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How To Poach Chicken

See how to poach chicken in water. Tender, juicy and flavorful, this is our go-to method for quickly cooking chicken to use in recipes or to enjoy as is. Cooks in just 10 minutes!

larb gai on a bed of lettuce on a white plate.

Poaching chicken is easy. When you want to cook a piece of chicken quickly, either to use in a recipe or to enjoy on its own, poaching is a great option. This method is virtually foolproof and fast and you're going to love how juicy and tender your chicken can be.

Poached chicken is low in calories, low in carbs, and requires no fat for cooking. The chicken is covered with water and simmers on the stovetop until the chicken is cooked through. The gentle, gradual heat that poaching provides can deliver tender, succulent, perfectly cooked chicken.

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Why This Recipe Works

  • I love using boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I poach chicken but you could also use boneless or bone-in chicken breasts or thighs instead. You can even poach drumsticks too! You don't have to remove the skin, I just prefer removing it because the skin doesn't really add anything when using this cooking method.
  • You can use any aromatics you have on hand; smashed garlic cloves, a bay leaf, lemons, any herbs that need to be used up, or even a splash of wine.
  • Poaching chicken is quick and easy. Use the cooked chicken in chicken recipes, on sandwiches, in salads, or as is.

What You Need

water and chicken in a pot.

How To Poach Chicken

  • Choose a pan that is big enough to fit the chicken without overcrowding. Place the chicken in the saucepan and cover with cold water. Add enough water to cover the chicken by one inch.
  • Add any aromatics you want to use. You don't have to add anything but what you add to the water will add flavor. You might consider adding chopped carrots or celery, sliced lemons, fresh or dried herbs, fresh ginger, and salt.
a piece of chicken in a pot of water.
  • Bring the water to a simmer. As soon as you see a few bubbles, turn down the heat. You don't want the chicken to cook in water that is boiling. Remember, the higher the heat, the tougher the meat will be.
  • Cover the pot and allow the chicken to cook for about 10-12 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate; cover and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This can guarantee a juicy piece of chicken.
a poached chicken breast in a small pot.

Expert Tips

  • Although water and chicken are the only ingredients you really need for poached chicken. Feel free to add in any aromatics you have on hand and salt to add flavor.
  • For best results, remove the skin from the chicken before poaching.
  • You will likely see some foam rising to the top of the water as the chicken cooks. You do not need to remove the foam unless you'd like to use the cooking liquid for a soup or sauce.
  • Begin checking to see if the chicken is done after 8 minutes. It is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees F. Typically, it takes me 10-12 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the meat.
  • Many people think that placing the chicken into a pot of boiling water is the best way to poach chicken. DO NOT do this. This method causes the meat to tighten up quickly and will result in tough chicken. Cook it in cold water for very best results.
a piece of chicken on a blue plate next to a silver pot.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can Your Store Leftover Chicken?

Leftover poached chicken can be stored covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It may be frozen for up to 3 months.

What Size Pot Should I Use When I Poach Chicken?

It really depends on how many pieces of chicken you want to poach. The chicken should be placed in a single layer on the bottom of a saucepan or pot large enough to hold the chicken. It's okay if they overlap a little.

Can I Use Frozen Chicken?

Yes but the chicken needs to be fully thawed before poaching.

Can I Reuse The Water From Poaching Chicken?

Yes, you can! Although the water will be less flavorful and thinner than chicken broth, it would be great to use when cooking rice or as a soup base. Be sure to strain out any solid bits before using.

white bowl filled with chicken salad surrounded by wheat crackers.

Serving Suggestions

You might like try any of these single serving and small batch recipes using poached chicken:

a bowl of chicken soup on a white lace plate.

If you’ve tried this poached chicken or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see

a plate of larb gai next to a red bowl filled with thai sauce.

How To Poach Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Appetizer/Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Diabetic, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat
Keywords: cooked chicken, how to poach chicken breasts, poached chicken
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 129kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Aromatics: Smashed garlic, lemon slices, fresh ginger, fresh or dried herbs, sliced onions, or any other flavorings (Optional, but these add much flavor)

Instructions

  • Place the chicken on the bottom of a saucepan. Sprinkle the salt and add any aromatics you might be using.
  • Cover the chicken with enough cool water to cover the chicken by an inch or so.
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. You may see a little foam rise to the surface as the water comes to a boil. You can leave the foam or skim it off the top if you will be using the water for soup or a sauce.
  • As soon as the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the chicken simmer until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. To check for doneness, an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the juices will run clear when you pierce the chicken with a knife.
  • Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cover. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Although water and chicken are the only ingredients you really need. Feel free to add in any aromatics you have on hand and salt to add flavor.
  • For best results, remove the skin from the chicken before poaching.
  • You will likely see some foam rising to the top of the water as the chicken cooks. You do not need to remove the foam unless you'd like to use the cooking liquid for a soup or sauce.
  • Begin checking to see if the chicken is done after 8 minutes. It is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees F. Typically, it takes me 10-12 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the meat.
  • Many people think that placing the chicken into a pot of boiling water is the best way to poach chicken. DO NOT do this. This method causes the meat to tighten up quickly and will result in tough chicken. Cook it in cold water for very best results.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 129kcal | Protein: 24g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 422mg | Potassium: 418mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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About The Author

2 thoughts on “How To Poach Chicken”

  1. Thanks so much! I always struggle with dry chicken.

    Can you tell me why you remove the skin? Doesn’t that add more flavor & moisture?

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