Learn how to boil a whole chicken to get super juicy and flavorful meat and a bonus jar of nutritious broth. This recipe is fast, does not require chopping, and makes the juiciest shredded chicken with lots of healthy broth.
I often boil a whole chicken for meal prep. It can feed a family of 4 for 3-5 days. You can easily freeze the leftovers of shredded meat and broth for later use.
Boiling chicken whole is one of the healthiest and easiest ways to prepare your chicken. Try it next time you buy one.
- Why you will love this recipe
- How to boil a whole chicken
- How long does it take to boil a whole chicken
- How to boil frozen chicken
- Tips for success
- Recommended equipment
- How to use boiled chicken
- How to store boiled chicken
- How to store the broth
- Common questions
- Other chicken recipes you may like
- 📖 Recipe
Why you will love this recipe
- it does not require chopping.
- the meat comes out so juicy
- it is economical and you can use the chicken and broth later in so many ways (soups, salads, roasting, baking, sandwiches).
- just with one chicken and a few other affordable ingredients, you will have a bunch of shredded chicken meat and a large jar of amazing sipping broth.
- When you or your family are sick, this is the best recipe to make. Minimum efforts and maximum nutrition to help you feel better.
- Whole Chicken - I always get an organic whole chicken. It does not cost much more than conventional but tastes better and it is healthier, especially if you are also making some broth.
- Carrots - Fresh large or medium-size whole carrots, washed and peeled (optional).
- Celery - Celery will add great nutrients and flavor to the broth.
- Parsnip - You will need one whole parsnip root. If you do not have one, just add one extra carrot instead.
- Onion - Yellow or white onion will work great.
- Garlic - few peeled whole garlic cloves
- Bay Leaf - Add a few bay leaves for a subtle flavor of mint and pine.
- Black Peppercorns - Whole black peppercorns will bring some gentle heat, giving a full-body flavor without over spicing the broth.
- Salt - I usually add a moderate amount of salt. You can add more later to your broth and chicken.
How to boil a whole chicken
Initial boil - So first, add chicken to the large stock pot with the lid. Pour enough water to cover it. Place it on the stove and bring it to boil. Let it boil vigorously for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using two forks, carefully take out the chicken and set it aside. Dump the hot water and rinse the pot to get rid of any film and residue. You can also rinse chicken in cold water. Place the chicken back in the rinsed pot.
NOTE: It is needed to make your broth clear and to get rid of any extra fat, froth, and possible chemicals added to the meat. If you do not do the initial boil, you will need to use a skimmer spoon to remove the brown froth.
Add Other Ingredients - Now add peeled whole carrots, peeled whole parsnip, cut in half celery ribs, and peeled half of the onion. No need to chop anything. Add salt, whole peppercorns, and bay leaves.
Simmer - Add filtered (or tap) water. Add enough to cover the chicken. Bring everything to boil, cover and simmer on the lowest setting of your stove for about one hour (see how long does it take to boil whole chicken paragraph below). If your broth looks boiling on the lowest setting, uncover it and cook uncovered. It needs to gently simmer the whole time, meaning you will see only a few small bubbles on the surface from time to time.
Check - after one hour, inert instant thermometer to check if the chicken got fully cooked. If it shows at least 175°F, your chicken is fully ready. Let the chicken stay inside the pot for another 15 minutes to cool down a little bit.
Separate - Now, take out the chicken for further usage. Discard the veggies and bay leaves. Strain the broth using a stainless still strainer. Pour the broth into the jar with the lid. You can discard the peppercorns or keep them in the broth.
How long does it take to boil a whole chicken
It's not a secret that the bigger the chicken, the longer it needs to boil to get cooked. Below is the approximate time per chicken size for you to refer to. But it always depends, so make sure to always visually check if the meat is no longer pink inside or use a kitchen thermometer.
When boiling a thawed whole chicken, we add 15-20 minutes per pound of weight.
3.5lb-4lb (thawed whole chicken) - boil for 50-65 minutes
4.5lb-5lb (thawed whole chicken) - boil for 65-80 minutes
5.5lb-6lb (thawed whole chicken) - boil for 95-110 minutes
How to boil frozen chicken
You use this method to boil tender and juicy chicken from frozen (no thawing required). It will take a longer time to cook it from frozen.
When boiling frozen chicken, we add 20-25 minutes per pound of weight.
