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Classic Chicken Pot Pie

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Serves 6

  • by Abigail Johnson Dodge from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

This is the definitive pot pie recipe: a creamy chicken stew loaded with onions, peas, mushrooms, and carrots, and baked under a rich, flaky crust. It's comfort in a bowl.

Serving this pot pie for Sunday supper? There's more where that came from; check out our slideshow for additional Sunday Dinner Ideas.

For the crust
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
For the filling
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. medium cremini mushrooms, quartered (2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch-thick (1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1-3/4 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (5 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Make the crust

Put the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are the size of peas, 10 to 12 pulses. Drizzle 3 Tbs. cold water over the mixture. Pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, 8 or 9 pulses more.

Turn the crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of your hand, gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together (two or three smears should do it). Shape the dough into a 4-inch square, wrap tightly in the plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Make the filling

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, brown the chicken well on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side, adding 1 Tbs. oil with the second batch. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces (it’s fine if the chicken isn’t fully cooked; it will finish cooking later). Put the chicken in a large bowl.

Add 1 Tbs. oil to the pot and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms. Cook without stirring for 1 minute. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and then the onions and carrots to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges are browned, 8 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and stir constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Scrape the vegetables into the bowl of chicken and mushrooms.

Melt the butter in the same pot over low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the texture, which will be clumpy at first, loosens and smooths out, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and half-and-half. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the potatoes, chicken, and vegetables (and any accumulated juice), and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Partially cover the pot and simmer gently (adjusting the heat as necessary), stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and carrots are just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the peas, sherry, parsley, thyme, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Assemble the pot pies

Distribute the filling evenly among six ovenproof bowls or ramekins that are 2 to 3 inches deep and hold at least 2 cups.

Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. With a round cookie cutter (or using a plate as a guide), cut 6 dough circles that are slightly wider than the inner diameter of the bowls (re-roll the scraps if necessary). Cut one small X in the center of each circle.

Top each bowl of stew with a dough round. With your fingertips, gently press the dough down into the edge of the stew, so that it flares up the sides of the bowl.

Bake the pies

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Put the pot pies on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deep golden-brown, about 45 minutes. Cool on a rack for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

The dough for the crust can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for about 1 hour before rolling.

The filling can be prepared through the step of adding the peas and seasonings, cooled and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.

The pot pies can be assembled and refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day before baking and serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 860; Fat (g): 47; Fat Calories (kcal): 420; Saturated Fat (g): 20; Protein (g): 45; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 19; Carbohydrates (g): 64; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Sodium (mg): 770; Cholesterol (mg): 195; Fiber (g): 7;

Photo: Scott Phillips

The best recipe I have tried. Everyone begs me to make one for them. I use a deep dish pie plate and bottom and top crust. Amazing!

I've been searching for the classic "comfort food" pot pie, and this is it! The ingredients cooked perfectly in my Le Creuset dutch oven. Recipe yields plenty of filling, so I used two nine-inch, scalloped-edge, ceramic pie dishes instead of six ramekins. I did prepare two batches of pie crust so that I had ample crust to double the scalloped edges. Just deelish!

Another winner from Abby Dodge. Cozy but company-worthy for sure, and as other reviewers point out, everything can be done ahead of time, making for stress-free entertaining. I made ours with leftover turkey and turkey stock...comfort food heaven! Like others, I found potatoes did take longer to cook than reported -- about twice as long, in fact -- so tweaked accordingly. I gave them about a ten minute head start, along with the pearl onions (I used fresh rather than frozen) before putting in the carrots and mushrooms. And because I did not want to overcook the meat, I added it at the end with the peas.

This is a great recipe! Wonderful for company because it can be prepared in advance. Perhaps the method I used for browning the chicken and vegetables was more effective. I had no problems with the process. I did not alter the ingredients and followed the instructions as written except I opted to use a large non-stick electric skillet rather than a Dutch oven for prepping the chicken and vegetables. I used boneless chicken breasts which I set aside to cool after browning while I cooked the vegetables - again no problems or excessive time spent, - the mushroom, onions and carrots browned beautifullly in the time specified. Perhaps those who had problems used a Dutch oven with a small surface area that inhibited the process. I do agree with others that the volume of the resulting filling was greater than the recipe indicates. I used 16-oz ceramic crocks (the type used for French onion soup) and I had exactly enough for 8 servings. I made the filling and the crust the day before, filled the crocks, and cut and wrapped the pastry. The next day I assembled the pot pies a few hours in advance so that I could pop them in the oven while we had drinks. I only needed 6 servings, so I put the 2 extras in the freezer and baked them a week later (still delicious!). This is an homey, old-fashioned recipe... great for Fall and Winter entertaining with a nice salad. My guests asked for the recipe!

Yes, it takes a long time to cook the carrots and potatoes using this method. Longer than they said. One solution is to saute carrots longer and to dice and zap potatoes in the microwave for a bit before using. The dijon mustard did add a nice flavor. I noticed that dry sherry is important since anything sweeter makes it too sweet. Our main complaint was that the amount created was really large. For a large family this is fine, but it made too much even to fit correctly in the containers, and was almost overflowing in a 9x13 pan. Also, the amount of flour in the sauce seemed too much. The 1/2c ends up making a lot of very thick sauce. Too much sauce, in fact. I would use less flour if making this recipe again.

Overall, this recipe was really good but I had a few minor issues that I'll bear in mind the next time that I make it. First, there was easily enough filling to make 8 16 oz. pot pies (although the dough was the right amount to cover 6). Also, I found that the thyme was too strong and will reduce it to 1 Tbsp next time. Finally, I'd recommend leaving the heat at medium-high when cooking the carrots and onions - when I followed the instructions, the carrots cooked all the way through without browning and then became a little too soft when I simmered them as part of the whole stew. I followed a previous reviewer's comment and froze the leftover pies (after the step of covering them with the dough) and then cooked them in the oven at 425 degrees for 45-60 minutes. If you aren't cooking the pies right away, make sure you let the filling cool quite a bit before covering it with the dough - otherwise the dough will melt.

I was looking for a recipe with really good flavor rather than the memories I have of bland chicken pot pie and came here first. Although I couldn't follow the recipe and had to improvise, I wanted to share my own delicious version. Here are the changes I made based on preferences and/or ingredients on hand. Starting with the vegetables; I didn't have potatoes, peas, mushrooms or pearl onions and I only had 2 carrots sooo I used the carrots, 3 stalks of celery, a can of kernel corn, green onions and a red pepper for the filling. For the crust; I didn't use cold butter nor did I refrigerate it. I also didn't have dijon or dry sherry :( So here's what I did have and do; I chopped up the white portion of 8 green onions, 2 carrots and 3 stalks of celery, I sautéed them in equal amounts of butter and olive oil with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, sage as well as 3 bay leaves. Soon after I added the red pepper and the minced garlic towards the end. I then deglazed the pan with 3/4 cup of dry white wine and allowed it to cook off for a few minutes. At that point I set aside the vegetables, their liquid and I kept the herbs to reuse when browning the chicken. I cleaned and cubed 4 chicken breasts halves, browning them in 2 batches with the reserved herbs, salt, pepper, celery salt, dry mustard and poultry seasoning. I deglazed the pan again after the second batch of chicken with 1/2 a cup of dry white wine. I then mixed the vegetables, the cooked chicken and can of corn in a bowl and set it aside to start the sauce. For the sauce I used 15% cream and 2 cubes of chicken bouillon dissolved in 3 cups of boiling water and used the same sauce pan I had cooked the vegetables and chicken in for extra flavor. Once the sauce was made, I poured it into the bowl with the chicken and vegetable filling and mixed. I used a lasagna pan and rolled the dough out into a rectangle. I cooked at 425 for about 45 minutes until it was golden brown and bubbling. My version was moist, savory and extremely flavorful. I will make this over and over again !!

This recipe delivered the goods: a classic, delicious chicken pot pie. I followed the recipe as directed with one big exception: instead of making individual pies, I made one big one in a 9x13" baking dish. I have small children who wouldn't be able to eat individual adult portions and I don't own small gratin dishes. A dish that could be served family style was what I had in mind. So, I rolled out the crust into a large rectangle, trimmed it to fit the baking dish, put it on top of the filling, and baked until the filling was bubbling. I had no trouble getting the potatoes to cook and the filling was, well, pretty perfect, with a hint of mustard. Yes, it did take all afternoon, but what do you expect if you are making chicken pot pie from scratch? Not a problem for me. Actually, I totally enjoyed it! But then, that's why I like Fine Cooking!

