How to Build a Better Chicken Pot Pie
Order this classic dish at a restaurant, and you’re likely in for a 900-calorie meal. Opt for the frozen variety, and you won’t do much better, at around 700 calories a pop. (With both options, sodium could be double the recommended daily amount.) In other words: There are plenty of great reasons to make your own chicken pot pie!
To make a thick, creamy pot pie filling takes chicken, veggies and a little thickening magic.
- To cut saturated fat on the chicken, remove the skin from either the dark or light meat. (Dark meat isn’t much higher in calories, so either one can do the trick.)
- Opt for frozen, canned or fresh veggies. Frozen peas, carrots, pearl onions, green beans and broccoli are great to always have on hand. (If using frozen, make sure the vegetables aren’t packed with buttery sauces.) Canned veggies are also easy to keep in the pantry, but opt for lower sodium varieties.
- The creamy fillings are often made from butter and flour (aka a roux) mixed with chicken broth and sometimes heavy cream. One way to cut back on calories is to make a slurry using combo of flour and low-fat milk or chicken broth and cornstarch.
- Using a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth can help reduce sodium (or use homemade chicken stock, which is naturally low in sodium). To add even more creaminess, use a touch of whole or reduced-fat milk, low-fat sour cream or low-fat Greek yogurt
Traditional pot pie uses a high-butter pastry dough to create a flaky crust.
- If you’ve trimmed down your filling, using puff pastry may be a reasonable trade-off. But be aware that puff pastry is sometimes made with trans fat or lard.
- Frozen pie crusts are another way to make a crunchy crust, but they too, are usually high in unhealthy fats.
- To keep calories in check, make individual pot pies and cover each with small amount of the pie crust.
- If you’re looking for the lowest calorie option, phyllo is the answer. It’s a super-thin pastry dough made from water, flour and a touch of oil. The end result is a lighter, flaky crust.
Recipes to Try:
Slimmed Down Chicken Pot Pie (above)
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. See Toby’s full bio »