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carved boiled chicken on a platter with a fork near it.

How to Boil a Whole Chicken

Learn how to boil a whole chicken, a skill that will make meal prep easy. You can use the shredded or sliced meat to make countless other dishes, from simple sandwiches to soups and salads.
Course Poultry
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 293kcal
Author Adina


  • One large pot with a lid.
  • Slotted spoon
  • Strainer


  • 1 whole chicken medium 3-3 ½ lbs/1.3-1 ½ kg, Note 1
  • 2 celery sticks or 1 piece of peeled celeriac
  • 2 carrots medium
  • 1 onion unpeeled
  • 5 garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt Note 2
  • 10 peppercorns Note 3
  • 1 small bunch of parsley stalks optional


  • Preparations: Remove the giblets from inside the chicken (Note 4). Place the bird in a large pot that has a lid.
  • Prepare vegetables: Roughly chop the celery and the carrots and halve the unpeeled onion. Add them and the unpeeled garlic cloves to the pot.
  • Fill pot: Add salt, peppercorns, parsley stalks, and all the spices you want to use. Cover everything with cold water, about 1 inch/ 2.4 cm above the chicken, and place the lid on top.
  • Bring to a boil on medium-high heat but don’t let the water come to a rolling boil.
  • Skim the foam over the surface of the broth with a spoon or a skimmer.
  • Simmer: Once it starts to boil gently, turn down the heat, remove the lid, and simmer the chicken until cooked but not overcooked. The internal temperature should reach 165°F/74°C (Note 5 - Cooking times).
    Always check that the chicken is cooked through!
  • Remove the chicken from the pot using a slotted spoon and another large spoon or tongs.
  • Strain the broth and fill it into jars to use for other recipes.
  • Remove the skin and the bones of the bird. Shred or slice the meat and use it as needed.


  1. If frozen, defrost in the fridge. A medium-sized chicken will need at least 24 hours, probably longer.
  2. If using fine salt, start with only ¾ to 1 teaspoon and add more at the end of the cooking process to taste.
  3. You can add other spices to improve the flavor. I always add 3-4 bay leaves, 5-6 juniper berries, 5 cloves, and 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds.
  4. You can cook them in the broth as well. The liver will not need very long; remove it from the pot in time. Or even better, fry it in a pan.
  5. Cooking times:
  • Small - under 2.5 lbs (1.2 kg): 35-40 minutes.
  • Medium 3-3 ½ lbs (1.3-1 ½ kg): about 45 minutes.
  • Medium to large 3 ½ and up to 4 ½ lbs (1 ½ - 2 kg): about 60 minutes.
  • Large - more than 4 ½ lbs (2 kg) 65-80 minutes.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 293kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 892mg | Potassium: 349mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3596IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg