Do You Have To Pre-Cook Chicken Before Adding It To A Pot Pie?

Most comfort foods tend to taste better at home than they do at a restaurant, and chicken pot pie is no exception. The dish doesn't exactly scream gourmet, and it's likely because of its humble origins. Chicken pot pie, according to Vox Creative, was created by the German and Swiss immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country in the 17th and 18th centuries. They came up with chicken pot pie as a way to make their meals stretch, mixing any leftover meat with vegetables and broth instead of letting it go to waste.

Using leftover chicken is still a common approach to preparing chicken pot pie, but it's not a requirement. Even if you start with fresh chicken, it's possible to make an equally delicious, albeit non-traditional, chicken pot pie. Don't just toss in raw pieces of chicken into your filling though. As Serious Eats explains, chicken has to be in a certain state, or else your pot pie may not turn out as well as you'd hoped.

The only exception for undercooking chicken

It's never a good idea to undercook chicken, but when it comes to pot pies the rules are a bit different. If you're making chicken pot pie entirely from scratch, i.e., with fresh instead of leftover chicken, you must first pre-cook it before adding it to the filling, Savory With Soul shares. Five minutes over medium heat is all you need, per the blog's suggestion. For more precise results, Serious Eats recommends cooking the chicken until the inside reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit because it will ultimately result in the juiciest possible chicken.

If you're wary about your chicken being too rare, you could technically cook the chicken until it's fully done — after all, people have been making it with already-cooked chicken since the 1600s. But remember, your chicken will continue to cook in a hot oven before you actually serve it, which means it could easily end up on the dry side otherwise.

Using pre-cooked chicken can help you avoid watery filling

Ever cut into your chicken pot pie only to find out the filling is runny? The most common reason for this mishap, Mutt & Chops shares, is that it's still too hot. Chicken pot pie needs about 15 minutes to rest in order for the filling to set. If you've put raw chicken in your pot pie, however, no amount of time will firm up the filling. Though the chicken will still cook through and be safe to eat, the filling itself will be watery.

According to Think Tasty, this is because chicken releases moisture as it cooks. When you pre-cook chicken on the stove, some of that moisture will naturally evaporate, and you're able to drain the rest. If you skip this step, the chicken juices end up getting trapped in the pie and will water down the filling. Then, when you take it out of the oven, it will have a soupy consistency. Fortunately, this can easily be avoided as long as you pre-cook your chicken before adding it to a pot pie.