Basic Method for Oven-Poached Chicken

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Once you’ve mastered this easy technique with fish, there’s no better way to cook moist chicken breasts. Simmering the chicken in chicken broth doubles the flavor—of both the chicken and the broth.


  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots or scallions (white and green portions)
  • Boneless chicken breast halves (any amount), skin and all possible fat removed, rinsed under cold water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup canned chicken broth, or as needed
  • Watercress sprigs and lemon wedges, for garnish


    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F., with a rack positioned in the center. Scatter the chopped shallots in a shallow baking pan or ovenproof skillet that will hold the chicken in a single layer. Arrange the chicken, without crowding, in the pan, with the smooth flesh side up. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Pour enough of the broth around the chicken to come about two-thirds up it, then add enough cold water to come not quite to the top of the chicken. Cover with a buttered sheet of parchment or wax paper, buttered side down (this helps keep the breasts moist).
    2. Place the pan on a stove-top burner over medium heat. Bring the liquid just to a boil, watching carefully. The moment it begins to boil, carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Oven poach until the chicken is just cooked—you’re looking for the center of the breast to turn from translucent to opaque. This can take as little as 5 minutes or up to 7 minutes for thicker breasts. Don’t overcook.
    3. To serve the chicken hot, remove it from the broth right away. Serve the chicken as is, with or without a sauce, garnished with watercress and lemon. Or, to serve cool, remove the pan from the heat and let the chicken cool in its broth to lukewarm. With tongs, lift the chicken from the broth, draining all possible broth back into the pan. Serve cool, with an herbed mayonnaise.