Shredded or cubed chicken can be the backbone of so many great dishes, but you want to make sure that the chicken is cooked is away that makes it tender and juicy. There's nothing worse than dried out chicken! That's where boiling or poaching comes in. Using hot liquid is the ideal quick method for cooking chicken breasts, which can dry out when roasted or grilled. Bone-in breasts with the skin on are a good choice if you want the cooking liquid to become a tasty broth. For a shorter cooking time, opt for skinless, boneless chicken breast halves. For the quickest cooking time, use cut-up or cubed chicken breast. After you boil chicken breast, you can use it in a variety of recipes!
Now you may be asking yourself, just how difficult is it to boil some liquid and put chicken in it? And the answer is: It's not hard at all! But there are a few tips that will make sure that you get the best possible results. Read on for our secrets to tender, juicy boiled chicken.
The liquid you use to cook your chicken can be as simple as water, which works well if you want a basic meat to use in chicken breast recipes or want to freeze the chicken for use later. You can also use other liquids such as chicken broth, apple cider, dry white wine, or a combination to infuse your chicken breasts with additional flavor. Other ways to flavor the cooking liquid and the chicken include adding onion wedges, carrot pieces, celery pieces, garlic cloves, bouillon granules, herbs, salt, and lemon juice or peel.
OK, you've got your liquid and other flavoring additions. Now it's time to get cooking. Here's how to boil chicken breasts: Place the chicken in a saucepan large enough to hold the chicken pieces comfortably. Add enough cooking liquid to cover the chicken. If desired, add any other ingredients for flavoring the liquid and chicken. Bring the liquid to boiling on medium-high heat; reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink (170°F).
So, how long do you boil chicken for optimal tenderness? The cook time depends on the size of the breasts and whether they have bones or not. If you're wondering how long to boil frozen chicken, we'd advise you to thaw the chicken first. Either leave chicken breasts in the fridge for at least 9 hours to slowly thaw or speed up the process using the defrost setting on your microwave.
How to boil bone-in chicken breasts:
How to boil boneless chicken breasts:
If you're not saving the liquid from the boiled chicken, you can simply remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, fork, or tongs, letting excess liquid drain off. Then discard the liquid.
If you're keeping the poached chicken liquid, drain chicken through a sieve into a bowl. If you're keeping the cooking liquid for broth or stock, consider lining the sieve with two layers of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth to make the broth more translucent. Remove the chicken from the sieve and discard any vegetables and seasonings. Serve as desired in your favorite chicken breast recipes.
BH&G Test Kitchen Tip: For torn or pulled chicken pieces, let the chicken breast cool until easy to handle. If the chicken has skin, pull it off with your fingers and discard. Using your fingers, tear off pieces of chicken. Use torn or pulled chicken pieces as you would chopped chicken. Try it in one of our favorite shredded chicken recipes.
Our editors have also made quick work of shredding a large quantity of boiled chicken breasts by dropping them in a stand mixer and hitting them briefly with the mixer paddle. This technique makes quick work of shredding cooked chicken and you never need to get your hands messy. Just don't leave the paddle on for too long; you don't want to liquefy your chicken!
Related: How to Shred Any Meat
You can save boiled chicken for use in recipes for days or months to come by making ahead and storing in the fridge or freezer. Here's how:
Related: How to Make Homemade Chicken Broth
So we started off talking about some of the ways you can use boiled chicken, but there are so many we thought we'd share some more favorites! Try one of these ideas to enjoy boiled chicken breasts tonight!: