Poached Chicken — Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken breasts every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Easy Poached Chicken Recipe

Poached chicken is so easy and there are countless ways to use and serve this juicy chicken from salads to sandwiches. 

The chicken is tender and has a very neutral flavor profile so it’s just as versatile as it is moist to use in the recipe of your choice.

There are gentle flavors including lemon, onion, fresh herbs, peppercorns, and optional white wine, and are mellow yet just enough to perfectly and lightly flavor the chicken.

What Does It Mean to “Poach” Chicken? 

For those who have never done it, poaching just means cooking the chicken gently while submerged in liquid at a low to medium heat. It does not mean boiling.

To paraphrase, poached chicken cooks by being submerged in warm liquid rather than being cooked by means of a fast or hard boil. Big difference.

The former produces tender chicken and the latter tough chicken. I’ve got plenty of tips and tricks so that you have perfect, tender poached chicken breasts every time! 

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Ingredients for Perfect Poached Chicken

In order to make perfectly poached chicken, you only need a handful of common fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:

  • Chicken
  • Aromatics including:
    • Lemon 
    • White or yellow onion
    • Fresh thyme
    • Fresh Rosemary
    • Whole garlic cloves
    • Bay leaves
    • Salt
    • Whole peppercorns
  • Poaching liquids including:
    • Dry white wine
    • Water
    • Chicken broth

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

How to Poach Chicken

This recipe for poaching chicken breasts is a cinch as long as you follow these basic and straightforward steps.

Step 1: Place the chicken in the bottom of a stockpot. 

Step 2: Choose about 4 aromatics and add them to the stockpot.

Tips: You do not have to use all the aromatics listed. For example, if you’re trying to make a very light-tasting poached chicken, skip the garlic and onion as they are heavier and notable. Additionally, if you want very fresh and herby chicken, use lemon and fresh thyme and rosemary. Personally, I always use salt and peppercorns but it’s up to you.

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Step 3: If you’re using wine as one of your poaching liquids, add it first.

Step 4: Then add either water or chicken broth to cover the chicken by 1 inch.

Step 5: Bring to a boil over medium-low heat which will take about 10 minutes, turn off the heat, flip the chicken, and cover it. Let it sit off the heat for 15 minutes.

Step 6: Allow it to rest out of the water for 5 minutes before slicing or shredded it and using it how you like! 

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

How Long to Poach Chicken Breasts? 

You’ll need to bring the chicken breasts to a boil over medium-low heat —that takes about 10 minutes — then turn off the heat, and let it sit off the heat for 15 minutes.

In total, the chicken will sit in the poaching liquid for roughly 25 minutes but it won’t be actively “cooking” on the stove the whole time. 

How to Tell When Poached Chicken Is Done

White meat chicken is done when it reaches an internal temp of 165F and dark meat is done when it reaches 175F. 

However, you can pull white meat chicken such as boneless skinless chicken breasts, from the water when they reach 150-155F and allow them to rest, outside of the water on a cutting board, for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing or shredding them. 

During the resting period, the internal temperature will raise up to 165 due to carryover cooking. Of course, you can continue cooking poached chicken in the water until it reaches 165F if that is what you prefer. 

However, for me the chicken can get a bit dried out because remember the internal temp will still climb out of the water, during the resting period. 

I strongly suggest using a digital food thermometer to check for doneness rather than just guessing since poached chicken doesn’t have much color. There are no nice golden browned oven spots or pretty grill marks that help give clues as to when it is done so better to test, not guess.

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

What Kind of Chicken Should I Use for Poached Chicken?

I think it’s most common to poach boneless skinless chicken breasts and that’s what I do most often. 

However, you can also poach:

  • Thighs instead of breasts
  • Chicken with or without skin
  • Boneless or bone-in chicken

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

What Is the Best Poaching Liquid for Chicken?

In my opinion you will get a richer flavor overall to the poached chicken if you use wine combined with chicken broth as the poaching liquids for chicken especially if you’re going to serve the poached chicken very simply. 

However, if all you have on hand is water, that is perfectly fine.

And in fact, it may actually be preferred to use just water if you plan to use the poached chicken as, say, the shredded chicken in Chicken Tinga Tacos or Salsa Verde Chicken Chilaquiles where you simply don’t want or need more flavors going on.

Takeaway: In a nutshell it depends what you plan to use your poached chicken for in order to determine whether wine, water, chicken broth, or a combo of all three, is the best poaching liquid.

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Do I Have to Use Wine to Poach Chicken Breast?

If you don’t want to use wine to poach chicken, you don’t have to. I always have a bottle of dry white wine open and it adds a richer depth of flavor so I use it, but it’s up to you.

If you want to use wine, make sure it’s a dry white wine such as:

  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon blanc
  • Pinot grigio

Favorite Sauces to Serve with Poached Chicken

Poached chicken is practically like a blank canvas and there are so many sauces you can add, drizzle, or pour over it to make poached chicken shine including the following:

  • Beurre Blanc Sauce which is a buttery white wine sauce that’s perfect drizzled over poached chicken.
  • Homemade Honey Mustard pairs great with poached chicken and it’s such a simple whisk-together recipe.
  • Comeback Sauce is great on everything from waffle fries to poached chicken breasts thanks to the the tangy and slightly spicy flavor combo.
  • Spiced Garlic Mustard is just perfect with poached chicken especially if you poached it with garlic, onion, and plenty of peppercorns because the flavors are all complementary. 

