The Best Way to Cook Juicy Chicken Breasts for Meal Prep
Hint: It’s definitely not baking.
Chicken breast is a meal prep staple in my household, right up there with a big batch of grains and a sheet tray of roasted vegetables. Although I develop recipes for work, when I cook for myself, I like to keep things pretty simple and pretty healthy. So I usually cook plain chicken breast and use it in a variety of ways over the next few days, from slicing it into a grain bowl to shredding it into some tacos.
I’ve tried every method under the sun to prepare chicken breast. Pan-searing, baking and grilling —oh my. But recently I was making a big batch of good old Chicken Salad (something I also make for meal prep, are you getting the chicken theme?) and I realized that chicken salad chicken has something magical about it. And I’m not talking about the mayo covering it. It’s incredibly tender and juicy. Way more succulent than baked chicken, that’s for sure. Here’s why: When you make chicken salad, you typically poach the chicken: cook it in gently simmering water over low heat. Gradually cooking it in a moist environment makes for the most perfect white meat you’ll ever taste.
I looked up Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for Poached Chicken for Salads, started using it to meal prep my chicken and never looked back. The next day after it’s poached, the chicken always manages to taste even juicier, rather than drier. Plus, the leftover poaching liquid is like quick-cooked chicken broth: you can save it and use it to cook extra flavorful grains. Funny how perfectly that works out, given that I always meal prep chicken and grains on the same day.
Although recipe calls for bone-in chicken breasts which make for a rich stock, you can absolutely poach boneless skinless breasts in this recipe instead. Either will work and both options will be equally tasty. If you’re eating your chicken immediately, you can store it in the fridge for up to four days. Or you can freeze it for up to three months. Have I convinced you to start poaching?