Boiling or poaching chicken means cooking it in hot liquid. This is an 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!
The liquid used to cook the chicken can be as simple as water, which works well if you want a basic meat to use in chicken breast recipes or to freeze it for later. You can also use other liquids such as chicken broth, apple cider, dry white wine, or a combination. 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.
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 to boiling on medium-high heat; reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F).
So, how long do you boil chicken? 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 it first. Either leave chicken breasts in the fridge for at least 9 hours or speed it up 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 keeping the poached chicken liquid, drain chicken through a sieve into a bowl. If you're keeping the cooking liquid for broth, 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 in desired chicken breast recipes.
Tip for quick shredded chicken: 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.
Learn more about shredding meat, including how to shred chicken you've boiled. We think the method here is the best way to shred chicken.
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:
Boiled chicken can be used in all sorts of ways! You'll love having one of these chicken breast recipes for dinner tonight: