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How to boil chicken breast to shred

Boiled chicken breasts are easy to make and have on hand for one of the hundreds of recipes that require it. From casseroles to enchiladas and chicken salad, learn how to boil chicken breast that’s tender, juicy and just right for whatever you’re making.

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a pot of boiling water with a chicken breast being placed inside

How do you know when boiled chicken is done?

Your chicken is done when it’s firm, no pink remains in the center and (if you need it) a meat thermometer registers 165. It’s fine to pull it from the water and cut it open. If it’s still pink just put it back in to cook.

How do you keep from drying out boiled chicken?

As long as you cook it to 165 it won’t be dry. Water boils at 212, so if you leave it in the water too long you will eventually overcook it and dry it out but start checking it at the 12 to 15 minute mark and you should be just fine. Also I find that my chicken is less dry if I will let that chicken rest after cooking (just like you would with roasting or any other method). Don’t cut it open–just let the breasts sit and cool down. This helps the natural juices redistribute.

a meat thermometer in chicken breast

What’s the white stuff floating in the water?

It’s just the protein from the chicken being forced to the surface as the meat cooks and the fibers shrink. Fatty fish like salmon does this also. It’s nothing to worry about and normal. You can just scrape it away if any sticks to the outside.

How do I freeze boiled chicken?

To freeze, bring the meat to room temperature then cut, cube or shred your cooked chicken. Transfer to an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.

30-minute green chile chicken enchiladas can be made ahead if you're in a pinch and make a perfect weeknight dinner option.
Green chile chicken enchiladas use boiled shredded chicken as the main ingredient.

Can I boil frozen chicken breasts?

You betcha. It takes a little longer but I do this all the time. Follow the same process, but start checking your chicken for doneness at about 20 minutes and continue to cook until no pink remains and the internal temp is 165.

Southern Chicken Salad

What recipes can I use boiled chicken in?

The sky is the limit! Try:

If you don’t want to boil, try roasting a big batch of chicken. Watch me show you how on YouTube:

a pot of boiling water with a chicken breast being placed inside

How to boil chicken breasts to shred

Boil chicken breast in just a few minutes and be ready for any recipe from casseroles to enchiladas in a flash.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 64kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • water to cover the chicken

Instructions

  • Place the chicken breasts into a pot large enough to hold them and the water with at least an inch of space in the pot.
  • Add the salt.
  • Place the pot on the burner and bring to a low boil. If you'd like it to come to a boil faster, put the lid on otherwise it doesn't matter.
  • Boil until the chicken is cooked through and a meat thermometer registers 165. About 12 to 15 minutes dependign on the size of the chicken.
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly before shredding or dicing for recipes.

To Freeze

  • Allow the chicken to come to room temperature. Slice, shred or chop according to preference and transfer to an air tight container or freezer bag (squeeze out the air) and freeze up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 64kcal | Protein: 12g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 647mg | Potassium: 209mg | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

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