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Chicken and Dumplings: Flat Dumplings vs Drop Dumplings

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It is an age old debate when it comes to this classic dish, how do your like your dumplings? Flat or puffy?

Many of you know that I am a perennial why say or when you can say and girl when it comes to any and all food options. Dumplings are no different.

I will take my chicken and dumplings any way I can get them, flat or puffy, and because I want you to enjoy both options as well, I am bringing you recipes for both flat dumplings and drop (fluffy) dumplings today.

Not sure which you prefer? Let’s take a moment to explore both.

Flat Dumplings vs Drop Dumplings

Dumplings are a universal comfort food, found in various forms across cultures worldwide. Among the diverse range of dumpling styles, two distinct types stand out: flat dumplings and drop (puffy) dumplings. While both are beloved for their deliciousness, they differ in texture, preparation methods, and regional preferences. Let’s delve into the world of dumplings and explore these differences.

Flat Dumplings:

Flat dumplings, also known as slick dumplings or noodle dumplings, are a staple in Southern American cuisine, particularly in the Southern United States. These dumplings are made by rolling out dough into thin sheets, then cutting them into rectangular or diamond shapes. They are often added to soups or stews, where they absorb the flavors of the broth while maintaining a satisfying chewiness.

Fluffy Dumplings:

Drop or puffy dumplings, on the other hand, are characterized by their fluffy, pillowy texture. These dumplings are typically made by dropping spoonfuls of dough onto simmering liquid, allowing them to puff up as they cook. Puffy dumplings are popular in various cuisines, including European, Asian, and African. They are commonly served atop hearty dishes like chicken and dumplings or beef stew.

How are flat and fluffy dumplings the same?

Despite their differences, flat and fluffy dumplings share some commonalities. Both varieties are made from simple ingredients like flour, water, and sometimes eggs or milk. They are versatile and can be paired with a wide range of savory dishes, making them a versatile addition to any meal.

Additionally, both types of dumplings provide a comforting and filling dining experience, making them popular choices for cold winter nights or cozy family gatherings.

How are flat and drop dumplings different?

  1. Texture: The most noticeable difference between flat and drop dumplings is their texture. Flat dumplings are dense and chewy, while drop dumplings are light and airy.
  2. Preparation: Flat dumplings require rolling out dough and cutting it into shape before cooking, while drop dumplings are made by dropping spoonfuls of dough directly into simmering liquid.
  3. Regional Preferences: Flat dumplings are predominantly found in Southern American cuisine, where they are a beloved accompaniment to dishes like chicken and dumplings or Brunswick stew. Drop dumplings, on the other hand, are more globally distributed and can be found in various cuisines around the world, from European stews to Asian soups. Personally, I love both!

More About Regional Preferences

In Nashville, Tennesse, where I’m from, and most other Southern states, flat dumplings are a cherished culinary tradition, often served alongside rich, flavorful dishes like chicken and dumplings or creamy soups. These dumplings are valued for their heartiness and ability to soak up the delicious broth.

While I’ve only made flat dumplings a couple of times, growing up, my Great Aunt Mini used to make these amazing fat dumplings. The whole family loved them because they were just so, so good nestled into the rich chicken stew she used to make to eat them in.

As previously noted, drop dumplings tend to be more widely enjoyed in a variety of cuisines worldwide. In European countries like Germany and Hungary, puffy dumplings are served with hearty stews and braised meats. In Asian cuisine, particularly in China and Japan, puffy dumplings are featured in soups and hot pots. Additionally, African cuisines like Ethiopian and Sudanese also incorporate puffy dumplings into their traditional dishes.

What You Need to Make Dumplings

Whether you prefer flat or drop dumplings, this dumplings recipe is simple to make and quite the crowd pleaser. It is the ultimate comfort food and I recommend you make a large pot because you’re going to want seconds for sure! 

Equipment:

Ingredients for Flat Dumplings:

2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling and dusting counter)

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoons kosher salt 

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or chicken fat)

1 cup milk

Ingredients for Drop Dumplings:

2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dredging)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons Kosher salt

2 teaspoons lemon zest

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (grated)

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons parsley (finely chopped)

About the Chicken Soup

I like to use a classic chicken soup recipe for my homemade chicken soup and dumplings. This is a family favorite recipe that we like to use even without the dumplings.

It is rich, hearty, and flavorful. I cook my chicken, bone in, to create the best chicken stock base and then remove the bones and shred the chicken to serve.

I also like to use a lot of celery and carrots in my savory broth. It is the perfect comforting meal for a chilly day.

Whether you chose the fluffy drop-style dumplings or the flat noodle like version, you’re going to love how they pair with this homemade chicken soup.

Chicken and Dumplings: Flat and Drop

chicken and dumplings flat dumplings

Enjoy this rich and hearty chicken soup with you choice of dumplings.

Ingredients

  • Chicken Soup:
  • 4 chicken thighs, on the bone
  • 3 ribs celery, cut on the bias in ½” pieces
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise and cut into ½” pieces
  • 2 large onions, medium diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Drop/Puffy Dumplings:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dredging)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (grated)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (finely chopped)
  • Flat Dumplings:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling and dusting counter)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or chicken fat)
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

Make the chicken soup: 

In a large pot add celery, carrots, onions and chicken. Add in thyme, sage, rosemary and bay leaves. Cover chicken and vegetables with cold stock. Add more water (cold), if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through.  Remove the chicken pieces and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and meat from the bones. Discard the skin and bones.

To make drop/puffy dumplings: 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk to combine. Add the lemon zest to the flour mixture..

Grate the butter directly into the flour mixture. Toss to separate the pieces, then pinch the butter into the flour for about 30 seconds. 

In a separate large bowl whisk together the yogurt, milk and parsley. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Using your hands or a stiff rubber spatula, gently mix until just combined. 

To make flat dumplings:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper; whisk to combine.

Grate the butter directly into the flour mixture. Toss to separate the pieces, then pinch the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Pour in the milk and mix until well combined. 

Dust the counter liberally with flour and place the dumpling dough on the counter. Dust the top of the dough with more flour, and roll the dough ¼” thick. Be sure to add more flour to the counter, if necessary, to keep the dough from sticking. 

Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough in 1½”  squares. 

Cook the drop/puffy dumplings:

Pour plain flour in a shallow baking dish or bowl for the dredge. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into a baking dish and shake off the excess flour. Arrange the dumplings on top of the simmering chicken stock with at least one inch in between. 

Cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Cook the flat dumplings:

Strain the stock. Reserve the vegetables for another dish. Add the chicken back into the stock and bring the broth to a boil. Add the dumplings one by one, stirring after each addition, so they don't stick to each other. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the dumplings are tender and the broth is thickened. 

Once the dumplings are cooked through, serve immediately.

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