When most people think of cooking a chicken, they probably imagine a Sunday roast, or deep-fried wings with a crispy coating. Perhaps fewer people would think of boiling a chicken, but if you add a few extra ingredients for flavour, boiled chicken can be a simple way to get tasty, healthy cooked chicken that you can use in soups, salads, sandwiches and tacos.
Step by step
Follow these simple instructions for perfectly succulent chicken meat you can use in all your favourite chicken recipes.
1 whole, or 4 boneless breasts
4 cups, or enough to cover the other ingredients
1, cut in half, not peeled
3, cut into chunks, not peeled
2 stalks, cut into chunks
Place all the ingredients together in a large pot, making sure there is enough broth to fully cover the other ingredients.
Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked. See below for the cooking times for different cuts of chicken.
Remove the chicken from the pot, discarding the other ingredients. When the chicken has cooled, shred it with a fork or cut into pieces using a knife.
How long to boil chicken
As with most methods of cooking chicken, how long you should boil it will depend on how much meat there is. The times below are a rough guide, but if you think you have a slightly larger portion, increase your cooking times accordingly.
Whole chicken: a whole chicken should take around 90 minutes to boil, but remember that chickens vary in size, so a smaller bird may need less time, while a larger one will need more.
Breasts: an average boneless chicken breast will need 12 to 15 minutes boiling time, while bone-in breasts will need around twice as long, at 25 to 30 minutes.
Thighs: boneless chicken thighs should take approximately 10 minutes to boil, while bone-in thighs will take around 15 minutes to cook.
Frozen chicken: you can boil chicken breasts from frozen, but they will take a little longer. The average boneless chicken breast will take around 20 minutes to boil from frozen.
Chicken breast for shredding: if you want to boil chicken breast to shred and use in other recipes, it takes the same time as boiling a chicken breast for any other purpose. Try 12 to 15 minutes for boneless breasts, or 25 to 30 minutes on the bone, then leave the meat to cool before shredding with a fork.
How to tell when boiled chicken is done
It is important to make sure your chicken is cooked through to avoid food borne illnesses, and the safest and most accurate way to do so is using a meat thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure any harmful bacteria are killed, so keep checking with your thermometer and don’t stop cooking until it reaches 165°F.
How long can you store boiled chicken?
Once cooked, boiled chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. It is important to make sure that the temperature inside the fridge is below 40°F to discourage bacteria. You can also freeze boiled chicken for up to 3 months.
Boiled chicken recipes
Use your boiled chicken to make one of these tasty chicken recipes.
Chicken tortilla soup: this hearty and comforting soup from Snappy Gourmet is full of delicious Mexican flavours and spices. The tastiest way to warm up on a cold winter’s day.
Latin shredded chicken stew: this simple but flavourful stew from Cooked by Julie is rich, meaty and delicious, with generous helpings of shredded chicken in a spicy tomato broth.
Easy chicken and broccoli casserole: perfect for busy weeknights, this creamy chicken casserole by Recipes from a Pantry is sure to be a new family favourite. If you’re really busy, you can even prep it the night before.
There are plenty of recipes you can adapt to use some or all of your boiled chicken. These leftover chicken recipes are great for using up the remains of your rotisserie chicken, but they’ll also work just as well with boiled chicken.
If you’re hungry for more chicken inspiration, check out our complete guide to chicken for history, interesting facts, and, of course, more chicken recipes.
Finally, for the ultimate in chicken decadence, we challenge you to resist a piece of tender, crispy and delicious buttermilk fried chicken.