3.5lb-4lb (frozen whole chicken) - boil for 70-80 minutes
4.5lb-5lb (frozen whole chicken) - boil for 90-100 minutes
5.5lb-6lb (frozen whole chicken) - boil for 110-120 minutes
Times may vary depending on a lot of factors. Always check if meat is cooked by making sure the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 175°F.
Tips for success
- dump the first boil water to get rid of any chemicals and so you do not have to worry about the removal of the brown foam on top.
- add whole peeled vegetables.
- cook uncovered if the broth keeps boiling - it needs to simmer very gently on the lowest stove setting.
- use an instant thermometer to check if the chicken reached the safe temperature (175°)
- add 15-20 minutes of boiling time per pound of weight.
- if boiling a whole chicken from frozen, add 20-25 minutes per pound of weight.
- Large Stock Pot - I always use my stainless steel large pot. Stainless still is the least toxic material for cooking. You can also use a dutch oven to boil the whole chicken.
- Food Thermometer - you can just visually check if the meat is cooked, by cutting the chicken. But why guessing, when you can just get a cheap instant thermometer and not ever worry about under-cooked or over-cooked meat.
- Mash Strainer - this broth comes out clear and the vegetables are boiled whole, so lots of times I do not even need to strain it. But sometimes veggies over boil and fall apart and I like to strain the broth before storing.
How to use boiled chicken
Roast - When the chicken is cooked, take it out and let it air dry a little bit. Rub it with your favorite spices, butter, and olive oil and roast at 400°F for 15-20 minutes or until the skin gets crispy.
Shred - let the chicken cool down to safely handle it and shred the meat to use in salads, enchiladas, soups, and so on. Use this perfect tender chicken in any recipe that calls for shredded chicken.
Freeze - if you are a small family and you will no eat it in 3 days, shred the chicken and freeze it in portions in Ziploc bags for up to 3 months.
Broth - do not discard the broth. Strain it and store in the fridge for about 3 days or freeze it in ice cubes for up to 3 months. This broth is amazing for sipping on a cold day or when you are sick or great in soups and stews.
How to store boiled chicken
Refrigerate: shred or cut the chicken (your preference). Transfer the meat to an air-tight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freeze: if you will not be able to consume the chicken within 3 days, I recommend shredding it and placing it in portions in freezer-friendly bags to store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to store the broth
Refrigerate: I always transfer my broth to the large jar and store it in the fridge for about 3 days.
Freeze: this recipe can make about one gallon of broth, so I recommend freezing some of it for later use. You can freeze portions of it in freezer-friendly Ziploc bags or ice tray cubes (transfer to bags after it fully freezes in the tray).
How long to boil a whole chicken per pound?
Add 15-20 minutes of boiling time per one pound of chicken.
How long do you boil frozen chicken?
Add 20-25 minutes of boiling time per one pound of chicken.
Can I freeze shredded chicken?
Yes, you can easily freeze shredded cooled-down chicken for up to 3 months. You can even freeze the broth.
Other chicken recipes you may like
How to boil whole chicken
- 1 large stock pot
- 1 kitchen instant thermometer
- 1 set of measuring spoons
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 gallon tap water (for the first dump boil)
- 1 gallon filtered water (or tap) or as needed
- 1 whole peeled carrot
- 1 whole peeled parsnip
- 2 celery ribs (cut in half)
- ½ yellow onion (peeled)
- 2 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- Add a whole chicken to the pot. Add enough of tap water to cover the chicken. Bring to vigorous boil and let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Carefully take out the chicken and set it aside. Dump the water and rinse the pot. Rinse the chicken in cold water. See notes below.
- Add chicken back to the cleaned pot. Now, add whole peeled veggies, salt, bay leaves and whole peppercorns. Add a gallon of filtered water. You may need more or less of water, it needs to cover the chicken.
- Cover and bring everything to boil. Turn the heat on the lowest setting and let it gently simmer for about one hour or until the chicken is fully cooked. See notes below
- Remove the chicken for further usage. Discard the veggies. Strain the broth and transfer it to the jar or container.
- if you do not want to have to remove the brown froth that will appear on top, dump the first water you boiled the chicken in. It also helps to remove possible chemicals added to the meat.
- if the chicken and broth still boils on a lowest stove setting, simmer the chicken uncovered. It needs to be simmering very gently.
- you can freeze shredded chicken and the broth separately in portions for up to 3 month.
- for the accurate nutrition information, weight your food and check the calories in special apps.