Sliced Poached Chicken breast on a cutting board
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5 from 14 votes

Poached Chicken - Foolproof, perfect, AMAZINGLY juicy breast

Recipe video above. Forget every other method you've used. This recipe GUARANTEES the juiciest chicken breast you've ever made in your life. No special equipment, no fancy gadgets. It's dead easy and foolproof. Use for anything that calls for cooked chicken. Slice it, dice it, shred it, pile onto sandwhiches. HIGH ALTITUDE locations - please see note 4
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: poached chicken, poached chicken breast
Servings: 2 breasts
Calories: 285kcal
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts , boneless skinless, 250g/8.5 oz each (Note 1)

Optional flavourings (Note 2)

  • 1 lemon , quartered
  • 1 bay leaf , dried or fresh
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced

Instructions

  • Take chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Fill a saucepan with water so the chicken breast will be well submerged with at least 2" / 5cm of water above it in a single layer (can be snug but do not stack).
  • Add Flavourings, if using (squeeze in lemon juice, add used lemon).
  • Bring water to boil.
  • Place chicken breast in water, place lid on, bring back up to the boil. IMMEDIATELY remove saucepan from stove and set aside for 20 minutes (it's fine up to 45 min to 1 hr, won't overcook).
  • Remove chicken from water. Slice and be amazed how perfectly juicy and tender the breast is!! Or chop/shred and use as desired.
  • If reserving for later use, cover loosely to cool then refrigerate whole - see Note 6.

Notes

WHY THIS METHOD WORKS - This recipe works consistently every time because the chicken starts off in boiling water which is 100°C/212°F no matter which country, what stove, and what pot you're using! Chicken cooks at 65°C/150°F, so while the boiled water is at or above this temperature, the chicken is cooking. Once it falls below this temperature (as the water cools off the stove), the chicken stops cooking and thus prevents the breast from overcooking, yielding a guaranteed perfectly cooked juicy chicken breast every single time!
1. Chicken breast size and cook times
  • 250g/8.5oz each chicken breast - leave in water 20 minutes
  • 300g/10oz each breast - take out of fridge 30 minutes prior, leave in water for 25 to 30 minutes
  • Larger than 300g/10oz - are you sure they are CHICKEN breasts?? ?
  • 220g / 7oz or smaller - recipe works fine but is not quite as juicy, but still juicier than normal simmering method. Can pull out of water earlier using a thermometer - cooked breast is 66°C / 151°F, check at 16 minutes. 
  • Up to 45 minutes, and I still do not notice any loss of juiciness in the breast
  • Around 1 hour, I notice that it is slightly less juicy - but still way juicier than the usual methods of poaching!
  • Frozen chicken - must be fully thawed before using.
2. Flavourings are optional, they provide a subtle hint. Good if you plan to eat without adding tons of extra flavour eg slice and use on sandwiches. Feel free to add more fresh or dried herbs or dried spices.
DO NOT add salt or anything with salt in it (sauce or powders). Will affect boiling point and cooling rate of water = might affect chicken cooking through properly.
3. Pot - Big enough so breast lies in single layer. If scaling recipe up, use larger pot. I've done 6 breasts in a large pot.
4. High altitude locations: The higher above sea level you are, the lower the boiling point of water. This means that if you are located in a high altitude area, the recipe needs to be amended to boil water with chicken in it before taking it off the stove, to ensure the chicken cooks through. I recommend using a meat thermometer to check chicken for doneness - start by boiling for 1 minute, take off stove for 20 minutes, check temperature (cooked breast 66°C / 151°F). If undercooked, remove chicken from water, bring back up to boil, put breast back in and take off stove. Check internal temp every few minutes. Then next time you make poached chicken, increase or decrease boiling time prior to taking off stove!
5. Slicing tip - for the most tender bite, look for direction of grain and cut 90 degrees across the grain (see video).
6. STORAGE - Remove from water. Best to store whole, uncut, for juiciest chicken. Airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days. It's incredible how juicy it is even cold, straight from fridge.
Freezing - not as juicy but can be frozen. Thaw and use.
7. Nutrition per chicken breast (250g/8.5oz)

Nutrition

Serving: 250g | Calories: 285kcal | Protein: 53g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 160mg | Sodium: 290mg | Potassium: 925mg | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg