Chicken and Dumplings and Aunt Mary

As children, my brothers and I stayed with my Great Aunt Mary during the summer and after school while my mom worked long hours at a local law firm.

Summers were so much longer back then and there was always so much to do.  Never a boring moment.  Aunt Mary would keep us busy, either by helping her or by letting us do a craft.  We made beautiful flowers out of colorful layers of toilet tissue (you could buy pale pink and baby blue toilet paper back then :)), colored on paper towels or paper plates, or made small trash cans using egg cartons, yarn, and a tin pie pan.

Sometimes we even sat out on the swing and guessed what color the next car would be.  We couldn’t do that today; too many cars fly up and down that road now.

On beautiful warm days, we played outside.  We might even help Aunt Mary hang the freshly washed laundry out on the line or maybe work in her garden.  Oh, how I remember the goodness that came from that little vegetable garden out in the back yard behind the chicken coop and shed.

Fresh green beans with baby whole new potatoes fried up in an iron skillet and seasoned with bacon grease.  Ripe, red tomatoes, peeled because Aunt Mary couldn’t chew the peeling, and cut into thick slices.  Slimey boiled okra, fried summer squash, green onions, purple hull peas, and in the fall,  roasted sweet potatoes.

That woman had a green thumb and was always working at canning fresh snapped green beans and red tomato relish.


Lunch was her main meal of the day and in the evenings she usually had a few leftovers or some cornbread and gravy and sat at the table writing in her journal as the evening grew darker.

I remember as a child loving my Aunt Mary’s Chicken & Dumplings.  It was always a treat when we had Chicken & Dumplings.   Thanks for the memories, Aunt Mary.  You will forever live on in our hearts and minds.

Learn more about my Great Aunt Mary.

This is not her exact recipe, but very similar.


This just happens to be my daughters’ favorite dish.  Rarely ever do I have any leftovers.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 (3 pound) whole chicken

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups water

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons shortening

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water


In a heavy pot with a lid, or a crock pot,  place the chicken, salt, pepper and water.   Simmer all over low heat until tender, about 1 hour, or if using a crock pot, cook on low until done, maybe 3-4 hours.  (My crock pot low is like medium, it’s pretty hot)

Let chicken cool slightly in pot, then remove and take the meat off of the bones. Discard the bones and skin and skim excess fat off the broth if desired. Return broth and chicken pieces to the pot. Simmer over low heat while making the dumplings.

To Make Dumplings: In a medium mixing bowl, cut shortening into the flour and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup water (more if needed) to form a soft dough. Roll out dough on a floured surface, with a rolling-pin, until thin. Cut into 1 inch wide strips using a pizza cutter or knife. Tear off 1 -2  inch long pieces from these strips and drop into simmering broth.  Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off, then 10 minutes more with the lid on.  Serve immediately.

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On this cold winter day, I’m partying over at

21 responses to “Chicken and Dumplings and Aunt Mary

  1. You do not need to add b soda or baking powder?

  2. Yum. Reminds me of my aunt gertrude. Same memories. So much love. What hapened to you aunt’s journals?

    • I’m really not sure what happened to her journals. I was engaged and planning a wedding at the time of her death. My mother and aunt took care of her small estate and I was told that a room honoring her would be set up in my aunt’s home. Good intentions, I’m sure.


    i always put some milk in my dumplins .some don’t they make them this way.i will try it both ways.thanks for this rec.sure glad i found this site.i have it coming in now.nelda

  4. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different web page and thought I might as
    well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.

  5. Just wondering if you still remember how to make those wastebaskets? I’m beating myself up now for never taking the time to learn any of my greatgrannys crafts 😦

    • actually I kinda do. The bottom was made out of a tin pie plate and the sides were made of colorful egg cartons tied together with yarn. Somehow the pie plate fit right down in there and didn’t fall out. My Aunt Mary was something else. Everyone should have an Aunt Mary. 🙂

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  7. oh wow. i just made chicken and dumplings from my great aunt marys recipe! theyre almost word for word! was mary that common of a name?

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  10. similar to one my granny made for years – small diff – added cooled chicken broth with water….

    sooooo good! on top of a pile of mashed taters…..the best!

    wow, lost the whole post to you…sorry about that but wanted you to see what I wrote you:)
    Thanks so much for sharing,
    ~Gail in Virginia

  12. Hi…omgosh, had to dress and hurry out to buy a fresh fryer to come home and make this:) I shared a link on my blog…
    Thank you so much for sharing your family recipe…
    Warm hugs,
    ~GailinVirginia (A Stitch in Time Saves Nine…blog)

  13. God bless your Aunt Mary and my Grandma
    Nina Lay. They both knew how to make REAL
    southern dumplings….I could never get any of
    my west coast friends from Ca. to understand
    what the heck I was talking about. They used
    Bisquick puffy drop dumpling. aack….

  14. Mmmm chicken & dumplins, nothing much better than this.

    I can remember the colored toilet paper. They had green too, do you remember the printed paper of the seventies and eighties?

    I fix fried green beans and new potatoes all the time. We love ’em.

    This was a great post, thanks for all the memories.

  15. I just love this post! And that recipe sounds wonderful.

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