Canned Evaporated Milk Is The Key To Irresistibly Creamy Chicken And Dumplings

Here at Tasting Table, we're always looking for warming, stick-to-your-ribs dishes when the air starts to get colder, and it would be impossible to talk about comfort foods without mentioning chicken and dumplings. It's easy to make for beginner home cooks yet impressive enough to please a crowd (and picky eaters). If you haven't already been using it, there's one humble, perhaps unlikely, ingredient that'll elevate your chicken and dumplings to the next echelon, and there's probably a good chance you already have a can of it lying around the pantry.

As its name suggests, "evaporated milk" is just regular milk that's been heated to remove about 60% of the water content. The result is a thick, creamy ingredient that'll transform your dumplings' broth into a luxe, rich sauce. It's a super thrifty addition, with a low cost and a big impact. A 12-ounce can of evaporated milk runs for just $1.26 at Walmart.

To thicken things up, simply stir a can of evaporated milk into your broth during the step when you cook the chicken. It'll create a rich, flavorful cooking liquid for your chicken, which will in turn impart even more savory meaty flavor into the broth. You can combine your evaporated milk with chicken stock, or if you prefer, vegetable broth totally works too. If you go this route, opt for an ultra-savory variety like mushroom.

Cook it low and slow

You can use this tip with our slow cooker chicken and dumplings recipe for a creamy fix-it and forget-it meal on busy weeknights. Or, you can also toss a can of evaporated milk into your regular go-to stovetop chicken and dumplings recipe. Either way, like making a béchamel sauce, low and slow is the way to go for thickening your creamy chicken and dumplings. Slow-simmering the evaporated milk will help it set up, and if you're using a slow cooker, the tool will accomplish this step automatically. Alternatively, if you're making your chicken and dumplings on the stove, keep the pan at a low temperature and stir it every so often to avoid scorching. Thanks to evaporated milk's low water content, it won't separate as it cooks.

From there, just add in your veggies and enjoy. Chopped carrots, celery, snap peas, leeks, green beans, mushrooms, onion, or corn all fit the bill. To cut down on prep time, you can also use refrigerated biscuit dough to make your dumplings.

To serve, pair your rich, creamy chicken and dumplings with sauteed collard greens, a slab of buttered cornbread, and a steaming cup of coffee. Don't have any cans of evaporated milk in your pantry? No worries — you can turn regular milk into evaporated milk on your stove.