How to Properly Poach Chicken

How many times have you picked out a yummy recipe to make for dinner only to find it starts out something like this:


2 Cups chicken, cooked and diced

Well, great.

That easy recipe just became not so easy after all and might be just a smidge more than you want to deal with on a weeknight when you’ve worked all day, the kids are cranky and starving, and you already have a sink full of dishes before you begin to fix dinner.

I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m there just about everyday!

The fact is, us Moms don’t just have a cooked chicken lying around all the time.  We can’t just put out our magic mama wands and whip up a perfectly cooked bird in a matter of seconds. Sure you can buy a rotisserie chicken at the store, but how many times have you tried that only to find that they are out and more won’t be ready for 45 minutes?  Or maybe you want diced chicken instead of shredded, or you don’t feel like digging your new manicure into a whole chicken and pulling it from the bones like a savage.   I know, that was a stretch, who has a new manicure?

Anyway…the point is, perfectly cooked chicken that is not tough, stringy, dry, or full of gristles is in fact attainable in about ten minutes.

Poaching is the answer!

You can used beautifully poached chicken as the base for your favorite chicken salad recipe, in casseroles, for tacos, salads, lettuce wraps, soups, burritos….anything!

Poached chicken is moist, tender, and most of all, seasoned, so it takes like something!  It’s amazing what a difference that makes!

Ok, it’s obvious I’m very excited about this because I’ve used a lot of exclamations points in this post…so let’s learn how to poach chicken!

First we start off with a few basic ingredients:


I like to buy the trimmed boneless breasts because I really do think they are cut more carefully and I don’t have to work on pulling out tendons and all that icky stuff that ends up convincing me I don’t like chicken anyway.  If you are good with cleaning up your own, just buy the regular ones.  All you need is about three cups of chicken broth, a little white wine, a bay leaf, and some coarse salt and pepper.

Place the breasts in a wide-mouthed, deep skillet with all of the above mentioned ingredients.  The liquid should just cover the meat.  If you need to add a little water to achieve that, by all means, do.


Now, you are going to put the pan of chicken uncovered on the stove over medium heat and bring it up to a bare simmer.  You do not want it to boil or even simmer vigorously.   At this point the chicken will be starting to cook just around the edges.

Once at a bare simmer, place the lid tightly on top and shut off the heat.  Allow the chicken to steep in the hot liquid for about eight minutes. The heat of the broth and the steam from the closed lid will cook the chicken through.  If you find that yours isn’t quite done after eight minutes, give it a couple more.  Once done, the chicken will be opaque and no longer pink:


Simply set the chicken on some towels to absorb the excess moisture and then slice on the bias with a serrated knife, or dice them up.


You will hardly have to put any pressure on your knife because this chicken is so tender.  It’s flavored and seasoned all the way through and is the perfect base for all those recipes you’ve stashed away that call for cooked chicken.

I think this makes the world a better place, don’t you?  Just doin’ my part!

How to Properly Poach Chicken


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 Cup dry white wine, (cooking wine is fine)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  1. Place the chicken in a wide mouthed large skillet.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the pan.
  3. Make sure the liquid just covers the chicken, add a little water if needed.
  4. Heat over medium until the liquid reaches a bare simmer.
  5. Cover with a tight lid and shut off the heat.
  6. Allow the chicken to poach for eight to ten minutes.
  7. Remove from the liquid and slice or dice to add to any recipe.



  1. Poaching has never even crossed my mind. I like this how to sort of thing, there might be hope for me yet with some guidance from you!

  2. Definitely the right way to have chicken.

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