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A chicken pot pie is one of the best cold-weather comfort foods around. But if you have ever wished that a chicken pot pie could be all about the chicken in the filling, then you have been craving a Moravian chicken pie, probably without even knowing it.

This traditional, savory pie recipe is stuffed with juicy chunks of tender chicken swathed in a light, slightly creamy sauce encased in a flaky pie crust. It’s absolutely divine, especially when paired with a big pile of leafy greens with an assertive vinaigrette, like this frisee and radicchio salad.

I had the good fortune of spending a few days in Winston-Salem last spring, a trip that came to be because I was having coffee with a pal who works for Visit Winston-Salem, and she started talking about this legendary Moravian chicken pie. I was intrigued, to say the least. Some people travel for art, some people travel for architecture, and I travel for pie.

Woman serving Moravian chicken pie from pie plate.

Moravian Chicken Pie: This traditional pot pie is filled with tender chunks of chicken in a lightly creamy sauce.

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Who Are the Moravians?

The Moravians were a denomination of Protestants who traced their origins back to ancient Bohemia. In 1753, a group of Moravians moved to North Carolina to escape religious persecution in Europe. They created a town and a community called Bethabara in what is now Winston-Salem. Today, Bethabara Park is a living museum that preserves the old Moravian traditions and way of life.

So, the Moravians settled in what they would call Bethabara in 1753 with the goal of establishing a permanent settlement and trading center. It was on a portion of this expansive tract in 1766 that the Moravians established Salem, where they earned a well-deserved reputation for arts, culture, and innovation.

The Moravians were a close-knit community and cared deeply about traditions and togetherness. They put down deep roots, planting ambitious gardens (both kitchen and medicinal gardens), building all sorts of structures, farming the land, milling grain, preserving foods, and creating a new home for their people. This pie recipe is a delicious example of how their dedication to nurturing friends and family lives into the present and the future. 

Moravian chicken pie in baking dish and on plate with salad.

Moravian Chicken Pie History

These pies were originally created for special occasions and church gatherings, embodying the spirit of community and togetherness. The pies are still enjoyed today by Moravians and those who are fortunate enough to live in a city where this traditional pie is still made. In Winston-Salem, there are a few restaurants known for this pie (Muddy Creek Cafe is one, serving the pies as a seasonal holiday special). There are also a couple of companies that make and sell them frozen, like Mrs. Pumpkin’s. I got to try both when I visited. The chunks of chicken, the rich, creamy gravy, and the flaky pastry never go out of style.

I was lucky enough to get to hang out with Sister Deborah Crewe at Winkler Bakery, who has been cooking traditional Moravian food for decades. I’ll just say if I am still making food as good as hers when I’m in my 80s, I will be very pleased. She gave me some expert pointers for this pie, plus showed me how to make a Moravian sugar cake in a wood-burning oven built in 1800 that made me want to write a poem about butter and brown sugar.

Now, Moravians don’t like you to call this dish a chicken pot pie — it’s a Moravian Chicken Pie. And, of course, like most rustic dishes, it was born from necessity — using up leftover chicken, using the whole bird. More traditionally, the chicken is simmered with some basic aromatic vegetables and then shredded, and the stock is used to make the sauce. I wanted to bump up the flavor, so I roasted the chickens first. Then I shredded the meat, and used the rest of the chicken to enrich the chicken broth into a deeply flavorful stock, which turns into a deeply flavorful sauce.

Moravian Chicken Pie Ingredients

This is such a simple recipe, so it’s all about the quality of the ingredients!

Fresh chicken, veggies, and other chicken pot pie ingredients on marble.
  • Whole chicken – This is the main ingredient, so buy the best chicken you can find.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper – Be generous with the seasonings, as this simple dish doesn’t have a lot of extra ingredients.
  • Chicken broth – I prefer less sodium broth so I can control the amount of salt in the dish.
  • Onion, carrot, and celery – These vegetables add flavor to the stock and, therefore, the sauce.
  • Bay leaves – Adds herbal, earthy flavor to the stock.
  • Unsalted butter – The fat that forms the base of the roux.
  • Flour – Thickens the sauce.
  • Refrigerated pie crusts – But gosh, if you want to make your own pie crust, Sister Deborah would be very proud of you!
  • Egg – An egg wash gives the crust a beautiful brown color and a shiny finish.

