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This Chicken a la King recipe is true to the classic cozy meal with hearty chicken, mushrooms, green peas, and red pimentos in a flavorful homemade creamy sauce, and it’s ready in just 30 minutes! Serve it over rice, noodles, biscuits, puff pastry, or toast.

chicken a la king sauce in dutch oven with plated meal on steamed rice

Chicken a la King, which translates from French as “chicken in the style of king”, is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. Its flavors are familiar enough so that picky eaters are willing to try it, but different enough so that it’s a good choice when you want to switch up your dinner rotation.

We start by sautéing mushroom and onion in butter, and then add a little garlic. At this point, you can deglaze the pan with some sherry. However, I kept the recipe simple; I skipped the sherry and instead added a touch of fresh lemon juice at the end.

ladle in chicken a la king sauce

After that we add the flour, which, combined with the butter forms what is a called a “roux”. The roux is what thickens the sauce.

Next comes the chicken stock, a bit of cream, and the seasonings. The two secret spices are hint of mustard powder and a little touch of cayenne. They add great depth of flavor!

Then it’s time for the cooked chopped or shredded chicken (leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken, or leftover turkey all work well), the green peas, and the pimentos.

After that, we finish it off with a little fresh lemon juice to wake up the flavor, and minced fresh parsley for color.

Serve rich and creamy Chicken a la King on a bed of rice, pasta, egg noodles, biscuits, or toasted bread to complete the meal.

It’s a beautiful dish that the whole family will love!

close up overhead view of creamy chicken a la king served on rice

Chicken a la King Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

chicken a la king ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – We use butter to sauté the mushrooms and onion. Additionally, we add flour which combines with the butter to form a “roux”, which thickens the sauce.
  • Onion and garlic – These savory vegetables add a ton of flavor and aroma.
  • Flour – Use all-purpose flour here; it acts as a thickener and helps create a velvety-smooth cream sauce.
  • Chicken stock – Use a good-quality homemade or store-bought stock.
  • Heavy whipping cream – Along with the roux (the butter and flour mixture) cream helps thicken the sauce and makes it rich and decadent.
  • Salt and black pepper – These pantry-staple spices pack a ton of flavor. Salt is a natural flavor enhancer that elevates the flavor of everything else, and black pepper adds depth.
  • Mustard powder – A touch of mustard powder adds a pungency that creates depth of flavor. No bland cream sauce here!
  • Cayenne pepper – We only use a little bit of cayenne pepper for depth and complexity; you can substitute with Tabasco sauce if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Cooked chopped or shredded chicken – Rotisserie chicken works well here, but you can use any leftover chicken or even leftover turkey. Or if you have raw chicken on hand, go ahead cook it and use what you have!
  • Frozen peas – Thaw and drain the peas before adding them to the sauce.
  • Fresh lemon juice – The bright flavor of fresh lemon juice wakes up everything else. Instead of adding fresh lemon juice at the end, you can add about half as much white wine vinegar.
  • Fresh parsley – This adds a pop of bright green color to our dish.

Instructions

How to Make Chicken a la King Sauce From Scratch

how to make chicken a la king cream sauce
  1. Add the butter to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Once mostly melted, add the mushrooms and cook until starting to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the flour.
  3. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the chicken stock, cream, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and mustard powder, and bring up to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook 3 minutes.

Add the Finishing Touches

adding finishing touches to chicken a la king
  1. Stir in the chicken, peas, pimentos, and lemon juice.
  2. Cook until warm throughout, about 2 minutes.

Serve

hand ladling chicken a la king onto plate with rice

Serve garnished with fresh parsley on a bed of rice, noodles, biscuits, or puff pastry shells if desired.

Recipe Variations

  • Lower carb and gluten free option: Omit the flour; add 4 ounces of cream cheese instead, and reduce the chicken stock to 2 cups.
  • Vegetables: You aren’t stuck with the vegetables listed here! For example, if you want Chicken a la King without mushrooms, simply omit them. Or if you really love broccoli, add steamed broccoli along with the peas and pimentos. Take this dish and make it your own!

