How to Boil Chicken the Foolproof Way and Recipes To Try

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Odette Modified: February 2, 2023
How to Boil Chicken the Foolproof Way and Recipes To Try
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Chicken is one of the healthiest sources of protein. Add to that, it’s also one of the flexible meats out there. To start, you can fry or barbecue it. And then there’s roasting. You can learn how to truss a chicken for grilling and roasting, too. There’s just a myriad of ways you can prepare and cook chicken, and one of the popular methods is boiling. Boiling not only ensures your chicken is cooked through before baking or grilling, but it also gives a flavorful homemade chicken broth as well. Boiled chicken can be used for soups, salads, or pasta. Likewise with the chicken broth. That is why knowing how to boil chicken is extremely beneficial in the kitchen.

With that said, it’s not as simple as you might think. To have flavorful chicken stock and tender chicken meat, you have to know how to boil chicken the right way. Not just boiling it plain and simple, but knowing what fresh herbs and vegetables to put, optimal cooking time for tender meat, and more. But not to worry, continue reading and know how to perfectly cook boiled chicken and use it for your next recipes.

How to Boil a Whole Chicken

There are several ingredients you can use when boiling chicken. For the liquid, you can use dry white wine, apple cider, or something as simple as water. But there’s no harm in combining two or three of these. Aside from the liquid, you can also flavor and season it with herbs and vegetables such as carrots, celery, garlic, and onion. And of course, you can also add bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns.

How to Boil Whole Chicken

To get you started, you can try this recipe for boiled chicken.

Here’s what you need: 

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 onion, halved and unpeeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 cups of chicken broth or water

Follow these easy steps to boil a chicken:  

  1. Get a large stockpot that covers a whole chicken. Place poultry in your best stock pot together with the remaining ingredients. Remember to put ingredients first before adding the liquid to avoid liquid spilling.
  2. At this point, you may add water or broth. Just put enough to cover the chicken and ingredients.
  3. Next, cover the pot and wait for it to boil. When it starts to boil and reaches 212 degrees F, lower the heat and let it simmer for one hour or exactly 60 minutes. Depending on the size of the chicken, you may have to add more cooking time.
  4. Lastly, transfer chicken on a rack or plate to cool. Shred using a fork. For large chicken, you may use a knife or electric knife to cut it down into smaller chunks.

READ ALSO: How to Tell if Chicken Is Bad: 5 Signs to Look For and How to Avoid Them

How Long to Boil Chicken

When is chicken done? While it’s important that your chicken is cooked through to avoid foodborne illnesses, that doesn’t mean you have to overcook it. So, how long does it take to boil a whole chicken?

There are different boiling times for different cuts of chicken. The quantity and weight of the poultry also affect the boiling time. For fresh whole chicken weighing up to 4 pounds, boil for 40 to 60 minutes. That said, one sure way to tell if your chicken is cooked through is by using a meat thermometer. Cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. But if you don’t have a meat thermometer lying around, you can also check its appearance. If the chicken is still pink and juices are not free of blood or red color, then there’s a good chance it’s still raw.

Lastly, we’re going to answer how long to boil frozen chicken. Does it go the same for frozen chicken? As previously stated, you may boil a whole chicken for a maximum of 90 minutes. The same goes for frozen chicken. But like we said, it pays to check the internal temperature to be extra-sure.

How to Boil Chicken Breast

how long to boil chicken breast, chicken breast, kitchen thermometer

Boiling chicken breast is just like boiling a whole chicken, so you can still use the recipe above. If you’re wondering how many breasts there are in a whole chicken, you can substitute a whole chicken with 4 boneless or bone-in breasts.

How Long to Boil Chicken Breast

Now, knowing how long to boil chicken breast is just as easy as the whole chicken. For boneless chicken breast, it will take about 12 to 15 minutes. Just double the cooking time if you’re using bone-in. But to be exact, that’s 25 to 30 minutes. Lastly, frozen and boneless chicken breast needs 18 to 22 minutes to boil. Easy right? Just remember to always add a few minutes if you’re boiling frozen meat.