Excellent!! My family and friends loved this recipe and it was so easy to do up ahead of time. I bought 16 oz oven proof chili bowls at my local Kroger. Beautiful presentation, BUT, we all thought this serving was too much for one person. One bowl was almost enough for 2 people, so next time I'll use a smaller oven proof bowl. I've also started making these and freezing them unbaked. Then I bake them frozen, uncovered until bubbly and crust becomes golden brown...about 45-60 min. Thanks Abby for another great recipe.

Excellent taste, really delicious and a great-tasting pastry. Only minus one star because it took me two hours to make this dish, plus the cook time. That was despite years of cooking & pie making experience, a food processor and fast knives. I had the chicken already shredded and cooked from a prior evening. I completely forgot to add the peas because I was so tired by the time I got to that step. I found the roux to be far too thick for cooking the potatoes, and I added another tablespoon of butter and another cup of chicken stock to cut it. Should have probably added yet another 3/4c of stock to thin it further in the oven, because it was very thick. But again, delicious. The mustard just adds a hint of undertone in the sauce and you don't taste it directly - I am not a big mustard lover, but it was a good addition. Could barely taste the thyme despite using fresh herbs, but the parsley & sherry came through nicely. As for the serving/cooking vessels, I have a nest of souffle dishes and I used the three sizes in the middle of the group for this recipe. I served in the kitchen from those souffle dishes and did not deliver an individual one to my husband. Recommended serving sizes would probably be too big if we were also serving a salad, but we had it as our only dinner, and it was just great. If only we could have eaten it before 11 PM... I probably shouldn't mention the three loads of dirty dishes it generated either. I was in a hurry with the pastry and did not refrigerate it, but it took the abuse well and still tasted great.

Very labor intensive and as good as the crust was I think next time I'll save this step and use the refridgerated pie crust. The filling was delicous and I will definitely make this again!

My husband and I are stranded at home due to a snow storm, so I made these pot pies for supper. We agreed that they are the perfect blizzard comfort food. I served them with a simple tossed salad and Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc. We are lovin' this storm.

@scriba: the bowls can be found at Williams-Sonoma.com. They're 17 ounces and at $8 each, they're not too pricey!

Perfect --and wonderfully explicit--recipe for this classic. But--and very much hope you will respond to this--WHERE DO YOU GET 16 oz. oven-proof wide mouthed soup/pot pie bowls? Have thoroughly searched the web and only come up with 13 oz. etc. bowls. (In fact one just that size looks like the one in the photo). Obviously do not want to pay $10 or more per bowl. Suggestions? Thanks!

Really a yummy chicken pot pie recipe and I have tried many. I substituted frozen puff pastry because I was in a time crunch. Next time I will make with pie crust recipe as I think it would be better. Would definitely make again.

Fantastic! I'll never buy frozen pot pies again. Takes a little time to make, so you have to plan ahead, and I felt the filling needed more salt, but definitely a keeper.

Aside from the chopping, pretty easy. I omitted the peas because my kids just let them roll around their plates and added more mushrooms. I also left out the dijon mustard, but it was great comfort food!

Very good recipe. Took me a looooong time to make, but is very good comfort food. I used canned potatoes and frozen puff pastry to save time, but I was still last one into bed that night...however I did sleep quite contently.

Absolutely fantastic recipe. The crust will be my go-to crust recipe from now on. I did use King Arthur's perfect pastry flour instead of regular all-purpose, and I weighed the flour and butter. I used canned diced potatoes instead, and added them and the chicken with the last-step ingredients - that eliminates the problem of potatoes being underdone. I used cooked chicken I had previously cooked and diced and froze, so didn't need to do the chicken cooking part of the recipe. Decreased flour to 1/3 cup, as I don't like a real thick filling. In other words, it's a great tasting filling that you can modify to what you have on hand and that you can make easier.

This recipe was amazing! I did not use their crust recipe, rather a pate brisee one with lots of butter. The crust was flaky and delicious. I love chicken pot pie and have tried many recipes. This one blew all of them out of the water. This will surely become one of our family favorites! I highly recommend it, you won't be disappointed.

Not too hard to make. A couple of changes I would make is that my potatoes still seemed to be undercooked, so I would cook them and the carrots a little bit longer. And I thought it tasted better the second day reheated.

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