It’s time for me to teach you exactly how to make boiled chicken breasts that are moist, flavorful, and shredded up, ready to add to your favorite recipes.
This is part of a series of cooking basics, aimed to teach both new and experienced home cooks the tips and tricks that I’ve learned to make simple, basic meals, dishes, and recipe ingredients. Things like How to Cook Quinoa and How to Blanch Green beans can be so helpful if you’re unsure of how to do them.
Boiling Chicken Breasts is fairly simple, but knowing how to do it right will ensure that you get the tastiest, juiciest shredded white meat chicken for all of your recipes, for meal prep, or whatever else you might want to do with boiled chicken.
Why You’ll Love This Boiled Chicken
- Flavorful: We aren’t just boiling chicken. We are using some simple ingredients to enhance the flavor of the chicken and make it extra delicious.
- Fast: I have a recipe for Crockpot Shredded Chicken, which works well, but it takes hours to complete. This boiled chicken breast recipe is done in about 25 minutes, and the cooking method is mostly hands off.
- Simple Instructions: I’m answering all of your questions, including, “how long to boil chicken breast”, and “can you boil frozen chicken breasts”. Keep reading! Anybody can make this recipe.
- Versatile Recipe Starter: Once you learn how to cook chicken to shred you’ll be able to add it to all sorts of recipes that call for cooked, shredded chicken. Recipes like Buffalo chicken dip, Chicken a la king, and chicken salad sandwiches will no longer be so complicated.
Ingredients for Easy Boiled Chicken Breast
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Chicken: We’re boiling about 24 ounces of chicken to make 3 cups of shredded chicken, which is exactly or just a bit more than you’ll need for most recipes.
- Water: Just enough water to cover the chicken in your pot.
- Salt and Pepper: Unseasoned chicken is just not that good. Add seasoning from the start!
- Celery, Onion, Garlic, Bayleaf, Peppercorns, and Parsley: These optional flavor ingredients are not necessary to make good boiled chicken, but they do add a lot of flavor. Plus when you add them, the remaining liquid becomes a delicious broth for soups.
How to Boil Chicken Breast
- Fill the Pot: Add all of the ingredients to a medium or large saucepan, covering with water so that all of the ingredients are submerged.
- Bring to a Boil: On medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cover.
- Skim: If you plan to save the cooking liquid to use later, be sure to skim any white foam that appears after boiling. The cooking liquid is perfect for cooking flavorful rice.
- Simmer: Cook the chicken at a low simmer for 12-16 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. The chicken is ready when it reaches 165°F/74°C.
- Rest: Remove the chicken from the broth, and allow it to rest and cool for 10 minutes. Now you can slice, dice, or shred!
Make Chicken Broth! Boiling chicken can be a two birds, one stone situation if you save the broth to use in other recipes. Strain the broth first. I like to freeze it using ice cube trays so that I can add it to things later.
Boiled Chicken Tips
Trim the Fat: You don’t need any extra fat on your boiled chicken, it will just be difficult to remove after cooking. It’s easier to trim the breasts before you boil them instead.
Add Flavor: The aromatic vegetables and herbs are listed here as optional, because the recipe will work without them, but I recommend you add them if you have them. They really make the chicken taste so much better. If you have some of the ingredients but not all of them, that’s ok. Add what you have.
Use a Meat Thermometer: It’s easy to see if your chicken breasts are done using a digital meat thermometer. Make sure you cook the chicken until the thickest part reaches 165°F/74°C.
What to Make with Boiled Chicken Breast
Casseroles: Try my Cheesy Chicken Fajita Casserole, or use chicken instead of ground beef in a Tater Tot Casserole.
Soups: Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo or Chicken Noodle Soup can both be made with shredded chicken. Toss some into any soup that calls for chicken or can use some extra protein.
Sandwiches and Salads: Add shredded boiled chicken to a Caesar Salad, or any cold salad that you like. This chicken is also great made into sandwiches, quesadillas, or wraps.
Yes, you can use this method to boil frozen chicken breasts, it will take longer for the water to boil, and additional simmering time to cook them completely.
Using this simple method you will have tender, juicy chicken breast!
You cooked it too long. Keep an eye on your chicken as it simmers, and remove it from the water as soon as it’s fully cooked.
I hope this “how to” boil chicken recipe was super helpful to you! I know that this is a staple in my kitchen, and now it can be in yours too.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
Boiled Chicken Breast
- 2-3 chicken breasts 7-8 oz each
- salt and pepper
- water enough to cover the chicken
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- ½ yellow onion sliced into wedges
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 stalks chopped fresh parsley
- Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan, cover with water.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer over low heat, and cover. NOTE: If you’re planning to use the broth later, remove the white foam forming at the top with a spoon.
- Cook for 12-16 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts). The chicken is ready when it reaches 165°F/74°C.
- Remove the chicken from the broth, allow to rest for 10 minutes then shred, slice, or dice.
- If you cook the chicken for too long, you risk it becoming rubbery so keep an eye on it as you cook it.
- Use a Meat Thermometer: It’s easy to see if your chicken breasts are done using a digital meat thermometer. Make sure you cook the chicken until the thickest part reaches 165°F/74°C.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen
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