add water if you don’t have a quart)

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

2 cups cooked chicken (or 20 ounces boneless chicken thighs, see post for instructions)

2 carrots large dice

2 ribs celery large dice

freshly ground black pepper

a squeeze of lemon to taste

For the dumplings:

1 cup milk

4 ounces butter (1 stick)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup flour

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon minced tarragon

1 tablespoon minced chives

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook them till they’re translucent.  Stir in the flour and continue cooking till the flour has a lightly toasted aroma.

Whisk in the stock, and bring it to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and add the salt, bay leaf, tomato paste, chicken, carrots and celery (if you like the celery crunchy, which I do, add it just at the end).

Make the dumplings while the stew finishes cooking:

Combine the milk, butter and salt in a small sauce pan and bring it to a simmer.  When the butter is completely melted, add the flour and stir until the flour has absorbed the milk and pulls away from the side of the pan.

Remove it from the heat.  Run a little cold water over the outside of the pan to cool it down a little.  Add an egg and stir until it’s incorporated into the dough.  Repeat with the remaining eggs.  Then stir in the tarragon and chives. (The dumplings can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated; you can also make a double batch freeze the extras after you cook them.)

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Invert a plastic bag over your hand and scoop out the dumpling dough.  Remove the bag from your hand to enclose the dough in the bag to make a piping bag.  Cut a hole in one corner of the bag about 1/2 inch in diameter.

Pipe the dough into the boiling water, cutting them into inch long dumplings (to make chicken and dumpling soup, cut the dumplings directly into the soup).  When the dumplings float, remove them to a paper towel until ready to add to the stew.

Taste the stew for seasoning and add more salt if you wish, freshly ground black pepper.  And for one last little push, a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4 to 6


44 Wonderful responses to “Chicken and Dumplings”

  • JoP in Omaha

    Thanks for the photos of the choux dumplings. When I made chicken and choux dumplings a few weeks ago, the dumplings missed the mark. Maybe they were too big. Theses photos are helpful. I’ll give it another go. Thanks.

  • Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    Ha. I made what I call “creamy chicken & vegetables” today at the school. I saved some for my own family but Matthew(the cream/mayonnaise/fat hater) wanted to know if I was going to put cream into the dish. He was the designated heater-upper/stirrer. I thought about your chicken pot pie, but the velouté I made with our chicken (and vegs) was rich enough in its own right. I served it over pieces of toast and the kids said it was “yummy.” High praise indeed from 5 year olds. I’m intrigued by the dumplings because I’ve never make them. Growing our own flour, though, it’s a no-brainer with our chickens. Great idea. Thanks. I’ll report back with photos of the very satisfied little mouths.

  • Rois

    I am going to try your oven method of making stock today that I am open to but I am sticking with my Great grandmother’s dumplings.The recipe came from Austria with her mother and they are so light and perfect I use them to compare all others by.

  • Kristine

    I made Michael Symon’s chicken and dumplings soup from Live to Cook. It was delicious. I did the stock partially stove top and your oven method (didn’t plan ahead), but it turned out great. Definitely use the oven method when I do plan. I like your piping method, since I think I made mine a bit too big. I’m now a huge fan of fresh tarragon.

  • Lori Lange @ RecipeGirl

    Maybe it’s because I live in such a sunny place, where soups and other comfort foods are rarely made, but I’ve never had chicken & dumplings… never even tried them! We’ve had some pretty stormy weather lately with more expected this week. The whole idea of roasting a chicken and then using it up some more to create this dish is a fabulous idea. I might go for the soup idea instead though.

  • Jonathan


    I’ve been meaning to ask – at what temperature does your stock settle in the oven method?

    Even with my oven @ 200degF, the stock spends most of its time around 170degF (my oven thermometer indicates that the oven really is at 200degF, so it’s not a calibration issue).

    As a result, I feel that the resulting stock is weak.

    Then again, I don’t really have a “good stock” reference point in my palate…

  • Erin

    This is the first time chicken and dumplings has ever appealed to me. I like the smallish dumplings, they make me think of a light gnocchi instead of wet lumps of flour. I think it may be about time I gave chicken and dumplings a chance.

    Great photos.

  • corey

    this is creeping me out because not only did i cook this last night, i was going to do a little blog about it today as well. oh well, your pictures are better anyway, i’ll just redirect people here 🙂

  • Brendan

    Made the Paté a Choux gnocchi the other night. My wife freaked out it was so good. Gonna make this later in the week if my school work permits. Love the blog and love the book (Ratio).


