How to Poach Chicken Breasts

by Jul 10, 2024

Having some cooked chicken on hand is always a good idea. And poaching is a great way to cook on a hot day. Use the chicken for Chinese Chicken Salad, creamy Sonoma Chicken Salad, Chicken Caesar, any salad, sandwich, taco, or quesadilla. Or just dunk slices in your favorite spread or dressing, here’s my Garden Ranch.

Published with my Chicken Salad in Edible Bozeman, Issue 8, Spring 2021

How to Poach Chicken Breasts


  • 2–4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
  • big stockpot full of water (4 quarts)
  • ¼ cup Kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Pound each chicken breast between a fold of plastic wrap or parchment paper to a uniform thickness, approximately ¾ inch.

  2. To big stockpot full of water, add salt, bay leaf, squeeze in both lemon halves, and add the rind as well. Set a steamer basket in the stockpot and place the pounded chicken breasts in a single layer on the steamer. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. Bring stockpot just barely to a boil (minimum temperature 175°F, higher is OK), cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let stand for 20 minutes, which will delicately cook the chicken. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 160–165°F. Transfer chicken to a plate, let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.

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