17 Ingredients For An Even Better Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

One dish that has been consumed for thousands of years by emperors and commoners alike is the humble meat pie. Once served in ancient Rome with live birds under the crust, or in the 19th century U.S.A. using robins, meat pies have come a long way. One of the most famous American meat pies, a staple as ubiquitous as fish and chips are to England, is the chicken pot pie.

The classic chicken pot pie, a creamy sauce of vegetables and chicken perfectly blanketed in flaky pie crust, is one of those heartwarming dishes you crave time and time again. While it's excellent on its own, it is also a perfect baseline to add whatever spices and flavorings your heart desires. Whether you opt to pick unique herbs, add wine, or change up the crust, the possibilities are truly endless. The original chicken pot pie was once made by using the week's leftovers, so look through your pantry or scour through the back of your fridge and let your creativity flow.


For chicken pot pie, sherry is a great addition. Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes and is a very common addition to both savory and sweet meals alike. It is fortified with brandy after fermentation, which increases the alcohol content of the wine up to around 17%. Most grocery stores carry cooking sherry, which is made solely for cooking purposes and should never be consumed on its own, as it has added salt and preservatives to extend its shelf life. This is a viable option if you're in a pinch, but buying a bottle of sherry that you can drink is similar in price and forgoes all of those unnecessary additives.

Sherry can vary from being extremely dry to rich and sweet, and it has a nutty aroma. For pot pie, the best bet would be a medium to dry sherry, as it isn't too sweet on its own, but will still add that hint of nuttiness and sweetness once it is cooked down with the rest of the filling. It is important to cook the sherry down with the rest of the ingredients so that the alcohol itself burns off. A tablespoon or two is all you need to elevate the creamy filling of your chicken pot pie.


You might be familiar with leeks from leek and potato soup, but this hardy plant shouldn't be limited to that classic dish. They can often be overlooked and underappreciated, but there is so much potential when it comes to cooking with leeks. For one, they are packed with antioxidants and promote gut health.

They also taste delicious, and work well in soups and stews, making them a great addition to your chicken pot pie filling. Sliced leeks, sauteed with the onions, carrots, and other vegetables of your filling, will add delicate allium flavor with a hint of sweetness, which will further enhance the flavor of the onions.

When choosing a leek at the grocery store, make sure they are firm and that the bulb at the bottom of the leek isn't split or bruised in any way. Before cooking, thoroughly wash the leeks, because dirt tends to hide in between the leaves. Those dark green outer leaves should be peeled off because they can be too tough for cooking. But don't rush to discard them! Those leftover leek trimmings, when stuffed with herbs and tied with kitchen twine, can be used as a bouquet garni.


You might be thinking that noodles don't belong in chicken pot pie, but when it comes to Dutch pot pie, noodles are the star. This style of pot pie originated in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is one of the only places you can find it aside from making it in your own kitchen. In this area, what most of the U.S. considers chicken pot pie, is simply chicken pie. Dutch pot pie, their staple, is more comparable to a thick noodle soup made with noodles, chicken, carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions. This soup is hearty and savory, and has much of the same qualities of a chicken pot pie, but forgoes the crust.

Also called "bott boi" in Deitsch, the dish uses thick square egg noodles. Egg noodles are popular in chicken noodle soup, but bott boi tends to use homemade noodles that are larger and flat. If you are craving chicken pot pie, but making crust is intimidating to you, Dutch pot pie is a good alternative.


Although it isn't common in a traditional chicken pot pie, the addition of garlic makes everything better. When raw, garlic is pungent and spicy, but once it is cooked down, it transforms into a mild, sweet, and almost nutty flavor. Not only does it taste amazing, but it's good for you, too. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities and is a known antioxidant.

Both dried and fresh garlic will add complexity to your pot pie, but there are differences in the intensity of flavor, so measuring adjustments are needed. With garlic powder, a little goes a long way, so sprinkle it lightly. One garlic clove minced will convert to ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder and vice versa. For chicken pot pie, chopped garlic cloves would work well and can be added to the recipe during the step of sauteing onions. If adding garlic powder, consider trying roasted garlic powder rather than the regular dried garlic powder. The roasting process mellows out the flavor, adding caramelized notes that will deepen the complexity of the pot pie filling.

Fish sauce

Once a popular Ancient Roman condiment, fish sauce is the umami boost you didn't know you needed. Fish sauce is meaty, salty, and highly concentrated. It is a brown, thin liquid that is made by fermenting fish for months with salt. It is a popular ingredient in Thai cuisine.

