When you learn how to boil chicken perfectly, you’ll find that it is such an easy way to create not only incredibly tender chicken but also a flavorful chicken broth!
Together they make quick and easy meals that are healthy, flavorful, and packed full of protein!
Say goodbye to bland and dry chicken because this method creates boiled chicken that is tender, juicy, and SO full of flavor!
It’s so easy that once everything is simmering, you can walk away from the stove and put your feet up!
Boiling a whole bone-in chicken (or bone-in chicken pieces) creates tender juicy meat and an incredibly flavorful golden chicken broth.
Not only is this method simple, it’s pretty much fool-proof.
I’ve started making at least one boiled chicken each week to have a delicious homemade broth to add to recipes as well as tender chicken to add to casseroles and salads.
How to Boil Chicken
The method for boiled chicken is very simple.
A whole chicken is rinsed and placed in a stock pot (I also stuff onion in the cavity).
Fresh vegetables, herbs, peppercorns and greens (often parsley or carrot tops) are added for lots of flavor. The whole thing is topped up with water and gently simmers to perfection. So easy.
The result? Juicy tender chicken and the best ever chicken broth.
Once you make this recipe, it’ll easily become a go-to as boiled chicken opens up endless possibilities when it comes to creating amazing dishes that everyone will love.
This chicken is loaded with flavor and can be sliced or pulled to use in any recipe needed cooked chicken.
Even better, when you boil chicken, the water you use doubles as a stock that you can use in other dishes like this Turkey Noodle Soup! Now that’s a 2-for-1 deal.
How Long to Boil Chicken
The amount of time that it takes to boil chicken depends on a few things: the size of the chicken, whether it was frozen, and the amount of water you have in your stockpot.
A full chicken will need to simmer in boiling water for about 1 1/2 hours (a little longer if your chicken is bigger than 4lbs) to ensure it is fully cooked and all of the flavor has been extracted.
Boiled chicken thighs or chicken wings will take about 40 minutes.
If you are unsure if your chicken is done, use a meat thermometer to check. A meat thermometer inserted into the thigh should read 165 degrees.
How to Boil Chicken Breast
The recipe in this post includes instructions for how to boil a chicken; whole & bone-in.
If you are hoping to boil chicken breasts, the instructions are a little different. Chicken breasts can become extremely dry and rubbery due to the fact that they’re so lean and don’t have bones!
In place of boiling chicken breasts, I would strongly recommend making poached chicken breasts. It’s ready in minutes and an easy way to achieve tender juicy chicken (along with a little bit of flavorful juice).
How to Poach Chicken Breasts
- Add boneless chicken breasts to shallow non-stick pan.
- Fill to with broth/water until the breasts are halfway covered.
- Add herbs, peppercorns and a couple of slices of onion.
- Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat, cover for 15 minutes.
Either poached or boiled chicken can be enjoyed in any recipe from soups and stews to Avocado Ranch Chicken Salad or Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole.
How to Make Flavorful Boiled Chicken & Broth!
- FRESH HERBS will add a ton of flavor to your boiled chicken & broth! I use peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary and sage.
- When boiling chicken, always use BONE-IN chicken. It adds flavor to both the chicken and the broth (and results in a juicier, more tender meat).
- ADD VEGETABLES such as carrots, celery, and onions to flavor the stock, and chicken meat!
- When you add onions, leave the OUTER BROWN SKIN ON, this will add great color your chicken broth!
- Whole Chicken can be replaced with BONE-IN CHICKEN WINGS OR CHICKEN LEGS.
- When you boil chicken with skin on, it can create a LAYER OF FAT on the top of your stock. Use a gravy separator to separate fat from the broth. If you’re in a pinch, grab a slice of bread and drag it along the top of your stock to absorb the fat while leaving your delicious stock intact!
- When you boil chicken, simmering at a LOW EVEN TEMPERATURE will result in tender juicy chicken. A high temperature can result in a rubbery texture so remember to turn your burner to low as soon as your pot reaches a boil!
When you boil chicken, you are really creating a ton of amazing possibilities in the kitchen. You can substitute with this boiled chicken in many other recipes like these Grilled Chicken Fajitas or even a Chicken Pad Thai!
How to Boil Chicken
- 1 whole chicken 3-4 pounds
- 1 ½ onion divided
- 3 carrots include tops if you have them
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 sprigs each fresh thyme rosemary, parsley, sage (or any combination)
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
- enough water to cover this will depend on the size pot you use
- Cut 1 onion, the carrots and the celery into quarters (include the tops of the carrots and celery if you have them)
- Place the ½ onion into the cavity of the chicken.
