The Best, Most Foolproof Way to Cook Chicken Breast

updated May 1, 2019
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Sure, baked chicken breast is a meal-plan staple, and those charred edges certainly earn grilled chicken big points, but when ultra-juicy and tender chicken breast is what you’re after, there’s a better way yet.

If you ask me, there is no simpler, more foolproof way to cook lean chicken breast than poaching. It’s the reliable and truly underrated method that will help you say goodbye to dry, overcooked chicken breast once and for all.

Fall Back in Love with Poached Chicken

Poached chicken has long been a common cooking method for many home cooks looking for an easy way to prepare juicy chicken. But poaching never got particularly popular the way golden, skillet-cooked or baked chicken did. I’d wager that’s in part due to its simplicity — it’s basically water and chicken breast, simmered in a pot — often being misunderstood as being bland. To be fair, its pale appearance doesn’t help.

But all I see with poached chicken is a forgiving cooking method that always results in reliably tender and juicy meat. It’s the perfect blank canvas with a near-endless list of applications.

Add it to Sunday meal prep:
How To Poach Chicken Breasts

It Delivers More Flavor (If You Want)

A great batch of poached chicken requires no more than some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a saucepan, and some water. That’s it. Keeping it simple means you can season it how you’d like on a case-by-case basis.

Want more flavor? It’s as simple as swapping some or all of the water for stock (or even some beer or wine) or infusing flavor by adding aromatics like smashed garlic, ginger, herb stems, citrus peels, or peppercorns to the pot.

All the Ways to Use Poached Chicken

Poaching a few chicken breasts is a regular part of my Sunday meal-prep routine. The beauty of poached chicken, and why I love it so much, is that it is so incredibly versatile. It’s a blank, protein-packed canvas with the potential to be worked into a variety of diverse meals.

  • Cut into cubes, poached chicken is the hallmark ingredient of really good chicken salad.
  • Sliced thinly, it makes an excellent alternative over the selection from the deli counter.
  • Where poached chicken really excels is shredding. Grab two forks and, while it’s still warm, shred the chicken for a bunch of tasty options: Toss it with BBQ sauce for a quick pulled chicken sandwich; stuff it into tacos or burritos; add it to lunch salads; or stir it into soups, chills, or curries.

Recipes to Use Poached Chicken

Are you a fan of poached chicken breast? How do you use a batch? How do you flavor the poaching liquid?