How Long Does It Take to Boil a Whole Chicken?

Boiling is an excellent method for cooking a whole chicken. The most important thing when boiling a whole chicken is to know how long to boil it for. How long does it take to boil a whole chicken?

It takes about 90 minutes to boil a whole chicken that is about 4-5 pounds. Place the whole chicken in a pot and pour water in until it is all covered. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer until the chicken meat is ready.

To know if the whole chicken is fully cooked, insert a thermometer into the thickest parts of the meat. If the temperature is 165 °F (74 °C), then it is cooked. The juices of the chicken should also run clear when you pierce it with a sharp-pointed object. Another indication of when it is cooked is when you can move the legs freely from their joints.

Read on to learn more about how long to boil a whole chicken, including recipes and tips to cook it to perfection.

How Long Does It Take to Boil a Whole Chicken?

A whole chicken that is about 4 or 5 pounds will need to boil for about 1.5 hours for it to be fully cooked. If the chicken is bigger than four pounds, it will take longer to boil.

How long to boil a whole chicken per pound? It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to boil a whole chicken per pound. So a 2-pound whole chicken would take about 40 minutes to boil. A 4-pound whole chicken would take about 80 minutes to boil.

To boil a whole chicken, first gently set it inside a pot. Pour enough water to cover the entire chicken by about an inch. If you want to add flavor to the chicken, toss in some herbs, spices, and cut vegetables.

Bring the water to a boil, and once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep it there until the cooking time approaches 90 minutes. Check the chicken after 90 minutes. To be sure that it is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer.

Insert the thermometer into the deepest or thickest part of the chicken, and if the temperature reads 165 °F (74 °C), then it’s done cooking. If you don’t have a thermometer, look at the chicken meat. Is it already whitish? If it is, then you can serve the chicken. If the meat is still pinkish, keep it boiling for longer.

Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Boil a Whole Chicken

On average, it will take about 90 minutes to boil a whole chicken. In reality, the time it takes will depend on various factors. These factors are below.

1. Size of the Chicken

A 4-pound chicken will cook quicker than a 5-pound chicken. The four-pounder has a smaller surface area than the five-pounders, so it will take a shorter time to cook.

2. Altitude

The altitude or elevation of the place where you are boiling the chicken will also affect its cooking time. The boiling point of water goes down for every 1,000 feet by 2 °F. The amount of oxygen goes down as you go high up; therefore, it will also affect the generation of fire in your stovetop.

Heat conduction is also slower in higher altitudes. Food cools faster in higher altitudes. Boiling temperatures are also lower at higher altitudes. So you need to lower your cooking temperature to preserve moisture in the chicken. This could mean the cooking time will be longer.

3. Humidity

Humidity is the amount of moisture present in the surrounding air. The more humid your surrounding is, the wetter you will feel. If your place has lower humidity, more water in your chicken meat will evaporate, and the longer will be the cooking time.

4. Weather

Cool weather generates cold air. More heat will be required to cook a given surface area. Therefore cooking a whole chicken in this kind of weather will take longer because of low heat transfer. You will need more gas or charcoal to cook a whole chicken in cold weather.

5. Cooking Temperature

The hotter the cooking temperature, the shorter will be your cooking time.

6. Thickness of the Meat

How thick the chicken meat is, or how lean it is, will influence its cooking time since this fact can affect the size of the whole chicken. Cooking lean meat takes longer than meat that is laden with fat.

how long to boil a whole chicken

How to Boil a Whole Chicken

How to boil a whole chicken? It is simple and easy with the below steps.

1. Choose a Good Quality Chicken

Choose the best quality chicken. Mostly, it is from younger poultry. The older a chicken gets, the tougher the meat its meat will be.

2. Put the Chicken in a Pot

Put the whole chicken in a big pot and pour enough water so that it will be fully submerged.

3. Add in the Ingredients

Add some ingredients to the water. You can add onions, fresh herbs, minced garlic, sliced carrots, and other suitable vegetables, peppercorns, a few pieces of bay leaf, salt, and pepper. All these ingredients will enhance the taste of the chicken and will produce a good chicken broth that you can use for your other chicken dishes.

4. Boil

Bring the whole chicken to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to simmer. Ensure that the pot is covered. Maintain this lower heat setting for the remainder of the cooking time. The chicken meat will cook evenly and absorb all the flavors of the added ingredients. It will be tenderized gently and will retain a perfect moist.

5. Check If It Is Cooked

When the time is up (about 90 minutes from the start), check if you’re finish cooking. Get a thermometer suitable for meat and poke it in the thickest part of the chicken as deep as necessary. If the temperature reads 165 °F (74 °C), then the chicken is already done. If it’s lower than that, cook it a little more and recheck it.

Check the color of the chicken meat. If it is already whitish, it is ready. But if there are still some pinkish hues, cook it a little more and recheck it.

6. Serve

Once cooked, remove the whole chicken from the pot. Let it cool down for about 10 to 15 minutes. There are two options that you can choose after you have determined that your chicken is ready. You can serve it on a plate and eat it, or you cut it in parts (or shred the meat) and use its parts to make a special chicken dish.

Tips for Boiling a Whole Chicken

You will be able to enjoy your boiled whole chicken if you consider the below tips. If too much water has evaporated from the cooking pot, add more water or broth. Make sure that the entire body of the chicken is soaking in liquid during the time that it is cooking.

1. Keep the Boiling Water from Overflowing by Starting the Boiling Process Using High Heat

As soon as the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium. You can also set the heat to low if you don’t mind waiting a little longer.

2. Use a Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot

If you need to boil several chickens quickly, you can choose a pressure cooker. A bigger pressure cooker that can handle two or three chickens is best. Just be sure to observe safety precautions because you are dealing with a pressure cooker.

3. Enhance the Taste by Seasoning

You can vary the base seasoning of salt and pepper by adding a few herbs, onion slices, spices, and sliced fresh veggies.

4. Save the Broth

If you have excess broth, don’t throw it away. You can save it and use it as an ingredient for future chicken dishes.

how long does it take to boil a whole chicken

We’ve answered the questions ‘how long to boil whole chicken’, ‘how long to boil a whole chicken for soup or a main dish?’, and ‘how long to boil a whole chicken per pound?’; next, let’s look at two easy recipes for boiling a whole chicken.

Easy Recipes for Boiling a Whole Chicken

Recipe #1

Below is a simple recipe for making boiled whole chicken that is tender and juicy with a very flavorful broth. The preparation time is 15 minutes. Cooking time is two hours making a total time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. This dish is good for six people.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken 3-4 pounds
  • Enough water to cover the chicken
  • Three carrots include tops if you have them
  • 1 1/2 onion divided
  • Three sprigs fresh parsley
  • Two celery stalks
  • One tablespoon peppercorns
  • Bay leaves, two
  • Two sprigs each of fresh parsley, sage, thyme rosemary or their combination
  • Two teaspoons salt

Steps:

1. Cut the celery, carrots, and onions into quarters. Include the tops of the celery and the carrots.

2. Put the onions into the chicken’s cavity.

3. Put the whole chicken in the pot. Add the veggies with fresh herbs, peppercorn, bay leaves, and salt. Pour water all over until all of the ingredients, including the chicken, are fully submerged.

4. Place the cover on the pot. Bring water to a boil using high heat.

5. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, with the pot partially covered for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

6. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool down.

7. Remove the meat from the bones of the chicken.

8. Strain the broth and pour it into a container. Cover the container and save it in the fridge.

9. Use the shredded chicken meat as an ingredient for any chicken dish.

Recipe #2

Here’s another recipe that uses whole-boiled chicken that you will enjoy. The preparation time is 15 minutes. This dish will be ready after about 1 hour and 40 minutes with a total time of 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • One whole 100% organic chicken, 4 to 5 pounds
  • Two organic carrots – peeled and cut
  • Two organic celery stalks – cut
  • One medium organic onion – cut
  • Four organic bay leaves
  • One tablespoon organic oregano
  • One to two tsp ground tellicherry pepper – to taste ground tellicherry pepper – to taste
  • One teaspoon organic fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon organic dry parsley
  • One tablespoon organic coconut oil
  • Two teaspoons Himalayan Pink Salt – to taste
  • Eight cups of spring or filtered or water enough to cover the chicken

Directions:

1. Pour the coconut oil into the pot. Ensure that it completely coats the bottom of the pot.

2. Put the chicken in the pot.

3. Peel the onion, then cut it into quarters.

4. Peel the carrots and cut them into thin and long sections.

5. Cut the celery into small sections.

6. Add all these veggies to the chicken.

7. Add the bay leaves, pepper, salt, oregano, and parsley.

8. Pour the Eight cups of water into the pot. Ensure that water covers the chicken and the vegetables.

9. Turn on the stove and place it on high.

10. Cover the pot with its lid.

11. Bring water to a boil.

12. Once water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the chicken to cook for around 1 1/2 hours. After this time, check if the inner temperature of the chicken is 165 °F (74 °C). If it is, it is already done.

13. Turn off the stove.

14. Allow the chicken to cool down for around 30 minutes.

15. Remove the chicken from the pot and put it in a tray.

16. When the chicken is no longer hot to the touch, remove the chicken meat from the bones or shred the meat.

17. Use the meat for special chicken dishes such as chicken flautas or spring rolls, or chicken salads. Save the rest for future use.

Conclusion: How Long to Boil Whole Chicken?

It takes about 90 minutes to boil a whole chicken that is about 4-5 pounds.

Put the whole chicken in a pot or casserole and pour water in until it is fully submerged. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer until the chicken meat is cooked. If it is completely cooked, the color of the chicken meat should be whitish.

How long to boil a whole chicken per pound? It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to boil a whole chicken per pound. So a 2-pound whole chicken would take about 40 minutes to boil. A 4-pound whole chicken would take about 80 minutes to boil.