Why Boiled Chicken is BAD!

Take a look at most recipes for chicken salad, casseroles, and other items that need cooked chicken and invariably they’ll probably list “boiled chicken” among the ingredients.  Most people will probably then put the chicken in a pot, cover with water, add salt and pepper if we’re lucky, and then proceed to boil it until done.   STOP!!!!   Sure..the recipe calls for boiled chicken but I’d only recommend doing so if you like dry sawdust-like bits of chicken.  The worst thing you can do is boil your chicken!


I’m so glad you asked!!!  Have you ever gotten into a bathtub or jacuzzi that was hotter than you expected?  Most likely you tensed up and quickly jumped out.  Well, chicken is going to do the same thing (ok, so it probably won’t jump out of the pot…at least we hope not).

Most people assume and think that because they’re cooking proteins surrounded by liquid that they can’t overcook or dry them out.  Absolutely false!  If you’ve ever had overcooked scrambled eggs you’ve seen firsthand what happens when high heat comes into contact with proteins.  The proteins contract and tighten like small sponges and squeeze out any moisture they once contained.  Thus, you end up with hard rubbery egg curds surrounded by that milky liquid which was once contained within the proteins.  The same is true with chicken…if it is boiled or cooked too quickly and rapidly, or for simply too long, the proteins contract tightly and squeeze the moisture out.  The same goes for any cooking technique but the issue with steaming, boiling, simmering, and poaching is that people assume the moisture of the cooking technique will prevent the protein from drying out.

Well Then…What Am I Supposed to Do?

Great question…I’m so glad you asked!

The answer is to poach the chicken rather than boil it.  Poaching is a much more gently method of cooking in a liquid and is better suited for proteins so that they are less likely to overcook and toughen.

Aromatics for Poaching -compressed1.  Start with a flavorful liquid.  For chicken and poultry, start with chicken stock and add aromatics such as celery leaves, onions, parsley stems, peppercorns, bay leaves and garlic.   Be sure to season with salt as well to help enhance the flavors and pull the liquid into the flesh of the chicken.  An acid such as white wine or a little lemon juice will also help round out the flavors of the poaching liquid.

2.  Bring the mixture to a simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse throughout the stock.

boiling poaching liquid - compressed3.  Once the poaching liquid is well-flavored, bring up to a boil and then turn off.  Immediately place chicken into the pot and cover with a lid or tightly with foil.  If you’re cooking on an electric stove, remove the pot from the burner to prevent residual heat from continuing to boil and simmer the liquid.  Let the covered pot sit for about 10-12 minutes (15-20 minutes if cooking chicken on the bone) off of the heat.

4.  Remove the lid and remove chicken from the poaching liquid.  Use as desired…either serving as desired/needed or cooling and shredding and cutting into pieces for use in casseroles, salads, and other items or freeze for future use.

Whole breasts boiled & Poached - compressed

The chicken on left was boiled 10 minutes and that on the right was poached 10 minutes.

Boiled & Poached Chicken-compressed

The poached chicken on the right is juicier and moister than the boiled chicken on the left.

123 Comments on “Why Boiled Chicken is BAD!”

  1. Pingback: Why Boiled Chicken is BAD! | CookingPlanet

  2. I had no idea how to poach chicken. Now that I am single again, I have been making my “Sunday Chicken” In the crock pot. Very tasteless, but can use it all week on salads or sandwiches, etc. Love the poaching tip! I have to try that one. Oh, and tomorrow is Sunday! I really enjoy your website and really appreciate your humor in the way you write. Clearly from experience. Wish I lived in your area to attend some of your classes. I really have an interest in your healthy eating recepies. I have lost 40 lbs. two years ago and have to keep it off. It feels good to eat healthy with good and tasty food. Keep up the good work!

  3. I took Chef Darin’s class in Savannah this spring; and I have converted to poaching my chicken in this way. It has completely changed the way I feel about boiled chicken. I have stocked my pantry with broth, and I use seasonings in place of fresh ingredients when I don’t have them (although the fresh ingredients are the best, of course!) The chicken is so so tender and moist, not chewy, rubbery or dry like boiled chicken often is. Thanks, Darin, for the information and the tips! I’m a believer!

    PS If y’all are in Savannah, take Chef Darin’s class. The techniques, knife skills, and kitchen savvy-tips were invaluable. I learned so much and feel like I’m an entirely better cook after having enjoyed his class!

