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This easy foolproof method for how to poach chicken yields the most tender, juicy, flavorful poached chicken breasts. You can use poached chicken to make casseroles, salads, sandwiches, soups, and more, so make a big batch and use it for meal prep!

close up of juicy poached chicken breasts

I don’t know about you, but I noticed that the price of rotisserie chicken at my local grocery store has skyrocketed lately. It’s sometimes worth it to get a bulk package of chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or whatever your preference is, and cook it up yourself!

If you’re new to poaching chicken, you’re going to love how quick and easy it is. And this method yields tender, juicy meat every time, even if you’re using lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

How Do You Use Poached Chicken?

Just like rotisserie chicken, poached chicken is juicy and flavorful, and ready to use a ton of different ways! Slice it, chop it, or shred it and the sky is the limit.

You can make add it to casseroles, soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and more.

Of course you can also serve poached chicken as a main course! It’s delicious in its own right. Pair it with steamed vegetables, and rice or mashed potatoes for a full restaurant-quality meal.

poached chicken in broth

The Best Easy Poached Chicken Recipe

Poached Chicken Ingredients

ingredients for poached chicken

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), please see the recipe card below.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – or you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs; you can also use bone-in, skin-on chicken, but the cooking time will be different
  • Salt – to season the chicken
  • Whole peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, onion, thyme, and parsley – these aromatics add flavor and aroma to the chicken as it cooks
  • Apple cider vinegar – a touch of acid greatly improves the flavor of chicken; if you prefer, you can use fresh lemon juice instead, or go with a glug of dry white wine
  • Cool filtered water – use cool or cold water so the chicken cooks evenly

How to Make Poached Chicken

chicken with poaching aromatics in pot

Add the chicken breasts in an even layer to a 5-quart pot (or another deep, wide pot). Add all remaining ingredients.

how to make poached chicken breasts
  1. The water should cover the chicken by about 2 inches; if it doesn’t, add more water as needed.
  2. Place the uncovered pot on medium heat, bring to a simmer, and time it for 3 minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let it sit until the chicken is fully cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Chicken is fully cooked when its internal temperature reaches 165F. There should be no pink in the middle.
how to slice or shred poached chicken

Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid. Slice the chicken, shred it, or cut in into cubes. Reserve about 1 cup of the poaching liquid to toss with the chicken to help keep it moist once it’s sliced, shredded, or cubed.

Storage

Store poached chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Tips for Success

  • Be generous with the aromatics and spices in the poaching liquid. Also, you can use chicken broth or chicken stock instead of water for even more flavor.
  • When you put the chicken in the pot to cook it, it’s okay if the chicken overlaps a little, but try to arrange them in an even layer so they aren’t overlapping if possible.
  • Yup, you really should use cool (or cold) water.

Pro Tip: Save the Poaching Liquid

an edible mosaic stamp logo 1200 square

You can use it any way you’d use chicken broth or stock. If you don’t need it right away, you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

Poached Chicken FAQs

Is Boiling Chicken the Same as Poaching?

Absolutely not, friends! The difference is the cooking temperature.

Water boils at 212F. If you boil your chicken you’ll likely end up with tough, dry, overcooked chicken.

Poaching chicken means to gently cook it submerged in liquid (such as seasoned water or broth). This slow, gentle cooking process helps ensure that the chicken is tender and juicy, and not tough, dry, stringy, or rubbery. How gentle do you cook the chicken?, you ask. The water should be at a very low simmer, around 185 to 195F, for about 8 to 12 minutes.

However, I have a method I like even better! It cooks the chicken even slower than a traditional poaching method, and therefore results in the juiciest chicken breast you’ll ever have. And the method is completely foolproof!

To make the most tender, juicy poached chicken of your life, you start with cool water covering the chicken. Bring the water up to a simmer, and time it for 3 minutes. Then remove it from the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit until the chicken is fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

front view of sliced poached chicken in blue and white bowl with broth

Do You Poach Chicken in Cold Water?

You can use either cool or cold water to poach chicken. The point of this is to twofold: 1) to avoid hot spots, and 2) to help the chicken cook slower, which yields more tender, juicy meat.

How Long Does it Take to Poach Chicken in Water?

It takes about 10 minutes to poach chicken in water.

How Do You Know When Poached Chicken is Done?

Chicken breasts are fully cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 165F. You can use an inexpensive meat thermometer to test this. There should be no pink in the center.

Delicious Recipes to Use Poached Chicken

poached chicken breasts in broth

Let’s Connect

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Poached Chicken Recipe

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
This easy foolproof method for how to poach chicken yields the most tender, juicy, flavorful poached chicken breasts. You can use poached chicken to make casseroles, salads, sandwiches, soups, and more, so make a big batch and use it for meal prep!

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 small yellow onion peeled and quartered
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups cool filtered water or more if needed to submerge the chicken

Instructions
 

  • Add the chicken breasts in an even layer to a 5-quart pot (or another deep, wide pot). Add all remaining ingredients. The water should cover the chicken by about 2 inches; if it doesn’t, add more water as needed.
  • Place the uncovered pot on medium heat, bring to a simmer, and time it for 3 minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let it sit until the chicken is fully cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Chicken is fully cooked when its internal temperature reaches 165F. There should be no pink in the middle.)
  • Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid. Slice the chicken, shred it, or cut in into cubes. Reserve about 1 cup of the poaching liquid to toss with the chicken to help keep it moist once it’s sliced, shredded, or cubed.
  • Serve the chicken, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 6 cups of shredded or cubed chicken.
  • Storage: Store poached chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How to Poach Chicken, Poached Chicken, Poached Chicken Breasts, Poached Chicken Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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