Nowadays, people are consuming more chicken than any other meat, and it's easy to see why. This mild white poultry is cost-effective, can go in almost any recipe, and is super simple to cook. We're here to focus on one such cooking method -- poaching. Read on for our explanation of this approach, a step-by-step guide, plus some killer uses for poached chicken. This is our ultimate how to poach chicken piece, sure to change your culinary future forever. Let's get cooking!

What Exactly Is Poaching?

man unsure of how to cook holding pan and wooden spoon

Before we can begin to properly poach our chicken, we must first understand this way of cooking. Poaching is a cooking method that is a bit healthier than some other popular options. This is because it doesn't use any oil and does not call for skin-on chicken. Poaching simply means to cook by simmering in liquid. For our purposes, we love poaching skinless chicken breasts so they stay moist and juicy. Poaching can happen with water, chicken broth or stock, wine, juice, milk, or a combination of some or all of those liquids. Poaching leaves the meat tender and never dries it out, so is an excellent skill to develop as a home chef. Based on what spices you use, poaching will also impart some delicious flavors into your dish.

How To Poach Chicken

close up of poached chicken

Now that we understand the basic definition, it's time to jump into collecting the necessary ingredients and items for our perfect poached chicken.

What You'll Need

  • a Dutch oven or large pot with lid
  • measuring cups
  • wooden spoon
  • two forks
  • cutting board
  • Chef's knife
  • meat thermometer


  • 1 teaspoon pink salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic
  • handful of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, sage, or basil (optional)
  • 1/4 red onion
flat lay of spices

Now that everything has been collected, it's time to jump right into our recipe.


Step #1: Prep Step

Begin by thinly slicing the onion. Next, smash the garlic cloves and set aside.

Step #2: Chicken Base

Carefully place the chicken breasts on the bottom of your pan or dish. Ideally, they will be a snug fit in one single layer. If not, switch the size of your cooking vessel until this is the case.

Step #3: Aromatics And Liquid

Pour in the white wine, then chicken stock. The chicken should be completely submerged at this point. Add salt, pepper, garlic, onion, bay leaves, and any herbs.

Step #4: Poaching Perfection

Bring to a full boil, then immediately reduce to simmer for ten minutes. Partially cover the dish or pot for the duration of those ten minutes.

Step #5: The Heat Is Off

Turn off heat, but let chicken rest in the hot broth for about fifteen minutes. At the end of that time period, check the thickest part of the breast with the meat thermometer. It should read at least 165 degrees. If not, leave the chicken and check again in three to five minutes. Repeat until internal temperature is as desired. Carefully remove chicken from liquid and set aside.

Step #6: Cluck Cluck

Next, if you're planning to eat it right away, use two forks to shred the desired amount of chicken. Or, use a knife to slice chicken. For later use, simply refrigerate for up to three days and pull out as needed.

Best Uses For Poached Chicken

curry dish with poached chicken

Now that we know a foolproof plan to perfectly poach chicken, let's discuss the optimum ways to use this great ingredient.

  • Poached chicken is excellent in soups, such as classic chicken noodle or chicken wild rice.
  • It shines in curries like the one pictured above.
  • Poached chicken is ideal for chicken salad, like our favorite cranberry walnut version.
  • It's great for pasta, especially paired with delicious marinara or tomato-based sauce.
  • This chicken is also perfect to add to leafy greens for a quick and healthy salad.
  • Another use for poached chicken is in sandwiches; smear it with a little BBQ sauce for a quick weeknight dinner.

We hope you've thoroughly enjoyed our guide to poached chicken and its uses. It's sure to be a game changer in your kitchen.

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