Main Courses, Poultry

Mamaw’s Chicken and Dumplings

Get cozy on a cold fall or winter’s night with this easy chicken and dumplings recipe straight from the kitchen of a Southern grandma.

Get cozy on a cold fall or winter's night with this easy chicken and dumplings recipe straight from the kitchen of a Southern grandma.

Chicken and dumplings are the quintessential Southern comfort food.  I was reared on the chicken and dumplings of a lady named Ms. Dot.  Ms. Dot was basically the community baby-sitter.  While today, childcare providers are required to abide by strict government regulations and health codes, back in the early 80’s my father along with numerous other parents just dropped their kids off at Ms. Dot’s house for the day.  To me, chicken and dumplings were supposed to taste like Ms. Dot’s.  Years went by and I snubbed my nose at plate after plate of chicken and dumplings because they simply did not match the culinary goodness of what I remember as a kid.  That is, until I met Mamaw.

Mamaw is my husband’s grandmother and she loves to feed people.  Literally, she takes offense if you show up at her house not hungry.  It is Southern comfort food at its grandest – biscuits and red-eye gravy, fried okra and cornbread.  All cooked in nothing less than a pound of bacon fat.  Yes, you can literally feel your arteries clogging . . .but it’s sooooo good. If you’re lucky you might even end up going home with a jar of homemade sweet pickles.

Mamaw grew up on a farm in South Mississippi. The small town of Sumrall, MS, was founded by and is named after her people. The homestead is still there, though I’ve heard it is overgrown and hard to find now. Like most people living in Mississippi in the early 1900’s, life was hard and her family didn’t have a lot of money.

Mamaw at 16

Mamaw at 16 c. 1931

She married the love of her life when she was very young. Though her husband has been dead for 27 years, she still talks about their life together like it was not so long ago. She still lives in the same house in North Jackson that she and her husband built in the 1960’s. Stepping through her front door is like stepping back in time. The gold shag carpet, the linoleum countertops, the dark wood-paneled walls – it’s all still there and yet strangely comforting.

mamaw and papawMamaw with her husband

Back when The Husband was still just The Boyfriend, he decided things were getting serious enough between us to meet Mamaw.  Even though there were only three of us, she had a spread big enough to feed ten.  She set a plate of chicken and dumplings down in front of me.  I just knew I probably wouldn’t like them, but there was no way I was going to break this little old lady’s heart by turning down her food.  So I gingerly raised a fork to my lips and took a bite.

Oh glorious rapture in heaven!  Finally!  Someone who knew how to make the chicken and dumplings of my childhood!  I not only cleaned my plate, but went back for seconds.

Seven years later, Mamaw still likes to feed people but she doesn’t get around as well as she used to.  Having lost my own grandmother last year, I am suddenly aware of how valuable these people are, how we need to take advantage of the time we have with them, and learn everything we can.  Just over a month ago, I paid Mamaw a visit with the sole purpose of learning how to make her chicken and dumplings.

mamaw 020

Of course, there was no recipe.  It was “a little bit of this” and “a little bit of that.”  I watched, frantically jotted down notes, and listened to her stories of growing up on a farm in south Mississippi.  Later, I went home and made it again, this time writing down measurements, cooking times, and adding my own touches.

One thing that did surprise me – for the last seven years I was under the delusion that Mamaw handmade her own dumplings.  At one point she did, explaining that my husband’s grandfather even made her huge board that she used to roll out her dumplings.  But at the age of 94 and with the invention of modern refrigeration, she now reserves the right to use frozen dumplings. Hey, who am I to argue with a lady in her 90’s?

I have included a recipe for homemade dumplings similar to what Mamaw uses. However, sometimes I just want chicken and dumplings without all the work. Mary B’s frozen dumplings in the freezer section at the grocery store taste just like homemade. Just follow the directions on the package.

mamaws hands 025

Mamaw her husband raised two children – a daughter and a son. A few days after she taught me how to make this, we buried her son, my husband’s father.

Get cozy on a cold fall or winter's night with this easy chicken and dumplings recipe straight from the kitchen of a Southern grandma.

Listen to my interview on “Next Stop Mississippi” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting where I discuss the story behind my chicken and dumplings.

 

Get cozy on a cold fall or winter's night with this easy chicken and dumplings recipe straight from the kitchen of a Southern grandma.
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Mamaw's Chicken and Dumplings

Get cozy on a cold fall or winter's night with this easy chicken and dumplings recipe straight from the kitchen of a Southern grandma.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 16 minutes
Servings 6 -8
Calories 339kcal
Author Lisa B.

