Sous Vide Chicken Breast
- 145° F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours is the magic number
What is sous vide cooking?
Sous what? Sous vide, pronounced ‘sue veed’ is a French term that translates to “under vacuum.” In cooking, it is basically the technique of vacuum sealing food in a plastic bag and submerging it into a temperature controlled water bath for a certain amount of time. That’s it. There’s really not a whole lot more to it, other than it’s magic.
Sous vide is the method that restaurants have been using for years to serve perfectly cooked food. While the chefs are obviously great at cooking, they use sous vide to eliminate guessing and produce textures that are extremely difficult to achieve with traditional methods.
Here’s why sous vide works so well for chicken breasts
When you cook chicken breasts on the stove, grill or in the oven, the internal temperature of 165 degrees f needs to be reached to make them safe to eat. The problem with that is the heat source is much hotter than 165 degrees; it’s usually more than double the temperature.
That means that once the chicken has reached 165 degrees in the center, the temperature will keep climbing if it isn’t removed from the heat at the perfect time. It also means that the temperature closer to the exterior is going to be hotter than 165 degrees (yep, that means overcooked). If you want perfectly cooked chicken, your timing has to be perfect too, which is really difficult to do.
Why sous vide chicken breasts?
- Perfectly cooked every time
- The texture is wonderful
- Super healthy (can cook with no fat)
- Convenient and totally hands off
- Can be made ahead and it’s great for meal prep
- Gives you plenty of time to entertain dinner party guests while the sous vide does its magic
- Add whatever flavors to the bag that will be infused into the chicken while it cooks
Meal prep tips
The sous vide method is really great for meal prepping. Prep the bags by seasoning the chicken, adding herbs or a sauce, vacuum seal and they are ready to go. You can keep them in the fridge if using in the next few days or freeze for later use.
You can also cook the breasts sous vide ahead of time, cool in an ice bath and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days until you are ready to use.
Can you cook frozen chicken sous vide?
Absolutely! One of the great things about cooking sous vide is you can add vacuum sealed frozen foods right to the water bath. For boneless skinless chicken, just add an extra hour to the cooking time and everything else is the same.
How to Sous Vide Chicken Breasts
If you can cook pasta, you can easily sous vide chicken breasts. Since boneless skinless chicken breasts don’t have a ton of favor on their own; seasoning and adding the fresh thyme or other herbs are pretty key to adding wonderful flavors.
- Fill a large pot or container with water and set the sous vide machine to 145° F / 62.7° C.
- Season the chicken liberally with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper; placing a few fresh thyme sprigs on each side of the breasts.
- Add the chicken to the bag along with any sauce or marinade (if using).
- Vacuum seal or get as much air out as you can if using the water displacement method in a ziplock bag.
- Clip the bag to the side of the pot or container to keep it in place and submerged.
- Cook the chicken at 145° F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (same result within this time window).
- Remove from the bag and rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes before serving.
Sear the skin if using skin-on chicken breasts: Dry the skin with paper towels, season again and sear for 45 seconds to 1 minute to brown and crisp up the skin. There’s no reason to sear boneless skinless chicken breasts as there is no fat to crisp.