    1. Hi Amy, Thanks for the kind words and endorsement of not only the blog post but also my classes! I’m glad to hear the cooking class has had a long-lasting impact on your cooking. I know you were a good cook before but every little thing we can do and learn will have an exponentially better impact on the final results!

  4. Tried the poached chicken this afternoon, followed the directions and at the end of the 12 minutes, checked the internal temperature. It didn’t go above 145 (even after letting it sit for another 10 minutes). What do you do if the chicken doesn’t cook thoroughly?

    1. There are factors that will affect the timing such as quantity of chicken and thickness. Were you using boneless breasts or pieces of chicken on the bone? I’ve rarely had chicken breasts not get done in about 12-14 minutes. Bone-in chicken pieces will usually require closer to 30 minutes. Make sure the is enough liquid to cover the top of the chicken by at least half an inch so it’s being heated from all surfaces.

      Either way, if it’s not done at the end of the initial time, remove the chicken while you bring the liquid back up to a boil and then turn off once more and set a timer for additional time. Even though you’re having to add more time to it, the key is the fact that there is no direct heat on the pan during the cooking and thus the proteins don’t tighten up as firmly.

  5. Thanks for this “poached” chicken recipe! I need to “follow” your blog or Facebook. Great cooking tips! Thank you.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I hope you have lots of moist cooked chicken in your future! Please keep reading the blog here for more helpful tips, recipes, and the occasional travel and food escapade/discovery!
      You can find me both on Facebook as well as as twitter where I’m “chefdarins”.

      Also, please don’t hesitate to use the “contact” link on the website here to get in touch with me directly regarding any questions you might have or other ways in which I might help you. Questions from one reader are usually beneficial to others so they also make for a great subject for me to write about. Stay in touch and keep reading!


    1. Hi Jackie,

      I’m glad you enjoy the blog and please share it with others. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance with culinary related questions or problems!
      Have a great Christmas!


  6. So far, I noticed others bring the water to a boil or simmer with whole chicken in the pot. With normal cook time 45 minutes to well over a hour. Your way indicates to infuse your stock then bring to a boil and only then, add the chicken. It sounds like a better way of cooking the chicken but would the chicken breast after the suggested time ever really reach 160 degrees? (I know the proper temps suggested for white or dark meats, with one site indicating 150 dedgrees in the breast) As Brit indicated in above post her dilemma of reaching a proper temp.
    I just wanted to verify if you are talking about a whole in-bone chicken 2-3 lbs. to sit in the pot for around 20 minutes should be about right in completely cooking the chicken? I apprecicate your respsonse.
    Thanks for your site and your insight.

  7. Pingback: Chicken Corn Chowder « Bakerlady

  8. Pingback: What’s Cookin? Kitchen Tips: Don’t Boil Your Chicken, Poach It! | JustFindIt4U

  9. Pingback: 10 Boil Chicken Sites

  10. Hi,
    This poaching tip certainly sounds amazing but I would like to know about soups. Could the liquid mixture be turned into a chicken soup stock to use for chicken noodle soup?

    1. Hi Brittany,
      Yes, the poaching liquid could then be used as a base for a chicken soup. Be sure to taste it and make sure that it isn’t too salty but it should have great flavor and using it for soup would be a great way of making use of it rather than just tossing it. You could also freeze it and poach in it more than once before using it for soup, that would further concentrate flavors.

      Thanks for reading the blog, please let me know if I can be of help with any other questions!


  11. Darin, I don’t believe you answered Rickie’s concern about poaching the whole bone-in chicken, length of time, etc. I’m very interested in your answer as I cook whole ( 2 at a time in a 10-qt. pot) for use in Brunswick stew.

    Thanks for your upcoming answer.


  12. I am in the middle of trying this recipe and although I have not tasted it yet it has thus far taken almost an hour to cook. I had to feed the family something else. And yes I am using bone-in chicken but OMG, it should be noted that it can take a lot longer than the time discussed. I will for sure let you know how it tastes but after this long it better be good 🙂

  13. I poached some chicken to make chicken salad for a potluck today. I’m worried it didn’t cook properly and people are going to get sick from eating it. After following the poaching directions in the recipe, the meat wasn’t cooked through, so I reheated it, covered it and let it sit a little while longer. The meat thermometer only registered at 114ºF. So then I took it out, strained it and poured boiling water over it to attempt to kill any bacteria. I used Tyson chicken breasts that were about 2.5″ inches thick– way bigger than the kind I usually use.
    By the time I was done, the chicken looked cooked through but the texture was weird–kind of chewy/rubbery.

