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Chicken à la King

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Chicken à la King
Chicken à la King prepared with egg noodles
Place of originDisputed
Main ingredientsChicken, cream sauce, and often with sherry, mushrooms, and vegetables

Chicken à la King ('chicken in the style of King') is a dish consisting of diced chicken in a cream sauce, often with sherry, mushrooms, and vegetables, generally served over rice, noodles, or bread.[1] It is also often served in a vol-au-vent or pastry case.[2] It is sometimes made with tuna or turkey in place of chicken.


A 1900 (?) cookbook containing a chicken à la King recipe.

Various dishes of chicken "à la Reine" and "à la Royale" have appeared in cookbooks since as early as 1665, mostly without recipes; there is no indication that they are similar to the modern Chicken à la King.[3][4][5]

Several competing accounts about its origin have circulated:

  • One claim is it was created by Delmonico's chef Charles Ranhofer as "Chicken à la Keene" in the 1880s, named after Foxhall Parker Keene.
  • Another version claims it was created in 1881 at Claridge's Hotel in London and named for James R. Keene, father of Foxhall.
  • A third story is that the dish was devised in 1903 for Wolfram Mercy Keene, son of Foxhall and grandson of James.
  • A fourth, often disputed tale is that Chicken a la King was prepared for Dewberry William Keene, son of Wolfram, grandson of Foxhall, and great grandson of James.
  • Another account claims chef George Greenwald of the Brighton Beach Hotel in Brighton Beach created it in 1898, naming it after patron E. Clarke King II and his wife.[6][7][8]
  • Another account is that chicken à la King was created in the 1890s by hotel cook William "Bill" King of the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia. Several obituaries in early March 1915 credited King after he died on March 4, 1915.[9][10] A New York Tribune editorial at the time of King's death stated:

    The name of William King is not listed among the great ones of the earth. No monuments will ever be erected to his memory, for he was only a cook. Yet what a cook! In him blazed the fire of genius which, at the white heat of inspiration, drove him one day, in the old Bellevue, in Philadelphia, to combine bits of chicken, mushrooms, truffles, red and green peppers and cream in that delight-some mixture which ever after has been known as "Chicken a la King."[11]

The recipe was mentioned in The New York Times in 1893,[12] and early published recipes appeared in 1900[13] and 1905.[14] Fannie Merritt Farmer included a recipe in her 1911 publication on catering.[15] The Fannie Farmer Cookbook includes a recipe for Chicken à la King in the 1906 update.[16] In James Beard's 1972 American Cookery, the recipe calls for mushrooms, green bell pepper, onion, and pimiento together with chicken in a velouté sauce with sherry.[17]It was a popular dish during the middle to late 20th century.[18]

See also



  1. ^ D'Amato, Luisa (October 17, 2007). Delicious, easy to make and oddly addictive. The Waterloo Record (via Internet Archive)
  2. ^ James C. O'Connell, Dining Out in Boston, ISBN 1611689937, 2016, p. 273
  3. ^ L'Esprit de Cour, 1665
  4. ^ The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary, 1724
  5. ^ Nouveau traité de la Cuisine, 1739
  6. ^ Allen, Beth and Susan Westmoreland (2004). Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook. Hearst Books, ISBN 978-1-58816-280-9
  7. ^ Gilbar, Steven (2008). Chicken a la King & the Buffalo Wing: Food Names and the People and Places. Writers Digest, ISBN 978-1-58297-525-2
  8. ^ George Leonard Herter and Berthe E Herter, (1971) Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, p31
  9. ^ Staff report (March 5, 1915). "Chicken a la King" inventor dies. New York Tribune, p. 9, col. 5
  10. ^ Via Philadelphia Ledger (14 March 1915). A name on all men's tongues. The Washington Post, pg. M4
  11. ^ Editorial (7 March 1915). Chicken a la King. New York Tribune, pg. 8, cols. 1-2
  12. ^ Staff (14 December 1893). Dinner to Princeton's Football Team. The New York Times, p. 3.
  13. ^ A Book of famous old New Orleans recipes used in the South for more than 200 years. Peerless Printing Co., 1900; the 1900 date is dubious based on the recipes and the typography -- Goodreads.com gives 1959 [1]
  14. ^ Staff report (3 February 1905). Chicken a la King. Washington Times, p. 7, col. 1
  15. ^ Farmer, Fannie Merritt (1911). Catering for special occasions. D. McKay
  16. ^ Marion Cunningham, Fannie Merritt Farmer, Lauren Jarrett (1996). The Fannie Farmer cookbook. Random House, Inc., p. 250. ISBN 978-0-679-45081-8
  17. ^ Beard, James (1972). American Cookery. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-316-09868-7.
  18. ^ "DE GUSTIBUS; The Entree That Wouldn't Die". The New York Times. 1989.