How to Parboil Chicken

Parboiling chicken is a handy technique for any home cook to have in their repertoire. This method involves partially boiling the chicken before it’s finished through other cooking methods such as grilling, baking, or frying. Not only does parboiling save time, but it also ensures that the chicken is cooked evenly and remains tender and juicy.

This cooking technique has various advantages, including helping to retain the chicken’s nutrients and reducing the overall cooking time. By mastering how to parboil chicken, anyone can create healthier, restaurant-quality dishes in the comfort of their own kitchen. In this article, we’ll guide you through the simple process of parboiling chicken to elevate your culinary skills and impress your family and friends.

Preparing Chicken

Selecting Chicken Parts

When choosing chicken for parboiling, consider the desired dish and the cooking method. Various chicken pieces have their own benefits and flavors:

  • Whole chicken: Best for roasting or deep frying. It provides a mix of both white and dark meat.
  • Chicken breasts: Popular for their lean, boneless, and skinless qualities. They cook quickly and work well in stir-fries, sautés, and salads.
  • Chicken thighs: Flavorful and versatile, thighs can be bone-in or boneless, skinless or with skin. They are perfect for grilling, broiling, or slow cooking.
  • Chicken legs: Comprising the drumstick and thigh, legs are tender and succulent. They are popular in barbecues and baked dishes.
  • Chicken wings: Ideal for appetizers and finger food, wings can be baked, fried, or grilled.

Cleaning and Cutting

Before parboiling, clean and cut the chicken as needed:

  1. Rinse chicken pieces thoroughly under cold running water.
  2. Pat them dry with paper towels.
  3. If using whole chicken, cut it into desired size and discard undesired parts (neck, giblets).

To cut chicken pieces, follow these guidelines:

  • Chicken breasts: Slice into even-sized strips or cubes for even cooking.
  • Boneless thighs: Trim excess fat and cut into uniform pieces.
  • Bone-in thighs or legs: Make slits in the meat to facilitate even cooking and flavor absorption.

By selecting appropriate chicken parts and preparing them well, you can create delicious, evenly cooked meals.


Parboiling Process

Gathering Ingredients and Equipment

To parboil chicken, begin by gathering the necessary ingredients and equipment. You’ll need the following:

  • Chicken (breast, thighs, wings, legs, or quarters)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Optional: vegetables (onion, carrots, celery) and seasonings (garlic cloves, black pepper, paprika) for added flavor
  • Stockpot or large pan with a lid
  • Tongs

You may also choose to use chicken broth or stock instead of water for additional flavor.

Boiling and Simmering

Start the parboiling process by placing the chicken pieces in the stockpot or pan. Cover the chicken with water or the chosen liquid, ensuring that the pieces are submerged. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt or other seasonings, like apple cider vinegar and sugar, based on your preference.

Place the pot on the stove and heat the liquid over medium-high heat. Allow the water to reach a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low for simmering. Using a low heat is crucial to not overcooking the chicken. Partially cover the pot with a lid, leaving a small gap for steam to escape.

The cooking time for parboiling chicken varies based on the size and type of chicken pieces used:

  • Breasts: 10-15 minutes
  • Thighs and legs: 15-20 minutes
  • Wings: 8-10 minutes
  • Quarters: 20-25 minutes

It’s essential to check the internal temperature of the chicken during the parboiling process to ensure it reaches 165°F (74°C) for food safety.

Once the chicken reaches the desired internal temperature, use tongs to transfer the parboiled chicken pieces to a plate or tray to cool or prepare them for further cooking. The remaining liquid can be reserved as a flavorful broth for future use.

By following these steps, you’ll have successfully parboiled chicken, which is now partially cooked and ready for the next stage in your recipe, such as grilling, roasting, or frying.


Cooking Methods

There are several cooking methods to choose from after parboiling chicken. These methods help to enhance the flavor, texture, and appearance of the chicken. Two popular techniques are Baking and Grilling, and Frying and Deep Frying.

Baking and Grilling

Baking and grilling are great methods for cooking parboiled chicken. To begin with, preheat the oven or grill to the required temperature. For a tender and juicy result, cook the chicken at a low temperature for a longer time. This allows the meat to retain its moisture while still cooking evenly.

When grilling, make sure to place the chicken skin-side down first. This will help to crisp up the skin and lock in moisture to maintain the chicken’s texture. Be sure to keep an eye on the grilling process and use a meat thermometer to ensure proper internal temperature. Remember, the bones can conduct heat, so keep them in mind when checking the temperature.

Frying and Deep Frying

Another popular method for cooking parboiled chicken is by frying or deep frying. To achieve a delicious, crispy outer layer, coat the chicken with seasoned flour or batter before frying. Shallow frying in a pan is best for small pieces such as shredded chicken, while deep frying is suitable for larger, bone-in pieces.

Remember the following tips for successful frying:

  • Use a thermometer to maintain the appropriate oil temperature.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan or deep fryer; it may reduce the oil’s temperature.
  • Drain fried chicken on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Each method discussed brings a unique taste and texture to your parboiled chicken. Keep in mind your preferred texture, appearance, and taste to choose the best method for your recipe.