Storage and Reheating

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. This reheats well in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop, stirring frequently. (If it was frozen, thaw to room temperature before reheating.)

top view of bowl of simple chicken a la king dinner

Chicken a la King Recipe FAQs

Why is it Called Chicken à la King?

As all good stories go, there are several versions of the tale that shroud the origin of this infamous dish in mystery. Here are a few (of the many) speculations:

  • 1880’s: French chef Charles Ranhofer created this dish at Delmonico’s in New York City for patron Foxhall P.  Keene. Foxhall was a horse-breeder, the son of James R. Keene who was known as “The Silver Fox of Wall Street”. Allegedly, Foxhall mentioned to Ranhofer the idea of a pimento-studded cream sauce. Ranhofer made his dream a reality, calling it “Chicken a la Keene”, which later became Chicken a la King.
  • 1881: A chef at Claridge’s in London made this recipe for J. R. Keene (Foxhall’s father). Keene’s horse had just won the 1881 Grand Prix de Paris, and was the first American horse to do so.
  • 1898: Chef George Greenwald of the Brighton Beach Hotel in Brighton Beach came up with this dish for Mr. and Mrs. E. Clarke King II. Mr. King loved it so much, Greenwald put it on the menu.
  • 1890’s: Chef William “Bill” King of the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia devised this dish. His obituary in New York Tribune in 1915 credited him with the invention of this dish.

You can read more about the stories behind the origin of this recipe on What’s Cooking America and Wikipedia.

old fashioned chicken a la king on a bed of rice

What is Chicken a la King Sauce?

Old fashioned Chicken à la King sauce is a cream sauce made of béchamel sauce or velouté sauce with cream mixed in.

Béchamel, which is also called “white sauce”, is one of the five classic mother sauces in French cuisine. Béchamel starts by cooking butter and flour (which is called a “roux”), and then whisking in milk. It’s an easy sauce that’s seasoned simply with salt and sometimes nutmeg, and it’s used to make a variety of other sauces.

Similarly, velouté is roux that’s mixed with stock instead of milk. Essentially, it’s gravy! Use chicken stock for chicken gravy or beef stock for beef gravy.

Here we take velouté one step further to make sauce crème (aka cream sauce) by adding heavy cream.

What Do You Serve with Chicken a la King?

You can serve this dish with any number of things; the sky is the limit! Typically, you’d serve Chicken a la King on a bed of something (such as rice) to soak up the delicious creamy sauce. Here are a few classic side dish ideas for this meal:

  • Rice (or keep the carbs down with cauliflower rice)
  • Pasta
  • Egg noodles
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Toasted bread
  • Buttered bread
  • Biscuits
  • Puff pastry or puff pastry shells (also known as vol-au-vent)

More Cozy Chicken Dinner Recipes to Try

creamy chicken with mushrooms and vegetables meal

Let’s Connect

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Classic Chicken à la King Recipe

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
This Chicken a la King recipe is true to the classic cozy meal with hearty chicken, mushrooms, green peas, and red pimentos in a flavorful from-scratch creamy sauce, and it’s ready in just 30 minutes! Serve it over rice, noodles, biscuits, puff pastry, or toast.

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Ingredients
 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 3 cups cooked chopped or shredded chicken rotisserie chicken works well
  • 1 cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1 cup chopped jarred pimentos drained well
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Optional Serving Suggestions:

Instructions
 

  • Add the butter to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Once mostly melted, add the mushrooms and cook until starting to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the chicken stock, cream, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and mustard powder, and bring up to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken, peas, pimentos, and lemon juice and cook until warm throughout, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve garnished with fresh parsley along with rice, noodles, biscuits, or puff pastry shells if desired.

Video

Notes

  • Storage and Reheating: Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. This reheats well in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop, stirring frequently. (If it was frozen, thaw to room temperature before reheating.)

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 581mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1774IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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