Southern-style chicken and dumplings and a variety of healthy vegetables.

How to Cook Light Chicken & Dumplings

by M.H. Dyer

A traditional family favorite, hot and hearty chicken with light, fluffy dumplings are a welcome treat, especially on a chilly evening. Although chicken and dumplings are typically loaded with an unhealthy amount of fat, you can switch high-fat ingredients with lower-fat alternatives to create a sumptuous dish that is healthy and just as delicious.

Coat a large cooking pot or a Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Alternatively, coat the pan lightly with canola or olive oil. Heat the pot on medium heat.

Add chopped garlic and onion to the hot pan, along with your choice of vegetables such as chopped carrots or celery. Saute, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and slightly soft.

Pour your choice of liquid into the pot. Although cooking sherry adds flavor, you can lighten the dish by using fat-free chicken broth or a combination of fat-free chicken broth and water. Stir in chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast that you have cut in cubes ahead of time. While dark meat is flavorful, it contains more fat.

Add sliced mushrooms along with a package of frozen peas and corn. Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, along with herbs such as thyme or bay leaves.

Cover the pot and allow the ingredients to simmer until the chicken is cooked through -- about 30 minutes.

Combine dumpling ingredients in a small bowl. Although you can make dumplings from "scratch" with ingredients such as flour, baking powder and salt, save time by using baking mix and low-fat milk. Don't overmix because too much stirring makes dumplings tough.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls into the lightly simmering liquid. For light, fluffy dumplings, don't let the liquid come to a boil. Add the dough slowly so the dumplings don't stick together and don't overcrowd the pan because light dumplings need space to expand.

Turn the heat to low and let the dumplings simmer gently, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes. Flip the dumplings over about halfway through the cooking time. Serve the chicken and dumplings steaming hot.

Items you will need

  • Large cooking pot or Dutch oven with cover
  • Nonstick cooking spray or olive or canola oil
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cooking sherry, non-fat chicken broth or water
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Frozen peas and corn
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Herbs
  • Heart-healthy baking mix
  • Low-fat milk


  • If you are in a hurry, you can skip sauteing and add the garlic, onions and chopped vegetables directly to the pot along with the liquid, chicken and seasonings. Although sauteing brings out the flavor in the vegetables, it isn't absolutely required.
  • For a thicker liquid, substitute a can of low-fat, creamed, condensed soup such as cream of mushroom or cream or celery for part of the broth.
  • Baking mixes are available in heart-healthy, low-fat varieties.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

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