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How to Poach Chicken Breast

The easiest way to poach chicken breast so that it’s juicy and perfectly cooked every time! In this simple tutorial, you’ll learn exactly how to poach chicken breasts in just five easy steps. Use poached chicken in your favorite recipes after easily shredding or cubing it.

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Poach chicken? Like an egg? Oh yes. Welcome to my insanely easy but amazing tutorial on how to poach chicken breasts.

You might be thinking: why would I ever need to poach chicken if I can bake or grill it? While I do love good grilled or baked chicken, poached chicken is actually an incredibly simple way to cook chicken quickly and use it for shredding or cubing up in different recipes. If you’ve made any of my chicken soup recipes, you’ll notice that you actually cook the chicken right in the pot with the broth — this is that same method and it’s SO EASY, plus it helps the chicken stay juicy.

If I’m in a pinch I’ll use this method for poaching chicken breasts, shredding them, and then throwing it in salads, soups, enchiladas and more! Trust me when I say you’re going to love this new way to cook chicken and the endless doors it opens.

chicken soup in a pot

Everything you’ll need to poach chicken breasts

I love quickly poaching chicken to use in different recipes because it creates the perfect, blank canvas that can take on any flavor. Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need:

  • Chicken: in this tutorial we’re using one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast.
  • Water: you’ll be cooking the chicken directly in water just like you would with poached eggs. Feel free to use chicken broth for extra flavor.
  • Seasonings: I recommend heavily salting the water, but from there it’s a free-for-all! Adding fresh garlic and chopped onion will also give your chicken some extra flavor during the poaching process.

Go organic (if possible)

If it’s accessible, I recommend using organic chicken breasts whenever possible, especially while poaching your chicken breast. They tend to be much juicier and less “tough,” than non-organic chicken breasts, so when you’re using the chicken as a blank canvas to add to recipes it makes a big difference.

two chicken breasts on a cutting board

Poaching chicken breasts 101

You may have only heard of poaching eggs, so what does the method even mean? Poaching is a technique where you submerge a food (commonly, eggs) in a liquid and cook it at a low temperature. It’s not the same as boiling, which, as you probably guessed, means the food is cooked faster at a higher temperature.

Poaching chicken low and slow helps it retain its juiciness and prevents it from getting tough.

The #1 tool for cooking perfect chicken breasts

If you don’t yet have a meat thermometer, it’s time to get one! I highly recommend having a meat thermometer so that you can check the doneness of your chicken without having to cut into it and lose the juiciness. This is essential when poaching because with this method it’s easy to over or undercook your chicken breast. Here is a great one that I use all the time.

two chicken breasts in a pot

How to poach chicken breasts in 5 simple steps

With a few tips & tricks you’ll have juicy poached chicken breast that you can use in tons of recipes:

Step 1: prep your pot. You’ll simply add your chicken breasts to a large pot and pour over enough cold water or broth to cover the chicken. If you have two large chicken breasts, four cups should be enough (but add more as needed).

pouring water over chicken breasts in a pot to begin poaching

Step 2: season the water. Instead of adding oil & seasoning to the chicken directly (like in baking & grilling) when poaching you’ll want to season the cold water that it will cook in. Feel free to add chopped onion and garlic cloves if you’d like extra flavor.

adding salt to poached chicken breasts in a pot

Step 3: poach it low & slow. Turn the stove to medium heat to bring the water to a slight boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let the chicken simmer for about 20 minutes. Cooking it slowly is what will help it get nice and juicy instead of overcooked and tough.

poaching chicken breasts in a pot

Step 4: check for doneness. After 20 minutes check your chicken breast with a meat thermometer to ensure that it has reached 165 degrees F. Turn it off the heat.

removing a poached chicken breast from a pot of water

Step 5: let it rest. Just like in each method for cooking chicken breast, let the poached chicken rest in the water for 5-10 minutes more so that it retains its moisture.

shredding poached chicken breasts with two forks

Recommended tools for poaching chicken breasts

Get all of our go-to kitchen essentials here!

Freezing & storing poached chicken breast

After you’ve successfully poached your chicken breast, you can either use the chicken right away or store it for later:

  • To store: let the chicken breast cool completely and transfer it whole, shredded or cubed to an airtight container. Place the container in the fridge and use the chicken within 4-5 days.
  • To freeze: repeat the steps above but instead place your chicken in the freezer. Cooked chicken breast will stay good in the freezer for about 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, simply thaw it in the refrigerator and enjoy it cold with salad recipes or heat it up in the microwave for warm recipes.

two low carb pesto chicken stuffed zucchini boats on a plate

Delicious ways to use poached chicken

The best part about poaching chicken breast is that it’s super easy to shred and add to your fav recipes. Here are some great ones to add it to:

Get all of our delicious chicken recipes here!

Don’t forget these methods for cooking perfect chicken

I hope you love this simple tutorial on how to poach the perfect chicken breast! If you try it out be sure to leave a comment and let us know how you used your perfectly cooked chicken. Enjoy, xo!

How to Poach Chicken Breast

poaching chicken breasts in a pot
Course Dairy Free, Dinner, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Low Carb, Lunch, Paleo, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword easy poached chicken breast, how to poach chicken, how to poach chicken breast, poached chicken breast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves 4

The easiest way to poach chicken breast so that it's juicy and perfectly cooked every time! In this simple tutorial, you'll learn exactly how to poach chicken breasts in just five easy steps. Use poached chicken in your favorite recipes after shredding or cubing it.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 cups cold water or chicken broth (plus more as-needed)
  • Salt
  • Optional: fresh garlic cloves and chopped onion

Instructions

  1. Add your chicken breast to a large pot and pour over enough cold water or broth to cover the chicken. If you have two large chicken breasts, four cups should be enough (but add more as-needed).
  2. Heavily season the cold water with salt, and feel free to add chopped onion and garlic cloves if you’d like extra flavor.
  3. Turn the stove to medium heat to bring the water to a slight boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let the chicken simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes check your chicken breast with a meat thermometer to ensure that it has reached 165 degrees F. Turn it off the heat.
  5. Let the poached chicken rest in the water for a few minutes more so that it retains its moisture, then remove it and feel free to use it in your favorite recipes. Perfect for shredding!

Recipe Notes

To store: let the chicken breast cool completely and transfer it whole, shredded or cubed to an airtight container. Place the container in the fridge and use the chicken within 4-5 days.

To freeze: repeat the steps above but instead place your chicken in the freezer. Cooked chicken breast will stay good in the freezer for about 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, simply thaw it in the refrigerator and enjoy it cold with salad recipes or heat it up in the microwave for warm recipes.

Method by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

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