Fish sauce is notable for its pungent umami flavor, and a little definitely goes a long way. Add it while simmering your filling, or mix in a dash before going into the oven if the dish needs more salt. The fish sauce will provide that salty taste and increase the overall depth of flavor of the meal. Fish sauce can typically be found at major grocery stores, but if not, it will likely be stocked at any Asian specialty store.


If you want to add additional meatiness to your pot pie, bacon is a simple and easy addition. Whether it's cured, smoked, thick, or thin cut, it will add that fatty, savory goodness you didn't know your pie needed. The best way to include bacon is by making bacon lardons. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry them.

Once they are golden and crispy, remove them from the pot, but don't get rid of the rendered fat. It can be used to saute the rest of the veggies. Although any bacon can be used, thick-cut slab bacon works really well in this case and if it is smoked, it adds yet another layer of depth to the final meal. Although it seems like a small step, adding bacon will make all the difference.

Biscuit dough

When it comes to a good chicken pot pie, the crust makes all the difference. Rather than using the traditional pie dough, Ina Garten opts to use chicken stew-covered biscuits for her crust. You could also use homemade biscuit dough, which is fluffy and flaky, and soaks up all of the savory, brothy goodness of the pot pie filling. A Southern American specialty, biscuits are quick bread made with flour, butter, and baking powder. A traditional pie crust can sometimes fall flat and end up bland, but with biscuits, that flaky, buttery quality is guaranteed.

If you are looking to make a quick dinner, most grocery stores sell pre-made biscuit dough, which is a great alternative to homemade. If using this biscuit dough as a crust, you can take the individual biscuits and place them over the filling so that they are mostly covering the top. With this method, gaps between the biscuits are to be expected. Alternatively, with homemade dough, rather than cutting them into biscuits, you can roll the dough out so it covers the pie completely.


If there's one thing that elevates a hearty dish like chicken pot pie, it's umami. Umami elevates the savory quality of a dish, and mushrooms do that job incredibly well. There are a variety of mushrooms, and they all have different flavor notes to them. Some are relatively mild, like button or crimini mushrooms. Others are woodsy, like shiitakes and porcini.

All of these would be viable additions to a pot pie. To bring out even more umami flavor, try sauteing them separately with a splash of soy sauce before adding them to the rest of the filling. Mushrooms can also be added to chicken pot pie by stemming and slicing them and then sauteing them along with the onions.

When choosing mushrooms at the store, there are a few things to look out for. Avoid mushrooms that have soft spots or discoloration on their caps. This is a signifier of decay. For mushrooms with gills, look at the gills for changes in color or texture as well. Some mushrooms will have dirt on them, which is to be expected. It is perfectly okay to rinse and dry the mushrooms.

Cheddar cheese

Sometimes when making pot pie, the filling ends up being too runny and spills all over the plate when the pie is cut. A great way to thicken the filling and avoid the mess is to add cheese. Cheddar cheese pairs well with the flavor of the chicken stock, carrots, and other veggies. Younger cheddars have a mild, creamy flavor and consistency while aged cheddars are sharp and nutty.

A sharp cheddar cheese would be the best option because it has a more robust, savory flavor, but mild cheddar can also be used. Shredded cheese is better than large chunks in this case. Mixing shredded cheese into the pie before baking will ensure even distribution throughout. The shredded cheese will thicken the sauce mixture, and help to bind the ingredients together.

Hot sauce

The typical chicken pot pie tends to lack that spicy heat, but for all of you spice lovers out there, adding a dash or two of hot sauce will give that hearty filling a nice little kick. Hot sauce is typically made with chili peppers, vinegar, citrus, and seasonings. It provides both heat and acidity to dishes. It is a great accompaniment to meat-based stews or fillings because it adds brightness while also enhancing the savoriness of the dish itself. 

When added during the cooking process, it extracts new flavors in the hot sauce that wouldn't otherwise be apparent. Additionally, you can top the finished dish with hot sauce for an extra kick of heat. Hot sauces can vary in their flavor profiles, with some having sweet notes to smoky and beyond. For this dish, the best hot sauce pairings would be hot sauces with smoky, fruity pepper notes, like habanero or Scotch bonnet.

White wine

Using white wine in chicken pot pie will cut through the creamy, heaviness of the gravy and add both brightness and acidity. White wine is made with white (green) grapes, typically without the skin and seeds. The best white wines to use in cooking are dry, crisp wine varieties like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. When added during the saute process, it allows the alcohol to burn off and lifts the fond at the bottom of the pan.

Try to avoid using wines like chardonnay, as they tend to be oaky, which turns bitter once cooked down. White wine is a great addition to most poultry or fish dishes. When using white wine to saute, you can also cut down on the amount of butter and oil used during the cooking process, because the wine will add that moisture back. A little goes a long way when it comes to adding an alcoholic liquid to a dish. For chicken pot pie, a splash or two of wine would suffice.