- Place chicken in pot and add vegetables, fresh herbs, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Cover with water.
- Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn heat down and simmer partially covered for 1 ½ – 2 hours.
- Remove chicken, allow to cool then remove meat from bones.
- Strain and reserve broth.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Hi I know this is a crazy question… how do you clean cheescloth after buying from the store… and after each use… do you just soak it in the sinl in a clean container? thank you I have never used one before…
Hi Joanie, typically cheesecloth is okay to be washed with your dish towels in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.
This was so easy to prepare and I am sure I will be making these for get-togethers many times in the future. I will let you know how they came out and I plan on checking out a lot more of your recipes. Thank you!!!
We hope you enjoy it!
I covered my whole chicken with 1 inch of water plus the 2 tsp salt and a (whole) ruff chopped medium onion & cooked on my propane stove. The first time I checked, it was not quite done, so I turned the chicken over and cooked it for about 30 more minutes. Now I have chicken meat that I can use for anything I want to make. Thanks for the time estimation. Also it was just the perfect amount of salt. As for the onions, they turned mushy, so if I were to want to make soup, these mushy onions probably should be strained from the broth before use.
So happy it turned out well for you, R!
Can you do this in a crockpot?
Try the slow cooker whole chicken recipe Bethany!
Hi! Love your site. Do you think I could use this recipe to cook the chicken (and produce the broth), and then use the carcass to make stock afterwards?
The flavor from the meat and carcass will be in the broth, I worry that the carcass will not have much left to flavor another stock.
Can I freeze the stock afterwards & or how long will it stay in fridge?
The stock will keep for about 3 days in the fridge, and can be frozen if you prefer.
I made the boiled whole chicken recipe and then followed with the chicken and dumplings, wow was that good! my husband loved it too! hes never liked the restuarant chicken and dumplings, but loves mine so much he has seconds, and then he raves about it, just like before he loved this reciepe as well and I thought it to be more flavorable than the other one I made many times previously.
Is it better to remove the skin first and don’t add salt if you are worried about your cholesterol level , fat and sodium levels if you have heart problems. Will removing the skin effect the quality of the finished stock as well.
Hi MM, you can remove the skin before boiling if you like. It will alter the color and flavor slightly though.
Thanks for the invite can’t wait to see what’s cooking
So happy to be able to share them with you Shannon!
A little tip for a richer broth at the end… when you remove the chicken from the pot and have removed the meat from the bones, toss the carcass back into the broth and continue cooking at a very low simmer for another few hours, adding a bit of water if you notice it getting too low. This will give you a fantastic chicken stock that once strained through a fine strainer and cheese cloth will make an excellent base for soup or whatever you might want to use chicken stock in, such as gravy. You can freeze it in anything from large containers to ice cube trays, depending on your needs and how much broth you have.
Thanks for sharing this tip Robert!
Thanks for the recipe. So easy!
So glad you loved it Ann!
The directions were incorrect because the chicken I boiled was not ready after the time that she put.
The better directions is not to simmer the chicken but leave it boiling just a bit before the medium marker on the stove.
If you leave that for about 1 to 1.5 hours then your chicken will be cooked and delicious.
What size was your chicken? Was it fresh or was it frozen?
If your chicken wasn’t cooked, you’re suggesting a shorter time, perhaps a longer cook time was needed. A simmer is medium low heat on my stove. Hope that helps.
Great recipe Holly,so simple and yet so good.This recipe will replace a lot of store bought cooked chickens for me.Much thanks.
So glad you loved it Jean!
Could you share your crock pot instructions? I gave a pot of soup to a grieving family and haven’t gotten my stock pot back yet. Thanks!
You can find the Slow Cooker Whole Chicken & Gravy recipe here. Enjoy Kayla!
This is a great easy recipe that produced tender juicy chicken and tasty broth. I’m freezing the leftovers and I appreciated your info on freezing and length of time to use up in the freezer. So great for future meals. I ve also made your Chicken Noodle Soup which is savory, delicious, and quick to make. Makes the house smell wonderful and inviting like you’ve been cooking all day.
I’m happy to hear that you found this helpful, and delicious too!
Loved the whole boiled chicken recipe. Simple, tasty, and ultra healthy with estimated calories quoted.
Can’t bring myself to leaving the tops of the carrots on though. The thought of traces of embedded mud puts me off – may be more psychological than anything else!
Glad you loved the recipe John!