  • lux

    Damn you Ruhlman! I’m craving a big bowlful of chicken and dumplings now but it’s only 10:30AM and I’m at the office. 🙁

  • Natalie Sztern

    who knew your talents extended to mind reading. I just made pot pie last night., except i did not use a crust but instead put the pie ingredients into a hollowed out Black Russian Bread roll (individually sized)..It never donned on me it is a reverse of chicken and dumplings..

    .that tip for the dumplings with a plastic bag is priceless.

  • luis

    Lovelly dish. Perfect recipe instructions. All this from one chicken. I love it.
    I have shamelesslly copied and pasted the recipe to my small managed database of great recipes.

    But what I really like about your post is the efficiency of using one chicken to create two or more wonderfull meals. Maybe make patte out of the heart and liver?

    I think you are on to something big. this style of cooking more than justifies going to the Wholefoods market and buying a real quality free range chicken raised right.

    Today I am cooking for my week and it so happens one of the dishes I am making is beef stew. I tend to think of these dishes as genuine American cuisine. But I don’t know? I browned the meat at high temp using high heat canola oil and now I understand what chef Pardus meant about the mist and the vapors in his kitchen. Chef Pardus…. I get it. High temp frying is a mess….but it is a quick mess.

  • Julian

    I wonder if you happen to coincidentally be following this thread over on They just recently started a “Chicken and Dumplings Cookoff” topic to discuss how everyone does it and their experiences making and eating it…

  • Jose Canseco

    Jeez! You foodies with your choux paste dumplings (okay, I admit they’re damn good). I know Thomas Keller is like god to all of you but if you want to convince Americans that they aren’t too stupid to cook, keep comfort food traditional.

    Dumplings – flour, baking powder, milk, liquid fat (I like chicken or duck) and salt…you figure out the ratio. If you want, get all fancy and throw some chopped herbs up in there, by all means do it.

  • Victoria Carr


    If I could, I would curtsy before you in appreciation for the oven method stock, which I have been using – with a little adaptation for Judy Rodgers’ suggestion of adding a small amount of salt – since I first read about it on your blog. And this past weekend I made a compound chicken stock for the first time. It was delicious. So I will save this recipe for chicken and dumplings and make it before this already too-long winter is over.

    Many, many, many thanks!

  • S. Woody

    For my partner’s heart health, I can see substituting the butter with something a bit more heart-healthy, like canola oil. There will be a little less flavor, but not so much as to destroy the dish.

    The heart-health pansies would, of course, panic over any oil being used at all. They would also object to using any salt at all. That is why they aren’t very high on my list of people to listen to. As for the number of eggs in the recipe… well, I can always make fewer dumplings.

    Dietary decisions require using some common sense. At the top of the list of common sense decisions is: can this be made attractive to eat, while following the dietary demands.

    My hunch is that Bruce will very much enjoy my making this dish.

  • Miss Dove

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was stupid easy and amazingly delicious. I was worried about the dumplings – I’ve never had any luck with them before, and I’ve never felt comfortable with piping – but I could not believe how little work they took and how perfectly light and tasty they were. With one sous chef, I had this on the table in less than an hour.

  • dee es

    I really messed this up! Everything seemed to be going well until I got the dumplings into the stew. They fell apart, leaving me with a sort of chicken porridge. It still tasted good, but definitely lost most of its charm.

    What could have gone wrong? Was the stew maybe not hot enough? Were the dumplings too big? Should I have put one in at a time? The video made it seem so easy–all in at once et voilá!

    Thanks for the post. I’ll try it again, maybe adding a little less flour to the broth. It was already a bit thick for my taste by the time the dumplings disintegrated into it.

  • Renee

    As last week’s roast chicken was already on the stove becoming stock this was perfect for tonight’s supper. I love making pate a choux – first time using the dough for dumplings.

    Excellent recipe. Will repeat.

  • Stephanie Stiavetti

    Is it wrong that I’ve never had chicken and dumplings? I may have to make this in a gluten-free version and post it to my blog. Is it ok if I repost your recipe, with allergy-friendly adjustments?

  • luis

    The dish is perfect the way it is. Do not mess with perfection folks.

    The main dish I cooked for the week…. beff stew came out great.

    As I wind down for the day a thought occured to me. Instead of making two large portions loaded with veggies and meat I can stretch this into four frozen meals.

