Relish Mama's Poached Chicken

We’ve got tips from Relish Mama founder and cookbook author Nellie Kerrison about an easy-to-cook poached chicken to save cooking time during the week.

“Poached chicken is one of the keys to us eating well as a family. It is the super hero of my kitchen and means I can throw together a very impressive dish in no time at all. It is hugely versatile and there are certainly enough recipes among these pages for you to try it. It’s hero qualities lie in the fact that you poach the chicken in advance — maybe on a Sunday or Monday. This way, you have succulent poached chicken waiting to inspire you for all manner of wonderful dishes.

Good poached chicken is essential for:

  • A great chicken salad — Asian or Western inspired flavours, such as Vietnamese chicken salad.

  • Nourishing chicken soup 

  • A tasty and nutritious fried rice

  • Add sliced poached chicken to your sandwich or wrap — it’s way better for you and tastier than any deli meat.

  • This chicken shreds beautifully, so it is great for quick weeknight tacos

  • Toss it through pasta with a simple tomato sauce and serve with parmesan and fresh basil or parsley.

  • Poached chicken can also be sliced and enjoyed in rice paper rolls (a quick and super healthy mid-week dinner).”


Poached chicken breasts

  • 1 litre water or chicken stock (you can even add a splash of wine if you like)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • 1 fresh bay leaf or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 4–5 x 250 g chicken breast fillets


Step One: Place the chicken and aromatics in a pot with the chicken arranged in a single layer on the bottom. It is fine if the filets overlap a little, but they cook more evenly if they are in a single layer. Add the garlic, herbs and peppercorns.

Step Two: Cover the chicken with water or stock. If using wine, pour this over the chicken first. Pour in enough cool water to cover the chicken.

Step Three: Place the pot of chicken on the stovetop over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to as low as it can go and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 5 minutes before turning off the heat completely. This results in moist and tender poached chicken.

Step Four: Allow the chicken to rest, covered with lid on, for 10 minutes.

Step Five: Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and place it on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes.


Reserve the cooking liquid always. Strain it and stash it away in your freezer for stock and soup.

You can serve the chicken immediately or refrigerate for later, as poached chicken can be served hot, room temperature, or cool. It can also be served whole or it can be sliced or shredded for a particular recipe.

Ready to test your chicken poaching skills? Here's a recipe to show off your cooking talent.