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.
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!
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. We also have an easy tortilla soup recipe that is ready in an hour.
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!
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.
Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings FAQ
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.
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!
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.
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.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Copycat Recipes
Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings + Video
- 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
- 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.
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.
Originally published July 2021, updated and republished August 2022
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