Boiling vs Poaching vs Par Boiling

best stock pot, boiling pot, boiling water

Ever had a whiplash trying to differentiate boiling, poaching, and par boiling? There might come a time you wondered their differences as you’ve often read these three in cooking instructions. Not to worry! In this section, we’ll discuss their differences in a way it will be easier for you to remember the next time you try this easy boiled chicken recipe.

Let’s start with the one that’s easier to understand — boiling. Boiling is simply food immersed in water that has reached a boiling point of 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C. Meanwhile, poaching refers to immersing food in barely simmering water or liquid with a lower temperature of 158 to 176 degrees F. For this method, it’s important to achieve a gentle boil so as not to ruin gentle foods. This method is commonly used for foods such as fish, fruit, and dishes like this light poached eggs recipe.

While boiling and poaching is a method wherein you completely cook food (albeit slowly for the latter), parboiling is merely the first step in cooking. Meaning, you just partially cook or semi boil food in preparation for the next step. Additionally, it’s also a basic cooking method for cooking vegetables like broccoli.

Tasty Boiled and Shredded Chicken Recipes to Can Try

easy bbq pulled chicken

Now that you know how to boil chicken, let’s get right to dishes you can easily whip up at home. We have included boiled chicken dishes that you might like, as well as some ideas on what to make with shredded chicken.

  • Easy BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe — This recipe is easy to make, but boiling chicken rather than baking it will make this recipe even easier. Just mix the barbecue mixture in the shredded chicken and you’re good to go! You may also cook it more in the pan to make the flavors more concentrated.
  • Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe — This one is different from the rest of the recipes listed. Instead of the usual boiling method, this one uses the sous vide method where you cook food at a precisely regulated temperature. If you happen to get your hands on a sous vide machine, you might want to try this recipe rather than simply boiling it. It makes a juicy chicken breast too!
  • Barbecue Chicken Salad Recipe — Like the first one, this too needs shredded chicken. Save yourself the hassle of baking a whole chicken in the oven with boiled and shredded chicken instead. It’s perfect for this recipe too. Just toss the shredded chicken along with crispy lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and barbecue sauce and you’re done.
  • Black Pepper Shredded Chicken Sandwich — Here’s a recipe where you can use both chicken breast and chicken stock. Skip a few cooking steps and fry shredded chicken with seasoning mixture instead. This recipe is good for left-over chicken as well.
  • Poached Chicken Recipe — Now, here’s a cooking method similar to boiling. Unlike boiling, cooking for this recipe involves turning off the heat, letting the residual heat from the water cook the chicken all the way through. The result? A tender, moist chicken perfect for salads and even sandwiches. Protip? We love that this can be prepared for make-ahead meals.

How To Store Boiled Chicken

Boiled chicken is one of the best foods to stock up on for make-ahead meals. Placed in freezer containers, you can store your boiled chicken in the fridge if you plan to cook it within a few days. But, you may also store it in the freezer to give it a week more shelf life. It can even be good for up to three months if the chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Knowing How to Boil Chicken Properly Is a Must-Have Skill in the Kitchen

Knowing how to boil chicken is just as important a skill as trussing because it yields flavorful and tender chicken. The chicken stock where you boiled the chicken can also be used for other dishes like pastas and soups. Add to that, moist chicken breast can also be used in a myriad of ways, making it worth your while. And believe us, your guests will also thank you for it.

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Odette is a content writer and proofreader by day, and living her inner artist as a poet and singer by night. She's also a former member of a publication who she now mentors from time to time. She likes how sharing a tiny bit of her life and her journey can help others in return. And because she is a curl embassador, she finds joy in empowering fellow curlies to embrace their natural curls. She also loves doing random acts of service to people she loves by cooking for them during her free time. This girl loves anything pasta and French cuisine though she just went through her Japanese and Korean cuisine phase.