Curry powder

If you are looking for a twist on the classic pot pie, curry powder is sure to impress. A mix of multiple spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili, curry powder is a flavor and color bomb that will liven up your dish. It can be store-bought or homemade, and there are a few varieties to choose from.

Common curry powders are Jamaican, Japanese, and Indian curry powder. Japanese and Jamaican curry powders are mild compared to Indian curry powder. The Japanese variety has a hint of sweetness to it due to the addition of cinnamon or clove, while the Jamaican has heat from fresh Scotch bonnets. The Indian variety uses dried chilies rather than fresh. Whichever powder you choose, it is sure to bring a robust, layered flavor to your chicken pot pie.

Chicken bones

When making chicken pot pie, some people opt to buy a rotisserie chicken or roast their own. After picking off the meat, rather than throwing out the carcass, you can use it to make homemade stock or a chicken gravy that can go into the filling or be poured over the pie. To do this, place the carcass, bones and all, into a large stock pot.

Add aromatics, cover with water, simmer for a few hours, and strain. The result will be a rich, golden chicken stock that can be used in the pie filling or reduced with butter, flour, and spices for a thick, velvety gravy. Using the leftover chicken carcass reduces waste and the bones are a good source of collagen and vitamins like calcium and magnesium.

Chicken bouillon

If you are looking for strong chicken flavor, look no further than chicken bouillon. Made by dehydrating chicken stock with vegetables, fat, and seasonings, this ingredient is a must-have in your pantry. A popular pantry staple in Latin America, it can come as a paste, liquid, in dried blocks, or as a powder. When mixed with water, it becomes a flavorful chicken stock, or it can be added directly into the dish for a more concentrated flavor.

Bouillon is a great all-purpose seasoning. It provides a deep meaty, salty flavor that increases the savoriness of whatever it is added to. It also has a hint of sweetness and umami. If you have bouillon cubes, but only want to use a little, you can grate or microplane it until you have the exact amount required.


When making pie crust, you want it to be flaky, tender, and crispy all at once. Some people use butter, but the real key to that perfect crust is lard. Lard is a semi-solid pork fat that is white when solid and turns into a liquid once it is heated. It has a waxy consistency to it and is a great addition to pie crust. You can buy lard at some grocery stores, or order it from your local butcher.

It used to be a cooking staple in the U.S. until vegetable oil and shortening became cheap and accessible to consumers. Sometimes, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Lard is still an awesome option in making pie crust, because it has a rich, porky flavor that will surface in the final crust. It is important to note that the lard needs to be cold when it is added to the dough to ensure a flaky crust.

Dried spices

Chicken pot pie has the potential of being bland if you don't add enough spices. Luckily, there are a variety of dried spices that can help elevate the pie. For a hearty dish like this, warming spices work really well in adding an additional layer of depth and flavor. Nutmeg, cardamom, and paprika are some great additions.

Nutmeg, a spice native to Indonesia, has warm undertones and is sweet, spicy, and bitter all at once. It is a complex flavor that can be grated directly into the filling, or sprinkled in its powdered form. Cardamom is another complex spice that hails from Asia. Common in Indian cuisine, it is fragrant and herbal and comes in two forms: black and green. For this dish, green cardamom is the better option. You can use powdered cardamom, or break open a pod, toast the seeds, and ground them yourself.

Both nutmeg and cardamom are common in desserts but are also used to add warm, herbal flavor to savory dishes. Paprika is a great addition for those who like a bit of heat. Popular in Hungary, paprika can be plain or smoked. It is mild in flavor, but has slight heat and adds a burst of color to any dish.

Fresh herbs

Fresh herbs give a brightness and nice subtle flavor to any dish. When it comes to hearty dishes like chicken pot pie, fresh herbs can add a lovely complexity to the filling without overpowering the savory meatiness of the pie itself. Some herbs that lend themselves well to that chicken and gravy flavor profile are tarragon, oregano, rosemary, and sage.

Tarragon, considered "the king of herbs" in France, is a strong, sweet herb with a slight anise taste. Oregano is a peppery, aromatic herb commonly used when making pizza. Both tarragon and oregano are pungent when used as a dried spice, but the fresh varieties are much more subdued, which works well when using multiple spices in a dish, as none of them overpower one another.

Rosemary and sage are an excellent pair together but also work really well when it comes to elevating poultry dishes. If you are roasting a chicken for the pie, stuffing the cavity with fresh herbs like rosemary or sage will slowly infuse the juices of the chicken whilst boosting the flavor of the meat. Those infused drippings can be used to make gravy.