Chicken pot pie is as cozy and comforting as dinner gets. In our test kitchen’s best version of this classic, we’ve got a buttery, flaky crust, with a creamy filling, full of chicken, veggies, and savory milk gravy. Here’s how each component becomes the best version of itself:
First up, the gravy. Sautéeing finely diced onion, carrot, and celery means more browning and more flavor. A couple cloves of fresh garlic bump up the savoriness, but don’t make the dish garlicky. A generous amount of flour thickens the gravy, so the filling is creamy but not liquidy. When it comes to the liquid, we have a lot of options: water, chicken broth, milk, half-and-half, cream. The catch is that we want the liquid to be both creamy and chickeny, which none of those options are. The solution is combining whole milk (just rich enough) with chicken-flavored Better Than Bouillon. If this powerhouse ingredient has yet to become a staple in your kitchen, grab a jar and get acquainted. In this recipe, we’ll be using a spoonful to add intense chickeny flavor and golden color, but the jar keeps in the fridge for months, and can be used to mix up a quick stock, and add flavor to soups, stews, and more. Fresh herbs added at the very end add some needed brightness.
Now, about the chicken. It should be cooked, but we’re not telling you how to cook it. Why? Chicken pot pie is already quite a project and if you’re going to put your hard-earned time toward anything homemade, it should be the crust, cooked vegetables, and gravy. We found that a store-bought rotisserie chicken accomplishes all we’re after: tender, juicy meat and the chance to customize a mix of white and dark meat. Psst: Leave some of the skin on when you chop the chicken into chunks; it adds fantastic flavor. You could also use a homemade roast chicken.
Finally, let’s talk crust. This one is all-butter and assembled in a stand mixer, which is a surefire way to flaky results. Adding a small amount of whole-wheat flour adds depth and nuttiness, but you can swap it out for all-purpose if you’d like. A pinch of black pepper infuses the dough with subtle spice and reinforces that this is a dinner pie.
While this recipe has several steps, they all can be broken into stages to work with your schedule. The filling can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a few days. The pie dough rounds can keep in the fridge for a couple days or in the freezer for weeks (just thaw in the fridge overnight before using). —Emma Laperruque
This is one of Food52’s Best Recipes. In this series, our test kitchen sets out to create the ultimate version of your favorite recipes. Let us know on the Hotline if there's one you'd love to see next. —Food52