    The dumplings stretch the dish and supply the carbos to complete it.
    The same could be done with any number of carbos.. rice, polenta, quinoa, orzo…tofu…

    This is why I think it is probably one of the most important dishes Michael has blogged about.

  • ingo pixel

    I just happened to have about 2 cups of leftover roast chicken and a freezer full of freshly made stock when I read this today at work, so I immediately emailed my husband, who would be home before me, to get this started so I could help finish it up when I got home.

    Awesome recipe! I never really enjoyed the giant, gluey, pasty dumplings i was served as a child, and the only other time i tried to make them myself it was an unprecedented disaster, but this method yielded the best dumplings I’ve ever had! I should note that I also used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour as I cant have wheat and they still turned out light, fluffy, rich, silky and perfect! The fresh herbs added such a fantastic foil to the richness of the stew, I’d consider putting them in all sorts of other soups and dishes.

    This was the best leftover coincidence ever, and I will most definitely put this one into heavy rotation as I so often have leftover chicken and stock hanging around.

    Thanks for dinner!

  • Sonja @ ActiveFoodie

    I just made chicken and dumplings last week, it is one of my favorite meals. I LOVE your suggestion of piping the dumplings, definitely trying that next time!

  • ingo pixel

    One more thing I’m a little confused about; in your pate choux video you talk about using water, butter, flour and eggs, but in this recipe there was no water. It turned out great, but was something missing? Am I missing something?

  • michael

    ingo pixel: great question. any liquid will work. i felt like a little richer dumpling so i used milk. if i wanted to piss off lebovitz. I’d use half cream! but you could also use chicken stock. hell you could use orange juice if you wanted.

    that brings up fat. really traditional chix dumplings would have used the smaltz saved from the roasting and used that instead of butter. an excellent way to go.

    Stephanie: pls do post. would love to see your glutenfree version.

    miss dove: nothing pleases me more than such a comment.

    and dee es: nothing discourages me more. the only thing i can think of is your proportions were somehow off. that’s why i like to use weights. i’ll bet you shorted your flour. you need a cup of it or at least four ounces (I like 5 ounces for this particular use). watch my video and see if you had the same consistency. it should have the consistency of thick mashed potatoes.

  • Jami Moss Wise

    Hmmmm. Your recipe will cause great consternation in the Great Flat versus Drop Dumpling debate that has raged in the chicken and dumpling makers of my family for three generations. I adore chicken and drop dumplings with their light, tender biscuity texture inside, surrounded by the thinnest layer of broth. My mother rolls her out and cuts them in squares before dropping them in the broth. Maybe your version can create a new era of family harmony.

  • Jim

    I also made these dumplings last night, using roasted garlic. They went into a ‘tur-duck-en’ stew, turkey stock from thanksgiving (the oven method), a roasted chicken, and leftover duck thighs and legs. I think i have a new favorite way of making poultry stew with dumplings… Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Fuji Mama

    Ever since your “America: Too stupid to cook” post I’ve been having uncontrollable cravings for roast chicken. I’ve used your method 3 times in the past two weeks. It doesn’t help that as soon as we finish a chicken my husband asks, “When are you making this again?” I should probably keep this post away from him . . . I can only imagine how many times we’ll be eating chicken and dumplings once I let this cat out of the bag.

  • Bill

    Were I come from we make dumplings flat – paper thin if possible. Anyone out there from this tradition?

  • karenology

    I am eating chicken and dumplings right now, thanks to your reminder that such deliciousness exists. Thanks!

    One perpetual issue I have been having with the pate a choux dumpling technique, though, is that while yours come out looking all elegant and gnocchi shaped – mine look pretty crude. They taste good and all, but they definitely highlight the “dump” in “dumpling”…any tricks on cutting the dough to make it look neater? I’ve tried doing this with both a ziploc bag and a pastry bag.

  • NancyRing

    This looks great and I will try it!

    I used to make good stock, now I make fantastic stock using your oven method. Your method helped me convert my two sisters who would never make stock. I convinced one to make it telling her she would have the best stock and it is essentially free!

    Thanks for helping me remove even more processed food from my extended families diet!

  • KV

    @dee es I had the same problem. I ended up using a 2T ice cream scoop to sort of set them in the water in the second batch.

    @michael The flour ratio was likely off (perhaps due to size of egg, too?) Either way, can you just add flour toward the end? Or would that make the mixture taste floury?

