The easiest always-moist poached chicken


Poached chicken is a really handy thing to have around, for making chicken salad, sandwiches, and a whole lot more. When I have the time and the will, I poach whole chickens and stock them in the freezer. These days though, I don’t have the time or the energy for such tasks, so I cheat a bit and poach boneless chicken breasts.

While chicken breasts are so handy, it’s very easy to overcook them. This method is just about the easiest and most foolproof way of cooking the white meat so that it’s moist and tender, yet cooked through properly.

Method: Easy moist poached chicken breasts

  • 1 boneless chicken breast, cut in half
  • Water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Sake or sherry
  • A piece of fresh ginger

Use a pan that is deep enough to hold the breasts plus water to barely cover them. I use a small frying pan.

Put the water, salt, a splash of sake or sherry (optional), and a piece of fresh ginger that you’ve sliced up roughly, skin and all, into the pan. Put the chicken breasts in, and turn on the heat. Heat up until the water is boiling, then turn over the breasts.

Turn off the heat and pull the pan completely off the heat (important if you’re using an electric range), cover with a tight-fitting lid, and let it rest there, off the heat, for 10-15 minutes depending on how big the chicken breasts are. (If you are doing this in the morning, this is the time to go take a shower!) Poke the center of the breasts - they should be bouncy and slightly yielding, not rock-hard. If they feel too soft, poke a hole in and peek inside - if it’s a bit too pink, put the lid back on and leave for another 5-10 minutes. If the liquid has cooled down too much, take the chicken out, heat up the liquid on its own, add the chicken back to the liquid and put the lid back on for another 5-10 minutes.

You can store the poached chicken breasts in their liquid, well covered in the refrigerator, for about 2-3 days. You can also freeze them, either whole or sliced or shredded up. Add the chicken to salads, to stir-frys at the last minute, and more.

Recipe: Chicken and yogurt salad with cucumber and peach


This is a very refreshing summer salad. The yogurt dressing keeps it low-fat. Peaches in a savory salad? Trust me - it works!

If you make this salad for bento, be sure to pack it with an icepack, especially in hot weather (see Summer bento safety).

To make 2 rather large portions:

  • 250g / about 9 oz. poached chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 1 small cucumber
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. anardana powder (ground pomegranate seeds; you can omit this if you can’t find it)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup plain thick (Greek) yogurt
  • 1 ripe but firm peach

Slice the cucumber as thinly as possible - using a food cutter or mandoline makes this a lot easier. Sprinkle with salt, and massage the cucumber with your hands to make them limp and exude moisture. Wrap the cucumber slices in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze tightly to expel as much moisture as possible.

Cut the peach up into chunks - you can peel it if you want, but I usually don’t bother.

Combine the yogurt with the spices and mint. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste and add a little salt if needed.

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This yogurt chicken salad

This yogurt chicken salad looks AMAZING!! I will have to look around to see if I can find the spices in my area. I can’t wait to try your method for “not overcooked poached chicken”.

Cut in half which way?

Hey Maki, I’ve been meaning to try this sort of thing but wasn’t sure on timing so thanks. In your instructions you say to cut the breast in half, do you mean to halve the thickness or is it just to fit in the pan?

I cut it in half lengthwise

I cut it in half lengthwise to fit into the pan (it often comes pre-cut that way anyway). Sorry I didn’t make that clear!


Those are some great looking meatie chicken!


hello there I’ve never posted before but I’m always impressed by your presentation. There’s alot to learn about blogging here.

Please carry on.


Re: The easiest always-moist poached chicken

I've been a long-time reader, and have also used your chicken poaching method for a while now, but I only made up the salad recipe yesterday.

What a hit!! I substituted Amchoor for the anardana, and it worked out just fine. I'll definitely use this again as the hot weather's come early--91 today in NJ! It was also my first time giving that treatment to cucumbers, and we loved it; tasty, easy and "fancy"-looking.

Thanks for all your great work!

Re: The easiest always-moist poached chicken

Wow, 91 degrees....that's amazing! I could use some's only about 50 degrees F here today... Glad you liked the salad recipe :)

Re: The easiest always-moist poached chicken

I found your site today and I am in love with it!! I've been wanting to make bentos for a while for my nieces and nephews for school, but couldn't find recipes that they would enjoy. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! And its just before school starts here in the USA.

Also your method of poaching chicken is very interesting. I always just put the chicken in a deep microwave bowl with water almost covering it; then add enough milk to it so that its covered. I always comes out nicely moist and is handy for needing it in the next 5 min.

Thanks again for all your help!!!

Re: The easiest always-moist poached chicken

I tried this and they were rock hard. What did I do wrong?

Re: The easiest always-moist poached chicken

You probably left the chicken in too long, or the liquid was too hot.

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