Poached Chicken

Poached chicken is the best way to cook chicken breast for all your soups, salads, and casseroles. Forget dry, stringy chicken, this meat comes out tender and juicy and puts other cooking methods to shame.

chicken breasts, sliced on a platter with parsley and lemon

If you want an easy chicken recipe that will be just as good for dinner as it is for lunch the next day, you’ve got to try this poached chicken. It’s got such a great flavor and is perfect for topping Loaded Chicken Nachos or just serving with a simple Garden Salad.

I love cooking chicken this way because it’s incredibly easy and it comes out so juicy and tender every time. Poached chicken is high in protein, low carb, and doesn’t need any extra fat or oil to cook. Not only is it great to add to salads, but sliced thinly it makes a great substitution for lunch meat on sandwiches.

What does it mean to poach chicken?

This simple process starts with salt and pepper seasoned chicken breasts in a stock pot. We add some herbs, like parsley and bay leaves, but you can add others like thyme and rosemary. There are also lemons, onions, and garlic added to the pot. The actual liquid is just chicken broth and water; just enough to cover the ingredients.

Keeping the heat low allows the poaching liquid to simmer and cook the chicken gently and slowly while infusing it with flavor. It stays moist and tender in its flavorful bath and is prevented from overcooking.

sliced poached chicken brerasts on a white platter with parsley and lemons

How long should it take to poach chicken breasts?

It usually takes about 10-15 minutes once the water is boiling. Large pieces may take longer.

I like using boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. You can also use bone-in breasts, thighs, or drumsticks. Keep the skin on or off, your choice, but the chicken will need at least an extra 20-30 minutes to cook. Bone-in chicken will definitely give you a more intense flavor, so you should really consider straining and saving the cooking liquid and using for broth later on.

How to poach chicken

Start with fully thawed chicken breasts. I used to just drop frozen chicken right into the water to boil them, but I quickly learned that while that would cook the chicken, it would almost always come out dry and stringy. Make sure if your chicken is frozen that you’ve transferred them to the refrigerator to defrost for 24 hours.

Poaching liquid.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add them to a stock pot with some bay leaves and parsley, sliced lemons, and onions. Pour in 4 cups of chicken broth, and add enough water to cover the chicken completely.

collage of two images showing chicken poaching liquid

Cook. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then reduce, cover and simmer. Check the chicken after about 10 minutes. You want the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees F. If it goes much over that you could wind up with overcooked and dry chicken. As it boils, you may notice some foam coming to the top. If you’re planning to use the broth for soup or another use, skim the foam, otherwise, it won’t hurt anything to just leave it alone.

What do you use poached chicken for?

Poached chicken is a great way to get the shredded chicken you need for stuffing in chicken tacos or a BBQ Chicken Quesadilla. You can also chill and shred for a Chicken Salad Sandwich or Avocado Chicken Salad or drop it into your favorite Homemade Chicken Soup.

The easiest way to shred chicken is with an electric mixer. Shred 4 whole breasts in less than a minute!

Of course, you can also serve the chicken as is – it’s pretty delicious – sliced and topped on a Greek Chicken Salad, or with a simple Simple Spinach Salad.

Make Ahead, Storage and Reheating

Make Ahead: It’s never a bad idea to have some cooked chicken in your freezer, so this poached chicken is great for making ahead to have on hand whenever you need it.

Storage: Shred it or keep it whole, and store it in resealable plastic bags or airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days or the freezer for up to 6 months.

Reheating: Thaw completely before reusing. Can be heated in the microwave or simply added to soups and salad straight from the fridge.

sliced chicken, salad, lemons, blue and white striped napkin

More Great Chicken Recipes to Love

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Poached Chicken

Poached chicken is the best way to cook chicken breast for soups, salads and casseroles. The meat comes out tender and juicy every time!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 194kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts 4-6 medium sized breasts
  • 4 cups chicken broth 32 ounces
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • ½ bunch of parsley tied with twine
  • 2 lemons sliced in half
  • 1 large onion peeled and sliced in half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled and smashed

Instructions
 

  • Place chicken breasts in a large stock pot.
  • Season with salt and pepper, then place herbs, lemons and onions on top of the chicken breasts.
  • Pour in broth, then add enough water to cover 2 inches above the chicken.
  • Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cover. Allow to simmer for 10-20 minutes or internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • As it boils, you’ll notice some foam coming to the top. If you are planning to use the broth for soup or another use, skim the foam off with a spoon. Otherwise you can leave it alone.
  • Transfer poached chicken to a plate for serving. Garnish with fresh herbs parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition

Calories: 194kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 33gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 1141mgPotassium: 745mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 60IUVitamin C: 33mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg
Keyword poached chicken, poached chicken breast

Poached chicken is the best way to cook chicken breast for soups, salads and casseroles. The meat comes out tender and juicy every time!

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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