  • dawn

    I want to try many of the recipes that you post but want to either download the recipe or send it to a friend or print it to try later. Any chance of adding a those sharing options to recipes?

  • Kevin

    @dawn – check out the “ShareThis” link at the end of the post (right before the comments start). This gives you options to send via email or social networking sites.

  • Susan

    These look great! I had no idea that this dough could be used for dumplings as I’d always thought they were to be used as a crisp, edible container. Can’t wait to try them the next time I make a soup or stew. Thanks for this!

  • DJay

    Appreciate info and definitely the pate a choux video. However … This ratio/recipe didn’t work for me. 🙁 I used the dumpling “recipe” which subs milk for the water, and adds salt, tarragon and chives. The amounts of basic ingredients the same: 1 cup milk / water, 1 stick (4 oz) butter, 1 cup flour, 4 large Eggland eggs. I understand this is supposed to reflect the “ratio,” but in reality my first venture here was the “recipe,” using your stated measures.

    When I removed the pan from stove, my milk/butter/flour mix looked like that in the video. By the time I added 4 eggs, my dough was much wetter and looser than yours. Also despite stirring till my arm nearly fell off, after addition of last egg, the dough never again was matte and did not get very stiff.

    I was trying to stick with this ratio biz, so I forged ahead against the urge to add more flour. Dough really was too loose for piping any kind of dumpling with a shape. I was hard-pressed to even snip it as it squirted out from the bag. The dough hit my broth and splattered; enough stayed together to get an irregular dumpling with bits and pieces disintegrated off it. My broth was quite hot, but not “rolling” or full boil. Given how wet the dough was, surprising any of it held together.

    I didn’t weigh my eggs up front & didn’t weigh the flour since you provided the ingredient amounts for this particular dish. I’m not too stupid to cook, but I do get confused when trying to compare wet and dry weights and measures.

    The charts I see online for dry weights say 1 cup = 8 ounces. So I didn’t understand how a cup of flour would be half the amount of the cup of water. Afterward, trying to sort this out, I did weigh a cup of my flour (King Arthur AP).( I scoop flour into measuring cup and level, not the dip method). It weighed 7 ounces including the 2-oz weight of the stainless steel measuring cup. Thus I had 5 ounces of flour in the pate a choux –the amount you said you preferred for the dumplings –and still it was too wet. (and so much for charts of weigh/measure equivalents).

    I don’t feel any confidence at all that I could cook just using ratios. At least I know how to measure liquids and I know how to measure a cup of flour. But I don’t know how to compare the two, applying a ratio, as I don’t know all the weight and measure equivalents.

    I do have enough experience to know flours across the country, and different kinds of flours, may have different weights. I also realize even that bag of King Arthur Flour in my kitchen will change weight depending on humidity, it’s age, etc. At least weighing the flour afterward made me recognize ta cup of flour does NOT weigh 8 ounces as I thought. But see … had I weighed the flour first, had I been working purely from a ratio (and not your ingredient amounts) I would have had even less flour and a wetter dough than this one!

    Ratio isn’t enough. What should I have done? What if I hadn’t known via actually seeing the dough in your helpful video that it “should” have been firmer? Should I have added flour? Well, what else? Then there’s not as much butter in the ratio and salt’s off too. LOL. I should have added the flour because I could see it wasn’t going to be stiff enough to pipe well.

    I can appreciate that knowing ratios can help an experienced cook, but seems to me one has to know an awful lot before being anywhere close to functional relying on it, let alone “flying!” You have to really know those wet/dry equivalents. You have to know whether that ratio dough you just mixed up is going to actually work as gnocchi/ dumpling.

    Altho I’m an average cook, who doesn’t cook all that much, I frequently wing it in the kitchen. Do I make gourmet meals? No. I wing it mostly with pasta, noodles, soups, stews, SE Asian curries … all very forgiving. Do all my on-the-fly concoctions turn out fab? No. But many do, many do. I also try recipes which may be beyond my skill, some with success, some not. Yet right now, I can’t see being able to go into the kitchen armed only with ratios.

    Perhaps I just need to give it more opportunity to prove itself. I’ve tucked away your sandwich bread ratio, having recently gotten interested in the finicky art of breadmaking with mixed success. I want someday to be able to turn out a world-class pumpernickel loaf, but I think it’s going to be a while before I achieve that. 🙂


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