How to Poach Chicken Breasts

Ways to Use Poached Chicken Collage
One of the best – and easiest – ways to cook chicken breasts is to poach them. It really keeps the meat moist and is particularly good if you plan to use the chicken cold or add it to a dish already cooked. Because the chicken is cooked in liquid it cannot help but stay tender and delicious. I like to poach chicken breasts and keep them on hand in the fridge or freezer for quick and easy salads and meals.

Like so many recipes, how well your poached chicken breasts turn out is dependant on the quality of your ingredients. Organic, pastured or free range meat is always your best bet, and it’s kinder to the environment as well. I buy my chicken from our local butcher, Greens of Pangbourne.

Good chicken stock is a must. Homemade is wonderful if you have it, but you can use a good store bought stock or even stock made from high quality, preferably organic, stock cubes in a pinch.

How to Poach Chicken Breasts

Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pan that will fit them in quite tightly. You don’t want a lot of space between them.

How To Poach Chicken Breasts, for moist, delicious meat every time

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add dried herbs if desired. I usually add a teaspoon of basil or tarragon, and sometimes I throw in some peppercorns as well.

Pour the chicken stock over top of the chicken breasts. It should pretty much cover them.

How To Poach Chicken Breasts, for moist, delicious meat every time

Put the lid on the pan, turn the heat up and bring slowly up to the boil.

Once the stock reaches a full boil, turn the heat back, keep the lid on the pan and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat. Keep the pan covered and let the chicken breasts sit in the hot liquid for 20 minutes.

How To Poach Chicken Breasts, for moist, delicious meat every time

Remove the chicken breasts from the hot liquid. They should have an internal temperature of at least 165°F or 74°C. Poached chicken breasts can be served or used immediately in recipes or you can cool them and keep them chilled or frozen for later use.

Poached Chicken Breasts

Poached Chicken Breasts
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3½ - 4 cups chicken stock
  • salt, pepper and herbs to taste
  1. Place the chicken breasts in a medium frying pan or saucepan with a lid. You need a pan that they just fit into; you don't want a lot of space around the chicken.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and your choice of fresh or dried herbs.
  3. Cover the chicken with the stock and put the lid on the pan.
  4. Bring the stock to the boil.
  5. Turn the heat back and simmer the chicken breasts over medium heat for 10 minutes, keeping the lid on the pan.
  6. Turn the heat off and let the chicken sit in the hot liquid for 20 minutes. Again, keep the lid on the pan.
  7. Remove the chicken breasts carefully from the hot stock. Check the chicken is cooked through and no pink remains inside. Either use the chicken breasts immediately or cool and chill or freeze.

How to Use Poached Chicken Breasts

You can use poached chicken breasts in so many recipes. Serve them straight away or chill them and use the meat sliced in sandwiches, chopped in salads or simply serve it sliced as part of a buffet. Poached chicken can also be used in any recipe that calls for cooked, cooled chicken breasts.

How To Poach Chicken Breasts, for moist, delicious meat every time

Recipes for Poached Chicken Breasts

Chicken Stroganoff Pasta Bake

Chicken and Vegetable Pie

Coronation Chicken

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1291 great articles for us.
April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.
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  1. Thanks April… for sharing a simple and very useful cooking techinque that I often neglect.

  2. Delicious April , love this one.

  3. What a great How To! And I LOVE that you use stock instead of water…great addition of packed flavor!

  4. I do crockpot poached chicken but this looks just as easy and still only dirties 1 dish!

  5. What a handy post – I always have to look it up to remind myself how long to poach chicken for, will Pin this now!

  6. Chicken breast is a tricky part of the bird to cook… I can’ t agree more that by poaching it, it remains tender and keep a good, but light flavor! Thanks for the information 😀

  7. Thanks for the tutorial and flavor ideas! Simple, too.

  8. I’m usually not a big fan of chicken breast but I love this technique. Must try. Thanks

  9. This is a great idea for chicken salad!

  10. I’ll have to give this a try. I absolutely hate chicken breasts because they’re so dry. I’ve even tried sous vide and can’t stand them. I have not, however, tried poaching – I’ll have to give it a go!

  11. I love this! This is probably a great way to keep them from drying out while you cook!

  12. I am not a huge fan of poaching chicken – these look so great though.

  13. How interesting, April! I will definitely try this method in the future. 😉


  14. Your chicken breast recipe comes in handy to salads, or to serve next to pasta or rice. Simple and useful great post, April!Pinning and tweeting 🙂

  15. I used to poach a lot of chicken at my restaurant, but I am really liking the tip of keeping them close together! Makes sense. This post is my feature on Thanksgiving at the Let’s Get Real Link Party.

  16. I love tutorials like this. Once you have the base recipe of poached chicken, you have so many recipes and ways to enjoy.

  17. Poaching is such a healthy way of cooking chicken! I have to admit that I don’t poach very often but it can be really versatile and a great starting point for lots of other recipes, especially chicken salads.

  18. I have never ever poached anything. Mostly because don’t know how. Your directions makes look so easy. That love to try this with chicken 🙂

  19. I’ve never poached chicken before but love cooking things in broth instead of water! I do this with pasta and rice all the time 🙂

  20. Love poached chicken! I have been doing it lately with coconut milk but I really like your way of doing it with stock – delicious!

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