Perfect Juicy Poached Chicken

My poached chicken recipe makes the juiciest, most tender chicken ever. Poaching is seriously one of the easiest ways to guarantee foolproof, juicy chicken breasts.

Poached Chicken Recipe Video

I love this easy recipe for poached chicken, and I use it all the time to make chicken for amazing salads, sandwiches, and really any recipe that calls for cooked chicken.

This is definitely one of those recipes you’ll want to keep in your back pocket. I use it for everything from green enchiladas and my favorite chicken salad to adding to this classic Caesar. I love poaching so much that I even have recipes for poached shrimp and poached salmon.

Juicy poached chicken breasts

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken: This recipe is perfect for chicken breasts, but you can absolutely use chicken thighs. For poaching a whole chicken, see our chicken broth recipe, where we make an incredible broth and perfectly poached chicken in 1 hour.
  • Water, stock, or broth: I typically use water when poaching chicken, but for more flavor, chicken stock or vegetable broth works nicely.
  • Garlic, shallot, bay leaf, and thyme: These aromatics add flavor to our poaching liquid. The combination of aromatics is up to you and can be adapted based on how you plan to use your poached chicken. For example, if you plan to add it to a Mexican-inspired rice bowl, combine garlic, cilantro, and some cumin. Adding ginger would be excellent for more Asian-inspired dishes.
  • Salt: A must! By adding salt to your poaching liquid, you make sure that the poached chicken is ultra-flavorful and perfectly seasoned.

How to Poach Chicken

Poaching chicken is super simple. Start by adding your chicken breasts, aromatics, and salt to a pot, and then add enough water to cover the chicken by one inch.

Poaching chicken breasts with water, garlic and herbs

Place the pot over medium heat and wait, without increasing the heat, until the cooking liquid comes to a very low simmer. This takes a few minutes and keeps the chicken soft and tender. Increasing the heat at this point to speed up the simmer will make your chicken tough.

Lower the heat and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 to 15 more minutes), and then transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve.

Ways to Use Poached Chicken

Use poached chicken in salads and sandwiches, or add to recipes at the end of cooking to warm through. I love using poached chicken to make our creamy chicken salad. I also add poached chicken to rice and grain bowls. See this buffalo chicken bowl as one example. You can also use it any time a recipe calls for cooked chicken, so add it to soups, enchiladas, and quesadillas.

Perfect Poached Chicken

Perfect Juicy Poached Chicken

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

Poached chicken is tender, soft, juicy, and so flavorful. Use our easy recipe for poached chicken breast or chicken thighs. You can use skin-on chicken and remove the skin before serving. The aromatics suggested in the recipe are a guide. Ginger, chili peppers, additional herbs, onion, fennel, and carrots are all excellent options.

Makes about 3 cups cooked chicken (cubed or shredded)

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 ½ pounds (680g) skinless, boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs

3 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife

1 shallot, peeled and quartered

1 bay leaf

2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

Water, or substitute with chicken or vegetable stock or broth

Optional for serving: fresh cracked black pepper, lemon slices, fresh herbs, and olive oil

Directions

    1Add chicken, garlic, shallot, bay leaf, thyme, and the salt to a medium pot. Cover with water by an inch or two, 5 to 6 cups.

    2Place the pot over medium heat and heat until the liquid comes to a low simmer. This will take a few minutes. For the most tender poached chicken, don’t try to rush this step.

    3When the liquid is at a low simmer, turn down the heat to low and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. To check for doneness, an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should read 165°F, and the juices will run clear when you pierce the chicken with a knife.

    4Transfer to a cutting board. Slice and serve. If you do not plan on eating the chicken straightaway, skip the slicing and store tightly covered in the refrigerator. The chicken will keep 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Storing: Poached chicken lasts up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Before storing it, add some poaching liquid to the container to keep it extra juicy.
  • Freezing: To freeze poached chicken, cool and drain it, then store it in a freezer-safe airtight container or bag for up to 3 months. Thaw the chicken thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight before using.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/2 cup / Calories 140 / Total Fat 3g / Saturated Fat 0.6g / Cholesterol 82.7mg / Sodium 632.9mg / Total Carbohydrate 0.9g / Dietary Fiber 0.1g / Total Sugars 0.1g / Protein 25.7g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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40 comments… Leave a Review
  • Jada April 29, 2024, 9:32 am

    Hi Joanne, great site and very helpful tips. I like bone in chicken thighs. How
    much longer to poach them? Thanks !

    Reply
    • Joanne April 29, 2024, 1:02 pm

      Hi Jada, I’d expect bon-in chicken thighs to take a little longer, maybe 5 to 10 more minutes. You can check doneness using a thermometer, look for it to read 165F in the thickest part.

      Reply
  • Courtney H April 25, 2024, 2:10 am

    Been poaching chicken for years w the lid on. This way is so much better!

    Reply
  • lori November 11, 2023, 1:34 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve waited this long tom poach chicken – going to try it now – looks amazing!! thanks

    Reply
  • Ish September 6, 2023, 2:44 am

    Poaching chicken sounds like a no-brainer… but I have never made a truly tender and tasty poached chicken till I followed your recipe (and I mean RTFM-type following, ha ha)
    Thanks, its unlocked a whole heap of dishes that I can make without having to vandalize a supermarket roast chicken just for the breast meat. That’s a win 🙏

    Reply
  • Dulce Garcia May 9, 2023, 6:44 pm

    Made this last night and will definitely be making it again! Easy and so tender! Using this for your chicken salad! Thank you!

    Reply
  • nascar4433 February 28, 2023, 5:28 pm

    Can I freeze the broth to use for a soup base later? On the way to the kitchen to poach my boneless skinless chicken breasts!

    Reply
    • Joanne April 11, 2023, 5:30 pm

      Yes, definitely!

      Reply
  • Carol November 2, 2022, 3:32 pm

    I like the idea of poached chicken but need to make a much larger quantity. Is there any reason to NOT double or even triple the amount of chicken to make a big batch? For example, heating a larger volume of water will take longer. Will being in water longer effect the chicken?

    Reply
    • Joanne April 11, 2023, 5:31 pm

      Hi Carol, I’d use a wide pan with a lid and try to fit as many in as I can without them being on top of each other. The water may take a bit longer to come to a simmer, but once it is there, the poaching time should be pretty similar.

      Reply
  • Sandy November 1, 2022, 8:07 pm

    I love this recipe and I can’t believe I waited so long to try poaching chicken. I won’t waste my time checking out any other recipes. So juicy, so healthy, it’s perfect as is or for soup…love it for soup!

    Reply
  • Lynn Roberts October 13, 2022, 9:01 pm

    This is the most tender poached chicken I have ever eaten..easy to do.I cut the skinless boneless breasts into medallions then fry for 5 min after poaching ,in mixture of lemon juice and hot sauce for about 10 min then freeze in baggies to use in salads…wonderful!

    Reply
  • Adele Bagarella April 7, 2022, 4:23 pm

    Amazing. So moist! I have been trying to poach chicken breast for almost as long as I’ve been alive…(61) thank you. Making this for soup.

    Reply
  • Peggy December 12, 2021, 5:22 pm

    Thanks for this recipe – I live at altitude and not all recipes are successful as written, but this was perfect!

    Reply
  • Kim Quinn November 13, 2021, 8:29 am

    Tarragon is a wonderful herb! Fresh herbs just…make me feel like a domestic queen of my low income castle! Poaching thighs today with fresh sage and a bit of fresh rosemary, thin straps of lemon peel and onion, a few pepper corns and garlic for Risotto tonight. Using a mix of ckn stock and water. Will shared carrot, onion, celery root and garlic to Sautee before beginning the rice part. Life is good. Thanks for reminding me of Tarragon.

    Reply
  • Amanda October 31, 2021, 9:05 pm

    AMAZING!!

    Reply
  • Janet August 3, 2021, 11:11 am

    Making chicken tonight.

    Reply
  • Gayle May 29, 2021, 5:24 pm

    I see from an earlier comment that the simmering is to be done uncovered. What about this part: “place over medium heat and heat until the liquid comes to a low simmer”. Is this part uncovered as well? Thank you

    Reply
    • Joanne March 14, 2022, 3:52 pm

      Yes, we poach the chicken without a lid.

      Reply

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