How to poach chicken

November 25th, 2008 by megan · 1 Comment

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Poached chicken can really be a workhorse in your kitchen, if you let it. You can use it to make chicken salad, or to fill tacos or enchiladas, or to top a green salad for a light lunch. You can really do a lot with it.  I’ve found this method keeps the chicken from turning out tough, as can happen sometimes with poaching. Change up the aromatics you use in your poaching liquid – for example, if you’re going to use the chicken as a taco filling, you could add a handful of cilantro stems to your liquid.

I usually use bone-in chicken breasts – they’re cheaper and they add a lot more flavor to the poaching liquid. This makes about 2 cups of poached chicken (cut into 2-inch chunks).

It doesn't look like much, but it's a workhorse

It doesn't look like much, but it's a workhorse

You’ll need:

2 bone in chicken breasts (about 1 1/3 pounds total), skin and fat globs removed
5 cups chicken broth, stock, or water
1 rib celery, chopped in 3 pieces
1/2 carrot, chopped in 3 pieces
1/4 small onion (skin removed)
Handful of parsley stems
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Big pinch of salt
A pot large enough to hold the above ingredients


  1. Put the chicken in the pot, cover with broth, stock, or water, and add celery, carrot, onion, parsley stems, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, occasionally skimming the junk that rises to the surface and discarding. Boil for 8 minutes, uncovered.
  3. Turn off the pot, cover tightly, and let sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the bones and any remaining bits of fat from the chicken. If desired, strain the broth and use in whatever recipe you desire.


Li Nov 25, 2009 at 11:42 am

Cheers from Holland – This recipe is simple, effective, and the key is the 20-minute rest. a brilliant poached chicken for a tarragon salad wrap and a fantastic leftover stock!

Note in place of stock I used Fleur de sel – really lovely change if you’re interested.

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