    I wish I’d read your instructions earlier– about covering the chicken completely with water, etc. –before I made this!

  14. Thank you so much for this. I’ll be sharing this link with friends, family and twitter followers! I honestly didn’t think I’d love this type of chicken as I’ve had bad experiences with boiled and steamed chicken and this seemed similar but I was comforted by your words “why boiled chicken is bad”(!!) and am so glad I tried it poached. This chicken is really good 🙂

  15. I made fried chicken for dinner and had about 10 pieces left that I didn’t fry so I could cook it up a different way for salads throughout the week without all the oil from frying. I used a search engine for ‘boiling chicken’ and your site was at the top of the list. Boy am I glad I clicked it to find out why boiling chicken is bad! I will be getting the ingredients for my tried and true vegetable soup base (mostly all the things you suggested!) and will be poaching chicken tomorrow!

    Thank you for saving me from a disastrous mistake!!

    1. That’s also a great way of doing it when you’re going to be serving it in a sauce. The meat gets cooked and you have the synergy of flavor shared between the meat and the sauce. Again, the main thing is to not let it boil or cook to vigorously or the proteins will bind together tightly and squeeze out the moisture.


  16. I have tried this chicken poaching several times, exactly as you have written the instructions. My chicken is never cooked through after 10-12 minutes!! What should I do? Split the breast in half before putting it in to poach??? I’ve even tried sticking a thermometer in and it only reads 120, and the center is pink and raw!

  17. Is it okay to leave the skin on the chicken? Or should it be removed?
    What do you suggest if we find ourselves in the predicament of not having broth?!!! :0

  18. Darin’s method to poach chicken is for chicken breasts and chicken parts that include bone. His method will not work for an entire whole chicken.


    the whole chicken will float preventing a thorough submergence in the cooked water. You could always way it down with forks and spoons that are pushed into the cavity but perhaps it will still float again. I suppose you could cut the whole chicken into pieces so that floating would be avoided but it’s not 100 percent fail proof because of the density of bone matter. Or you could weigh down the whole chicken using a small pot or glass bowl filled with water but doing so won’t guarantee that the whole chicken will be submerged completely in the cooked water.

    A whole chicken needs continuous amount of low heat in order to safely cook well. Hence, why whole chickens are traditionally simmered for an hour or more in continuous low heat.

    It’s best not to heed Darin’s advice when it comes to poaching a whole chicken. There is a reason why grandma simmers her whole chicken for an hour or more in the mos trusted manner: avoiding illness.

    In the end, I think it’s a very bad idea to poach a whole chicken by leaving it in cooked water away from some kind of continuous low temperature heat source. I rather be safe than sorry.

  19. I tried the following method to cook whole chicken in boiled water.

    (1) add chicken and then bring to a full boil and then put heat to medium to medium high

    (2) leave on until meat is white and falling apart

    (2) bring back to a full boil for a few minutes to finish the job and to make sure bacteria is fully destroyed.

    This method helps cut the time for poaching the old fashion way. I noticed that the chicken is quite moist in spite of using a higher temperature after simmering for less than 30 minutes. Also keep in mind that it’s best to use a younger chicken for poaching because the age of the chicken can determine the toughness of the meat and how well it cooks in water. I am sure simmering in lower temperatures in longer time periods could produce better results in the end but I prefer something faster when I don’t have time to stand in the kitchen.

  20. thanks for this pouching tips chef!
    this is my first cooking, and the chicken is taste very good..
    thumbs up d^.^b

    1. The scum that comes from boiling chicken and simmering stock is the result of dissolved proteins that coagulate in the hot water and rise to the surface to create the scum. You will have very little (if any) scum when poaching because you’re not using intense heat.

  21. I was very sceptical when I read this but I just tried it and it works. The chicken is moist but has a slight rubbery feel. It was on a bone so I poached it for 20 minutes and it is still a bit pink around the bone. I made some cuts into the meat to speed up the proccess. Is it normal that the chicken feels like this?

  22. Question: what if it’s a whole chicken?? Does that affect cooking time? I’ve never cooked a whole chicken in my life! Thanks for your help!!

  23. Sorry.. I simply don’t buy this. I would rather prefer boiling chicken. What really didn’t help was mentioning poaching’s benefits with the jacuzzi’s example. Boiling chicken is obviously safer than poaching if not as nutritious.

    1. That’s the beauty of cooking for yourself…you can choose the method you prefer. Both boiling and poaching are going to cook the chicken through but boiling is more apt to dry it out and result in tougher, dryer chicken.

  24. Boiling is not safer. Both are equally safe. The main thing to do when cooking chicken is to just make sure you check the internal temperature is at the right amount and that it’s the right color throughout. It doesn’t matter what the method is, it doesn’t make it any less safe to poach. You’re being silly. As with any method, you still need to check it and make sure it’s right. He obviously knows what he is talking about, especially since he is professional and does this for a living. It’s also pretty logical, how he explained why boiling is worse. If you like your chicken nasty and dry, hey that’s on you, but that doesn’t make his method wrong.

  25. I tried something a bit different. I used two boneless ckicken breasts and enough red canned enchilada sauce to cover the breasts in a pot and sauteed for 15 minutes or so until the breasts would shred easily. I then left them in the pot and used a potatoe smasher and smashed,shredded the chicken still in the pot in the sauce. It really blended the flavor of the sauce into the chicken. I then put a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan and quick fried small corn tortillas for 2 or three minutes and filled them with a little shredded chicken,pico de gallo,cheddar cheese and taco sauce. The longer I left the tacos filled and warming the better they tasted allowing the cheese to soften and the flavors to blend.. wow. yuuum. Great meal for a single dude. Wasnt sure about boiling chicken in liquid but thanks for the info.

    1. Wow Jake, that sound delicious!

      Cooking the meat right in a flavorful medium whatever it might be will be the most flavorful. The main concern is to do it low enough to convey the heat through the meat without tightening up the proteins so much that they squeeze moisture out of the meat.

      Now I’m hungry!


  26. I always have good results boiling chicken…and my chicken has never looked like yours after boiling it lmao…guess you just have to know what your doing, good timing and tempature

  27. Is poaching safe? 10 minutes is very short time for cooking the chicken.. How about the bacteria that chicken contains?

  28. I found this post while searching for how to boil chicken. So far I’be poached chicken twice with this method, and they turned out awesome. I used chicken stock and chicken breasts. I have to poach twice to get them fully cooked, but it is way tastier and easier to poach than I thought. Thanks for explaining the idea.

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      I’m glad to hear you’ve found success in using this technique! Are you doing bone-in breasts? Bone in parts will generally take longer and might need to be done a second time but as you’ve experienced, will have better flavor and texture than boiling. Boneless breasts if really large might take a bit longer but you can minimize that by simply splitting in half horizontally before placing them in the poaching liquid.


  29. Hi Darin, I’m glad I found your blog before I boiled my first chicken. It’s on the stove as I write this and I look forward to the results from poaching instead.

  30. Wow! I put the chicken in the boiling water (with the vegetables and seasonings as suggested) and pulled it out 25 minutes later. It is fabulous. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Rennie,

      Glad to hear you just let it sit there and did not boil it for 25 minutes! Amazing what a little patience and know-how can do, isn’t it? We are usually our own worst enemy by trying to speed things up and make them happen before they should. Having an intensely flavored poaching liquid that is well-seasoned with salt is key to getting the flavor to penetrate the meat.


      1. Thanks Dan,
        This may be silly, but I could not use any salt because this was for my dog who had surgery the week before. The chicken had to be bland. Also, since it was a full bone in chicken, I had to poach it a second time for about 15 minutes to get it fully cooked. There was still red in the legs and thighs after the 25 minute poaching. In the end it turned out wonderful. My dog got the white meat and I got the dark meat.

  31. Thanks Darin,
    This may be silly, but I could not use any salt because this was for my dog who had surgery the week before. The chicken had to be bland. Also, since it was a full bone in chicken, I had to poach it a second time for about 15 minutes to get it fully cooked. There was still red in the legs and thighs after the 25 minute poaching. In the end it turned out wonderful. My dog got the white meat and I got the dark meat.






  33. Thanks, Chef. You’ve sold me on poaching after just this first try. It was completely worth it, even having to poach twice. Next time I will use more liquid to see if I can eliminate the need to do that.

    1. I’m glad to hear you’re a convert! If you have enough liquid covering the chicken (at least 1-inch) you should be ok.

  34. I was browsing the web looking for the best way to prepare chicken for a casserole dish and found this little tid bit tip. This is by far the easiest and best way to prepare chicken, I will never use any other method again!

    Thank u!

  35. Poaching is another way to use your crock pot– if you have the time.
    Bring poaching liquid to the boil in the crock, put in your chicken, cover, turn off the crock and voila! Nothing keeps temperature like a crock pot, so no need to fire up the poaching liquid a second time.

  36. I really don’t know anything about cooking! And undercooked chicken creeps me out. Just letting it sit in boiled water for 10-12 min is enough to cook it? Like to eat??

  37. Wonderfully helpful. I am just learning to cook. I poached some chicken legs using your instructions. They were yummy and tender! I added some celery leaves and next time I will also add onions. The chicken legs did take longer to cook than the stated time, however. I also really like the food-chemistry aspects of your postings. Thank you Chef Darin from your new fan!

  38. Hi Darin
    Thank you so much for this receipe and tip. If i may ask a two question, when placing chicken into the broth can other white meats be placed at the same time ie pork? 2nd, could the left over stock be used to cook brown rice and vegetables after if its not too salty?
    I just wanted to check on the combining cooking as we always look to cooking hygenically and not to cross contaminate.

  39. I read most of the comments and am thawing a chicken as I write this. It’s a whole chicken, about 3 lbs. Would you say it will take about 30-40 minutes using this method? Thanks! I’ll be following your Blog too.

  40. Chef Darin, Thank you for posting “Why boiled chicken is bad”. I have never boiled chicken nor ever wanted to. I have seen it done and it grossed me out. But I want to find a quicker way to cook some chicken breast for salads/casseroles and I found what you posted on google search. Poached chicken for my very first time and it was fantastic!! My daughters step mom makes boiled chicken alot, and she thinks it tastes terrible so she was a little worried about me poaching the chicken. Not any more, she loved it! I did have to reheat the broth because I cooked 4lbs of chicken breast but that was no big deal. Saved the broth for future use for soups. Thanks again

  41. I think that the chicken broth might be a little bit of overkill. And the distinction between poaching and boiling a little nebulous. My mom’s boiled chicken was cooked in a nearly identical fashion, with the exception of not using chicken broth. She would use water and END UP with chicken broth. From that she would make all kinds of delicious Chinese specialties. I still call it boiled chicken. You can overcook anything and make it into fertilizer.

  42. I’m a little late to the party but I wanted to ask….

    Would cutting two or three boneless chickens into strips ensure that I wouldn’t have to poach it multiple times?

  43. im a mom of a 1.5 yr old and he loves his veggie and chicken soup but i always dreaded it because no matter what i try the damn chicken always turned out rubbery no matter how carefully or on low heat i did it, then i found this and tried it and now im waiting for it to be done but i know it will be great, you have literally revolutionized the way i feed my famliy thank you so much chef!!!

  44. chefdarin, I will have to cook a lot of chicken, maybe 50 lbs. for a bridal shower. I will be putting it on a salad and wonder how you would suggest cooking it. I would need a lot of broth to poach it. Thanks

  45. So what would be the minimum amount of salt necessary to adequately transfer the flavor of the broth? And how would increase in the salt content from this effect flavor?


  46. I was really intrigued by this method. Often I par-boil chicken for the grill. It cuts down on grilling time and insures the chicken will cook through. However, my plan for this chicken is chicken salad. I found it amusing when I got half way into the thing that I realized this is how I make chicken stock… just not with the poaching. I used four bone-in chicken thighs and they just were not done through, even after 30 minutes. I decided to toss them back on the stove for a brief, light simmer. Honestly, as far as texture and moistness go, I can’t tell much of a difference, but they have a nice flavor!

  47. Kiora from New Zealand!

    I am looking at poaching whole chicken size 16, how long would you leave in stock for this?
    Love poaching – we poach alot of our vege meals also fish…..yumm!
    Thanking you

  48. how long are the time variation for poaching depending on the cut or type of meat? (i.e. Dark/white meat, leg, thigh, wing) could you give me an estimate also for bone in and bone out. thank you.

  49. I am now a convert from boiled chicken. I cook whole chickens quite a bit.

    Big advice that is important for this method or baking or rotisserie or any method: Take your chicken out of the fridge a 1/2 hr or longer to loose some of the chill inside to help insure the inside gets cooked. Pulling chicken out of the freezer and rinsing under water for 5 minutes does not work so well.

    1. Pulling meat out of the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before cooking will always help in improving the cooking. In this instance of poaching chicken it reduces the amount of thermal loss in the liquid when the chicken is added. In the case of grilling red meats such as beef and lamb, it will produce nicer looking results so that color-wise it goes from brown on the exterior to a nice pink on the interior. Cold meat put on the grill will tend to develop more a gray colored interior.

  50. Sometimes I’m extremely thankful for the internet! This post about why not to boil chicken is a prime example. 😀 But, I was wondering… How would I turn the poaching liquid into a more creamy and thicker sauce for chicken and dumplings? Suggestions would be much appreciated.


    1. Hi Samantha,
      Thank you for your kind comment on my article about boiled chicken.

      To thicken up the liquid and make it creamier for chicken and dumplings, remove the chicken from the pot and strain the poaching liquid into another pan. If you want to minimize pots, you could put your celery, onions, and other aromatics in a cheesecloth pouch tied with kitchen twine so that you can simply remove it when you remove the chicken.

      Depending on the amount of liquid you have, you may want to simmer it and reduce the quantity a bit. Then mix some all-purpose flour with a enough cold water to liquefy the flour. Whisk in the flour/water “whitewash” to the simmering poaching liquid a bit at a time. Flour takes a little while to hydrate and gelatinize (not as quick as cornstarch) so don’t add too much at once or it may end up thicker than you like. You can always add more to thicken further and of course thin it with some water or chicken broth if it’s too thick. Once the mixture has thickened, you could add a little heavy cream if you want it to be creamy. Of course you’ll want to taste and adjust your seasoning.

      Another method for thickening and adding richness is to use Beurre Manie (kneaded butter) which is whole butter that has been mixed with all purpose flour. You can roll this into little balls and keep in the refrigerator for adding to a sauce to thicken and enrichen, or simply whisk it in after kneading it to provide additional thickening and richness from the butter.

      Let me know if you have any other questions…I hope that helps!
      Thanks for reading!


    1. Pressure cookers are great! Keep in mind though that if overcooked any protein (under pressure or not) can still dry out. As long as you’re not cooking it too long pressure cookers are great because of the quick convenience that they provide, especially if you’re cooking chicken on the bone. I recommend following the guidelines in the manual with your pressure cooker for the length of time and pressure.

      If you look at the list of recipes here on my site you’ll see I have several including braised greens, osso buco and others that are great in a pressure cooker.


  51. I tried boiled chicken once and i liked it! i didnt find it was dried out and it was nice and tender.. i brought to a boil and then let simmer for 90 mins. but I will have to give this one a go and see how it turns out!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      The difference is that you didn’t boil it for 90 minutes, you brought it to a boil to establish the heat and then dropped it to a simmer. Gentle simmering is fine but many people will have it go at a more rapid boil and that will produce the tougher/drier texture I’m referring to. Unfortunately people also confuse boiling (212 degrees f) with simmering (185-190 f). Boiling will have rapid bubbling visible and simmering will have a few bubbles gently popping on the surface.

  52. Chef Darin thank you!!! Im on this healthy thing now and boiled chicken is gross!!! I must try the poached method now!!!

  53. I did it by the recipe, but the chicken was still pink inside. I even left it in the broth for 15 minutes. I did take it from the freezer in the morning, however, but by cooking time it had been at room temp. for at least for hours and was only a tiny bit frozen when I started. I boiled the broth again, cut the pieces into even smaller pieces and put it back in the broth and left the pot on the burner (an electric stove) for 10 more minutes and then it was done.

  54. Sorry, *four hours
    After reading the comments I see that some other people have had to poach it twice. Next time I will try leaving it on the burner after the first poaching and cutting them into smaller pieces before. I don’t have the thermometer you suggested so I have to go by the looks of the chicken.
    I used it in a salad and it was great, will definitely try it again! And from the broth I shall generate a lovely soup. Thanks very much! 🙂

  55. Thank you so much for sharing this info! I made poached chicken tonight and it was perfect, I never knew chicken could be so moist.

  56. What is wrong with normally boiled chicken?
    I mean bring it to boil, then reduce the heat and leave it to get cooked.

    To me the right cooked meet is the well done meat – all other ways might be delicious but not safe.
    Don’t want to eat meat with all bacils in it (bacterias and viruses)

    1. There’s no need to boil it in the first place. The more excessive the heat that is applied to protein in any environment (moist or dry heat) the more likely it is to overcook and dry out. The problem is that most people cook things far longer than what is necessary and when that’s done by boiling you will end up with dry and rubbery texture. A gentle simmer is fine (simmering= gentle bubbles rising from the surface, about 185 degrees F) but don’t cook beyond the time necessary for it to be done.

  57. Could I do this but just use store bought chicken stock as the poaching liquid (for lazy days or weekday meals?)

    1. Yes, chicken stock/broth could certainly be used. If you toss in an onion, some celery and a little carrot you’ll have even more flavor. You could then save the broth and use it for soup later in the week.


  58. I tried poaching for the first time today. Something you didn’t mention was the size/thickness the chicken piece needed to be to cook fully. I had ½ chicken breasts that did not cook on the inside in the 12 minutes.

    I cut the pieces to half the thickness and am now re-boiling the water to cook them another 5 minutes. Next time, do I have to cut the pieces or will they cook all the way leaving them in 15-20 minutes in the original size?

    1. No, Poaching and boiling are not the same thing. Yes, they both involve food being surrounded by liquid however the key difference is temperature. Boiling is 212*F which with proteins will cause the proteins to unwind (denature) and then link up tightly with one another, in turn causing the moisture inside to be squeezed out. The same thing that happens when proteins are roasted/grilled/baked too long. Poaching is done at a lower temperature, just below simmering at around 175-180*F so that the water is steaming and might have a little bubble rising to the surface here and there. Poaching is a more gentle method than boiling.

  59. I poached a large boneless chicken breast last night and it didn’t work. I left the chicken, covered with the just boiled stock, with a lid, for almost 30 minutes and then put it into the fridge. When I took it out tonight to use and cut it up, I discovered it was not cooked on the inside and had to throw it away.

    1. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work for you Amy.

      A few factors that will affect the result:
      If the chicken is thicker than 1″ I’d recommend butterflying it.
      Make sure the chicken isn’t frozen when it goes in. Based on what some people have indicated here I think some are putting in frozen pieces and expecting it to cook in the same amount of time.
      Pulling the chicken from the fridge for 15-30 minutes of warm up time will help it lose some of the chill before going for its nice warm bath.
      Have enough cooking liquid so that it covers the chicken pieces by at least 1-inch.

  60. I usually do the skinless/boneless frozen chicken, put it in a mixture of marinade, water, salt, etc. then turn it on a med-low fire to slowly thaw & bring up to temp. It seems to always be perfect once it comes to a boil for 5-10 min. Drain and pull apart. The chicken falls apart. Stir in BBQ sauce and get out the buns! Is this ‘acceptable’?

    1. Bottom line Don is that if you’re happy with it, then it’s acceptable. I personally would recommend not boiling it at all, simply because it eliminates the concern of overcooking and drying it out. A short boil won’t likely dry it out but can toughen the exterior of the chicken.

  61. What if you brine the chicken first before poaching. ???
    I have read so much about brining I have got to try it, but I haven’t read anything about boiling it let alone poaching. I wonder if poaching it after brining would work.
    Or would the brine leach out as I think it would if you had boiled it?

    1. It’s fine to poach it after brining. The point of brining it is to bring liquid (and ideally flavor) into the cells of the protein. Since a brine solution has a high concentration of salt, the salt helps retain moisture inside the protein when it cooks. Again, I wouldn’t recommend boiling because it will toughen the proteins but keeping it a low bare-simmer state will cook it gently and the brining will result in a more flavorful and juicy result product.

  62. Hi Chef,

    So glad I came across this page. I typically don’t bother with chicken breasts anymore because no matter what I do with them, they come out like sawdust.

    Tried your method today & they came out wonderful!

    Most grateful that you shared this tip!!


  63. I am poaching a whole chicken right now. Took it out of the fridge 1/2 before placing the chicken in a pot of boiling water. I have a hard time believing it will be cooked in 30 minutes

    1. The chicken needs to be broken down into individual pieces when doing it on the bone. You can’t do the chicken in its whole form.

      1. After one half hour the chicken temp was 170 which was the same temp as the broth. So I turned the stove on until the broth temp was 190 turned off the stove came back twenty minutes later and I have the best chicken I have ever tasted. It was cooked to perfection. I stripped the carcass of all the meat and placed the carcass back in the broth on a very low simmer. In a couple of hours I’m going to have the tastiest chicken soup.

  64. What if I want to use the poaching liquid as a fatty chicken soup, do I still turn off the heat before putting the chicken? or should I boil it for a few minutes?

    And can I roast the poached chicken in the oven?

