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How to Boil Chicken Breast

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Boiled chicken breasts are great to have on hand for adding to all kinds of recipes. Learn how to boil chicken breast easily and make flavorful chicken that you can shred, slice, or dice to add to any recipe or meal. 

cooked chicken breast on white plate sliced and shredded with parsley on the side

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I’m always looking for ways to make cooking at home a little easier and having boiled chicken in my recipe repertoire has been a game-changer. Chicken breast, the more lean part of the chicken, can be tricky when it comes to cooking. But boiling it is a great way of having flavorful chicken that can be repurposed into all kinds of meals, like chicken salad.   

Boiling chicken isn’t anything new, especially if you’ve made chicken broth or soup before using raw chicken. But boiling the chicken breast may seem foreign to most home cooks, especially when roasting it or pan-frying it is usually the first choice. However, if you’re looking for an easy method for cooking chicken that you want to add to other dishes, this one is it.

Ingredients Needed:

chicken broth and raw chicken breast before cooking

Chicken Breast – Either bone-in with skin on or boneless chicken works. I usually opt for boneless as it’s what I usually have on hand, but bone-in works as well and provides more flavor.  

Liquid: Water or broth are my desired choices here. If I’m boiling boneless chicken breast, I always use broth as boneless breasts don’t have much flavor on their own. If using bone-in chicken breast with skin on, I use water as there is flavor in the fat and bones. 

Optional Seasonings: Not a requirement, but adding certain fresh herbs or acids like lemon and vinegar provide additional seasoning to the breast.

How to Boil Chicken Breast

Gather your ingredients. You’ll need a large pot (I use a 3.5 qt heavy bottom pot), chicken breast, and enough liquid to cover the chicken by about 1-2 inches. If using any additional herbs and seasonings, add them at this time as well. 

Bring this to a boil over medium-high heat. 

chicken breast boiling in chicken broth

As soon as the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Allow it to simmer for about 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Do note that bone-in chicken breast will take a little longer to cook, about 15-18 minutes. 

Check the temperature of the chicken by removing the breast from the liquid with tongs and checking with a quick read thermometer. The chicken is done once it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

temperature checking chicken breast with yellow thermometer

Remove the chicken breast from the stove, turn off the heat, and allow to cool on a cutting board for about 10 minutes. Then slice, shred, or dice. 

Use in your favorite recipes and enjoy. 

How long will this chicken breast last

This chicken will last in your fridge for 3-4 days in your fridge and in the freezer for 4-6 months. 

What happens if I overcook the chicken?

It happens. I found that if I cook my chicken to about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s still a pretty good piece of chicken. Anything over that and it’s really stringy and dry. If this happens, I suggest finely chopping the breast to use in other recipes.

How to Shred Chicken Breast

Prior to shredding chicken breast, you’ll want to give it a chance to cool a little. Then you can use your hands, a pair of forks or meat claws to shred the chicken. My go-to for shredding meat is meat claws. They make shredding the chicken easy and they ensure nicely shredded pieces throughout.

shredded chicken breast in bowl with shredding claws

You could also place the chicken breast in a bowl and use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to shred the chicken. This method is great but watch closely as your chicken can turn to mush if you shred it for too long.

Boiling vs Poaching

Boiling chicken breasts and poaching them are not the same. Boiling, by definition, requires the liquid to get to a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. We do this before we reduce the temperature and cover and cook the breast.

Poaching, by definition, is cooking foods submerged in liquids at a lower temperature, of 158 degrees Fahrenheit to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Poaching is a great way to cook chicken breast, it just takes a little longer.

How to Use Boiled Chicken

This method of chicken is perfect for adding to other flavorful recipes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Additional Notes on Boiled Chicken

  • You could discard the broth after cooking the breast or consider straining it, to remove any foam or herb leaves, and using it to cook your favorite grain.
  • If using bone-in skin on breast, you’ll need to cook it a few minutes longer.
  • How long your chicken takes to cook will depend on the size of the chicken breast.
cooked chicken breast on white plate sliced and shredded with parsley on the side
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How to Boil Chicken Breast

Boiled chicken breasts are great to have on hand for adding to all kinds of recipes. Learn how to boil chicken breast easily and make flavorful chicken that you can shred, slice, or dice to add to any recipe or meal. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword boiled chicken breast, how to boil chicken breast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Rising Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 86kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 4 12 oz chicken breast
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water enough to cover chicken brost 1-2 inches.
  • additional seasonings optional

Instructions

  • Add chicken breast, broth, and any additional seasonings in a large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  
  • As soon as the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Allow it to simmer for about 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Do note that bone-in chicken breast will take a little longer to cook, about 15-18 minutes. 
  • Check the temperature of the chicken by removing the breast from the liquid with tongs and checking with a quick read thermometer. The chicken is done once it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Notes

  • You could discard the broth after cooking the breast or consider straining it, to remove any foam or herb leaves, and using it to cook your favorite grain.
  • If using bone-in skin-on breast, you’ll need to cook it a few minutes longer, about 15-18 minutes.
  • How long your chicken takes to cook will depend on the size of the chicken breast.

Nutrition

Calories: 86kcal | Protein: 16g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 87mg | Potassium: 279mg | Vitamin A: 23IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
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