The History of Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is a down-home dinner classic. Although some dishes have clear regional roots, chicken and dumplings is a dish eaten all across America. Some variations to this recipe exist, primarily in the type of dumplings. American dumplings for chicken and dumplings come in two forms, causing a surprising amount of controversy. Chicken and dumplings is a delicious, inexpensive meal, perfectly suited for family dining in the fall and winter.

Dumpling History

A dumpling is a mass of steamed or boiled dough. Dumplings relied upon grains, cereals or pulses to bulk up basic meals. The term “dumpling” appeared in print at the beginning of the 17th century; however, it is likely that the food itself significantly predated the term. Simple soup dumplings made basic meals more filling, while more complex steamed dumplings could be served as part of a meal or dessert.


Two basic types of dumplings are used for chicken and dumplings, and some argue over which is the “right” dumpling. Chicken and dumplings can be served with a round, breadlike dumpling or a flat, thick noodlelike dumpling. Traditionally, the flat dumpling is a Southern-style dumpling, and the round dumpling is a Northern one.

Chicken Stew

The chicken stew for chicken and dumplings begins with a whole chicken. The chicken is cut into pieces and simmered. Celery, onions, carrots, bay leaves, salt and pepper may be added to the broth. Once the chicken is fully cooked, it is removed from the pan, and the meat is picked from the bones. The meat is returned to the stew pot, and the dumplings are added. Other vegetables can be added, and today many recipes also include cream to make a richer soup.

Dumpling Recipes

Recipes for dumplings can vary; however, the dumplings for chicken and dumplings are made in similar ways, whether they will be rolled flat or cooked round. The simplest dumpling recipes require only flour, salt and ice water; however, more complex dumplings can include fat, milk, baking powder and eggs. The longer the dumplings set after cooking, the softer they will be. Richer dumplings dissolve somewhat faster than simple recipes.


Chicken and dumplings can be served as a one-dish meal or served alongside mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or green beans. Add additional vegetables to your chicken stew if you opt to serve it as a one-dish meal. Choose simple and down-home side dishes for your chicken and dumplings.