Poaching Chicken Breast – Easy Guide & Quick Recipe

Today’s delicious recipe is all about how to poach chicken breast! Let’s find out what poaching is, why it’s such a popular technique, and what you will need.

You’ll also learn how to serve your scrumptious poached chicken breast, and I’ve included a simple yet flavorful, tender, and juicy recipe to get you started.

chicken breast before cooking

Mastering the best-poached chicken requires a bit of know-how, but it’s well worth the effort. When you cook boneless skinless chicken breasts using this method, you’ll end up with perfectly poached chicken breasts that are moist, tender, and flavorful.

The poached chicken recipe will guide you through the process step by step, ensuring you achieve the most delicious results.

If you’re eager to expand your culinary skills and learn more ways to prepare and cook chicken, don’t miss my guides on How Long To Bake Chicken Breasts and How To Make Air Fryer Chicken.

I’m here to help you become an expert on cooked chicken! And if you’re searching for a specific chicken recipe or dish, feel free to reach out or explore my website for more inspiration.

What is Poaching?

Poaching is a fascinating cooking technique that involves gently simmering food in a carefully chosen liquid, often referred to as the cooking liquid or poaching liquid. Typically, water, chicken broth, stock, or even wine are used as the base for this liquid.

Chicken Breasts in a sauce pan

The key to successful poaching is maintaining a temperature just below the boiling point, ensuring the food is cooked evenly and gently. Check out my article about How Long To Boil Chicken Thighs.

This method is particularly well-suited for cooking delicate proteins such as boneless skinless chicken, fish, and eggs. The gentle simmering keeps the food moist and tender, preventing it from drying or overcooking.

Moreover, the poaching liquid infuses the food with its flavors, creating a delightful harmony of taste and texture.

Is Poaching The Same As Boiling?

Poaching and boiling are two very different cooking techniques. While they may seem similar initially, there are some key differences. 

If you boil something, you simply cook it in plain, unseasoned water. The cooking temperature for boiling is usually around 212⁰F (100⁰C). Here is a guide on How Long To Boil Water.

Boiling,Chicken,Breast,In,A,Saucepan,On,A,Gas,Stove

Poaching, on the other hand, happens at a lot lower temperature, around 160-180⁰F (71-82⁰C). This also means that the cooking time has significantly increased. 

Another notable difference is that most recipes for poaching chicken breasts use a seasoned liquid for cooking the items. This can be something simple like fresh herbs, bay leaf, smashed garlic cloves, lemon slices, fresh thyme, onions, leeks, carrots, and so on. Naturally, this liquid will add flavor a lot more than simply boiling something in plain water.

Why Poach Chicken Breasts?

You might be wondering why you should consider poaching chicken breasts instead of boiling them. Well, there are several compelling reasons to choose this cooking method, which not only results in flavorful chicken breasts but also tender poached chicken that’s sure to impress.

  • 🍲 First and foremost, poaching involves using a seasoned liquid, such as chicken broth, which infuses the chicken with a delightful depth of flavor and juiciness. This is a stark contrast to boiling, which can often leave chicken bland and lacking in taste.
  • ⏳ Secondly, cooking meat at a low temperature for an extended period allows it to become incredibly tender and moist. If you’ve ever experienced boiled meat, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about and why poaching is a superior option.
  • 👩‍🍳 Another advantage of poaching is that it requires minimal equipment and is easy to clean up, making it a convenient choice for busy home cooks.
  • 🥗 Plus, poaching provides a healthy, low-fat cooking option, as it doesn’t require any added oils or fats.
  • ⏲️ Lastly, while poaching may take a bit longer than other methods, it’s mostly hands-free. This means you won’t need to check on the progress of your perfectly cooked chicken as frequently.
Chicken Breasts on a plate with vegetables

Ingredients Needed To Make Poached Chicken Breasts

While there isn’t a fixed recipe for poaching chicken breasts, the key is to use a seasoned liquid that will infuse the chicken with delicious flavors. The most common base liquids people use are chicken broth, vegetable broth, or even water. To elevate your poached chicken, consider adding a variety of vegetables, aromatics, and seasonings.

You can incorporate ingredients like fresh herbs, spices, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, squash, leafy greens, and so much more into your poaching liquid. For today’s detailed recipe, we’ve chosen a simple yet delectable combination that creates a rich, savory, and versatile flavor profile, perfect for pairing with various dishes.