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Recipes Using Poached Chicken Breasts

Poached chicken is so versatile and whether you want to use it in soups, stews, or over chicken salads, it’s a great choice.

When thinking about recipes where you use shredded poached chicken, one good rule of thumb is that most any recipe that calls for shredded (store bought) rotisserie chicken it will be fine to substitute shredded poached chicken instead.

Here are some recipes with poached chicken breasts that you can try: 

Bonus – each of these recipes is ready in less than 30 minutes!

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

How to Store Poached Chicken 

Poached chicken will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Tip: If you think you’re going to use the poached chicken in either sliced, cubed, or shredded formats it’s easier to do this when the chicken is warm and fresh as opposed to when it’s chilled or frozen so plan ahead.

You can even keep some diced and some shredded and in different freezer-safe containers to make it easier on yourself when you’re going to use leftover poached chicken.

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Tips for the Poaching Chicken Breasts

As I mentioned already, you don’t need to use wine to poach chicken. It makes it taste more elegant for me with richer flavor depth but it’s optional and also dependent on what you’re using the chicken for. You don’t need wine-infused chicken for nachos.

When it comes to the poaching liquid, you can use solely water or solely chicken broth, independent if you use wine or not. 

You can strain out the aromatics and save the chicken poaching liquid for soups or other recipes where you need chicken broth.

If you used solely water obviously realize it won’t be robustly flavored but if you’re a “saver” like me, the poaching liquid can be saved.

Make sure not to overcook poached chicken! If it’s cooked too long, the proteins overheat they will squeeze the moisture right out of the chicken and you’ll end up with very dry chicken. This is visibly notable if you see what looks like an egg white-looking film on the chicken. 

Again, better to take the temperature and when it reaches about 150-155F for light or white meat, you can pull it out, let it rest, and it will come up to temperature.

Make sure to let poached chicken rest so that the natural juices stay in the chicken rather than spill out if you cut into it without allow it to rest. This is always a good practice for most any protein is to let it rest for a few minutes.

Finally, bring the poaching liquid for your poached chicken up to a just boiling over low to medium-low heat and not high heat. High heat can cause it to overcook and become tough.

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 
Yield: 4

Poached Chicken

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Poached Chicken - Learn how to make the perfectly poached chicken every time with my EASY and foolproof method! The chicken is flavorful, juicy, tender, and moist! Poached chicken is so versatile to use in sandwiches, soups, stews, dips, tacos, and more! 

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1.50 to 2 pounds total*
  • Aromatics including: (choose about 4**)
  • 1 lemon, quartered or diced into large chunks
  • 1 or 2 thick slices white or yellow onion
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 hole garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 teaspoons salt, or as desired
  • 1 teaspoons whole peppercorns, or as desired
  • Poaching liquids: (use one, two, or all three)
  • 1 cup cold dry white wine (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 4 cups room temperature chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken on the bottom of a large stockpot.
  2. Chose about 4 aromatics and add them to the pot. Tips - I always use salt and pepper, along with lemon, and fresh herb(s). I am less likely to use onion and garlic if I am poaching chicken for a salad but would include them if I know I am making tacos with the chicken; it's personal preference and end-goal dependent what aromatics to choose.
  3. If you are using wine, add 1 cup wine. If you are not using wine, jump to the next step.
  4. Then cover the chicken by about 1 inch with either water, chicken broth, or a combo.
  5. Bring the liquid to a boil over low to medium-low heat***; it will take about 10 minutes.
  6. Flip the chicken over and cover the stockpot with a lid and take it off the stove.
  7. Leave the pot covered, off the heat, for 15 minutes. Check the temperature with a digital thermometer. It should read 150-155F for white meat and 160-165F for dark meat. If it doesn't, allow it to stay in the water until it does.
  8. Remove the chicken from the water, place it on a cutting board, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Note - You cannot skip the resting step because during this time the internal temp of the chicken will continue to rise to 165F for light or white meat or 175F for dark which are the internal temperatures at which chicken is considered safe.
  9. Slice, dice, chop, or shred the chicken and serve as desired. Extra chicken will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Tips - It's easier to slice or shred it when it's still warm rather than trying to do it after you've refrigerated it or frozen it. If freezing shredded chicken, I like to do it in single-serving plastic containers for faster thawing.

Notes

*You can also use thighs, chicken with or without skin, and bone-in or boneless however boneless skinless breasts are the most common to poach.

**You do not have to use all the aromatics listed. For example, if you’re trying to make a very light-tasting poached chicken, skip the garlic and onion as they are heavier and notable. Additionally, if you want very fresh and herby chicken, use lemon and fresh thyme and rosemary. Personally, I always use salt and peppercorns but it’s up to you.

***Do not try to rush the process and use high heat. The chicken will be at risk of overcooking and/or cooking too quickly both of which will result in dry tough chicken.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 2568mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 21g

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