Like cornbread or fried chicken in the South, some purists may feel that using canned biscuits for chicken and dumplings is wrong and should never be done.
I disagree when it comes to cooking at your campsite.
Canned biscuits make cooking chicken and dumplings out in the sticks painless and straightforward. Cleaning flour-coated bowls isn’t easy at your campsite and is unnecessary.
If you want to make your own dumplings, though, we’ll cover that below.
We’ve rated this recipe as EASY due to having just a few steps. You will have to take the chicken and its juices out of the pot for just a bit, but a ladle and bowl will make this easy.
This recipe is comfort food at its best and works great in a cast iron camp oven. In fact, I think it works better in a camp dutch oven than it does in a home oven.
It works so well because you have more heat radiating down into the dutch oven from the lid than radiating up from the bottom.
With the dumplings floating on top of the stew, they are nearer the heat source than they would be in your home oven. This helps them cook through before the stew underneath gets overcooked.
This makes the dumplings fluffier and softer.
Since you’re cooking it this way, you’re going to need to stir the biscuits into the stew about halfway through. You don’t want them to get overcooked.
They’ll be fluffed up and starting to stick together at this point. Try to break the dumplings apart, then stir them into the stew, so that they aren’t all stuck together.
Making Your Own Dumplings
If you want to get fancy and make your own dumplings for your campsite chicken and dumplings, you can do that too.
When I make my own dumplings, I prefer drop dumplings over rolled dumplings (the flat ones). Drop dumplings are much easier to do at a campsite since you don’t need to roll out the dough. In my personal opinion, they’re better than rolled dumplings anyway.
Drop dumplings recipe:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick cold butter
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
To make your homemade dumplings, mix all of your dry ingredients together. Using a wire whisk will ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.
Explore more dutch oven camping recipes.
Next, chop the butter up with a knife. The colder your butter is, the easier this step will be. I like to put mine in a zip-top bag and store it in my ice chest for a couple hours before I chop it up.
Try to handle the butter with your hands as little as possible so that it doesn’t start melting. If you have a pastry cutter, don’t worry too much about the size of the butter cubes. You can finish chopping it up with the pastry cutter once you’ve thrown it in the flour. If you don’t have one, try to chop the butter into pea-sized pieces (a pastry cutter is highly recommended).
Now, throw your butter and buttermilk into your dry mixture. Mix together with a spoon. Your butter should be broken down to about the size of peas. Not melted. Do not overwork the mixture. Just make sure all of the flour is wet.
Finally, in the step in the recipe below where you add the biscuits, just scoop your homemade dumpling dough out with a wet spoon into your dutch oven, then proceed with the balance of the steps.
Easy Chicken and Dumplings in Cast Iron
- 3 tbs. vegetable oil - divided
- 3 lbs. chicken thighs - – cubed
- 2 tbs. butter
- 1 medium yellow onion - – finely diced
- 1 cup carrots - – finely diced
- 1 cup celery - – finely diced
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 32 oz. chicken broth
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cans biscuits - – cheap Pillsbury brand
Before You Leave Home
- Cut chicken thighs into 1/2 inch cubes. Put into resealable bag.
- Finely dice the celery, carrots and onion. Put into resealable bag.
- Put salt, pepper and thyme into resealable bag.
At Your Campsite
- Set up dutch oven for frying at 450 degrees (17 briquettes for a 12-inch dutch oven)
- Add vegetable oil, and once smoking, brown chicken on all sides, not cooking all the way through.
- Remove chicken thighs and drippings from the dutch oven and set aside.
- Add butter, onion, celery and carrots. Cook until the onions become translucent and the celery and carrots become soft.
- Add your browned chicken back in, along with the chicken broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce your charcoal underneath to about 12 briquettes (for a 12-inch dutch oven, or ~325 degrees). Cover and let simmer for twenty minutes.
- Cut biscuits into quarters.
- Add milk and cream of chicken soup. Stir well, then add the biscuits to the top of the stew. Reduce briquettes underneath to about six, and put 20 on the lid (for baking at 375 degrees in a 12-inch dutch oven). Cover and let simmer for thirty minutes, opening the dutch oven at the halfway point to separate the biscuits and stir.