The best chicken salad begins with perfectly cooked chicken. Chicken that’s not dry, rubbery, or tasteless, right?
In this post, you’ll learn how to cook chicken for chicken salad, so you have the BEST meals!
The Best Way to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad
You are correct if you guessed poaching is the best way to cook chicken for salads! Hands down, it’s the simplest way to achieve juicy chicken and will give your salad the perfect texture.
Whether you like chunky chicken salads or smooth textured chicken salad, you can do both with this easy poaching method!
There are a couple of other cooking methods worth mentioning, like roasting and pan-searing, which you can read about in this graph
|Roasting||Easy to shred||Breasts dry out easily|
|Pan-Searing||Quick to cook||Cubed only|
|Easy to overcook|
|Breasts dry out easily|
|Cubed or shredded|
How to Cook & Shred Chicken for Chicken Salad
Grab a large pot, and let me show you how to make chicken worthy of being turned into an EPIC Homemade Chicken Salad.
To keep this recipe simple, I am using boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I’ll show you different cuts to use later in the post.
Now let’s get started!
- Boil some water
Place a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts into a large soup pot, and add enough cold water to cover the chicken by 2-inches.
- Add salt and seasonings
Generously season the water with salt and your choice of herbs, if using. *You’ll find more details on seasoning poached chicken in the next section.
Bring the water to a low boil and use a pair of tongs to flip the chicken.
- Remove from heat
Place a lid over the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the chicken to steep in hot water for 10 minutes or until it’s cooked to an internal temperature of 165F.
Remove the chicken from the water and set it onto a large cutting board. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes before shredding the chicken with your preferred method.
Watch the whole process that I use to cook chicken for chicken salad in this video:
Seasoning Chicken for Chicken Salad
Since we plan to toss the chicken in a creamy, seasoned dressing, adding spices and herbs while cooking isn’t necessary, the only essential source of flavoring is salt.
That said, you can cook the chicken with aromatics like fresh or dried thyme, oregano, sage leaves, rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic without significantly altering the finished recipe. Just add them in with the salted water and cook as directed.
Looking for more cooking tips to help you make better chicken recipes? I’ve got a TON of them and tasty ideas for you to try right here:
70+ Epic Chicken Recipes
If chicken is your go-to meal builder, you’re going to love the recipes inside this book!
From marinades, soups, slow cooker meals, one-pot wonders, sheet pan dinners, and more, the recipes inside are delicious and kid-approved.
How Much Shredded Chicken
The amount of shredded chicken you get depends on the type of cut you are cooking. The graph below displays common cuts of chicken you’d find at the grocery store and how much to expect from each.
*These approximate estimates provide you with a general idea of what to expect, not exact amounts.
|Chicken Cut & Pack||Cooked Amount Yield|
|1 lb chicken breasts|
|3 cups shredded/cubed|
|4 lb split chicken breasts||4 cups shredded/cubed|
|2 lb chicken thighs|
|3 cups shredded/cubed|
|2 lb chicken thighs|
|2 cups shredded/cubes|
|5 lb whole chicken||5 cups shredded/cubed|
|rotisserie chicken||3-5 cups shredded/cubed|
Best Chicken Salad Recipes
Now that we have some delicious shredded chicken let’s count the recipes to use it in!
Southern Chicken Salad | Spicy Chicken Salad | 5 Healthy Lunches with Chicken Salad
How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad (Poaching Method)
Learn the easiest (and BEST) method on how to cook chicken for a perfect chicken salad!
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 17 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3–4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons peppercorns, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
- herbs and spices of your choice
- Place the chicken breasts in a large soup pot, and add 3-4 cups of water, just enough to cover the chicken by 2 inches.
- Generously season the water with salt and your choice of spices and herbs.
- Bring the water to a low boil over medium heat, then use a pair of tongs to flip the chicken breasts.
- Place a lid over the pot and remove it from heat. Let the chicken sit in hot water for 10 minutes or until cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the water and set them onto a large cutting board. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before shredding or dicing.
- Serving Size: 4 ounces
- Calories: 141
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 639.8 mg
- Fat: 3 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 1.2 g
- Fiber: 0.5 g
- Protein: 25.7 g
- Cholesterol: 82.7 mg
This poached chicken made my chicken salads great for the week! Very tender not dry.