Ingredients

  • 1 boiler/fryer chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

For the dumplings:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  • Place chicken pieces in a large stockpot. Fill pot with enough cold water to cover chicken. Add onion, bay leaves, and salt. Bring water to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour. Remove chicken to a plate to cool. Strain remaining both. Discard onion and bay leaves.
  • In the meantime, combine the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the milk and egg. Mix until it forms a dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out the dough to about an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into strips, about 1 ½-inches wide and 3 inches thick.
  • Dumplings can be dried for up for four hours, or use them immediately.
  • Remove chicken from the bone and shred into bite-sized pieces. Bring broth back to a boil.
  • Drop dumplings into boiling broth and cook until tender. Time will depend on the thickness of the dumplings and how long they were allowed to dry.
  • Add chicken bouillon, shredded chicken, ground pepper, and thyme. Cook until heated through.
  • Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 15 minutes.

Notes

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Since the dumplings will absorb much of the broth, add about ¼ -1/2 cup or so of chicken broth when reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7.7g | Trans Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 817mg | Potassium: 424mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3.2g | Vitamin A: 3850IU | Vitamin C: 5.8mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2.3mg

 

117 Comments

  1. Wow Mamaw sounds like she’s in great shape! There must be something to the idea that a southern diet can breed long life. Chicken and dumplings are a definite classic. I’ve never made it myself but it looks delicious.

  2. Mamaw could have inherited these great recipe from her grandma. The chicken and dumplings look terrific! I love it.

  3. would something like bisquick biscuits work in place of the frozen biscuits in this recipe?

    • The Cooking Bride

      My only concern with using Bisquick is that you could end up with a pot full of mush. You could try it, but I would suggest cutting down the cooking time significantly, as I just don’t think they would hold up to the cooking time recommended in the recipe.

    • You can use canned biscuits – cut them into thirds or fourths.

      My Gran’s people are from Alabama and that’s how she did it after she ahd her 4th baby. (Takes a lot less time than making them by hand!) Delicious!!

    • Yes, Bisquick mix works WONDERS. It’s how my Dad made Chicken and Biscuits, and the very specific flavor of Bisquick means two things to me, to this very day: Strawberry Shortcake, and Chicken and Dumplings.

      It does make a sort of ‘gravy’ from the dough, but if you put them on top of the bubbling mix (and we kept in the celery, carrots, and onions, to make almost a stew of it) they keep their shape and sort of steam.

      Now I have to make this…. Dad’s been gone for a year and a half.

  4. Story and photos are wonderful. She sounds like a great lady to know!

  5. That dish looks delicious.

  6. Very cool. Reminds me of my own grandmother and growing up in South Louisiana.

    Sigh… I miss home. Your description of Mawmaw’s house brings me back to my own childhood and so many houses of friends, family and relatives that I visited and spent time at.

    I was always encouraged to eat seconds, thirds, fourths and clean out the pot if just a little bit was left. It’s amazing I never gained weight.

    My wife makes her own dumpling/biscuits and places them on top long enough for them to cook just before serving.

    There are things I am not allowed to cook in the kitchen. Chicken and dumplings are one of those things. I like my wife’s chicken and dumplings, and her feeling is that if I make one of her “specialties” and it turns out better than hers, she will no longer desire/feel good about making it herself.

  7. Beautiful series and beautiful blog.

  8. This looks so amazing! Thanks for sharing. And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  9. The ingredients: amazing.

    But I have HUGE texture issues — I’m thinking this might be one of those dishes I should avoid? Might you suggest a slightly less texture-issuey version?

    😉

    • The Cooking Bride

      Mikalee, I have come across versions where you drop big spoonfuls of biscuit mix on top of the broth. That way you could avoid the dumplings altogether if you didn’t like it. I don’t think it would work for this version though! 🙂

  10. Just the site of your image had my mouth watering, then you grabbed me as a reader when you brought food to life. Magical realism… perhaps a touch..

  11. Gonna give it a try this weekend. Never had a Mamaw like yours but I totally plan on being one when I “grow up”!

  12. That looks delicious!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe, looks like it would be fun to make with my kiddos! 🙂

  13. I think I gained 5 pounds just thinking about eating that. Plus it uses frozen dumplings so it’s easier to make. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Wow. We eat something similar in Jamaica. I swear the south and islands have so much in common. This made me hungry. I think she should ship them out 🙂

  15. I called my grandmother Mawmaw, too. But this looks way better than anything she ever cooked!

  16. It looks yummy!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 I’ve tried chicken and dumplings when I used to live in Texas (’97/99). Being born in Europe I was not familiar with southern food, but have learned a lot over the years and have cooked and baked some great southern dishes and deserts.

