Poaching is an easy way to cook chicken thighs to have delicious shredded chicken for recipes and in this post I share how to do it, step-by-step!
Perfectly Poached Chicken Thighs
Poaching is one of my favorite prep-ahead steps for making epic chicken recipes. Since it’s already cooked you can add it directly to any dish, and get dinner on the table faster.
And if you’re only familiar with poaching chicken breasts, let me assure you this method is the same, but you get tastier results -IMO, since chicken thighs have that tastier, dark meat flavor that’s top-notch.
What is the Difference Between Boiling and Poaching Chicken
Boiling chicken involves cooking it at a temperature above 212F, while poaching’s temperatures range from 140F to 180F. Poaching is a more gentle way to cook the chicken, since once the water comes to a boil, the heat source is turned off.
Poaching also yields more tender and juicy meat, compared to boiled chicken’s tough exterior and dry center -the result of keeping the water boiling and the heat source on.
What You Need
The ingredients behind flavorful, moist chicken thighs are a handful of ingredients.
- Cold water: always start with cold water when poaching chicken.
- Salt: be very generous with the salt.
- Aromatics: dried herbs, spices, peppercorns, garlic, lemon- it’s up to you!
- Chicken: use boneless or skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs.
*The exact measurements are located in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Are Boneless Skinless Thighs Better or Bone-In, Skin-On
Regarding flavor and texture, there’s no difference between bone-in, skin-on vs. boneless chicken thighs- they’re both dark meat! The main benefit of using boneless thighs is they cook evenly and don’t require the extra step of removing the skin and bones either before or after poaching.
How to Poach Chicken Thighs
The process of poaching chicken requires a little time, but overall it’s very simple. Follow the step-by-step directions below and you’ll end up with perfectly tender chicken to use in all sorts of recipes.
You’ll need to:
- Salt the water
Place the chicken thighs in a large soup pot. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken by 2 inches, about 3-4 cups.
- Add the aromatics
Season the water with salt and your choice of spices and herbs.
- Bring it to a simmer
Turn the heat to medium, and bring the water and chicken to a low boil.
- Remove from heat
Use a pair of tongs to flip the chicken pieces over, place the lid on the pot, and turn off the heat. Allow the chicken to sit in the hot water for 10 minutes or until the thighs are cooked to an internal temperature of 175F.
- Time to shred, slice, and dice
Remove the chicken from the water and place them on a large cutting board. Give them 5 minutes to cool off before prepping for your recipe of choice.
Watch this video and I’ll show you how to poach boneless, skinless chicken thighs, step-by-step.
How Long Does it Take to Poach Chicken Thighs in Water
The cooking time for poached chicken thighs depends on the amount of chicken you are using (lbs) and the size of each piece.
By rule of thumb, once the water is at a simmer and you turn off the heat, the chicken will cook within 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 175F.
Around here, cooking chicken to internal temperature is the #1 rule for best results. To do this, remove a chicken thigh onto a plate, and read the temperature with a meat thermometer; if it’s 175F, they’re ready.
*If you want to be on the safe side and prevent over cooking, start checking for internal temperature around the 8-minute mark.
Can You Use the Liquid from Poaching Chicken?
Yes! The poaching liquid is basically a light chicken broth that you can for soups and sauces. Once the chicken is removed from the pot, strain the liquid, and refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
How to Use Poached Chicken Thighs
Poached chicken thighs are great to use in any kind of pasta, soups, salads, and wraps- the list could go on! Below I’ve selected some of my favorite go-to recipes I know you’ll love.
Poached Chicken Thighs
- 1 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
- 3-4 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
- Herbs and spices of your choice
- Place the chicken thighs in a large soup pot. Add 3-4 cups cold water, enough to cover the chicken by 2 inches.
- Generously season the water with salt, peppercorns, thyme, 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 pieces.
- Place a lid over the pot and remove it from the heat. Let the chicken sit in the hot water for 10 minutes or until cooked through, and it reaches an internal temperature of 175F.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the water and set them on a large cutting board. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing, shredding, or dicing.