My Grandma’s Dumplings

The first dumplings I ever ate were my Grandma Jo’s. She was a woman of the South, born and bred just outside of Houston in a town her grandfather built called Splendora. Her chicken and dumplings were homey and comfortable, even delicious if she made an effort. Unfortunately, by the time she was making chicken and dumplings for me she was at the stage of her life where she more interested in ways to reduce her workload than in cooking. Her “dumplings” were flour tortillas cut into strips (that approach works better than you might expect.) On special occasions though, she hired a local cook and her friends to make them.

The Best Chicken and Dumplings I Ever Ate

Now, I know very little about these women. I think one was the grandmother of one of the girls I went to school with. My grandmother never introduced the group of ladies that would come over and transform her quiet kitchen into a busy, efficient space just humming with laughter and steaming pots of chicken. They would come into my Grandmother’s kitchen, full of laughter and loud conversation, reminding me of African-American versions of Lila, our cook in Honduras. They were so comfortable and at home in my Grandma’s kitchen. I couldn’t imagine ever being allowed such liberties. Those chicken and dumplings? They are the ones I dream about.

The chicken and dumplings they made began with a pale yellow broth that only comes from making stock from a whole chicken. They would pick all the meat off that chicken and shred it into strips. Then they would then drop flat, fat, floury noodles into the simple broth flavored only with some onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. The dumplings cooked in the broth until they plumped up and floated to the top. Each dumpling slowly making the broth progressively thicker and more gravy-like. I would watch in fascination, hoping to be offered a dumpling to taste test or (even better!) a full bowl; hopefully, before my Grandma caught me begging.

Tracy’s Chicken and Dumplings

I have been trying to recreate these dumplings ever since! I think the ones I make are pretty darn good. I’ve learned how to make a classic chicken broth by reading every recipe I can get my hands on. A good broth is simple to make and well worth the extra time. You can use canned or boxed, but it’s basically the main flavor in this dish, so I think its worth it. I’ve kept my chicken and dumpling simple with just a few classic vegetables but I did fancy things up a bit with some herbs in the dumpling dough. I can’t remember a single Southern Granny doing this, so if you want to keep things classic, just skip ’em. (I won’t be mad, you do you!)


Tracy's Chicken and Herbed Dumplings

Chicken and Herb Dumplings

Yield: 8 people
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

This is a Texas style chicken and dumplings with a rich thick broth, a bit of celery and carrots and delicious plump dumplings studded with herbs. 


Chicken Broth

  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal
  • 1 tbsp Peppercorns, Tellicherry
  • 3 Carrots, whole
  • 2 Celery Stalks, whole
  • 1 Onion
  • 1/2 bunch Parsley
  • 6 sprigs Thyme
  • 4 Chicken thighs
  • 12 Chicken wings
  • 2 Chicken breasts

Herbed Dumplings

  • 3 cups Flour, All Purpose
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 cup Milk, whole
  • 1/3 cup Herbs: parsley, thyme and chives
  • 1/2 cup Lard or shortening

Chicken and Dumplings

  • 1 recipe Chicken broth
  • 3 Carrots, diced
  • 2 Celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp Butter, unsalted


Chicken Broth

  1. Fill soup pot with water a little more than halfway. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, all the vegetables, chicken (minus the breasts) and the herbs to the pot and boil gently. Skim the white foam off the top as it forms.
  2. Once you have skimmed the white foam off, reduce heat and simmer 2.5 hours. Taste intermittently while it simmers and add more salt if you think it needs it.
  3. After 2.5 hours of simmering add reserved chicken breasts and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove the breasts. At this point the chicken thighs and wings should be falling apart. Take out all the rest of the solids and discard. If the remaining chicken is not falling apart simmer a little longer 20 minutes or so. Remove the remaining chicken and set aside to cool. Remove the remaining solids and discard.
  4. Line a fine mesh colander with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl and strain the broth.
  5. Remove the skin from the chicken breasts, thighs and wings and discard (I personally give it to my pups, they love it!) Pick off all the meat and reserve for later. 


  1. In a large bowl add all your dry ingredients for the dumplings. Mix well until all the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  2. Add the lard to your dry ingredients and combine with your hands until all the lard is worked in.
  3. Add milk and stir in until the dry mixture becomes a dough. Stir as little as you can. You want it to just come together, but the more your stir the tougher your dumplings will be.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dumplings out. Kneed 6-7 times and cut into three sections.
  5. Roll the first section out to 1/16th inch and cut into 1.5 inch pieces. At this point you can refrigerate your dumplings up to 24 hours.

Chicken and Dumplings

  1. Melt butter in a soup pot and then add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook until all ingredients have softened. 
  2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Taste stock and add salt or pepper if needed.
  3. Drop in your dumplings one at a time, stirring as you go until all dumplings are in the stock. Bring stock back up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Taste again. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes stir and then cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes. 
  5. Time to eat!

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