Vegetarian “Chicken and Dumplings”

December 11, 2011


Chicken and dumplings is one of my all-time favorite meals. It was the single biggest obstacle to my becoming a vegetarian. Life without chicken and dumplings just didn’t seem worth living.

My mother is a wonderful, albeit reluctant, cook. On very rare occasions she’d make us chicken and dumplings. My heart would soar with excitement as I watched her drop doughy little squares into a pot of bubbling broth. I can’t even remember the last time she made them for my sister and me, but I’m sure we were little. It’s not exactly the kind of thing you slave away over for two teenage daughters who would rather hang with friends than make it home in time for dinner. And I’m sure I never requested it much past the age of ten. But when I moved away from home, I started to crave the comforts of my youth, namely those pillow soft dumplings my mother used to make. Since college dorms and tiny studio apartments aren’t conducive to cooking, I would get my fix at slow-cooking, southern food restaurants. I’d order up a loaded veggie plate with a side of dumplings. And with every bite, I’d find myself right back in the kitchen with my mother, peering over that bubbling pot of broth.

And then I became vegetarian and dishes made with chicken stock were suddenly off limits. I thought I might never have chicken and dumplings again. But that didn’t sound right to me, so I started dreaming of creating a vegetarian version. After all, it’s not the chicken that’s so enticing, but those plump, savory dumplings.  This recipe is my first attempt, which I am pleased with. Though, I’m sure I’ll keep at it, trying various seasonings and methods to make it even better, so good that you don’t miss the chicken even a little bit. For this version, I created the flavors you’d find in a chicken noodle soup (carrot, onion, and celery) to provide that nostalgic, comforting element that dishes like this tend to evoke.


1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup milk

6 cups vegetable broth  (or 6 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube)

Directions: First, make the dough. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt. Combine until the dough forms a ball. Transfer to a floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough. Cut into 2 inch squares using a knife, pastry cutter or pizza cutter.


Next, get started on the broth.  In a stock pot, heat the butter, onions, carrots and celery. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and the veggies slightly tender.


Next, add the remaining salt and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Then, drop in the dough squares one at a time. Add in any remaining excess flour and dough bits as well.


Allow to boil for about 20 minutes, until the dough begins to form plump, soft dumplings and the broth gets thick and creamy. Test with a fork to be sure the dough is cooked through before serving.


Serve with a bit of fresh cracked pepper.


Mmmm…just like mama used to make!

Print Friendly

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Black-Eyed Peas and Cornmeal Dumplings
  2. Veggie Pot Pie with Black Pepper Biscuits
  3. Homemade Petros
  4. Khoresht Karafs (Celery Stew with Mint, Parsley and Dried Lime)
  5. Being Vegetarian


Susie January 12, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Sorry, thought I had clicked on vegan recipe. Trying to find one for my son!

Susie January 12, 2016 at 5:50 pm

This is NOT a vegan recipe

Sheri March 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm

Just substitute Earth Balance margarine for butter, and unsweetened nut, soy or rice milk for dairy milk & the recipe will be vegan… easy peasy :)

J. Hodge November 18, 2015 at 6:03 pm

You sold me when you said chicken and dumplings was your favorite food. Plus, yours looks authentic, minus the carrots — My grandmothers/mother’s chicken and dumplings was pretty one colored (beige and flecked with black pepper) — not the prettiest dish, but boy was it good. Plus yours are shaped like the dumplings I remember. I keep seeing vegetarian chicken and dumpling recipes where the dumplings are shaped like matzo balls. My southern self says, “that ain’t right!”

This dish is one of those things that I thought I gave up for good when I became vegetarian. Thank you for rethinking this dish. I will be trying it soon. I don’t have the ingredients now, and I’m policing myself from buying groceries for a while. I have been on two big grocery shopping trips this week.

Funny chicken and dumplings story:

I was knee-high to a grasshopper and visiting my grandma. She made chicken and dumplings and put the plate in front of me. I ate enthusiastically before stopping to catch my breath and ask, “What is dis I’m eatin’?” My grandma replied, “Those are dumplings!” Without missing a beat I replied, “Well these dumplings are good!”

My mom got an earful about how she should teach me what foods are called. I pretty much asked the same question about gravy, only I called that “brown stuff.”

Jen November 8, 2015 at 7:07 pm

Just found this recipe and whipped it up for my four kids (6, 8, 11, 13). Not a drop is left, and they all declared I must make it again, and they’d eat it every day! I think I’ll double it next time…thanks for sharing this!

Leah November 27, 2014 at 12:27 pm

We have made this the last three years for Thanksgiving…we are back again! Thank you so much! Love this! #TraditionNow

Sara November 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I make this all the time!@#!@ Chicken and Dumplings was one of my favorite dishes before I became a Vegetarian. I’m not a very good cook so I never made my own. Until I found this version! For the first time in 5 years I get to enjoy this dish again!! Thank you so much for sharing it!

Laura October 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Excited to try this recipe! What is the serving size?

Kathy October 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

A lot! I just made it tonight. My daughter and I had two servings and I have a huge cereal bowl in the fridge for tomorrow.

xSarax November 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm

This was easy to make and tasted like I worked all day on it! I haven’t eaten Chicken and dumplings in 7 years. Tasted just like the real thing. I did use Quorn Chik’n Tenders they worked perfect with it! Thank you so much for sharing.

Emily January 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I just made this vegan by using Almond milk instead of milk and olive oil instead of butter and damn it’s good! Thanks!

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods January 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Wonderful! Great substitutions!

Tara December 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm

My daughter and I tried this today…and let me just say that it was fabulous AND super easy! Win win! Thanks for the post. We’ve missed dumplings for some time now!

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

Wonderful! I’m so pleased you liked them. This is one of my favorite recipes.

Emmie October 16, 2012 at 2:42 am

I’ve made this two days in a row. SO good. I added fresh peas and a bit of crushed red pepper. REALLY great.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods October 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Yum, the peas sound terrific! So glad you like the recipe!

Andre April 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm

This is such a genius idea for vegetarians :) I love the idea of using cubes dough instead of really paying too much time to wrap dumplings. ESP when I’m one of those lazy cook lol
I would like to know how much this recipe serves?

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods April 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

Thank you for your comment! This recipe serves four to six people depending on portion size.

Erin H. April 28, 2012 at 2:29 am

I’ve made this a couple times for my family and its a huge hit every time! It disappears so fast, I need to start making more. In my fam we have 2 veg, 2 meat eaters, but everyone loves this recipe.
Thanks so much for posting this. I can’t wait to make it for more of my meat-eating family. I know they will be pleasantly surprised at how little they miss the chicken!:) -E-

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods April 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Wonderful! Thank you so much for the comment! I’m so glad your family likes this dish.

Becky February 3, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Really good! I added Quorn Chik’n Cutlets and it turned out great!

Katie February 3, 2012 at 12:15 am

When I saw this recipe, I just had to try it. It turned out just as good as it looks! The only thing I had a problem with was the amount of salt. It definitely tasted a bit too salty for my liking. So if anyone is thinking about trying this out, I might consider using a little less salt.

Otherwise it was great! :)

Jennie December 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I can’t wait to try this!!

Lauren at Keep It Sweet December 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

This looks amazing and I would not miss the chicken at all!

Heather December 12, 2011 at 4:18 am

Yum! I haven’t had dumplings in years since I also gave up meat. I can’t wait to try this – Thanks!

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods December 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Hope you like it as much as I did!

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: