How Long To Boil Chicken Thighs – A Comprehensive Guide

A bone-in chicken thigh will take between 20-30 minutes. Deboned chicken thighs will take about 15-20 minutes to cook on the stove. You should always check that the internal temperature is at 165ºF (74ºC).

An average deboned chicken thigh weighs between 2 1/2 to 3 ounces each (70-85 grams). Again, larger pieces take longer to cook.

Today’s in-depth breakdown will give you specific times and techniques you have to use. However, I will also discuss the many variables you have to take into consideration.

If you enjoy educational articles like this, you will find some others on my site very handy. Some that I find especially useful include How Long To Cook 2 Hot Pockets and How Many Mashed Potatoes Per Person.

boiled chicken thigh on a white plate

How Long To Boil Chicken Thighs – What Do You Need To Consider

Before just jumping into the question “how long does it take to boil chicken”, you first need to understand the many factors that will affect the cooking time.

boiling chicken thigh in a pot

The cut of chicken

There are obviously many different cuts of chicken. The most popular ones (especially for boiling) include chicken breasts, fillets, drumsticks, and thighs.

So, the answer to “how long does it take to boil chicken breast” won’t be the same as how long it takes to boil a whole chicken or chicken thighs.

The larger the cut, the longer the chicken will take to cook. So, for example, a whole chicken takes longer to cook than chicken breasts.

Bone-In Versus Bone-Out (Deboned)

This is another factor that affects the cooking time of chicken. Cuts that have bones inside take longer to cook than when they have been deboned.

A deboned thigh takes roughly 15-20 minutes to cook (depending on the size). A thigh with its bone still in will take about 20-30 minutes to cook. As you can see, this is a considerable difference.

The size of the cut

Obviously, this is probably another massive factor. Just like a whole chicken takes longer to boil than a chicken wing, so will a large chicken wing versus a small chicken wing.

The more meat there is to cook, the longer the center will take to reach the correct internal temperature. Bigger thighs will mean the answer to “how long to boil chicken thighs” is longer.

Differents cuts of chicken

The exact cooking temperature

Considering we are boiling chicken, there isn’t a massive range of temperatures we work with here.

However, it is crucial that the water is boiling. Boiling water has a cooking temperature of 212ºF (100ºC) at sea level. For every 500 feet above sea level, the boiling point decreases by 1 degree (0.5ºC).

So, depending on where you are, the cooking temperature at the boiling point will be different. At 10 000 feet above sea level, the temperature will be 193ºF (89.5ºC) which is a lot different from 212ºF.

Simmering water

If the water is simmering, it is working at a lower temperature. Even though it is slightly below boiling, it still makes a difference. And even more so if the water is simply warm and not simmering. 

That’s why you have to boil chicken in boiling water. If you don’t, the chicken will take even longer to cook above all the other variable factors.

boilling water

How Long Do You Boil Chicken?

So, even though there are a lot of variables when it comes to how long to boil a chicken or cut, there are averages you can work with.

Again, it is crucial to boil chicken in boiling water, not simmering water. And keep in mind the altitude you are boiling at because it will lower the boiling temperature. We are working with a cooking temperature of 212ºF (100ºC).

boiled chicken thigh close up

How Long To Boil Chicken Breasts

Fresh chicken breast halves (skinless and boneless) will take about 12-15 minutes. The average half-chicken breast weighs about 3 ounces (85 grams).

A whole chicken breast with the bone in and skin on will take between 30-40 minutes each.

boiled chicken breast in a pot

How To Boil Chicken Drumsticks

Fresh chicken drumsticks or legs take about 20 minutes to boil. Virtually all chicken drumsticks still have a bone in them. So, if you are working with a deboned drumstick, your boiling time will decrease to 10-15 minutes.

A drumstick weighs between 1 1/2 ounces (without bones or skin) and 3 1/2 ounces (99 grams).

How Long To Boil Chicken Whole?

There are many different-sized chickens you can buy. The most common type of chicken is a broiler or fryer chicken which weighs between 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds.

On average, a whole chicken under 4 pounds will take about 30-50 minutes to cook completely. A whole chicken above 4 pounds will take between 40-70 minutes to cook.

boiled whole chicken

How Long Does It Take To Boil Frozen Chicken Thighs

Many people will also be wondering if you can boil a frozen chicken. You definitely can, but the boiling times will increase significantly.

Frozen chicken thighs will take between 30-45 minutes to boil completely. Chicken breasts (boneless and skinless) will take between 20-30 minutes.

A whole frozen chicken under 4 pounds will take 60-70 minutes to boil completely. And a whole frozen chicken above 4 pounds will take around 60-90 minutes to cook completely.


What is the white stuff when you boil chicken?

Many people are concerned with the white stuff that comes out of the chicken while it is boiling. This gooey white stuff consists of mainly water and protein. The proteins denature during the boiling process and leeches out of the meat with water. This is completely safe to eat, it just doesn’t look appealing. It also doesn’t affect how long to boil chicken thighs.

Do chicken thighs look pink when cooked?

If your boiled chicken has a slightly pink color, that doesn’t necessarily mean the chicken isn’t cooked. That’s why it is crucial to check the internal temperature of the chicken before removing it from the water. Some chicken (even if it has reached 165 degrees) will have a slightly pinkish color.

How do I prepare chicken thighs for boiling?

The most important step you have to follow before boiling the chicken is to ensure it is clean. Make sure the cut doesn’t have any feathers on it, any dirt, or any blood. You can also rinse the chicken in cold running water (do not use soap!). You can also pat it dry, but because you are boiling the chicken, this isn’t a crucial step. 

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One Comment

  1. Tamira Houston says:

    Thanks for showing the various ways to prepare for chicken soup this is something I’ve always wanted to know how to do the directions with the pictures are excellent and I can’t wait to try this