Why This Recipe Works
Chicken pot pie is the ultimate comfort food, so we sought a way to streamline this classic dish and make individual pot pies that we could pull out of the freezer and bake any time. There are many challenges that arise in making a pot pie with a beautiful flaky crust, tender and flavorful chicken and vegetables, and a creamy sauce; when we added “freezer-friendly” to the list of requirements, this recipe became an even taller order. First, we decided to use small disposable loaf pans, which would make storage and reheating easy and allow us to serve only the number we needed (without all our ramekins being tied up in the freezer). Browning boneless, skinless breasts before cooking them in broth gave our pie the deepest chicken flavor (without the hassle of roasting). A bit of thyme and lemon juice brightened up the creamy filling, and a bit of extra liquid ensured that the filling didn’t dry out in the freezer. As for the topping, we opted to skip the homemade pie dough in favor of store-bought, which was easy to use and kept the process more streamlined. To make the crusts sturdy enough to hold up on top of the filling, we made a double-thick crust by gluing two crusts together with water. To make sure that the crusts didn’t overbrown in the time it took the filling to warm through, we covered the pies for part of the baking time.
Active Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total time 2 hours 40 minutes (plus freezing time)
To preserve their color, don’t thaw the peas before adding them to the filling in step 6. Depending on how many people you are feeding, you can bake all six pies at once or bake one or two at time. Be aware that ready-made store-bought pie dough rounds typically come two to a box.
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5½ cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, minced
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or ¾ teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 (9‑inch) store-bought pie dough rounds
1½ cups frozen peas
6 2‑cup disposable aluminum loaf pans
1 large egg, beaten
1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until well browned, about 2½ minutes per side. Add broth and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and broth to large bowl.
2. Melt butter with remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, celery, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until lightly browned and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add flour, and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk, thyme, and reserved broth and bring to simmer. Cook, whisking often, until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
3. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces using 2 forks. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer filling to bowl and let cool completely. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
4. Place 2 dough rounds on lightly floured counter. Brush surface of each round with water, then place remaining 2 dough rounds on moistened rounds, pressing gently to adhere.
5. Position 1 inverted loaf pan on 1 layered dough round. Using sharp paring knife, cut out piece of dough using pan as template. Repeat twice more for total of 3 dough pieces, then repeat process on second layered dough round. Discard excess dough.
6. Stir peas into chilled filling, then evenly divide filling among loaf pans. Top each pan with 1 dough piece, then use fork to seal edges. Using paring knife, cut 3 steam vents in each pot pie. Tightly wrap each loaf pan in 2 layers of plastic and 1 layer of aluminum foil, then freeze pot pies completely.
7. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap frozen pot pies and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Brush each pot pie with egg and cover with foil. Bake until filling is starting to bubble, about 40 minutes. Uncover pot pies and bake until crusts are golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let pot pies rest for 10 minutes before serving.
To Make Ahead: Pot pies, prepared through step 6, can be frozen for up to 1 month