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Perfect Poached Chicken - A Family Feast

Perfect Poached Chicken

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 6-ounce breasts


Recipe adapted from Fresh and Light


  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, or fresh plain thyme if lemon thyme is not available
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 6-ounce chicken breasts, trimmed of all visible fat


  1. In a medium pan with high sides that has a tight fitting cover (ours was 9 ½ inches round and 2 ½ inches deep), place 1 quart of chicken stock, the sliced lemon, thyme and peppercorns. Bring to a boil uncovered. Place the chicken breasts in and set the timer for exactly three minutes from the time you add the chicken to the poaching liquid (do not allow the water to come back to a boil).
  2. After three minutes, remove from heat, cover and let the chicken sit in the poaching liquid for 8-10 minutes. The thickness of the breasts will determine the exact amount of time they sit in the hot liquid. After eight minutes, pull one out and test for doneness. (A little bit pink inside is OK, the chicken will cook further until it cools).
  3. Once just about cooked, remove to room temperature to cool. After they cool, they can be sliced or shredded depending on your recipe needs.
  4. The poaching liquid should be discarded.


This recipe will also work for chicken breasts that have been cut up into chunks. Place the chunks in the poaching liquid as above, bring the liquid temperature almost to a boil, cover and shut off heat. Let cut up chicken sit in poaching liquid for 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. The size of the chicken pieces will determine the time they sit in the hot poaching liquid. Large 2-3 inch size pieces will take the full ten minutes. Smaller 1-2 inch pieces will take about five minutes. Once they are done cooking, remove them from the liquid immediately to cool.