    1. Whether or not you’re using the liquid as a soup you should turn it off once the chicken is in it to allow it to cook gently. If you’re using it as a soup, you can simmer for a longer period in advance to infuse more flavor upfront before bringing it to the final boil before adding the chicken. You could also simmer with more aromatics after the chicken has been removed.

      There is no need to roast the chicken after poaching it. The only result will be dry chicken which was the point of poaching in the first place. If what you want is chicken with a crispy skin or exterior, you need to use a different cooking technique such as roasting or baking from the beginning.

  65. Is this risky?

    I once saw someone mention something about dangers like salmonella, and he was talking about fried chicken, deep fried in boiling oil for 10 minutes, being risky because it was slightly “pinkish”.

    Although your chicken doesn’t seem to have a pink tint, so maybe it is cooked enough? I don’t know really, are there no risks with this cooking of chicken off-heat?

    1. The only risk would be the same risk as with any cooking method, and that is not cooking it long enough. Chicken and turkey should cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. It doesn’t have to be on direct heat to do so. As long as you’re not using mega-thick pieces of chicken breast, or butterfly them before you cook them, they should cook in the specified amount of time. If they aren’t done, remove them and bring the liquid back to a boil and put them in for a few minutes to finish. Also, have the chicken out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before putting it in the cooking liquid so that it isn’t ice cold when it goes into the pot.

  66. Who knew??!! Thank you so much for this!! Can I put it in the oven for awhile to get a crispy outside afterwards?

    1. No, don’t put it in the oven or else it will dry out. Poaching chicken is a method to use when you’re serving it with a sauce over it, or are using the cooked chicken in another dish.
      If you want chicken with a crispy exterior you’ll need to use a dry-heat method from the beginning such as roasting, baking, grilling, sauteeing, etc.

  67. Thank you chef for this great write up. I was actually perusing Google for information on boiling chicken to give to our Shi Tzu who we are nursing back to health after a scare last week. Your information and simple to follow directions were spot on. Everything came out perfectly.



  68. Thanks for posting this method. It is a great alternative to boiling when the recipe calls for shredded chicken, as many of mine do. Thanks!

  69. Pingback: The Easiest Homemade Chicken Pot Pie in 1 Hour | House of Sage

  70. Pingback: Poaching Chicken - Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish ...

  71. Thank you so much for this recipe Chef Darin! I attempted to boil chicken myself and to my sadness discovered that no matter the amount of water used to boil chicken would not prevent dry and tasteless chicken.

    I have been looking for ways to cook chicken without the use of oils and this seems like a decent place to start! Now hopefully my chicken chili will be filled with more flavor.

    1. Hi Skylar,
      I’m glad you now understand why liquid alone won’t provide a moist result. The tighter the proteins become regardless of the heat source, the drier the resulting product will be.
      Now go forth and cook moist flavorful chicken for your casseroles and salads!


  72. I just found this marvelous thread, and finally discovered how my French cousin produced such amazing chicken and especially fish! Her salmon filet was nothing special, frozen I believe. A court-bouillon, a brief reboil, then,as I remember, a plunge into a sort of tupperware-ish oblong container with the heated broth, the fillet, the tight lid, and a towel or two to hold the heat.. exactly 20 min later we ate the tenderest, butteriest salmon I’ve had before or since. I will remember this post. Some things should be cooked aggressively, yes, but some should be treated this way to shine. Thank you.

    1. Hey, David, pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean about “court-bouillon” ? Do you start with a frozen filet of salmon? Is the brief reboil speaking of the fish? Thanks – I had an incredibly dry salmon last week, tho baked in foil with onion, butter and garlic… great taste, but dry and crumbly.

      1. Hi Kristen, I should probably let Chef Darin answer this, but my guess is your baked salmon just cooked too long. That method usually produces good results, but it’s a short time (7-10 min?) in a mild oven. “Court” in this case means short..not boiled for a long time. But it also refers to a type of quick broth used to poach fish or shellfish. Water, white wine, a dash of lemon, aromatic vegetables (onion, carrot, celery), a few herbs, are simmered together for 30 min or so (start all ingredients in cold liquid). Then the fresh or thawed fish (at room temp) is placed in a container that wont lose heat quickly, the broth is raised back to a brief boil after its been barely simmering, and poured over the fish to cover. Wrap in towels for 20 min. At least that’s how I remember it from several years ago.

  73. Cold ginger chicken served by Chinese in Hawaii is freakin delicious. I watched a how to video produced, I think by Foodland; (land of the food). The locals make it but no one seemed to agree about much of anything-very funny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *