For family-friendly, classic comfort food, Cracker Barrel is one of the most popular restaurants in the country, and for good reason – their cracker barrel chicken and dumplings are something special.
I was inspired to recreate this classic dish in my own kitchen. Let me guide you through crafting this soul-satisfying recipe, where each spoonful is a blend of tender chicken, fluffy dumplings, and rich, savory broth. This isn’t just a recipe; it’s a ticket to reliving those cherished, homestyle meals.
What are Chicken & Dumplings?
Chicken and dumplings is a popular dish, especially in the American Midwest and South. Nobody really knows where it first came from; origin claims have come from Virginia, the Carolinas, and even Quebec. We do know that its popularity peaked during the Great Depression when filling meals that made a lot out of a little were in high demand. Chicken and dumplings became known as a great way to make a satisfying family meal without a lot of expensive meat.
One of Cracker Barrel’s most popular entrees is their Chicken and Dumplings—homemade dumplings simmered in chicken stock, with delicate pieces of chicken throughout. It’s like chicken soup, but so much more filling and nourishing. Very simple, but absolutely perfect.
It’s easy to recreate, too, with this Copycat Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings recipe.
How to Make Copycat Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings
Experience the comfort of Cracker Barrel at home with this simple and delicious Chicken and Dumplings recipe. Perfect for a cozy family meal!”
- Prepare the Dumplings: Sift together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, and ½ teaspoon of baking powder into a large bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons of cold butter using two forks or a pastry blade until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then, add 1 cup of buttermilk and mix until it forms a dough.
- Roll and Cut the Dough: On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the dough into approximately 2-inch by 1-inch strips using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
- Cook the Dumplings: Bring 2 quarts of chicken broth to a boil over medium heat. Add the dumplings a few at a time, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the dumplings are cooked.
- Add Chicken: Stir in 3 cups of cooked chicken, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
- All-Purpose Flour: Sifted with salt and baking powder to make the dumpling dough.
- Baking Powder: Combined with flour and salt for the dumplings to help them rise.
- Cold Butter: Cut into the dry ingredients for the dumplings to add richness and flakiness.
- Buttermilk: Mixed into the dumpling dough to provide moisture and a slight tang.
- Chicken Broth: Used as the cooking liquid for the dumplings and to add flavor to the dish.
- Cooked Chicken: Added to the broth and dumplings, providing the main protein source.
- Salt and Pepper: Added to taste for seasoning the dish.
Tips & Tricks
- Butter Integration for Dumplings: In my experience, the key to perfect dumplings lies in how you integrate the butter. I recommend grating cold butter into the flour mixture. This technique ensures even distribution and contributes to the light, flaky texture of the dumplings. It’s a small step, but it makes a significant difference in the final texture.
- Rolling the Dough: When rolling out your dumpling dough, aim for a consistent thickness of about 1/8 inch. This uniformity is crucial for ensuring that all your dumplings cook evenly. Don’t stress about getting perfectly shaped dumplings; a rustic look adds to the charm of this homestyle dish.
- Cooking the Dumplings: A common question is how to tell when the dumplings are done. In my experience, they should float to the surface and have a slight firmness to the touch. Overcooking can lead to mushy dumplings, so keep a close eye on them after they start to float.
- Seasoning the Dish: Never underestimate the power of seasoning. Salt and pepper might seem basic, but they are essential for bringing out the flavors in the chicken and dumplings. I always taste and adjust the seasoning just before serving. It’s these final touches that elevate the dish.
- Using Leftover Chicken: This recipe is fantastic for using leftover chicken. If you have roasted or grilled chicken from a previous meal, it adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish. Plus, it’s a great way to reduce food waste and make the most of your ingredients.
You can get a brighter flavor from the dumplings by adding fresh herbs right in the dough: parsley, thyme or chives are great.
Adding extra flour or cornstarch to the broth will give it a thicker, creamier consistency.
The dish is traditionally kept quite simple, but people sometimes add finely chopped veggies, like carrots and celery, to give a little more texture, color, and nutrition.
To recreate the full Cracker Barrel experience, serve these chicken and dumplings with a buttermilk biscuit and a couple of classic sides, like green beans, mashed potatoes or Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole.
Great Recipe To Try
- Cooks in 20 minutesDifficulty: Easy
This buttermilk cracker barrel pancakes recipe is right on the money when it comes to creating a copycat recipe. We’ve expertly recreated the masterpiece breakfast you find at the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Morning has never been so sweet.
- Cooks in 90 minutesDifficulty: Easy
This cracker barrel meatloaf recipe is a unique dish that will be a perfect compliment to any occasion. If you’re looking to bring a smile to friends and family then take 15 out of your day to make this fresh from scratch and impress your loved ones.
- Cooks in 55 minutesDifficulty: Easy
Not all recipes are equal, except when you’re cooking the cracker barrel hashbrown casserole dish. This is a special recipe that takes little to no time to prepare.
- Cooks in 15 minutesDifficulty: Easy
This copycat Cracker Barrel French toast recipe is so quick and easy to make, you won’t know the difference from the restaurant.
And there you have it, folks – Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings, a dish that’s as comforting as a warm hug on a chilly evening. Simple, hearty, and downright delicious, it’s proof that the best flavors often come from the simplest of recipes. So go ahead, give it a try, and let the cozy magic of this classic dish turn your mealtime into a delightful, heartwarming experience. Happy cooking and even happier eating.