Poached Chicken

Poached Chicken

In theory I get the appeal of meal prepping. In practice though the idea of making a big batch of say, chicken and rice, on a Sunday and then eating that same chicken and rice on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is my personal idea of hell. How do I know on Sunday what I will be craving on Friday?!  The monotony of it all makes me sad. I feel like meal prepping is for people who don’t really enjoy cooking and don’t see it as a creative pursuit in and of itself. But I do get the appeal of opening the fridge and having some of the work already done. So my idea of meal prepping is to have ingredients, rather than meals, prepped and ready to go so that I can reap the benefits of planning ahead while still satisfying my desire to cook and eat in the moment. And that’s where this Poached Chicken comes in.

If you think this is a dish that belongs back in your grandmother’s country club era, think again. Perfectly poached chicken is lusciously tender, and a blank canvas for an endless variety of delicious and healthy meals. Sandwiches, salads, noodle bowls, tacos, and more can be ready in minutes if you have these poached chicken breasts sitting pretty in your fridge, so let’s get into it.

ingredients for poached chicken

Poached Chicken has a bad rap for being bland and dry. But not with my method! A flavorful poaching liquid and gentle cooking insures perfect results every time. Seasoning the poaching liquid with  ginger, garlic, bay leaves and onions gives the chicken a nice flavor base without overpowering it so it can still be used in any recipe.

When I was a kid, there was one Thanksgiving where we had to leave during the day to visit some friends. We had only been cooking the turkey for a hour and worried that we would come home and the turkey would be raw, forcing my mom to scramble to get the meal on the table. Shockingly, when we cut into the turkey, it was fully cooked and probably the best turkey we had ever tasted. Moist, tender, and oh so juicy. The idea of cooking meat on high heat at first and then finishing the cooking on residual heat is not new but it was the first time for me that I tasted what a transformation it could have on meal. Lean protein in particular, like boneless skinless chicken breasts, really benefit from this method of cooking.

smashed garlic poached chicken

ginger onion poached chicken

For this recipe I seek out smaller chicken breasts, around 8 ounces each. This helps them to cook evenly and in less time so they stay moist. If using larger chicken breasts cut them in half (crosswise) before proceeding. I also use a fork to pierce the chicken all over, this both helps it absorb the flavors of the poaching liquid and shortens the cooking time.

The pot you use is important. It needs to be big enough to hold 8 cups of water and fit the chicken breasts in an even layer. I used a 4 quart pot but anything up 6 quarts should work fine. If you’re planning on poaching say 4 breasts, I suggest you cook in two batches rather than dumping two more breasts into the pot. But you can re-use the same poaching liquid. This technique relies on transferring heat from the poaching liquid to the meat and you want to have plenty of liquid to bathe the raw meat.

lemon poached chicken

salt pepper poached chicken

simmer chicken

Letting the brine simmer for 10 minutes makes a perfectly seasoned poaching liquid. After the 10 minutes I remove the lemon so the bitter citrus flavor doesn’t become super pronounced.

I cook the chicken for precisely 3 minutes, and then cover and remove from the heat. Then it continues to gently cook (off heat) for another 13-15 minutes until cooked through. You can test for doneness by either using a meat thermometer or just cutting into one.  Now you have perfectly poached chicken ready to be used in your favorite recipes. It will hold in the fridge for several days. It is traditionally served cold, but you can gently reheat in the microwave. I like to serve it with a dipping sauce, the scallion ginger sauce from my Hainanese Chicken is a superb pairing. If you like it spicy Prik Nam Pla is excellent too. You can use it to add protein to a simple salad dressed with Roasted Sesame Dressing. I’m excited to hear how you’ll use these Poached Chicken breasts, let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you.



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recipe poached chicken

Poached Chicken

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: entrees
  • Cuisine: pan-Asian


  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 piece ginger (roughly the size of half a lemon, sliced
  • ½ large onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • ½ Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sea salt
  • 23 chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each


  1. Fill a medium deep large pan with the water, bay leaves, ginger, onion, garlic, salt and peppercorns. Your pot needs to be able to fit the chicken in one layer, so that the chicken will be completely submerged in the hot liquid.
  2. Juice the lemons into the water, and then add the lemons to the pot as well. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. With a fork, prick your chicken breasts liberally on both sides. This will help the brine and heat penetrate the meat.
  4. Remove the lemons, add the chicken breasts, turn the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. The liquid will not come to a simmer and that’s ok-trust the process. 
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and let the chicken sit for about 13-15 minutes until the chicken reaches 160 degrees with a thermometer (you can also take one breast out and cut into it to check).
  6. Remove the chicken from the liquid and it’s ready for use.


*You can chill and store the chicken breasts in the fridge whole until ready to use. The chicken breasts are good for several days.

*These chicken breasts are lightly seasoned and can be served topped with sauce or mixed with a dressing. Increase the salt by ½ Tablespoon if you prefer more pronounced seasoning.

*For best results, use evenly sized breasts that are as close to 8 ounces each. If your chicken breasts are incredibly large, cut them in half crosswise first before poaching. 

*You can use the poaching liquid to cook more chicken breasts, although I recommend cooking only 2 at a time. Add a little more salt before repeating.  


Keywords: poached chicken, meal prep, poaching, healthy, chicken

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