  17. Odd, I was going to log into my blog tonight, and saw this article, and couldn’t help but take a look. I am originally from Texas and my grandmothers and my mother all made Chicken n Dumplings growing up. I think of them every time I make it. I always make my the dumplings just because it was the part I got help with as a kids (lots of flour and mess making – ahhh the memories). Anyway, great post…

  18. Looks and sounds DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to try it on my own. 🙂

  19. Yummy! always looking for great recipes!

  20. I love this post and cooking is VERY hard for my husband, and I am not, I come from a family that puts shredded cheese on Jell-o! We could not be any different. I am going to make this for him, any chance you have a coco and buiscuits recipe?

  21. Looks yummy! Nice post — I love old photos.

    (I’m surprised she doesn’t make the dumplings! They’re quite easy and yummy).

    • The Cooking Bride

      She used to. Somewhere she has a old board her husband made years ago for her to roll her dumplings out on. I think after all these years of making dumplings she it was okay for her to use frozen.

  22. There’s nothing like the emotion and hospitality you get from family members like “Mamaw”. Its comforting, special really. You get a chance to spend time with them, share your joy, and return smiles after a home cooked meal. Those moments are timeless. Nice read! I really have to try Chicken and Dumplings the “Mamaw” way.

  23. Looks delicious! I like the recipe, and I like the sentiment attached to it even more. I think you could get away with using the Bisquick dumpling recipe as long as you add them in at the end of the cooking time. Great post.

  24. Awww, this made me miss my grandma! What a candid story, thank you. (and the recipe looks good, too!)

  25. thiet ke noi that dep

    It’s look delicious.
    Great post! Congrats on being FP! 🙂

  26. This takes me back. I had a great great grandmother and a great grandmother who were two of the most amazing cooks in the world, and they made mean pots of chicken and dumplings. I miss them both, and I miss that food. Thanks for taking me back with the good stuff and for sharing those amazing photos! I love it!

  27. This is a great, wonderful way to honor your elders! This post brought tears to my eyes…

  28. I really does look delisHH and makes me miss my gran!

  29. Elizabeth Holdsworth

    Hello, this looks like a lovely recipe, as I’m British, I’ve not heard of it before but I am very tempted to try it out on my family as I’m sure it’ll go down well. I love the heritage of it and Mamaw comes across like like such a beautiful woman, both inside and out.

  30. Ok ok ok … I love you and Mamaw for sharing this recipe but you cannot convince me for 1 minute that she used Frozen dumplings… Are you kidding me?

    I thought that was like against secret grandmother code… 😉

    Ronnie Libra
    http://librachronicles.wordpress.com/

  31. portugaluntouchedtoday

    Great blog and great story about this wonderful lady. A treasure I am sure! Thank you!

  32. This reminds me of the traditional Acadian (French-Canadians from Nova Scotia) dish called “fricot”. Have you ever heard of it? It’s fun to see how different cultures create similar dishes.

    Congrats on being Pressed!

  33. Great to include the background on this amazing looking dish!

  34. Oh, reading about Mamaw already has me tearing up thinking about my own granny who has been gone for 10 years now. The description of Mamaws house just nails the memory to the hardwood paneling in granny’s house. My mother -in- law spent part of her childhood in Jackson, and has now inherited a house there, which also reminds me much of your description of Mamaws place. Great recipe, and I’m loving it!!!

    God Bless You
    paul

  35. Oooh, I love chicken and dumplings, and those look fabulous. That story is so precious too, I especially love seeing all the old photos.

    Quick question about the recipe – do you know a recipe for the actual dumplings (to avoid store-bought)? I’ve yet to make any chicken and dumplings recipe yet and I’ve tried dumplings both ways (fluffy and dense) and I’ve yet to decide which I like best.

    But sheesh! 96 years old and still able to cook up a storm?! Definitely amazing.

    • My mother was raised in a poor sharecroppers family. She learned to make dumplings very simply. To each cup of flour add 1/2 tsp salt. Add enough milk and salt and pepper to make a sticky bread like mass. Use lots of flour to keep it from sticking. Roll out very thin and cut in 2 to 3 inch long strips, about 1 inch wide and drop them 1 at a time in the boiling broth. Some of them will melt into the broth and some will cook very quickly. If u drop them slowly enough they won’t stick together. In a pinch u can use flour tortillas. They are ready to eat almost when u put the last one in. I usually use 2 cups of flour for my bunch and 1 chicken, boiled. Very good.old times recipe.