  1. 🍲 To start, consider using chicken broth as the base for your poaching liquid, which will provide a rich and savory foundation.
  2. 🧪 You can also experiment with other options like chicken stock, white wine, lemon juice, or even a mix of soy sauce and water.
  3. 🌿 To enhance the flavor, add fresh or dried herbs such as bay leaf, thyme, or parsley and aromatic vegetables like red onion, leeks, or garlic.
  4. 🍗 If you’re using bone-in chicken breasts or chicken thighs, the cooking time may vary slightly, so adjust accordingly.
  5. 🧂 Don’t forget to add salt to taste, and consider including lemon slices 🍋 for a zesty twist.

How Long To Poach Chicken Breast

The time it takes to poach chicken breasts can vary based on the size of the chicken, the temperature of the cooking liquid, and the stability of that temperature. By maintaining a consistent temperature, you can ensure tender poached chicken without overcooking. This technique is known as sous vide.

However, if you’re poaching chicken using a more traditional method, such as in a slow cooker with chicken broth or boiling water, the average cooking time for a 1/2-pound breast is approximately 10-20 minutes. Relying on a timer alone may not guarantee perfectly tender chicken as the time may vary.

To ensure your chicken is cooked to perfection, it’s best to use a meat thermometer. This will provide a much more accurate indication of doneness than simply relying on a stopwatch.

Internal Temperature For Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts should always reach at least 145⁰F (63⁰C) to be completely safe to eat. For this recipe, we take it a little higher. But don’t worry, the cooking technique prevents the chicken from becoming dried out.

Use an instant-read or a probe thermometer and always insert it at the thickest part of the chicken, directly in the middle.

How To Serve Poached Chicken

Poached chicken breast offers a versatile and healthy option for various dishes, making it an excellent choice for quick weeknight meals and more elaborate recipes alike. With its tender and flavorful profile, there are countless ways to serve and enjoy poached chicken breasts. Check out my Brazilian Coxinha recipe which is made with poached chicken.

First and foremost, poached chicken is a delicious and nutritious way to serve chicken on its own. With minimal added calories and a delightful taste, it’s far superior to boiled chicken. Serve it alongside your favorite vegetables, grains, or pasta for a well-rounded meal.

Chicken Breasts after cooking

If you’re looking for creative ways to repurpose poached chicken breasts, consider making twice-cooked crumbed chicken breasts. Start by poaching the boneless skinless chicken breasts as per my recipe below.

Once they’re poached, let the chicken cool completely in the fridge. Then, coat the chicken pieces in breadcrumbs and fry them at high heat to quickly crisp up the coating without drying out the tender chicken inside.

Poached chicken is also an excellent addition to various dishes, such as chicken salad, casseroles, soups, or stews.

Another option is to pull the cooked chicken meat while it’s still hot to create a savory pulled poached chicken filling, perfect for tacos, sandwiches, or wraps.

boiled chicken on a board

How To Poach Chicken Breasts – Ultimate Guide With Tasty Recipe

Keesha
These poached chicken breasts are super easy to make and relatively effortless. The unique cooking technique produces uber-flavorful meat that is still extremely juicy and tender. And best of all, the recipe is very easy to adjust to your liking!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting time 15 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 245 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
  • 3-4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions
 

  • To start, make sure that the chicken breasts are clean. You can wipe them with a clean piece of paper towel, then dry them well. Also, bring the chicken breasts to room temperature so they will cook more evenly.
  • Next, combine the broth, onion, carrot, leek, mixed herbs, and bay leaf in a medium pot. Add the chicken breast and make sure they are covered well.
  • Place the pot over medium-high heat. Leave the liquid to come to 170-180⁰F (77-82⁰C). Try to maintain that temperature throughout the entire cooking process.
  • Once you have reached the desired temperature, cover the pot with a lid, leaving one edge slightly open for the steam to escape. Leave the chicken to poach for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the chicken sit in the hot water for another 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the poached chicken should reach 155⁰F (68⁰C).
  • Remove the chicken from the liquid and leave it to rest for a minute or two. Then, cut it up in any way that you'd like to use in the recipe of your choice.

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 69gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 248mgSodium: 362mgPotassium: 1206mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 4086IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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