Follow this recipe to make tender, juicy, flavorful poached chicken breasts. Use poached chicken for making chicken salads, enchiladas, noodle bowls or for any other recipe that calls for cooked sliced, cubed or shredded chicken.
To make poached boneless chicken thighs, bone-in breasts or a poached whole chicken, follow this recipe but adjust the timing, using the timing ranges listed in the notes, below.
- 2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 halves (about 2 pounds)
- 1/2 small onion, peeled
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- a pinch or two of salt
- Place chicken in a heavy pot. Add cold water so it comes up 1 inch above the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to medium-high heat and keeping a close watch on the pot. As soon as the water just starts to boil, turn the heat down to the lowest possible simmer (160º-180ºF). The water should be shimmering as if it's about to boil, but not bubbling. Set the timer and cook the chicken, partially covered to help maintain a constant temperature, for 10-14 minutes. Timing will depend on the size and thickness of the breasts. Check for doneness after 10 minutes. (See notes below for how to check for doneness)
- Immediately remove the chicken from the cooking water and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing, dicing or shredding it. If you're not using it right away, store poached chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
HOW TO ADD FLAVOR THE POACHING WATER: Follow my recipe above or tailor the flavors to suit the type of dish you're making. Here are some of my favorite add-ins : bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, parsley, dill, onions, smashed garlic cloves, sliced ginger, smashed lemongrass, cilantro, basil stems, a sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme, a lemon slice, a cinnamon stick. Refer to the blog post for a full list of recommended add-ins.
HOW TO POACH CHICKEN THIGHS; BONE-IN BREASTS; OR A WHOLE CHICKEN: Follow the procedure listed in the recipe above and use the timing ranges listed below, checking for doneness at the lower end of the range. Continue to poach the chicken until it is cooked through.
- Boneless chicken thighs - 10 - 14 minutes (same as for boneless breasts)
- Whole bone-in chicken breasts (with or without skin) - 25-30 minutes
- A whole (3-4 lb.) chicken - 1 - 1 ¼ hours
HOW TO CHECK FOR DONENESS: Make sure the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the chicken breast or thigh with a knife, or test with a food thermometer to make sure the chicken has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C).
HOW LONG WILL POACHED CHICKEN LAST IN THE FRIDGE? According to the USDA, cooked chicken can last in the fridge for 4 days.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 10-14 mins
- Category: Cooking Method
- Method: Poach
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: poached chicken, how to poach chicken