Additional Ingredients and Seasonings

To ensure a delicious and flavorsome parboiled chicken, consider adding some complementary ingredients and seasonings. This section highlights how to incorporate fresh produce, liquids, and spices while parboiling chicken for an enhanced culinary experience.

Using Fresh Produce

Incorporating fresh produce can make a significant impact on the taste of your parboiled chicken. Some popular additions include:

  • Herbs: Add aromatic herbs such as bay leaves, rosemary, or thyme to infuse a delightful fragrance into the chicken.
  • Onions: Diced or sliced onions can bring a subtle yet distinct flavor to the dish.
  • Lemon peel: A few strips of lemon peel can introduce a zesty note, perfect for brightening and balancing the dish.

Enhancing Flavors with Liquids and Spices

Elevate your parboiled chicken by incorporating a variety of liquids and spices. This can greatly improve the dish’s juiciness, taste, and aroma. Some suggested additions are:

  • Apple cider: Introduce a hint of tanginess by adding apple cider to the water while parboiling.
  • Peppercorns: Whole black or white peppercorns deliver gentle heat without overpowering the chicken’s natural flavors.
  • Juicy chicken: Preparing a brine or seasoning with a marinade prior to parboiling can create a more tender and juicy end result.

Here is a summary of suggested additional ingredients and the amount needed per pound of chicken for a well-rounded flavor profile:

IngredientAmount per pound of chicken
Herbs2-3 sprigs or 1-2 bay leaves
Onions1/4 cup, diced or sliced
Lemon peel3-4 strips
Apple cider1 cup
Peppercorns6-8 whole
Brine/marinadeAs per recipe

Storing and Reheating Parboiled Chicken

Refrigerating and Freezing

After parboiling chicken, it is essential to store it safely and efficiently to maintain quality and prevent spoilage. For refrigerating, place the chicken pieces on a plate, allowing them to cool down. Once cooled, cover the plate with plastic wrap or transfer the chicken into an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Freezing parboiled chicken provides a longer storage solution. To freeze, wrap each chicken piece individually in a paper towel before placing them in a freezer-safe bag or container. This will help to prevent freezer burn and keep the chicken’s texture intact. Ensure the freezer temperature is at 0°F (-18°C) or below. Frozen parboiled chicken can be stored for up to six months.

Pro-tip: Properly stored parboiled chicken can also be used as a base for dishes like chicken noodle soup, providing a convenient and protein-packed shortcut.

Reheating Tips

When it comes to reheating parboiled chicken, it is crucial to be cautious and ensure the chicken is cooked through evenly. Follow these tips to achieve the best results.

  1. Plan ahead: Transfer your chicken from the freezer to the refrigerator 24 hours prior to reheating to allow it to thaw properly. Skipping this step may cause uneven reheating.
  2. Temperature check: Use a food thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) during reheating. This guarantees the chicken is fully cooked and safe to eat.
  3. Moisture retention: Cover the chicken with foil while reheating to help retain moisture. If it’s a part with skin, like chicken thighs or wings, remove the foil toward the end of reheating to achieve a crispy skin.
  4. Reheating methods: Microwaving is suitable for smaller chicken pieces and quick reheating. For larger pieces, like breasts or thighs, consider using an oven, set at about 350°F (175°C). Pairing parboiled chicken with potatoes or your preferred vegetables makes for an easy and nutritious meal.

By following these storing and reheating guidelines, you can ensure your parboiled chicken is always safe, flavorful, and ready to be enjoyed in various recipes.

Incorporating Parboiled Chicken into Dishes

Main Course Meals

Parboiled chicken is a versatile ingredient that can be utilized in a variety of main course meals. One popular option is adding parboiled chicken to tacos. Simply shred or dice the chicken and mix it with your preferred seasonings before stuffing into taco shells.

Additionally, parboiling is particularly useful when preparing frozen chicken. It is essential to blanch the frozen chicken before marinating it, as it can help maintain its tenderness while speeding up the overall cooking time. After blanching, a meat thermometer should be used to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.

Appetizers and Snacks

In terms of appetizers and snacks, parboiled chicken quarters can be used to create delicious finger foods. After parboiling, coat the chicken in a flavorful batter and fry until golden brown. This method results in a crispy exterior with moist and tender chicken inside.

Chicken PreparationCook TimeCooking Method
Parboiled ChickenVaries by dishBoiling, then baking
Frozen ChickenLonger cook timesBlanching
Fully Cooked ChickenShorter cook timesSauté, grill, bake

Cider Pairings

Pairing chicken with a crisp cider can elevate the flavors of your parboiled chicken dishes. Certain ciders can bring out the taste of the meats, while others can act as a palate cleanser. Experiment with different types of ciders to discover which best complements your chicken dishes.

