Dumplings are a Southern specialty and the quintessential comfort food. The simple dumpling dough recipe is similar to a biscuit, but the batter is dropped directly into a hot liquid instead of rolled, cut out, and baked. The dumplings are then steamed and boiled directly in the stew or soup in which it will be served, such as in the classic recipe for chicken and dumplings.
According to some sources, the word "dumpling" goes back to Norfolk, in eastern England, circa 1600. Although the actual origin of dumplings is unknown, it is noted that dumplings were first used as sustenance when meat was scarce. Nowadays, dumplings are a comforting addition to a wholesome chicken or beef stew or soup and are easy to make. This recipe creates fluffy, hearty dumplings with just four ingredients. Feel free to add parsley or chives to the mixture if you like.
Gather the ingredients.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Add the milk or water and mix. The batter should be thick enough to be scooped and dropped from a spoon. Let it rest for a moment.
Once the boiling stew or soup is nearly done, drop spoonfuls of the batter on top. Be sure that there is plenty of liquid in the pot, but try to keep the dumplings on top of the vegetables and meat.
Cover and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the dumplings. Do not remove the lid until it is time to check the dumplings; when ready, a toothpick inserted into one of the dumplings should come out clean.
Once done, spoon the stew or soup with the dumplings into a bowl and enjoy.
- Give the dumpling batter time to rest before dropping spoonfuls into the stew or soup. This will allow the baking powder time to activate and will result in a fluffier dumpling.
- If you don't have baking powder in your pantry, you can make your own. To get 1 teaspoon of baking powder, mix together 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch.
- The dumplings will soak up a lot of broth as they cook and the flour will thicken it slightly. Make your soup with a little extra liquid to ensure a soupy consistency.
- When using a large dinner spoon and a heaping amount of batter, the recipe makes about 12 big dumplings that cover the top of a Dutch oven. Make smaller dumplings if you like.
Is It Possible to Overcook Dumplings?
If you add the dumplings too early and they cook much longer than 15 minutes, they will begin to break down. To ensure well-cooked dumplings, set a timer, and don't peek under the lid. The soup should remain covered so steam can build up and cook the top of the dumplings while the simmering liquid cooks the bottom.
How to Store and Reheat
Leftover dumpling soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave, just until everything is warm. You may notice that the dumplings break down a little more, but they generally stay intact.
Can Dumpling Dough Be Frozen?
Though best when made as needed, drop dumplings can be made in big batches and frozen for future use. Divide the batter up into individual dumpling portions and quick freeze on a baking sheet or in a muffin tin. Once frozen, wrap each dumpling in plastic and place them in a freezer bag. Thaw for at least 30 minutes before dropping the dumplings into a soup. Many soups and stews with dumplings can also be frozen; be sure to chill it first.