Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings

So I am not from North Louisiana.  I have made that pretty well known.  I am from “central Louisiana” (and dang proud of it) with strong roots in Avoyelles Parish…Marksville to be exact.  I love that about me.  I love that I had never eaten biscuits and gravy before I came to Shreveport.   Or real chicken and dumplings.  Now…let me back it up.  I lived in Natchitoches for 6 years and I loved every single minute of it.  Shreveport is my home now.  I love it.  I love living here and truly cannot imagine living anywhere else.  I have blossomed where I have been planted.  There are some wonderful things about living here.  Real, proper chicken dumplings are at the top of the list.  Now…I am NOT saying that people in central LA or in Avoyelles don’t make chicken and dumplings.  I am sure there are some.  I did not know any of them growing up.  But when you have the wonderfulness that is chicken fricassee…why would you even care?  Exactly.  But now that I live here, I kind of felt like I should learn.  So I tried a few recipes here and there.  I started out doing what my mama did the one time I can recall her making chicken and dumplings.  I used Bisquick.  And they were alright. They sufficed.  But when one of my friends from “up here” made them, I knew I had not hit the mark.  And all respect due to my mama, neither had she.  (But I don’t know anyone “up here” who can smother chicken like my mama, my Momee, or my cousin Robin)…so tit for a tat, so to speak.  Anyway, I found a recipe here and there for chicken and dumplings.  I tried different recipes for dumplings.  I tried the frozen dumplings.  They all just left me wanting another recipe.  I used biscuits…and that was a good one.  But still…my search continued.  Call it being a Cajun mama married to a country boy and the drive to assimilate.  Call it being a chicken and dumpling addict and trying to feed my habit (excuse the pun)…I don’t know.  I do know that the day this very chicken and dumplings recipe came across my Facebook feed, my days of searching for the perfect recipe ended.  Angels sang.  The seas parted.  My kids were perfectly behaved.  Ok ok…I am being overly dramatic…but I do have a good recipe now.  AND I learned to make my own dumplings!!  Yes…me!!!  Baking impaired Cajun mama can make her own dumplings!   And guess what my friends?  I am going to tell you how to do it too!!  Friends share, friends care.  Friends don’t let friends make bad dumplings.  🙂  You can do this.  My oh so country hubby aka Big Daddy, LOVES this dish.  His yummy noises are all the validation I need.  So, I really hope you will give this recipe a try.  It is really so good and very easy.  

Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings

Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts or 3 cups cooked chicken

2 quarts chicken broth * (have a 14.5 ounce can on hand and some chicken bouillon base is what I recommend)

OR 2 quarts of canned chicken broth

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

a pinch of Kosher salt

a little less than 1 cup of milk 

2 tablespoons of butter

Directions

Now…boil your chicken breasts in about 2 quarts of water.  Add a little salt and pepper to the water.  Boil them until they are cooked through and really just falling apart.  Remove them from the water and set aside.  Keep the broth.  Once the chicken is cooled, shred it and then set aside.  Ok…now what I do is keep the broth I have and add some chicken bouillon base.  *I bring the broth to a boil and then whisk in chicken base (found in most supermarkets on the soup aisle.  It is in a jar and usually on the top shelf near the cans of broth.  It is a must have product and really adds authenticity to your soups, stews and gravy.)  I usually whisk in about 2 Tablespoons for about 1 1/2 quarts of stock.  Then I add a can of chicken broth.   You can also just use straight canned chicken broth if you want.  That’s cool too.  If you do that, you will need quite a few cans or at least 2 of the boxes of broth.  Either way is fine.  Ok once you kind of have your broth simmering, start making your dumplings.

In a large bowl, mix your flour, baking powder, and salt.  Then using a fork or a pastry cutter, blend in your butter.  I cut it into pats into the flour and then blend.  Now you want to cut the butter into the flour until it is well mixed in.  Now add in your milk (today I used evaporated milk and it worked out great but whole or 2 % works well too).  Stir until a nice  ball of dough forms.  Then you want to turn the ball of dough onto a floured surface.  I have one of those old school Tupperware rolling mats like mu mama has and that is what I use.  Now take your  well floured rolling pin and just roll it until the dough until it is uniform in thickness.  Really it is a preference thing, but if I had to eyeball it I would say about 1/4 ” thickness is about right.  And then I use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 2 x 2 squares.  You are not really looking for perfection here.  Now I use a floured brownie spatula to remove them from the work mat and then place them on a heavily floured plate in layers, with plenty of flour between layers.

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 Now at this point your broth should be simmering, so add the dumplings one by one into the simmering broth, stirring frequently.  Cook on low for about 15-20 minutes.  Add your shredded chicken.  You are ready to ladle it into some bowls and dive in.  So. dang. delicious.  Now usually I make some cornbread and some purple hull peas to go with this.  As Big Daddy says, “watch out!!!” 

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40 thoughts on “Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings”

  1. My dumplings were pretty dense, too. I am pretty sure that adding more baking powder would remedy that. I added corn starch to thicken the sauce, as the dumplings didn’t break down enough to thicken it.

