Fluffy, light dumplings can turn a soup into a meal or let you serve up a comfort food classic, like chicken and dumplings. Well-made drop dumplings should be moist on the outside but dry and airy on the inside, much like a biscuit. Rolled dumplings will be moist throughout but should not be heavy or gooey. No amount of cooking will make a heavy dumpling light, but you can learn how to make dumpling dough that produces a perfect dumpling.
Dumplings typically consist of a starch, like white flour, whole wheat flour or cornmeal, combined with a liquid and egg. The liquid can be water, milk, broth or cream. The egg can be added all at once or separated. Separating the egg allows you to beat the whites until fluffy for a lighter dumpling. Adding a pinch of baking powder will also make your dumplings rise a bit more, creating a fluffier dumpling for your soup or stew.
Making the Dough
Handle dumpling dough as delicately as possible. Combine the ingredients and mix briefly, until the liquid is integrated with the solids. Use a fork or wooden spoon, rather than a mixer, to combine the ingredients for your dumplings. The dough should be fairly soft but hold together when spooned or scooped. If you're opting for rolled dumplings, rather than drop, your dough should be slightly stiffer but still be handled as little as possible.
Add rolled dumplings to simmering soup or stock a few at a time or add drop dumplings a spoonful at a time. Cover and allow them to simmer for about 15 minutes. If the kids love dumplings, consider simmering extras in beef or chicken stock rather than overcrowding your soup pot. Don't cook your dumplings more than 15 to 20 minutes if you want light, airy dumplings. Overcooked dumplings will become heavy and unappealing.
While homemade dumplings are delicious, if you're short on time, use biscuit or pancake mix with fat, flour and baking powder to produce light, fluffy dumplings. Add milk to the mix then drop the dumplings into simmering soup. Cook just as you would homemade dumplings.
- The Pioneer Woman: "Chicken and Dumplings"; Ree Drummond; Dec. 14, 2010
- "The German Cookbook"; Mimi Sheraton; 1965
- BBC Good Food: Beef in Guinness with Fluffy Herb Dumplings
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.