This recipe for Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings is the perfect comfort food. It’s just what you need for a filling and warming meal on a cold or rainy day.
The dish includes soft dumplings and succulent chicken in a flavorful broth, creating a delicious meal. This soup offers unmatched comfort and coziness.
The best part is it’s easy on your wallet and simple to prepare. You don’t need to visit Cracker Barrel to enjoy a delicious bowl of chicken and dumplings – this recipe is all you need to recreate it at home.
Cracker Barrel Chicken And Dumplings
This dish has a soft and slightly chewy texture from the dumplings, complemented by the shredded chicken’s savory flavor. All are imbued with a rich and aromatic chicken broth.
The taste is a delicate balance of simplicity and homely comfort, making it an immensely popular dish, especially in colder months or as comfort food.
Its usage is versatile; it can serve as a main course for lunch or dinner and is equally satisfying when served as a cozy weekend meal.
Ingredients Of Cracker Barrel Chicken And Dumplings
This forms the bulk of your dumplings, creating their structure and heft. Flour is made from ground grains, often wheat; in this context, it’s the primary ingredient for our dumplings. The gluten in the flour reacts with the liquid and heat, causing the dumplings to set in their distinctive shape. All-purpose flour is versatile, with a balanced protein content that suits it for various baking and cooking applications.
This is a leavening agent commonly used in baking. When mixed with liquid, it produces carbon dioxide gas, which helps to “lift” and lighten the texture of the dumplings. Baking powder contains both an acid (usually cream of tartar) and a base (usually baking soda), and it begins to produce gas bubbles when it comes into contact with liquid. In our dumplings, it helps to make them tender and fluffy.
Butter (cut into small slices)
Butter is fat and a key ingredient in baking. It contributes flavor and a velvety texture to the dumplings. Butter is made from churning cream and has a high-fat content, providing richness and moisture to the dumplings. When combined with flour, small pockets of butter melt during cooking, creating a tender, flaky texture in baked goods.
Milk acts as a binding agent for the dry ingredients, bringing everything together into a cohesive dough. Milk also contributes subtle sweetness and creamy flavor to the dumplings, enhancing their overall taste. The protein in milk helps to give the dumplings structure, and the sugar in milk (lactose) provides a mild sweetness.
This serves two main purposes. First, as the simmering liquid, it cooks the dumplings, infusing them with its savory flavor as they puff up. Second, it becomes part of the sauce accompanying the dumplings and chicken. A good broth adds depth and complexity to the dish, and using one made from chicken bones can also add a nice gelatinous quality, which gives the broth body.
Cooked chicken adds a protein-rich, hearty element to the dish. Its flavor pairs well with the broth and provides a pleasing texture contrast to the soft dumplings. Chicken, a relatively mild meat, takes on the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with, so in this dish, it absorbs the savory notes of the broth.
Tips To Make The Best And Tasty Cracker Barrel Chicken And Dumplings
- Quality Ingredients: Use homemade chicken broth if possible for the most flavorful result. The depth and complexity it adds to the dish is incomparable.
- Rest the Dough: After combining the dough ingredients, let it rest for about 15 minutes. This helps the gluten to relax, making it easier to roll out.
- Don’t Overwork the Dough: Handle the dough as little as possible. Overworking can make the dumplings tough.
- Consistent Size: Ensure your dumplings are uniformly sized for even cooking. The traditional size is about 2×2 inches, but feel free to adjust according to your preference.
- Simmer, Don’t Boil: When cooking the dumplings, maintain a gentle simmer rather than a vigorous boil. This will keep the dumplings from falling apart and the broth reducing too quickly.
- Adding Chicken: Add the chicken last so it doesn’t overcook and become tough. It just needs to be warmed through.
Recipe Variations And Add-Ons
Vegetable-Loaded Chicken and Dumplings
Add vegetables like peas, carrots, and celery to the broth. This adds a nutritional punch, extra flavors, and a pleasant crunch to contrast with the tender dumplings.
