Homemade chicken and dumplings is a classic comfort food that is warm, filling, and utterly delicious. However, many people wonder just how many calories are in a bowl of this hearty dish. The answer depends on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used.
In general, a bowl of chicken and dumplings can range from 300 to 800 calories or more. The dumplings and chicken tend to be high in calories, while the vegetables and broth are lower. Exactly how many calories will be determined by:
- Type of dumplings – Flour, biscuit, or egg noodle
- Dumpling size and quantity
- Type of chicken – Light vs dark meat
- Amount of chicken
- Any other ingredients like carrots, celery, onion, etc.
- Amount of broth
- Any added butter, oil, or high-calorie seasonings
When making this recipe at home, being mindful of portion sizes for the higher calorie ingredients can help control the calories per serving. Substituting lower calorie vegetables for some of the dumplings can also lighten it up.
Calories in Common Chicken and Dumpling Ingredients
To get a better idea of the calories in chicken and dumplings, let’s look at the approximate calories in some of the most common ingredients:
- Flour dumplings – About 100 calories in 1 large 4″ dumpling
- Buttermilk biscuit dumplings – Around 150 calories per biscuit depending on size
- Egg noodle dumplings – Approximately 200 calories per cup of egg noodles
- Chicken breast (light meat) – 110 calories in 3 oz cooked
- Chicken thigh (dark meat) – 140 calories in 3 oz cooked
- Carrots – 30 calories in 1/2 cup sliced
- Celery – 10 calories per 1/2 cup chopped
- Onion – 40 calories in 1/2 cup chopped
- Chicken broth – 15 calories per cup
- Milk or cream based broths – 50-100 calories per cup
As you can see, ingredients like flour or egg noodle dumplings, chicken, and higher calorie broths will quickly raise the calorie count. Bulking up on non-starchy vegetables is an easy way to add volume and nutrients without excess calories.
Calories in a Small Bowl of Chicken and Dumplings
A smaller bowl of chicken and dumplings may contain around 1 cup broth, 1 chicken thigh, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/4 cup onion, 3 small flour dumplings.
|1 cup chicken broth||15|
|1 chicken thigh (3oz)||140|
|1/2 cup carrots||30|
|1/4 cup onion||20|
|3 small flour dumplings||300|
As you can see, even a moderately sized bowl still has over 500 calories, with most of those calories coming from the flour dumplings and chicken.
Calories in a Large Bowl of Chicken and Dumplings
For a very large, comfort food style portion, a bowl might contain:
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth – About 20 calories
- 1 chicken breast (6oz) – 165 calories
- 1 cup carrots – 50 calories
- 1/2 cup onion – 40 calories
- 1 cup sliced celery – 15 calories
- 6 large flour dumplings – 600 calories
|1 1/2 cup chicken broth||20|
|1 chicken breast||165|
|1 cup carrots||50|
|1/2 cup onion||40|
|1 cup celery||15|
|6 large dumplings||600|
This very large portion with a full chicken breast and several bulky dumplings tops 800 calories. The flour dumplings account for nearly 70% of the calories.
How to Lighten Up Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings is meant to be a hearty and filling meal. But with a few simple substitutions, you can lighten it up without losing the delicious flavors. Here are some tips:
- Use smaller, thinner dumplings rather than large, thick ones.
- Substitute a cup of dumplings for extra vegetables to increase volume and nutrients without excess calories.
- Try baking dumplings instead of boiling to reduce added fats.
- Use lean chicken breast instead of fatty thighs.
- Replace 1/4 of all-purpose flour in dumplings with whole wheat flour.
- Use cooking spray instead of oil when sautéing aromatics.
- Choose low-sodium chicken broth over cream-based broths.
- Flavor with herbs, garlic, pepper instead of butter.
- Stick to a 1 cup serving of broth instead of larger portions.
- Enjoy a salad with vinegar-based dressing on the side for added nutrients without many calories.
Making these simple swaps can easily shave off a couple hundred calories from a bowl while still preserving all the comforting flavors.
Nutrition of Chicken and Dumplings
In addition to being high in calories, chicken and dumplings can also be high in carbs, sodium, and cholesterol depending on how it’s prepared.
However, it does provide some benefits:
Chicken and dumplings provides a good amount of protein, especially when made with skinless chicken breast. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied.
Vitamins and Minerals
The vegetables added boost the vitamin and mineral content. Carrots provide vitamin A, onions contain manganese and vitamin B6, and celery has vitamin K, potassium, and folate.
Chicken and dumplings is the ultimate comfort food. Eating this cozy, nostalgic dish provides enjoyment and happiness for many. Comfort foods in moderation can have a place in an overall healthy diet.
While not the most diet-friendly option, chicken and dumplings can be part of a balanced diet when portion sizes are controlled and ingredients are swapped to lighten it up. Avoid making it an everyday meal, but do enjoy a bowl now and then – just keep an eye on your serving size!
Sample Meal Plans with Chicken and Dumplings
Here are two daily meal plan examples that include a bowl of chicken and dumplings:
Lower Calorie Plan
- Breakfast: Oatmeal made with 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup almond milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds (250 calories)
- Lunch: Spinach salad with 4oz grilled chicken, veggies, balsamic dressing (400 calories)
- Dinner: 1 bowl lighter chicken and dumplings (~400 calories), 1 cup roasted broccoli (50 calories)
Daily Totals: Around 1100 calories, 80g protein, 110g carbs, 35g fat
Higher Calorie Plan
- Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1 slice toast, 1/2 grapefruit, coffee (300 calories)
- Lunch: Turkey & hummus wrap with veggies (400 calories)
- Dinner: 1 large bowl chicken and dumplings (~800 calories), 1/2 cup green beans (20 calories)
Daily Totals: Around 1500 calories, 80g protein, 150g carbs, 45g fat
As you can see, chicken and dumplings can fit into both lower and higher calorie day plans. Just adjust serving sizes and other components of the meal accordingly.
Homemade chicken and dumplings can range widely in calories depending on the serving sizes and ingredients used. But in general, expect around 300-500 calories for a moderate bowl, or 700-800+ calories for a very large comfort-food styled portion.
While not the lowest calorie option, it does provide some nutritional benefits like protein, vitamins, and minerals. Enjoy this satisfying dish in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet. Be mindful of portion sizes and add more non-starchy vegetables to help lighten it up.
With some simple substitutions and smart portion control, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors and nostalgia of chicken and dumplings without going overboard on calories.