The poach beyond reproach.
This poached chicken recipe should be a go-to dinner. Simple poached chicken breasts simmered in a lemon, rosemary, and shallot sauce, this easy dinner is ready in about 30 minutes.
Meet Your New Favorite Dinner Recipe
I am very excited to share this new herb and lemon poached chicken recipe for several reasons. First, who doesn’t need a new chicken dinner idea, right? I know I always do! Second, this recipe just tastes really, deeply good. Properly cooked poached chicken tastes tender, not tough, and the sauce is absolutely wonderful.
This chicken poaches in a bath of white wine, stock, herbs, lemon, garlic, and shallot. Once the breasts are done and resting, the brothy poaching liquid gets reduced down with a little butter into a sauce with serious flavor. I know you’ll love it.
Poaching Basics: How Long Does It Taste to Poach Chicken?
Chicken poaches relatively quickly. It only takes about 15 minutes to poach the chicken breast, not including the additional time for cooking and reducing the poaching liquid into a sauce.
The key is to take your time and get the liquid and chicken temperatures just right. More on that below.
What is the best way to poach chicken breast?
The best way to poach chicken breasts is at a bare simmer. The temperature of the liquid is key here. You need the water at a low simmer.
How do you know if the water is simmering? You should see small bubbles. You do not want the liquid to be still and inert, nor do you want it to boil. Find that Goldilocks place. On my stove, it means setting the burner to medium-low. The simmering water should be between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Boiling chicken is an express ticket to toughness town.
A bit of physics: Note that adding the lid will increase the internal pressure inside the skillet, which will make the water boil more quickly. So check on it after about a minute to make sure it is not accidentally boiling.
Poached vs. Boiled Chicken: Why Your Chicken May Taste Tough — and How to Make It Tender
Is boiled chicken the same thing as poached chicken? No, not quite. The difference between poached and boiled chicken is, quite literally, a question of degrees. Simmering water should be between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, creating small bubbles. Boiling water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, though you’ll see big rolling bubbles before that.
Boiling the bird will make it tough. Don’t do it. Why? The protein strands in the meat become tough, and will shrink and seize up. This makes the meat chewy. Simmering the liquid cooks the chicken low and slow, so the meat fibers stay relaxed and tender.
Recipe Steps + Ingredients
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients. I also suggest serving this dish with rice, which will soak up some of that good sauce as you eat:
- Chicken breast
- White wine
- Chicken stock (unsalted)
- Lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Here’s how you make it:
- Generously season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
- In an 11-inch skillet (or so), heat the wine, stock, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, and herbs.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Give it a couple of swirls.
- Add the chicken. The poaching liquid should be about halfway up the side of the breasts. Adjust the liquid amount with a little more stock or some water as needed.
- Cover the pan with a lid and poach at a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a probe thermometer reads 160 degrees F. (You can also use a sharp knife to cut into the thickest part of the breast to see if it’s fully cooked or still pink.) Check under the lid in the first minute or two to make sure that the liquid is at a simmer.
- Remove the chicken and let it rest on a plate, loosely tented with foil.
- Raise the heat and boil the poaching liquid, stirring often, until it’s reduced by about half into a nice sauce. Add the butter. Taste for seasoning. Fish out the thyme sprigs. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve hot.
Check out more great recipes:
- Chicken Pasta With Zucchini and Mint
- Homemade Chicken Soup
- Coconut Fish Stew With Greens
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
Poached Chicken With Lemon + Herbs
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large breasts; I prefer air-chilled chicken)
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup white wine (not cooking wine)
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (I use Swanson's)
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and minced
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and ideally at room temperature
- Salt and fresh-ground pepper
- Generously season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and set aside. If you are going to serve this with rice, now's a good time to start it.
- Cut the lemon in half. Reserve one half for juicing, and continue to slice the other half into thin slices for a nice garnish, and set aside.
- In an 11-inch skillet (or thereabouts), heat the wine, chicken stock, juice from half a lemon, shallot, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. PRO TIP: Note that you are not adding salt and pepper to the poaching liquid yet. This is because this liquid will later reduce into a sauce, which you don't want to be over-salted.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Give it a couple of swirls. Nestle in the chicken. The poaching liquid should be about halfway up the side of the breasts. Adjust the liquid amount with a little more stock or some water as needed.
- Cover the pan with a lid and poach the chicken breasts at a low simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness, turning halfway. You can also test for doneness by cutting into the thick center with a sharp knife to see if the meat is fully cooked or still pink, or by inserting a probe thermometer. It should read 160°F.TIP: Check under the lid in the first minute or two to make sure that the liquid is at a simmer, not boiling or completely still.
- Remove the chicken and let it rest on a plate. Raise the heat and boil the poaching liquid, stirring often, until it's reduced by about half. Add the butter and give it a swirl to combine. You should have a nice sauce. Taste for seasoning. Fish out the thyme sprigs. If you like, you can slice each breast into pieces and arrange them over rice instead of serving them whole.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve hot.