Perfect Poached Chicken

Perfect poached chicken is tender, soft, juicy, and flavorful. Use our easy, straight-forward recipe for the best poached chicken breast or chicken thighs. Jump to the Poached Chicken Recipe or read on to see all of our detailed tips.

Perfect Poached Chicken Recipe

The Best Way to Poach Chicken

We’ve already shown you how we make tender shredded chicken. To make shredded chicken, we simmer chicken thighs in a combination of water, spices, and garlic. After about 1 hour, the chicken is incredibly tender and easy to pull apart or shred.

While poaching is a similar process, it is a little different and takes a bit less time. We especially love this poaching method for chicken breast. The chicken stays lean, and the texture turns soft, juicy, and tender.

Use the poached chicken to make the best chicken salad, a topper for rice bowls, or enchiladas and tacos.

Juicy poached chicken

For the best poached chicken, you will need the following ingredients (a detailed recipe is below):

  • Chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  • Water, stock, or broth — we typically use water, but for more flavor, chicken or vegetable stock will work nicely.
  • Aromatics like garlic, shallots, ginger, bay leaves, or fresh herbs — The combination of aromatics is up to you and can be adapted based on how you plan to use the 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 is a must. By adding salt to the poaching liquid, you make sure that the cooked chicken is ultra-flavorful and perfectly seasoned.
Poaching chicken breasts with water, garlic and herbs

How to Poach Chicken

The steps for poaching chicken are simple, here’s the basic idea (remember, the full recipe is below):

  1. Add the chicken, aromatics, and salt to a pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover the chicken by about an inch, and then place the pot over medium heat
  3. Wait, without increasing the heat until the cooking liquid comes to a very low simmer. This will take a few minutes, and makes sure the chicken stays soft and tender. Increasing the heat at this point to speed up the simmer can make the chicken tough.
  4. Lower the heat and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 to 15 more minutes).
  5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve.

And that’s it, simply poached chicken that’s tender and flavorful.

For some ideas for what to do with poached chicken, see below:

Perfect Poached Chicken

  • PREP
  • COOK

Poached chicken is tender, soft, juicy, and flavorful. Use our easy, straight-forward recipe for 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)

You Will Need

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast or 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 1/2 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


    Add 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.

    Place 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.

    When 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 degrees Fahrenheit, and the juices will run clear when you pierce the chicken with a knife.

    Transfer 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

  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

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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14 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Janet August 3, 2021, 11:11 am

    Making chicken tonight.

  • Sunny December 6, 2020, 12:44 pm

    I have never been able to poach chicken. I am trying your method.

  • Josephine Burton August 12, 2020, 6:49 pm

    Delicious. I added tarragon as my herb as well as one-half lemon sliced. The chicken is yummy but the broth is amazing. Will add some sesame oil to the broth and make wonton soup.

  • Patty Friedman March 29, 2020, 1:00 pm

    Excellent recipe. So simple and quick. Great for making cooked chicken for quick chicken chile. Many thanks.

  • Ilana February 16, 2020, 2:26 pm

    Absolutely love this quick and easy recipe. I used it with your chicken black bean sweet potato saute and as a guide for time in soups. I can see this being the recipe for tacos, enchiladas, bbq spiced sandwishes you name it. I thries this three times, twice with chicken breasts and once with tights. I love that 1 tablespoon of salt makes this not too salty but perfectly flavored chicken through and through.

  • Demelza January 19, 2020, 4:28 pm

    Excellent recipe! Chicken breasts come out moist and flavorful!!! Highly recommended.

  • Stéphy December 27, 2019, 2:45 pm

    Besides the chicken, I used none of the ingredients in the recipe but I followed the instructions to a T and my poached chicken turned out amazing! I am intolerant to garlic so I often have to tweak recipes if I want a punch of flavour. I sliced up an orange, used cloves, peppercorn, sea salt and sprigs of fresh rosemary and poached the chicken in that. It smelled and tasted delicious! Thank you!

  • Winnie December 7, 2019, 12:55 pm

    This recipe is terrific! Easy and actually works. The chicken was tender and flavorful. It took all of 25 minutes to make it. Last time I tried poaching chicken it was like rubber but not this one. I used Cold water and didnt let it boil. Perfect!

  • Ann's mRie November 24, 2019, 7:27 am

    Do you leave the poached chicken in the cooking water until cool?

    • Joanne November 27, 2019, 1:11 pm

      We remove the chicken when it is cooked.

  • Mary Ann Ho February 9, 2019, 5:10 pm

    Taste sooo good. I even make an egg drop soup to the remaining chicken stock because it taste so good.

  • Kathryn Mader February 3, 2019, 9:37 pm

    This recipe for poached chicken is, indeed, perfect. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. It’s a keeper and a ‘no fail’ kind of recipe. I will use it all the time. Thank you!

  • Angelina January 25, 2019, 1:29 am

    Do you simmer it covered or uncovered? Thanks :-).

    • Joanne January 25, 2019, 4:23 pm



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