Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings

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Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings are great for busy days, rainy days, family Sundays… really, any day! Full of hearty chicken and a delicious vegetable base, Cracker Barrel® dumplings are perfectly plump and sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater.

titled collage for cracker barrel chicken and dumplings

No one does Southern comfort food like Cracker Barrel! While I love almost everything on their (huge!) menu, I almost always come back to their chicken and dumplings. So I just had to learn how to make it at home!

bowls of poultry, diced vegetables and dumpling ingredients

Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings


My copycat Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings recipe is really easy to double or triple to make a huge batch.

Just whip up a bunch of dumplings, freeze, and thaw whenever you need an easy dinner!

Soft and tender dumplings are simmered in a chicken broth seasoned with onions, carrots, and celery.

Thickened with some heavy cream and sprinkled with parsley, we’re talking real home cooked, classic flavors.

The best part is, it only takes 40 minutes to make this dish! It’s one of my favorite quick chicken meals!!

You can speed things up by making this chicken and dumplings Cracker Barrel recipe with leftover meat. Chicken breasts can be cooked the day before, then the shredded meat can be tossed right into the pan. 

PRO TIP: Did you forget to leave the meat out to defrost? Save some time and skip the thawing – make frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot!

cooking onions, carrots and celery in a dutch oven

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Carrots, Celery, and Onions – A handful of diced veggies does wonders to the flavor of our dumpling broth.

    When made in the restaurant, the vegetables are actually strained from the liquid and discarded — but you don’t have to! This recipe is delicious with or without.
  • Chicken – A thin cut with an even thickness throughout would be ideal. Feel free to make ahead and shred the day before for even faster prep the day of!
  • Chicken Bouillon – You can substitute this with chicken stock to save some time.

    If you’d like to make this recipe with no meat at all, you can use vegetable stock instead. It would meld with the veggies in this recipe perfectly!
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk in dumplings is the Southern way! It’s the key to light, fluffy, yet dense dumplings.

    Regular milk will work just fine, but the taste and texture will be a bit different from the original Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings recipe.
  • Heavy Cream – This ingredient is optional, but it makes the creamy broth taste SO much better!

    If you want to cut some calories but you’re going for thickness, you can use flour or cornstarch instead.
cutting pastry dough for cracker barrel dumplings

Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings FAQ

What are Cracker Barrel dumplings made of?

The Cracker Barrel dumpling ingredients are very simple: just flour and buttermilk!

The use of buttermilk adds a slight tang and a light, fluffy texture that you won’t get with regular milk. 

The sauce, or broth, is a base of chicken stock, flavored with onions, carrots, and celery. Very little seasoning is needed — just some salted butter and parsley sprinkled on top. 

How do you know when dumplings are done?

It’s all about texture. After the dumplings simmer for 10-15 minutes, scoop one out with a spoon and give it a test.

If it’s soft and doughy, like the consistency of a noodle, then it’s done! 

dumplings in broth

Recipe Shortcuts

In a rush? There are a couple of ways to speed up the process considerably!

But remember that the key to a perfect copycat Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings is that careful, step-by-step process. 

One shortcut is to use pre-made stock, rather than simmering the vegetables and herbs along with the bouillon.

Of course, this won’t impart as much flavor, but it is certainly much faster!

You can also opt for pre-cooked meat, like leftover crockpot shredded chicken or a rotisserie bird. This will save you at least 15 minutes!

And if you really, really don’t want to wait, try my Instant Pot chicken and dumplings instead. 

cracker barrel chicken and dumplings in a dutch oven

Serving Suggestions

Because Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings is such a creamy dish, a crisp veggie side would be perfect.

Keep it southern with a green bean casserole, or try some air fried cauliflower.

Any other traditional Southern sides would work just as well.

You can’t go wrong with cornbread, and I have copycat recipes for Cracker Barrel mac and cheese and hashbrown casserole, too!

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating

Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply microwave or heat on the stovetop until tender and warm through the center.

The dumpling dough keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 months, so it’s great for easy meal prep! Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before freezing.

Be sure to thaw in the fridge the night before you want to make them, and throw them into the broth.

cracker barrel chicken and dumplings close up

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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cracker barrel chicken and dumplings with parsley on top

cracker barrel dumplings in bowl with gravy and meat

Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings + Video

Donna Elick
Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings is incredible southern comfort food! With our copycat Cracker Barrel recipe, you can make it at home!
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 19 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup diced carrots, celery, and onion
  • Freshly cracked pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins, thawed
  • 5 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules, divided (or you can use chicken base)
  • 4 ½ cups water, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add diced vegetables and a sprinkle of parsley to the butter and saute until vegetables are softened and onion is translucent (about 4-5 minutes)..
  • Add a pinch of salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon of bouillon granules, and ½ cup water to the saucepan.
  • Add chicken to the pan and bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes longer until meat is cooked through.
  • While chicken is simmering, prepare the dumpling dough. Combine flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  • Add buttermilk and stir the dough until it comes together (dough will be shaggy.)
  • Heavily dust your work surface with flour. Scrape the dough onto the work surface and pat or roll out into a rectangle that is about ¼” thick.
  • Use a pizza cutter or knife to slice the dough into 1” x 1” squares (or slightly larger rectangles). Dust the pieces with more flour and set aside.
  • When chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken from the broth and set aside.
  • Strain the vegetables from the broth and return the broth to the saucepan.
  • Add remaining 4 cups of water, 4 teaspoons of chicken bouillon, and a ½ teaspoon pepper to the strained broth.
  • Bring full broth mixture to a low boil.
  • Add dumplings to the boiling broth – drop dumplings into the broth separately to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the dumplings, uncovered, until done (about 10-15 minutes). Dumplings are done when they are soft and doughy like a noodle, all the way through.
  • Meanwhile, chop or shred chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • When dumplings are done, add the chicken back into the saucepan. Stir and cook the mixture a few minutes longer to heat the chicken through and thicken the broth with the starches from the dough.
  • Stir in a drizzle of heavy cream, if desired, to add some creaminess to the dish. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and a bit of chopped parsley.

Video

Donna’s Notes

Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave just until warmed through.
Simmering the chicken with broth and the sauteed vegetables gives it a great boost of flavor and also gives some great flavor to the broth in return. If you don’t mind a little vegetables in the finished dish, straining them is not necessary.
You can use pre-cooked chicken, leftover chicken, or rotisserie chicken. I would still recommend simmering the broth with some veggies to boost the flavor, but you can pull this dish together extra quickly using premade stock and pre-cooked chicken.
Simply make the dumplings, bring the broth to a simmer, and cook. Toss is the chicken and cook until heated through.
The thickness of the dumplings will affect the cook time. These thin, square dumpling don’t take long to cook up.
The dumplings are quite sticky until they are added to the simmering broth. Sprinkle heavily with flour. Try to avoid stacking them together if you can – cut them on a floured cutting board to easily move them around without causing them to stick together. Work the dough as little as possible to prevent tough dumplings.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 323cal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 717mg | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled collage for cracker barrel chicken and dumplings recipe

Originally published July 2021, updated and republished August 2022

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3 Comments

  1. I really don't understand why Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings are so highly praised. As far as I'm concerned they don't have much flavor. I will on occasion get dumplings as a side dish from Cracker Barrel but I much prefer my mom's recipe it has tons of flavor. But that's just my opinion

  2. I’m going to make these today but I will be adding some extra flavor. I will add a few tsp of Better than bouillon chicken stock paste.

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