This dairy free chicken pot pie is very simple to make and uses ingredients you have on hand. You can also easily swap out ingredients you don’t like for ones you prefer.
I used to love chicken pot pie as a kid and I considered the frozen individual pies we’d sometimes buy a big treat.
As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve often found chicken pot pie can be a little dull in flavor.
It’s not uncommon for flavor preferences to change as you get older. Adults have less taste buds than children do, making it harder for them to pick up on subtle flavors.
So now I add garlic for additional flavor. Other optional additions to the pie are potatoes and celery. Some, although pretty uncommon, add thyme.
Also, if you don’t like anything, feel free to leave it out. My Mom doesn’t like cooked carrots, so when she makes chicken pot pie we often trade carrots out for potatoes.
Another optional addition is dry white wine, if you want to add a gourmet note to this dish.
It’s not traditional by any means, but sometimes I like to add a touch of sophistication when I’m serving it exclusively to adults.
I’ve put this in the notes at the bottom of the recipe.
History of Pot Pie
Pot pie is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. The Greeks cooked meats mixed with other ingredients in open pastry shells called Artocreas.
Later, the Romans supposedly took this recipe and added a top to the pastry crust, making it a fully enclosed meat pie like we serve today. These pie pastries were served at banquets.
Then, during the Renaissance, the English gentry revived not only classical art but the ancient meat pie. Meat pies became very popular, and pies made with pork, lamb, venison, and poultry were common.
In fact, they were so common that a nursery rhyme incorporates it.
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king.
Notice how the pie was set before the king. This isn’t just being playful. Pot pies were considered a delicacy.
Pot pies were served at the wedding of Marie de’ Medici and Henry IV of France.
However, the pies served were actually a form of amusement because when their guests sat to eat songbirds flew out just like in the rhyme.
For at least a couple hundreds of years, this was a popular form of entertainment adopted from the ancient Romans. Cookbooks even had recipes on how to do this.
Eventually, pot pie became accessible to the commoner.
There is one pot pie named “Sea Pie”, because it was made aboard ships where they used whatever meat they had available. It typically included pigeons, turkey, veal, and mutton.
Pot pie eventually made its way to America with settlers who brought their recipes with them, and it spread as they moved west.
Then, within the last century, chicken became the most popular meat used in the States, making chicken pot pie a widely popular American dish.
About Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie usually contains dairy because it is typically made with milk or heavy cream and both the filling and crust contain butter.
However, you can make chicken pot pie without milk by replace the milk with chicken stock or a dairy free milk.
You want to use a dairy free milk, I’d recommend unsweetened almond milk, almond cooking milk, a very mildly flavored coconut milk, or a mildly flavored oat milk. Soy milk is also probably fine but I’ve never used it.
Also, instead of butter for cooking, you can use oil, a vegan butter, or kosher margarine.
You’d also still need a dairy free pie crust.
Why I use Fresh Chicken Breast
I don’t think using leftover chicken makes for a very good pie. This is especially true if you opt to use chicken breast which is notorious for how quickly it becomes dry.
In fact, I’ve been wanting to try adding raw instead of freshly cooked chicken breast to the pie to see if it makes for even juicier pieces.
How do you thicken chicken pie filling?
To thicken chicken pot pie, you can use a roux or a slurry.
I think a slurry is ideal if you are going to be freezing it for later, because I find I can sometimes see the flour particles in the sauce when it is defrosted.
In this recipe, I use something similar to a roux, but since I cook the veggies first and then sprinkle the flour over them, it doesn’t really count as a proper roux.
Still, it is the same concept and works the same way.
IS KOSHER CHICKEN BETTER?
Kosher animals are kept in better conditions than non-kosher animals due to strict kosher health requirements of the animals.
Also, the salting process used as part of the process of making meat kosher is similar to dry brining, and therefore produces a better quality meat.
While I’ve only eaten kosher meat so I cannot compare, I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher chicken is of superior quality to cook with.
SHOULD YOU WASH CHICKEN?
According to the USDA, you should not wash meat or poultry, since water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink.
A study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan. The heat from cooking will get rid of any bacteria that may be present.
HOW CAN I CLEAN MY CHICKEN WITHOUT WASHING IT?
If you want to clean your chicken without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel.
Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.
HOW TO DEFROST CHICKEN
IN THE FRIDGE
Defrosting chicken in the fridge is the most highly recommended.
To do this, place the frozen chicken in a pan and let it thaw. Oftentimes, when chicken thaws, it releases liquids that can leak onto your fridge, so the pan is really helpful.
Chicken typically takes a full day to thaw. Once thawed, it can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.
IN COLD WATER
Defrosting chicken in water should take two to three hours.
Submerge your sealed chicken in a pot or bowl full of cold water. Change out the water every 30 minutes or so.
Do not hot use water because it can start cooking your chicken.
Can you cook FROZEN chicken?
According to the USDA, you can cook frozen chicken. It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option.
You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables so that the heat can circulate around the chicken.
CAN YOU REFREEZE RAW CHICKEN?
According to the USDA, “food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.” However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat.
Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture as it thaws, which also leads to a loss in flavor. To compensate for this, marinate the chicken to add more flavor and juice.
The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F.”
SHOULD YOU BRINE?
Brining actually doesn’t do anything to help poultry. In fact, it makes it soggy rather than juicy, with watered-down flavor.
Aromatic brines and stock don’t help with flavor either. This is because the salt pulls water molecules in, leaving most of the flavor behind.
A dry brine, on the other hand, loosens up muscle fibers, allowing them to retain more moisture without adding any excess liquid.
Initially, the salt draws moisture out, then it dissolves in this liquid, creating a concentrated brine, which eventually gets reabsorbed. This leads to more intensely flavored results.
An added benefit is that it also requires less space and mess than a water brine. Not to mention the fact that it allows for crispier skin.
CAN YOU DRY BRINE KOSHER chicken?
Food experts are often under the impression that kosher meat and poultry cannot be brined and dry brined.
This is because of the koshering process, which involves salting the meat. However, the process is not nearly as long as the dry brining process, and unlike a dry brine, the poultry is soaked to remove the salt.
So, since the process is different than a dry brine, it is fine and even recommended to dry brine kosher poultry and meat.
How do you dry brine chicken?
Begin by patting the chicken with paper towels. This will help the salt adhere to the chicken.
Grab pinches of kosher salt and sprinkle it over the chicken until the chicken is generously salted and evenly coated.
Place the dry-brined chicken on a rack or a plate and refrigerate it. Refrigerate chicken pieces for at least 1 hour, skinless pieces for 30 minutes to 1 hour or up to about 12 hours, and a whole chicken for 8-24 hours.
Once the waiting period is up, there is no need to rinse off the chicken. Just cook it as usual.
Which dairy free milk should I use?
Honestly, it’s whatever you have on hand or prefer.
My go-to is a neutral flavored full fat oat milk because I find that they are the most similar to regular full fat milk.
Almond milk works well here, too. I personally like using an unsweetened barista almond milk because it is more similar to regular full fat milk, but whatever you have will work.
You can also use coconut milk, though it may have a subtle coconut flavor if you do. Coconut milk has more fat and is similar to using a light cream, but it won’t make a noticeable difference.
I’ve never used soy milk, so I don’t have any opinions on it, but you can use that as well.
Adjusting for a Convection Oven
Convection ovens blow the hot air around, producing around 25 to 30 percent more heat.
Since convection ovens produce more heat, you need either lowering the temperature or shortening the cooking time to compensate.
When recipes specify temperatures and cooking times, it’s for conventional ovens, unless specified otherwise.
A simple rule to follow is to lower the temperature by 25ºF or 14ºC when baking cookies and pies, and 50ºF or 28ºC when roasting meat and poultry. Some convection ovens offer separate settings for baking and for roasting.
You can also leave the temperature the same and instead, shorten the cooking time by 25 percent. For example, if your recipe calls for 60 minutes in the oven, check the food after 45 minutes instead.
However, keep in mind, some convection ovens actually make a heat adjustment for you. That is, if you set a convection oven for 350ºF, it might actually set itself to 325ºF to compensate. So, check your manual before making adjustments.
HOW TO STORE CHICKEN
Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN
Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag.
Freeze for up to 4-6 months. After that, it is still safe to eat, but the quality begins to degrade.