How to Make Moravian Chicken Pie

  1. Roast the chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 and roast the chickens for about 1 hour, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet.
Whole roasted chicken on wire rack.
  1. Debone the chicken: When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the chicken, reserving the drumsticks for another use. Set the meat aside.
Cutting apart roasted chicken with knife.
  1. Simmer the veggies in broth: Place the wings, plus all of the skin, bones, and other little bits of the chicken, into a large pot. Add the broth, onions, carrots, celery, and bay leaves. Add 1 cup of water, and if the broth doesn’t quite cover the chicken and vegetables, add more water to cover. Bring to a simmer over high heat, uncovered, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the broth has reduced and is a rich color and smells great. Strain out and discard the solids, reserving the stock. You should have about 3 cups of stock.
Simmering and straining chicken stock in large pot.
  1. Shred the chicken: Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks and set aside. You should have about 6 cups of shredded chicken.
Partially-shredded chicken breasts with two forks.
  1. Create the filling: In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, whisking often for about 3 minutes. When the mixture is light brown, whisk in the 3 cups of the strained chicken stock until well blended. Continue to whisk occasionally until the mixture is smooth and has thickened, about 4 minutes. It will reduce slightly, to about 2 1/2 cups. Blend in the 6 cups of shredded chicken. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Making roux with flour and broth, then adding shredded chicken to pot.
  1. Make an egg wash: In a small bowl, beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water.
  2. Build the pie: Place one circle of pastry into a 9-inch pie pan. Turn the filling into the crust. Top with the other pie crust, and crimp the edges to seal. Cut 6 to 8 slits in the pie crust to allow the steam to vent. Brush the egg wash over the whole top of the pie.
Building pie with crust, shredded chicken, and egg wash.
  1. Bake and serve: Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let rest on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Baking and serving pot pie.

Moravian Chicken Pie Tips

  • Get good chickens because that’s pretty much the filling, and you will definitely taste the difference between a high-quality chicken and an inferior bird.
  • The wings will go into the pot to enrich the broth into stock with the rest of the carcass. The four drumsticks can be saved for another meal (my husband loves cold drumsticks, so this works out nicely for everyone).
  • At the end of the stock simmering, you should have about 3 cups of stock. If the liquid is evaporting too quickly, lower the heat, and/or add more water.
  • When you shred the chicken, keep it in generous bite-sized chunks. You want the filling to have some real texture, and overly shredded chicken will kind of smush down into the sauce.
  • Be generous with the salt and pepper — these are basically the only seasonings in the pie!
  • Having said that, though it’s not traditional, you could think about adding in 1 to 2 cups of peas or a peas and carrots blend.
  • Some fresh herbs would also be nice; try a tablespoon or so of minced fresh tarragon, dill, or thyme, adding the herbs when you stir in the shredded chicken into the sauce.
Woman dishing Moravian chicken pie from pie plate.

Food in Winston-Salem

Final tip, which has nothing to do with Moravian Chicken Pie — if you go to Winston-Salem, do not leave without having a meal at Sweet Potatoes, an incredible Southern comfort soul food restaurant run by Vivian Joiner and Stephanie Tyson. The food is insane. Do not miss the fried chicken and the fried green tomatoes. I dream about them. And if you are into craft beer, wow, are you going to like Winston-Salem. Finally, do not leave without a few containers of Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies (or order some if you can’t wait!).

What to Serve With Moravian Chicken Pie

Red Salad with Citrus, Honey, and Thyme Vinaigrette

Spinach and Radish Salad with Feta

Moravian chicken pie in dish and on plate with side salad.

More Savory Pie Recipes

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Moravian Chicken Pie

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 People
This traditional pot pie recipe is filled with tender chunks of chicken in a lightly creamy sauce.

Ingredients 

  • 2 (3-pound) chickens
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 4 cups less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 carrot (scrubbed or peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 stalk celery (cut into 2-inch pieces)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 crusts (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 large egg

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  • Pat the chicken dry and place them on a rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the chickens for about 1 hour, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet.
  • When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the chicken, reserving the drumsticks for another use. Set the meat aside. Place the wings, plus all of the skin, bones, and other little bits of the chicken, into a large pot. Add the 4 cups broth, onions, carrots, celery, and bay leaves. Add 1 cup water. If the broth doesn’t quite cover the chicken and vegetables, add more water to cover. Bring to a simmer over high heat, uncovered, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the broth has reduced and is a rich color and smells great. Strain out and discard the solids, reserving the stock. You should have about 3 cups of stock.
  • Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks and set aside. You should have about 6 cups of shredded chicken.
  • In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, whisking often for about 3 minutes. When the mixture is light brown, whisk in the 3 cups of strained chicken stock until well blended. Continue to whisk occasionally until the mixture is smooth and has thickened, about 4 minutes. It will reduce slightly. Blend in the 6 cups of shredded chicken. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water.
  • Place one circle of pastry into a 9-inch pie pan. Turn the filling into the crust. Top with the other pie crust, and crimp the edges to seal. Cut 6 to 8 slits in the pie crust to allow the steam to vent. Brush the egg wash over the whole top of the pie.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let rest on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes

  • Get good chickens because that’s pretty much the filling, and you will definitely taste the difference between a high-quality chicken and an inferior bird.
  • The wings will go into the pot to enrich the broth into stock with the rest of the carcass. The four drumsticks can be saved for another meal.
  • When you shred the chicken, keep it in generous bite-sized chunks. You want the filling to have some real texture, and overly shredded chicken will kind of smush down into the sauce.
  • Be generous with the salt and pepper — these are basically the only seasonings in the pie!
  • Having said that, though it’s not traditional, you could think about adding in 1 to 2 cups of peas or a peas and carrots blend.
  • Some fresh herbs would also be nice; try a tablespoon or so of minced fresh tarragon, dill, or thyme, adding the herbs when you stir in the shredded chicken into the sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 489kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 200mg, Sodium: 684mg, Potassium: 467mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 3092IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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