Chicken And Lemon And Herb Dumplings

March 2, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Chicken and Dumplings was created during the Great Depression: money was tight back then, and it's an excellent way to stretch ingredients so that the meal feeds a crowd. It's a simple and basic recipe that is economical and can be elegant as well. The dumplings are basically a biscuit dough that are dropped into boiling chicken stock. To update this classic dish, I added herbs to the dumplings to give them an extra layer of flavor. I used chives, thyme, marjoram, and lemon zest. This will serve a crowd, and is a wonderful meal that is filling and delicious. Nothing fancy here -- just basic food. I spent very little, the chicken being the costliest component but still a bargain when you think about the breakdown on a cost per person basis. Almost everything else used in this recipe is something most of us have in our refrigerator or pantry.
The total cost for the meal was approximately $20 making it less than $5 per person and the ingredients for dumplings were already in my pantry. You can adapt this dish to your own needs and taste.


Food52 Review: This is a very satisfying dish, and a good reminder that old-fashioned meals of the sort Grandma grew up on can stand the test of time. I was pleasantly surprised by the stew's gentle savor, and most especially its hint of sweetness from the parsnip and carrot. The lemon zest and chives in the dumpling batter added zing. And yes, we had plenty of biscuit dough left over for tomorrow's breakfast. A winner.mitschlag

Serves: 6 to 8, depending on serving size


For the Chicken and Vegetables

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 3 to 5 pounds
  • 8 to 10 cups water (if you happen to have stock, you can use that instead of water)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds or at an angle
  • 1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into rounds or at an angle
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Dumplings and Finishing the Dish

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter (I used salted, but unsalted is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup milk (whole is preferable, but 1 or 2% is fine)
In This Recipe


For the Chicken and Vegetables

  1. Wash the chicken and place in a pot or dutch oven. Pour in water, season with salt, and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to medium high, and keep at a low boil until chicken is tender; it takes approximately 1 to 2 hours. Note: if using water, I boil the chicken for about 2 hours so that the broth is tastier.
  2. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool; pour broth into a container. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of the pot, add the onion and saute until they soften. Add the celery, carrot, and parsnip, and saute until the vegetables begin to soften. The onion will be translucent. Add the broth back to the pot and simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, just until the vegetables are tender.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking in the broth, remove the meat and skin from the chicken. Set them aside, covered, and start the biscuit dough.

The Dumplings and Finishing the Dish

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, herbs and lemon zest. Cut in the vegetable shortening and butter until it resembles peas. Add the milk and mix just until combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead for a minute or two, and pat into a disc approximately 1/2 inch thick. I use the smallest biscuit cutter or a cordial glass to cut the dough into small, round shapes.
  2. Bring the broth and vegetables to a boil and drop in the dumplings. Don't overcrowd, as you don't want the dumplings to absorb all the liquid (you can always bake the remaining biscuit dough or make pot pies from the leftovers). Boil the dumplings in the broth for approximately 10 to 15 minutes; they will thicken the soup substantially and will partially break down a bit.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the chicken, and serve. I like to garnish with chopped parsley and/or a few snips of chives.
  4. NOTE: I normally would not knead biscuit dough -- as a matter of fact, it is supposed to be handled as little as possible. But for this recipe, I wanted to develop the gluten so the dumplings don't fall apart when cooking. I found that about a minute of gentle kneading helped hold the dumplings together.

More Great Recipes:
Carrot|Celery|Chicken|Chive|Lemon|Milk/Cream|Parsnip|Vegetable|Serves a Crowd|Entree

Reviews (27) Questions (0)

27 Reviews

collin G. October 11, 2015
I will grudgingly admit that this is wonderful. Grudgingly, because everyone else is so enthusiastic, and the flavors don't really pop until the biscuits are tossed in and it thickens up. But holy moly after some "salt and pepper to taste" it is wonderful and rich. My wife substituted butter for shortening as well. Cheers to great food on a cool autumn day!
Julie C. April 21, 2015
OMG! I made this tonight and it was delicious. I used water+fresh herbs and garlic cooked with the chicken and had to add quite a bit of salt to get the flavors right but it really turned out perfectly. Thanks so much;)
Rebecca C. January 13, 2015
I used 2 lbs of chicken (6 thighs, 1 back, 1 neck) in water, added 2 bay leaves and 5 peppercorns, and went with 1-1.5 hours to make stock. Chicken was thoroughly cooked but not mush falling off the bones. Plus, there was a lot of schmaltz rendered, which I used in place of vegetable shortening. Dumplings were a bit more gloppy than I expected but, ultimately this dish was worth the work. I will say it needed salt and pepper, and perhaps something like lemon juice or, wine to add a touch of acidity its flavor. My husband went with hot sauce - that did it for him! And yes, there are plenty of dumplings for a second round.
Horto March 24, 2014
2 hours will not overcook chicken?<br />
Lisa January 22, 2014
I can't wait to try this - the perfect thing for this polar northeast weather. One question - any suggestions for replacing the veggie shortening? I am really trying to de-Crisco my life. Thanks!
julietzeta April 21, 2013
Thank you for this recipe! Instead of kneading the dough and patting it into a disc, could I do a drop biscuit with the dough?
Fig A. April 4, 2013
Yay! So not surprised by the win for community pick, I have this on my must-make list. Congrats Suzanne!
em-i-lis April 3, 2013
This was RIDICULOUSLY fantastic!!!! Thank you, Suzanne!!!!
jgleitsmann April 3, 2013
Can you freeze this after the biscuit dough has already been dropped in, or freeze it before that and add the dough when you are ready to eat it?
William W. April 3, 2013
This is delicious! A must make for anyone needing some comfort food in their lives!
em-i-lis April 3, 2013
This looks fab, Suzanne! I'm going to make it tonight!!!
boulangere April 2, 2013
How lovely to come home after a verrrrrry loooooooong day and see a photo of your instantly recognizable dish. I only wish I had the oomph to make it for dinner tonight, but I'm looking forward to making it over the weekend while glued to basketball.
Kukla April 2, 2013
Many congratulations Suzanne on the CP!! Aren’t the old-fashioned meals that our Moms and Grandmas used to cook still the best?
healthierkitchen April 2, 2013
This looks really delicious!
EmilyC March 29, 2013
Congrats Suzanne on the CP! I love chicken and dumplings but don't have a good recipe. Now I do! So thank you! : )
creamtea March 29, 2013
fiveandspice March 28, 2013
Yay! Glad this is a CP! Such a beautiful and flavorful recipe. And so good for those of us still just dreaming of spring...
Fig A. March 16, 2013
Ha! I *knew* this was going to make it. Congrats!
lapadia March 5, 2013
A comfort food feast!
lapadia September 21, 2013
krusher March 4, 2013
Winter is a few months away here and the nights are getting cooler in the southern hemisphere. This is my idea of comfort food. Friday nights are gathering times with friends after a busy week and a few hours before I morph into a busy realtor. Your dish would be absolutely perfect and would have wide appeal. Yum!