How To Make Perfect Poached Chicken

Poached chicken is one of the world's easiest recipes, fast and foolproof. All you need is water, an onion, spices, 2 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of simmering. When I want to make a spectacular chicken salad, I always start with freshly poached chicken breasts. Homemade poached chicken is fresh-tasting, tender, juicy, and infused with flavor from the poaching liquid.

How to poach chicken: Tender homemade poached chicken is essential for making great chicken salad.




  1. Place chicken in a large deep pot. Add cold water to 1 inch above the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately lower to a very gentle simmer (barely bubbling) and cook, uncovered, for 10-14 minutes. Timing will depend on the thickness of the breasts. Check for doneness after 10 minutes by slicing into the thickest part of the breast. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165. If there’s no pink color and no pink juices, that’s a good indication of doneness. Immediately remove chicken from the cooking water and let it cool for a few minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred it, slice it or cut into bite-size cubes. If you’re not using it right away, store it in an airtight container in the fridge.


This recipe is assuming each whole chicken breast weighs about 1 pound – or 8 ounces per half breast. If your chicken breasts are much smaller than this, check for doneness after 8 minutes of simmering.