How to Boil Chicken

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Chicken is the most widely consumed meat in the world. It’s loved for its taste and versatility and included in a vast array of popular recipes. While many of us grill, fry, or roast chicken, boiling poultry is much less common. So, can you really boil chicken?

To boil chicken, add the chicken pieces to a large pan and cover with your chosen liquid. Then, season well and bring to a boil before allowing it to simmer for up to twenty minutes. 

How to Boil Chicken

Although often overlooked in favour of other cooking methods, boiling chicken is a great way to prepare it. Here’s what you need to do to boil chicken safely: 

  1. Choose Liquid
    To keep things simple, you can boil chicken in water. But consider opting for chicken broth or a flavoursome soup to enhance the taste. 
  2. Prepare Chicken and Liquid
    Once you’ve decided on your liquid, place your chicken breasts in a large pot and cover them with water or broth. Make sure you add seasoning at this stage, or your chicken will be bland.
  3. Bring to a Boil
    Place the pan on the stovetop over high heat and ensure the lid is affixed or you’ve covered it with tin foil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for fifteen minutes, ensuring the water is still bubbling away. If you turn the heat low, you’d be poaching the chicken.
  4. Check the Temperature
    When you think your chicken is ready, you must check its internal temperature before eating it. It must be 75C or 165F before it’s safe to eat. 
  5. Serve and Enjoy
    Your boiled chicken is now ready to slice, shred, or enjoy in any way you choose.

You could use thighs or wings but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time. Bone-in breasts, for example will need double the cooking time!

You can also use skin-on chicken pieces but the skin will become very slimy so will need removing before eating.

What is the Difference Between Boiling and Poaching?

Poaching involves cooking food submerged in barely simmering water. The water should barely bubble. Boiling, on the other hand, is when food is cooked in constantly boiling water.

How to Boil Chicken Successfully

If you want complete success when boiling chicken, here are 3 tips to take on board:

  • Season Well – The biggest drawback of boiling chicken is that it doesn’t taste as great as other cooking methods. Make sure you season your chosen liquid well with salt and pepper and add a range of other herbs and spices to the mix. This will add some much-needed flavour to your boiled chicken. 
  • Add Extra Ingredients – As well as seasonings, consider throwing some extra ingredients into your pan. Dice some onions, garlic, and other veggies to improve the flavour. The last thing you want is for your chicken to be tasteless once it has boiled, so don’t be afraid to add a range of ingredients.
  • Shred – Boiled chicken is perfect for shredding. Shredded chicken salads and sandwiches with a homemade dressing or sauce can be a healthy and enjoyable lunch option and something a little bit different into the bargain.
Shredding Boiled Chicken Meat

Why You Should Boil Chicken?

Although not overly common, boiling chicken is great for the following reasons: 


There’s nothing remotely challenging about boiling chicken. Providing you season the liquid well and include some extra ingredients, you will have a flavoursome serving of cooked chicken within 20 minutes. 

The great news is there is nothing to preheat and no browning. You don’t need countless trays and pots. You can go from raw to cooked chicken with one burner and a pot.


Let’s be honest; fried chicken is pretty hard to beat! But it’s not overly healthy.

Boiled chicken, on the other hand, is very healthy and ensures the meat retains its nutritional properties. The only fat in the dish will be the fat already present in the meat. You won’t be adding any fat during the cook process.

Why You Shouldn’t Boil Chicken?

In fairness, not everyone likes the idea of boiling chicken, and for good reason. There are some clear drawbacks to boiling chicken: 

Bland Taste

If you’re not generous with your flavours and seasoning, the boiled chicken will taste extremely bland. But if you put together a tasty broth and add some ingredients, you should be able to enjoy boiled chicken just like any other form of cooked chicken.

It also comes down to how you’re going to eat it in the end. If you want to boil chicken and then eat it neat, you’ll find it dull. If, however, you’re going to toss it into a salad, mix it into a minestrone or stir it through a pasta sauce then it’ll work just fine.

Not the Best Texture

Boiled chicken might be a little rubbery to some people, particularly if you’re used to eating fried or roasted chicken. However, mixing things up is always good, and boiled chicken is great for a range of dishes. 

Is It Safe to Boil Chicken?

Boiling chicken is just as safe as preparing this meat in any other way. However, you need to make sure that your chicken is sufficiently hot before serving it, as eating undercooked chicken can cause a serious stomach upset.

Use a meat thermometer to check your chicken is at least 75C or 165F before you eat it.

Do Chicken Boil Well?

Boiling chicken is quick and easy, and it boils extremely well. Don’t forget to add lots of seasoning and spice to your chosen liquid, as you don’t want your chicken to taste too bland.

It is, however, easy to overcook chicken when boiling it. Try not to use a rolling boil and turn the heat down to a gentle bubble so that you avoid cooking it too quickly.  

Boiling Chicken FAQs

If you still have a few questions about boiling chicken then these FAQs might help you out a little:

Can You Boil a Whole Chicken?

Although possible, the outside meat will be incredibly overcooked and rubbery by the time the inside is cooked through. If you want to cook it in water then consider poaching it slowly.Poaching a Whole Chicken

Can You Boil Chicken in Stock?

Yes! Chicken can be boiled in any liquid that can reach boiling point. This can include stocks and broths. Using stock will add flavour to the chicken as it cooks too.

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