  36. Love the post and the chicken & dumplings look great too!

  37. I love the old pictures of your Mamaw and especially of her when she was sixteen and the one with her and her husband. The dumplings look fantastic and really tasty! I might have my fiancee try this one, he’s the cook. 😉

  38. Wonderful story about your Mamaw! And the recipe looks delicious! I saw this post and my jaw literally dropped–chicken and dumplings to me sounds like a classic divine dish. Thanks for sharing! 😀

  39. Yum It makes my mouth water yum! yum! yum! yum!
    http://www.ccramdom.wordpress.com

  40. Sounds delicious. I just posted a link to it on my blog.

    Charming photos of Mamaw!

  41. 96 and still looking good 🙂 Sweet photos, and nice post!

  42. I don’t eat chicken but find myself drooling over this dish! I will have to pass the recipe off to my mother. Lovely story.

  43. This looks absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for sharing.

  44. YUMMY! always looking for new things to make for dinner.

  45. Thanks for the post — I love Southern cooking!

  46. Such a lovely story accompanying the recipe! Thanks for sharing!!!

  47. Well, now I’m hungry! Sounds delish and easy to make. Perfect time of the year for it. Thanks! 🙂

  48. Yeech! When I moved to Nashville, my first girlfriend her tried to give me dumplings. What a waste. The wafers I get at church on communion Sunday have more flavor! As for Okra: I don’t eat anything that I know was “slimey” – it is like beef lier: no matter how you try to drown or dress-up that bitter flavor, it still comes through. Congrats on getting pressed like a fresh twig of parsley.

  49. ok…it’s almost 10pm, and i’m drooling like a starving st bernard. and i suck at cooking. so i’m going to need my mom to try these out tomorrow maybe. 🙂 thanks!
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

  50. Yummy, yummy – so much to taste. Really love it.

  51. This is a super sweet and yummy post!

  52. This post reminds me of my Grandma Rita. She was a farmer’s wife who constantly made bread. It was the first thing I remember craving after going away for college, and was the inspiration behind starting a blog. I’m also trying to properly document our family recipes to make a book in Grandma’s honour. Chicken and dumplings, made by Mamaw, is just the sort of thing I need right now 🙂

  53. It looks like chicken porridge to me. I mean… it reminds me of chicken porridge I long to have for breakfast. Yumm… that looks good too. And it makes me hungry instantly.
    And your little Tot is soooo cute. She has angelic smile 🙂

  54. My Nana is like this, you have to come very hungry to her house as it is usually filled with homemade cakes, pizzas, breads etc.
    I loved this post and the recipe sounds gorgeous. Definitely one to try.
    Thanks!

  55. my mother in law lived for 34 years after her husband died and never dated or married another

  56. cristinacole23

    This is SUCH a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing this delicious dish and touching story. Have a wonderful day! 😉

  57. I haven’t had chicken and dumplings in FOREVER. My grandma, who passed last summer, use to make it. Thanks for the memories, I’ll have to try this 🙂

  58. This sounds delicious. I plan to make this sometime this week. I’ll sadly have to leave out the onions though since nobody else in the house will eat anything with them.

  59. Chicken and Dumplings! One of my favorites! I actually made this a few weeks back, only difference is I live in China where ingredients like rosemary are a little difficult to come by.

    My western friends here loved it, but it may have been that they just haven’t had anything other than stir-fry and rice for the past 6 months 😉

    Great post! I love recipes with a story attached.

  60. like this….

  61. Looks delicious! Love this post.

  62. Learning from a grandmother is a precious thing. It is wonderful that you have written down her recipe and shared it with us. Thank you.

  63. Nice blog. Food looks great!

  64. Thank you for this very human post and for the recipe, which I will be sure to try. It’s been a long while since I lived in the South, and I do miss the food.

  65. yummmm! looks absolutely delicious!! 🙂

  66. Now this is what chicken and dumplings should really look like! My boyfriend’s Texas-native mother also has a family chicken and dumpling recipe.

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful history.

  67. The Sassy Chic

    I’ll try…look delicious

  68. It was fate that you were freshly pressed on the night I bought a whole fryer chicken with intent to make chicken & dumplings. 🙂

    Mamaw sounds like a wonderful woman and this recipe looks delicious.

  69. A mouth-watering recipe and Mamaw sounds a lot like my Grammy. I bet they would have got on real good. Great story telling.

  70. Will Add a Tbsp of Chilli Powder for our Indian Tastebuds!

  71. This sounds yummy! Can’t wait to “try” and make it!! 🙂

  72. As a southerner who uses his grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings recipe quite regularly I can safely say this recipe is quite false. Frozen dumplings? What is this. You should be making your own… It’s pretty simple… You just pour some flower into a bowl, drop in a handfull of crisco, add some buttermilk, and start kneading into dough. Once the dough is made just tear or cut into small bits, drop into boiling water (that you boiled chicken in with some added chicken stock (or boil with bone-in chicken.. but that’s too much work)) add about a stick of butter (possibly more if you’re making for more than a couple of people) add a large helping of salt and pepper, and let it simmer. When the dumplings are nice and big and squishy, add the chicken back (shredded) and let it sit for a couple more minutes.. then serve.

    Onions.. in chicken and dumplings.. that’s just silly. No one in my entire (rather large) family has ever put any sort of vegetables in chicken and dumplings. That’s why the name just has the words chicken and dumplings in it.

    Obviously Georgia is just more southern.

    • The Cooking Bride

      Josh, had you read the entire recipe, you would have noticed that the onions were only used to season the chicken broth and then discarded. They don’t actually make it into the finished dish.

      You are entitled to your own opinion. Since you are obviously so knowledgeable about chicken and dumplings, why don’t you write and photograph your own post? I’m sure just as many people will enjoy your version.

  73. its a simple food..i wanna try this.

  74. Mamaw could have inherited these great recipe from her grandma. The chicken and dumplings look terrific! I love it.

  75. would something like bisquick biscuits work in place of the frozen biscuits in this recipe?

  76. Story and photos are wonderful. She sounds like a great lady to know!

  77. This just looks TOO delicious—the ultimate comfort dish. Thanks for sharing x

  78. Nice recipe, I hope it will be delicious, carry on….

  79. Congratulations on being “pressed”…lol also sounds like a cooking term. You deserve it. Your blog inspired me. You have brought down heritage culture and human interest in one page and made it so informative and easy for us to identify to. I love to eat. I might try this recipe. I am a new blogger by the way and I am still grasping in the dark. Looking through blogs like this, enlightens me….a good encouragement….Thanks

  80. Im trying some of mamaw’s chicken dumplings tomorrow!

  81. Wonderful post and congrats on FP 🙂

  82. I’m now inspired to make my own batch of Chicken n Dumplings this week! I’ve only had the dish at a restaurant in Alabama, but I think I can handle it.
    Thanks for the idea. Your husband’s Mamaw sounds like a great person and a no-nonsense kind of woman.
    One question – if I were to make the dumplings by hand, any recommendations? Thanks!

    hermoveablefeast.wordpress.com

  83. My grandma and mom made their dumplings with flour, egg and water. They then dropped them into the simmering pot of chicken stock, chicken, carrots, celery and onion. If you make them from scratch they only take minutes to cook. when the dumplings float to the top they are done. Great post.

  84. Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to try it. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  85. very nice. i will try it later

  86. Those look amazing, so comforting!!!

  87. realanonymousgirl2011

    Thank you! I love old photos. My grandmother likes to be called Mamaw…I guess its a southern thing.

  88. Maybe when I go grocery shopping, I’ll get some chicken parts and make either chicken soup or chicken and dumplings.

  89. these remind me of my grandmothers dumplings. thanks for sharing

  90. Great story but I’m guessing Mamaw never used frozen dumplings! My mom still made the dumplings by hand and I would think Mamaw did too?
    They’re just not homemade if you use frozen dumplings or the dumpling noodles. And they won’t taste as good 🙂

    • The Cooking Bride

      Terri, yes Mamaw did! Not always – she used to make them by hand. But she said at 96 years old she reserves the right to use frozen.

  91. How about home made dumplings?

  92. Susan Mortier

    Have you ever just dropped the dough in the boiling chicken broth without rolling out the dough? I misplaced my recipe and it wouldn’t be convenient to roll them out as I am traveling to a family reunion and will have a time restraint?

  93. This sounds just like my grandmother’s recipe. We’ve all struggled with the dumplings and I can’t wait to try the freezer variety. What size dumpling package do you use for one fryer? Economy or Family?

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