How to Know When Boiled Chicken is Done?

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Even though boiling a piece of chicken is pretty straightforward, you can easily mess it up if you’re not careful.

That’s why I decided to write an article that shows you how to know when boiled chicken is done both with and without a thermometer.

Checking the doneness with a thermometer works pretty much the same way as with other meats: you stick the probe into the thickest part of the meat, wait for 30 seconds and check the temperature.

Using this method gives you precise control over the texture of the meat and is much easier to apply.

Nevertheless, I’ve found that with enough experience, you can easily tell if a boiled chicken is fully cooked without measuring its internal temp.

How to tell when boiled chicken is done cooking

The best and most accurate way to check if a chicken is done boiling is to measure its internal temperature with a digital thermometer.

To do this, you simply need to insert the tip of the thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken and wait for 30 seconds.

For a whole chicken, this means inserting the thermometer probe either into the breast or the thighs.

Be careful not to hit a bone or a fatty area, as this will give you an inaccurate temperature reading.

Assuming you find the right spot and the chicken is done it should have an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).

If the temperature is lower, you’ll have to let it cook for a while longer and check it once every five minutes to prevent overcooking.

It’s worth pointing out that if you’re boiling only chicken thighs, you’d want to aim for a higher internal temperature.

Chicken thighs are rich in dark meat so they need to be cooked to 175°F or 185°F to become tender.

Also, don’t forget to calibrate your thermometer in ice cold water before using it.

If it doesn’t give you an accurate temperature reading, you should add or subtract the difference when measuring the temperature of the chicken.

Another way to check if your chicken is done is to slice it with a knife and inspect its color.

If the chicken is done it should have a milky white color without any glaring pink or red spots.

a perfectly boiled chicken breast cut so that the color and texture of the meat is clearly visible

by awholebagofcrud

You can also use this method if you want to check if your turkey is done without a thermometer.

How long does it take to boil chicken?

The amount of time you’ll need to boil chicken will mostly depend on its size and the type of its meat.

In general, bone-in chicken thighs and chicken breasts take more time to cook than their boneless counterparts and have an estimated cooking time of 25 and 30 minutes respectively.

Boneless chicken, on the other hand, takes five minutes less or about 25 minutes for fully cooked chicken breasts and 20 minutes for the thighs.

If you want to decrease the cooking time even further, you can cut the chicken into cubes.

This will help you shave another 5 to 10 minutes off the estimated cooking time depending on the size of the cubes.

If you chop the chicken breasts into 2 inch pieces, you’ll need to boil it for roughly 10 minutes.

With that said, it should be noted that you shouldn’t actually boil the chicken, but simmer it.

Simmering cooks the chicken at a lower temperature which ensures that the meat develops a tender texture.

I’ve made a chart detailing the boiling estimates for chicken, since I realize that memorizing all of the above information can be a daunting task:

a chart with chicken boiling times

How to properly store boiled chicken

Even though I’m not a huge fan of boiled chicken, I occasionally use it for soups, salads or sandwiches.

None of these dishes explicitly calls for freshly prepared chicken, which is a huge convenience since I can use leftovers or make it in advance.

And as someone who fancies himself as a resourceful person, I can proudly say that I’ve never left even an ounce of leftover boiled chicken go to waste.

The best way to store boiled chicken is to let it cool down for about an hour and transfer it into an airtight container.

If you hurry and stash it straight into your fridge, you’ll increase the chance of spoilage due to the high amounts of moisture.

Unlike raw chicken which can last an entire week in the fridge, boiled chicken will spoil if it’s left for more than 3 days.

Having said that, you can significantly increase the shelf life of boiled chicken by freezing it.

When stored in the freezer, boiled chicken can last for about 3 months.

My short recap

The safest way to see if your boiled chicken has finished cooking is to measure its internal temperature.

However, if you don’t have a digital thermometer at hand, you can simply slice it and check its color.

If the meat doesn’t have any bright pink or red spots, then you’ll be good to go.

If you’re into super quick and easy chicken recipes try my Lazy Stovetop Chicken Drumsticks that are ready in just 30 minutes!

If you've tried my recipes and cooking tips, please tag me on social media - I would love to see your creations! 

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