You could add some dried herbs such as parsley, thyme, or rosemary to the dumpling dough for an additional layer of flavor.
Creamy Chicken and Dumplings
For a creamier version of the dish, add a cup of heavy cream or half-and-half to the broth after the dumplings have cooked. It gives a rich and decadent twist to the classic recipe.
Spicy Chicken and Dumplings
Add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the broth for a spicy kick. It adds a warmth that complements the comfort of the dumplings and chicken.
What To Serve With This Dish?
The Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings are quite hearty, but they pair wonderfully with a fresh side salad for added crunch. You could also serve it with crusty bread or rolls to soak up the delicious broth.
Consider pairing it with a side of greens or fried okra for a complete Southern meal. Regardless of how you serve it, Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings always deliver a comforting and satisfying meal.
Can You Make Different Shapes Of Dumplings In This Recipe?
The shape of the dumplings in this recipe can be modified to your liking. While traditional dumplings are often square or rectangular, you can get creative. You might cut the dough into circles using a round cookie cutter or even roll small pieces of dough into balls by hand.
Whatever shape you choose, try to keep them relatively the same size for even cooking. The goal is to create a dumpling that will hold up well during cooking, delivering that desirable soft yet sturdy texture.
What Type Of Chicken/Meat Is To Be Used In This Recipe?
The choice of chicken used in this recipe is largely based on personal preference. Many people opt for a mix of dark and white meat, as the dark meat provides a richer flavor and the white meat provides a leaner texture.
Using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are both good options. If you want to save time, even store-bought rotisserie chicken can be a great choice, as it’s already cooked and very flavorful. Just shred the chicken well before adding it to your dish.
Storage Of Cracker Barrel Chicken And Dumplings
Cooling: Allow the chicken and dumplings to cool to room temperature before storing. Rapidly cooling hot food can lead to bacterial growth, so it’s important not to leave the dish out for too long, generally at least two hours.
Refrigerating: Transfer the cooled dish to an airtight container and refrigerate. It should stay good for up to 3-4 days. Ensure your refrigerator’s temperature is below 40°F (4°C) to keep the dish safe.
Freezing: For longer storage, you can freeze the dish. Again, use airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags to avoid freezer burn. Properly stored, it can last for 2-3 months. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat.
Reheating: Reheat the dish in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated. If the dish appears too thick after refrigeration or freezing, add some water or broth to thin it out as you reheat.
Checking Quality: Always check the dish before consuming leftovers. If you notice an off smell, color change, or mold growth, discarding the dish is safer.
Cracker Barrel Chicken And Dumplings Recipe
- Large bowl
- Fork or Pastry Blender
- Clean, Dry Work Surface
- Rolling Pin
- Pizza Cutter or Knife
- Large pot
- Ladle for serving
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tbsp butter, cut into small slices
- 1 cup milk
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
- Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the butter to the mixture and blend it using a fork or pastry blender.
- Stir in the milk until the mixture forms a dough.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface, then cut it into 2x2-inch squares.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot.
- Add the dumplings into the boiling broth, stirring carefully to avoid sticking together.
- Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into a dumpling.
- Stir in the shredded chicken until it's warmed through.
- Serve hot in bowls, and enjoy your homemade Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings!
- You can use either homemade or store-bought chicken broth for this recipe.
- Allow your dumpling dough to rest for 15 minutes before rolling for easier handling.
- Add your shredded chicken to the dish at the end to avoid overcooking.
- Consider adding some dried herbs to your dumpling dough for an extra flavor punch.
- Remember, the size of your dumplings will affect the cooking time, so try to keep them uniform.
Nutritional FactsPer Serving
- Calories: 250
- Protein: 25g
- Carbohydrates: 30g
- sugar: 3g
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated fat: 5g
- Fiber: 1g
- Sodium: 700mg