    1. You know Marie, the last time I made this the same thing kind of happened to me. Not sure what happened? I made a double batch of dumplings and maybe something was long in the process…or added.

      1. You have to use the flour from the dumplings to thicken the sauce. Made this several times and it ce out perfect every time! (I also added some sautéed onions and celery for a bit more flavor). Delicious!!!

      2. Yes, the flour does thicken the sauce. My friend, Katie, told me that she was taught to dunk each dumpling in the gravy before adding it. I have started doing that and I must say it makes for perfectly thickened gravy. Thanks for sounding in Kathy!! 🙂 Happy New Year!!

  2. if you dont have time to make homemade dumplings, what do you think about cutting up grands biscuits and placing the dough pieces in the broth? someone suggested it based off a recipe they had.

    1. Well you surely could. It really just depends on your expectations and experience with chicken and dumplings. This recipe was what I was looking for in terms of good chicken and dumplings. Some people make bisquick dumplings. Try it and see. If you are not expecting anything in particular than I am sure it will be great. Merry Christmas!!

      1. Thank you for responding. I just couldn’t do it. I went with the homemade noodles. We had chicken and dumplings tonight at church and a friend used biscuits. It really wasn’t bad, but I prefer the homemade. However, in a pinch for time, I think I can use biscuit dough and still be ok.

      2. Oh sure!! no problem. The biscuits aren’t bad at all, just not always what you are looking for. And once you have had proper chicken and dumplings, it is hard to go back. Know what I mean?

  3. Just made this, came out great. Used chicken base to get that yellowish Cracker Barrel sauce. I ended up using about 1/3 cup of cornstarch to thicken the gravy. Nice and chewy gluey just the way I like it!

  4. I made these and they were delicious ! I used yellow food coloring just a few drops in the broth and they were beautiful. I also used corn starch to thicken..I wasn’t crazy about the texture but the taste was awesome and the next day the texture was perfect …should u boil the broth or just simmer and should u cover or not ?

    1. Simmer and no cover. Simmer really slowly. The flour in the dumplings should thicken the broth. As you add each dumpling, dunk the dumpling in the broth once before dropping it in. My friend told me that is her dad’s trick.

  5. Getting ready to make your Chicken & Dumplings. I’ve tried and tried to recreate my grandmothers’ recipe. I’m getting close! Your recipes look delicious. I’m sure I’ll be giving others a try as well.

  6. I use Better than Bouillion brand chicken base in my dumplings. I also use plain flour, as opposed to self-rising, salt, and NO baking powder. Roll the dough as thin as possible. No problems with dense dumplings. I learned this from my mama in the 70’s.

  7. Bonjour! I just wanted to let you know that I just made this recipe but I made it gluten free and it was SUPER easy!
    I’m going to jot down how I did it for other cooks who love good food but have to cook for GFs.
    Okay, I used my own chicken broth so that I could be sure there was no gluten in it. (check labels if you are going to buy yours). For the dumplings I used 1 3/4 cup white rice four, and 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum, 1/4 tsp. angle cream of tartar pinch of salt and a little more than a 1/2 tsp baking powder. You will wind up using less than a cup of milk because of the gf flour. Make the way instructed. The dumplings do disintegrate almost completely but they make the broth very thick and gluey. And there are quite a few dumplings intact. Don’t stir it more than you have to. YUM!!!! I had to add quite a bit of salt to the broth to bring out all the flavors.
    This is definitely a permanent addition to the southern comfort section of my cookbook 😉
    Thank you!

  8. Bonjour! I just wanted to let you know that I just made this recipe but I made it gluten free and it was SUPER easy!
    I’m going to jot down how I did it for other cooks who love good food but have to cook for GFs.
    Okay, I used my own chicken broth so that I could be sure there was no gluten in it. (check labels if you are going to buy yours). For the dumplings I used 1 3/4 cup white rice four, and 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum, 1/4 tsp. angle cream of tartar pinch of salt and a little more than a 1/2 tsp baking powder. You will wind up using less than a cup of milk because of the gf flour. Make the way instructed. The dumplings do disintegrate almost completely but they make the broth very thick and gluey. And there are quite a few dumplings intact. Don’t stir it more than you have to. YUM!!!! I had to add quite a bit of salt to the broth to bring out all the flavors.
    This is definitely a permanent addition to the southern comfort section of my cookbook 😉
    Thank you!

  9. I grew up in St Louis, definitely not chicken n dumpling territory. I now live in SW MS and this meal is one of my specialties now. Our recipes are very similar. I use this ratio for my dumplings (in case anyone wants to try). 1 cups flour. 1/2 tsp salt. 1 tablespoon butter or shortening. One egg beaten. If I am making a small pot I usually triple this. If making a huge pot I septuple (?!?) it. You get the picture. I mix flour and salt. Then cut in butter or shortening. Beat egg and add in. Then I add some of hot broth to form a ball. The key in making perfect dumplings is rolling paper thin. Use lots of flour on surface!

  10. I’ve been making this recipe for many years (I didn’t know this was Cracker Barrel recipe)….I do roll my dumplings out as thin as I can get them and I also drudge each dumpling in flour before putting in my simmering pot.

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