how to: poach chicken

learn the basics in cooking.

repeat after me: learn the basics in cooking.

one basic that i hold near + dear is how to poach a chicken breast. lemme tell ya why.

shredded chicken poach

back in chicago, AJ + I lived across the street (we’re talking 20 steps here people) from a lovely neighborhood grocery store, potash brothers. whenever we had a late day at work we would double park out front (i promised to be honest along this blog journey. case in point) + run in for a handful of groceries to make dinner. i would spend the whole car ride home conjuring up a dinner plan + on those super late nights, using a rotisserie chicken for our dinner was a classic go-to move.

i would confidently walk into the store, armed with my dinner plan + more times than i’d like to admit, i would encounter an empty rotisserie section. if you have yet to experience this turmoil, let me tell ya, when you are still sporting your learning-to-cook-sea-legs + are armed with ONE plan, something as simple as losing one ingredient stops all brain function.

and stopping brain function only translates to one thing in the kelly flynn world – epic pouting. so in a situation like this i could then be found nearly stomping my pouty little self over to the pasta aisle, looking to the heavens + wailing that kraft mac-n-cheese was the ONLY solvent to my no-shredded-chicken problem.

what do you think happened next? maybe i came to my sense + didn’t plan on rotisserie next time? of course not! logic isn’t welcome in a stressed person’s brain. maybe i would learn that potash didn’t stock nearly enough rotisserie birds as the community called for? nope! i went through the whole situation sometimes just days apart!

i’ll tell ya what i did. i finally learned how to say no to the mac-and-cheese problem solving method + learned how to get my hands on shredded chicken – without the pesky rotisserie section!

enter: poaching chicken breast.

you can use poached chicken in the recipes you’d use store-bought rotisserie chicken. the advantage of poached chicken is that it’s lower in sodium + is likely more moist than a chicken that’s been sitting under a heating lamp for a few hours at the grocery store. that my friends, is what we call a win-win.

your poaching liquid can be as simple as plain water. admittedly, this doesn’t add flavor, but your chicken will be succulent + tender! wanna up the flavor antee? all your poaching liquid needs is some aromatics – fresh or dried herbs, chopped veggies or smashed garlic! you can also swap out the H2O for chicken broth, white wine (#sold), fruit juices, coconut milk – let your hair down + get wild, pretty much anything goes!

here are a few combinations to get your creative juices (PUNS!) flowing:

As Basic As Martha: carrots, celery, lemons, parsley + black peppercorns.

Asian Zest: fresh sliced ginger, red pepper flakes + smashed garlic.

A Trip to Provence: thyme, basil, bay leaf + orange zest.

Mexican Flair: sliced lime, coriander seeds, cilantro + dried chiles.

now go on! poach yourself some chicken + give yourself a big ole pat on the back. you, my friend, have just learned a basic!

poached chicken
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: basic
  • boneless skinless chicken breast
  • water {or other poaching liquid. see post}
  1. arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. if using aromatics, place over top.
  2. cover the chicken with water/poaching liquid. pour in enough cool water to cover the chicken by an inch.
  3. place the pot over medium-high heat + bring to a boil.
  4. reduce to a simmer, cover + cook for about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breast.
  5. remove the chicken from the poaching liquid + place it on a cutting board to cut, shred or slice.
lesson learned from the kitchn.



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