How to Poach Chicken

poached chicken

Knowing how to poach chicken means you are on your way to creating a delicious chicken dinner.   We will show you how you can achieve melt-in-the-mouth chicken to use for sandwiches and in your salads. 

Poached chicken can be used in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken.

What are its other advantages:

  1. As there is no fat or oil involved, it is a much healthier way to cook chicken.
  2. Poaching makes the chicken moist and tender and is ideal for the drier cuts of meat such as chicken breasts.

It’s not difficult or complicated.  Cooking time is about 30 minutes, but if you are pressed for time, cook the chicken in advance.

The hardest part about poaching chicken is getting the timing and temperature right.  The chicken should never be boiled, but lightly simmered until cooked through. 

Chicken can be poached in just water but I think this is rather bland.  I prefer to use stock or broth.  I also add other ingredients such as vegetables, herbs and peppercorns to give extra flavor.

How to Make Poached Chicken

ready to poach chicken


Chicken (boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs)

Liquid (chicken stock or water)

Vegetables (celery, onions, leeks, carrots)

Flavorings (rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, garlic, peppercorns)


  1. Place the chicken pieces in a heavy based saucepan. The chicken should fit into the pan in a single layer.

  2. poaching chicken

  3. Add enough chicken stock or broth so that it covers the chicken.

  4. Add any other ingredients you choose such as carrots, onions, herbs, bay leaf and peppercorns.

  5. The vegetables can be roughly chopped. They are there to add flavor, not to look pretty.

  6. chicken poaching in a pot

  7. Bring the liquid to the boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer. This means that there should only be an occasional bubble.

  8. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat then leave the chicken in the pan for a further 15 – 20 minutes.

  9. When cooked remove chicken from the pan. Test the chicken by touching it with your finger. The chicken should feel quite springy.

  10. If serving straight away, chop, slice or shred, depending on recipe. Otherwise drain and refrigerate.

Poached chicken can be enjoyed warm or cold.

Tips for Poaching Chicken

  • Keep the pan tightly covered during the cooking process.   This keeps the steam inside the pan and stops the liquid from evaporating.  It is imperative that the chicken doesn’t dry out.

  • Once the liquid has come to the boil, reduce the heat immediately.   Boiling the chicken will make it tough.
  • Don’t leave the chicken breasts cooling in the liquid at room temperature.  Once they are cooked through, remove and either serve immediately or refrigerate.

Learning how to poach chicken is a skill well worth acquiring.   

» How to Poach Chicken

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