Four Ways to Parboil Chicken

Once you have parboiled your chicken, you have a wide variety of options and recipes that you can use to make a mouth watering and delicious meal! Here are just a few of our favorites that will please the whole family.
Parboiled Deep Fried Chicken
Parboiled Chicken Wings
Parboiled Chicken Tacos
Parboiled BBQ Chicken
4.85 from 82 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbeque
Servings 4 people
Calories 300 kcal


Parboiled Deep Fried Chicken

    For this deep fried chicken recipe, you will need:

    • 3 eggs
    • 1 lb of chicken tenders
    • 1 cup of all purpose flour
    • 2 cups of canola oil
    • ½ tbsp of red pepper flakes
    • ¼ cup of milk
    • A little salt and black pepper for flavoring

    Parboiled Chicken Tacos

      If you want to put a mexican spin on dinner, then why not try these parboiled chicken tacos? For this recipe you will need:

      • cups of shredded chicken
      • 6 whole tomatillos husked washed and grilled
      • 8 whole corn tortillas
      • 2 tbsp of honey
      • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
      • 1 cup of queso fresco crumbled
      • 1 cup of cilantro chopped
      • 1 whole lime juiced
      • 1 tbsp Olive oil
      • ½ small red onion
      • 1 cup of serrano grilled

      Parboiled BBQ Chicken

        For the parboiled BBQ chicken recipe, you will need:

        • 4 lbs chicken of choice (e.g. breasts/legs) with skin on
        • 1 cup of BBQ sauce
        • 1 pinch A little salt

        For the BBQ sauce, you will need:

        • 4 cloves of garlic
        • ½ medium sized onion
        • 2 cups of tomato ketchup
        • 5 tbsp of butter
        • 3 tbsp of paprika
        • 2 tbsp of chili powder
        • ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
        • ½ cup of apple juice
        • ½ cup of brown sugar
        • 1 tbsp of chipotle powder
        • 1 pinch A little salt and cayenne pepper for flavor


        Parboiled Deep Fried Chicken

        • To make parboiled deep fried chicken, you will first have to heat up the canola oil in a pan ready for the frying process. Whilst that heats up, you will want to grab a small bowl and mix together the flour, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
        • With another bowl, you will have to beat the eggs and the milk together until mixed completely. Once this is done, you can dip your parboiled chicken in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture once more. Make sure that the whole piece of chicken is coated completely before placing it inside the frying pan.
        • Add the coated pieces of chicken to the frying pan and cook until they begin to turn golden brown. Once done, serve up with some tasty, tangy barbeque sauce, or a little ranch sauce for dipping.
        • Our top tip is to throw a little hot sauce on top of the fried chicken, and serve with ranch for a cool and spicy combination that you will love!

        Parboiled Chicken Wings

        • If you parboil your chicken wings before cooking them properly, you will be able to perfectly render the fat down and will end up with a much crispier end result. This recipe is so easy to make as you just parboil your wings for about 7-8 minutes in salted water, and then remove, patting off excess moisture and fat.
        • Once this is done, you can place the wings on a baking sheet, and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes on a heat of 450 degrees fahrenheit, or until you see them turn a golden, crispy brown color. When you notice the color, you can then flip the wings and cook the other side for a further 5-10 minutes until they crisp right up!
        • Then, serve with your favorite sauce or dip, and you are ready to eat!

        Parboiled Chicken Tacos

        • With all of your ingredients gathered, you can turn on the grill to a medium heat. Then, saute the tomatillos, and serrano in a pan with a little olive oil. Then, use a blender to mix together serrano, garlic, red onion, lime, honey, and the tomatillos until they become smooth.
        • Next, pour this paste back into the pan and saute. Whilst this simmers, throw in some of your shredded cooked chicken, and mix together.
        • Then, you can add your tortillas to the grill, cooking for about 20 seconds on each side. Once your chicken mixture is ready, you can spoon it into the tortillas, and put a dash of queso fresco on top, and serve with a little salsa or some jalapenos for a spicy twist!

        Parboiled BBQ Chicken

        • For this recipe to work, we will need to make the BBQ sauce first. To do this, you will have to get a pan, and throw in some butter. Heat the butter up for a few minutes on a lower temperature, and add the onion to saute.
        • Once the onions brown, you can add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Once this is done, you can add all of the other ingredients, and stir together until combined. Mix it all up, and remember to taste the homemade sauce to see if it is just right. When it is, you can move onto making the BBQ chicken.
        • When ready to make the chicken, turn your grill on. With your parboiled chicken, you can then use vegetable oil to coat the sides and sprinkle a little salt for flavor. Then, you will need to place the chicken piece over the grill with the skin side down, and sear them for about 5 or 10 minutes, checking as they cook.
        • If you notice that the skin is seared, then you should place it on the colder part of the grill, or reduce the heat down. Leaving the chicken on a medium to low heat, you can then cover the grill and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
        • After this time has passed, you will want to turn the pieces of chicken over, and cover them in the homemade barbecue sauce that you previously prepared. Then, recover and allow to cook for a further 20 minutes. Repeat the process for the other side of the chicken to ensure that those barbecue flavors go all the way through, and remove the chicken from the grill when cooked.
        • To serve, cover in a little more barbecue, and place them on a plate with some homemade coleslaw and fries!


        Calories: 300kcal
        Keyword how to parboil chicken, parboil chicken
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        Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
        Cassie Marshall
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