Get ready to indulge in this tender, flavorful sous vide chicken breast. Seasoned to your heart’s content and cooked to perfection, sous vide cooking will ensure juicy and succulent results every time. You can finish the chicken breast with a quick sear for a golden and crispy crust that’ll impress you, your family, and your tastebuds!
Table of Contents
Why Sous Vide Chicken Breast Works
Sous vide is an excellent method for cooking chicken that guarantees consistent and tasty results. Whether preparing chicken breasts or chicken wings, the low-and-slow cooking method yields a tender, juicy, and delicious bite.
Here are a few reasons why it works so well:
- Precise Temperature Control – Sous vide allows you to precisely control the cooking temperature. This ensures that the chicken is cooked to the desired level of doneness without the risk of overcooking or drying out.
- Even and Tender Cooking – With sous vide, the chicken breast cooks evenly from edge to edge. It results in a consistently tender and juicy texture throughout.
- Retains Moisture and Flavor – Cooking chicken breast sous vide in a sealed bag helps to lock in the natural moisture and flavors. So you’ll be able to enjoy a more succulent and flavorful result.
- Convenience and Meal Prep – Sous vide cooking is a convenient option for meal prep. You can cook multiple chicken breasts at once and store them in the fridge or freezer. Then, simply sear or reheat when ready to serve.
- Chicken Breast – You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for creamy chicken salad or as a tasty, guilt-free dinner option. Or, you could opt for bone-in skin-on chicken breasts for a slower cook but even more delectable flavor.
- Salt and Pepper – At the very least, you should always season your chicken with salt and pepper to enhance the flavor.
- Seasonings (Optional) – Get creative and mix and match herbs and spices to pump up the flavor of the chicken. Fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, or basil add a delightful aroma and taste to the chicken. Including minced or dried garlic or onion, citrus zest, cajun seasoning, or a marinade are all simple ways to add tons of flavor to your chicken breast.
- Olive Oil (Optional) – Olive oil adds flavor and creates the base for a marinade within the sous vide bag.
See recipe card for full ingredient list and quantities.
Equipment You’ll Need
The right equipment is crucial to achieving perfectly cooked and succulent sous vide chicken breasts. If you don’t already have a sous vide setup, you’ll find everything you need in our starter kit. Here is a quick rundown.
- Precision Cooker – A precision cooker is essential for sous vide cooking. If you don’t have one, here are our favorites. Make sure that you have an excellent quality, reliable device on hand.
- Pot or Container – Make sure you have a large pot or container to hold the water and accommodate the chicken breasts. If possible, use a designated heat-resistant sous vide container deep enough to fully submerge anything you want to cook.
- Food-Grade Plastic Bags or Vacuum Seal Bags – If you don’t have food grade vacuum bags, then heat-resistant BPA-free Ziploc bags can fill in.
- Vacuum Sealer (Optional) – You can remove the air from the sous vide bags using the water displacement method. However, using a vacuum sealer makes the process much easier, faster, and more convenient.
- Sous Vide Weights (Optional) – To sous vide food efficiently, evenly, and safely, you must ensure that the sealed bags are fully submerged. They have to remain that way for the duration of the cooking time. It’s handy to have a few sous vide weights ready when you need to add a little extra insurance with bags that stubbornly want to float.
- Searing Equipment (Optional) – After sous vide cooking, you may want to sear the chicken breast for added flavor and texture. A hot skillet, grill, or blowtorch can be used for searing.
- Set up your sous vide station. Preheat the water bath to 155°F, if you’re planning to serve the chicken breast cold. Or set the water bath to 160°F for firmer chicken that’s best served hot.
- Flavor the chicken. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add other herbs or spices for additional flavor.
- Transfer to watertight bags. Place the chicken breasts in a vacuum or heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add a drizzle of olive oil and any optional sprigs of fresh herbs you’d like to include.
- Seal the bags. Use a vacuum sealer or water displacement method to seal the bags tightly.
- Submerge and cook. Submerge the sealed bags in the preheated water bath, and cook boneless chicken breasts in the water bath for 1 ½ hours. If you have bone-in chicken breasts, allow them to cook for 3 hours.
- Remove and dry the chicken. Remove the bags from the water bath and transfer the chicken breasts to a plate. Pat them dry with paper towels.
- Sear the chicken (optional). Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Sear the chicken breasts on both sides until they develop a golden-brown crust, about 1-2 minutes per side.
- Rest the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This helps redistribute the juices and ensures a moist and flavorful result.
- Serve and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
Ensure there is enough space in the water bath for the chicken breasts to cook evenly. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking, and we don’t want all your hard work and time to go to waste.
Two small boneless, skinless chicken breasts will fit in one vacuum-seal bag because they have enough space to cook untouched. But if you’re using large bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, consider using multiple bags. This way, you can separate the chicken in the bath and ensure they all cook evenly.
How To Sear Chicken Breast
Before searing, remove all excess moisture from the surface of the chicken breasts using paper towels. Any moisture on the surface can hinder the browning process, so dry the chicken thoroughly.
Before adding the chicken, preheat the skillet and resist moving the breasts around too early. Once you place the chicken, let it cook for a minute or two before trying to move it so that you allow enough time for a crust to form.
Limit your time to 1-2 minutes per side before flipping to avoid overcooking the chicken. The thinner the chicken, the more frequently you should flip it.
For more tips, check our full guide to achieving the perfect sear.
Can I Sous Vide Frozen Chicken Breasts?
Yes! This is one of the magical features of sous vide. No need to thaw your chicken breast in advance. Simply add an hour to the cook time. Life just got easier.
How Do I Cook Chicken Breast Faster?
Simply pound the chicken flatter to uniform thickness if you’re in a rush. Make it roughly as thick as the thinnest part of the breast. You can cut the cook time down to an hour with this method.
Use a meat mallet or meat pounder if you have one. If not, a heavy pan or a rolling pin will do just fine. Pounding between plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper is a good idea.
Pounding the chicken flat will also make each bite more evenly seasoned.
Sous vide chicken breast is an excellent foundation for many quick and easy meals. If you prefer meat that’s naturally more tender but not quite as lean, try chicken thighs sous vide.
For example, you can skip the searing step and batch-cook chicken breast to serve cold on top of a fresh salad for lunch all week. Or, chunk up the cold chicken breast and add it to a BBQ-ready creamy chicken salad. Even simply add it to a jarred simmer sauce like the butter chicken or tikka masala varieties.
If you sear the chicken breasts and serve them hot, you can’t go wrong with simple sous vide vegetables on the side. Try Sous Vide Broccolini or Sous Vide Glazed Carrots for an effortless, convenient dinner option.
Sous Vide Chicken Breast – Always Tender and Juicy
- 1 Sous Vide Cooker
- 1 Sous Vide Container
- 1 Vacuum Sealer optional
- Vacuum Seal Bags or Ziploc freezer bag(s)
- 2 chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste optional
- 2 sprigs fresh herbs optional
- 2 tbsp olive oil optional
- Preheat the sous vide water bath to 155°F for tender and stringy chicken, ideally served cold or in chicken salad. Or set the water bath to 160°F for firm and juicy chicken that’s best served hot.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and minced garlic. You can also add other herbs or spices for additional flavor.
- Place the chicken breasts in a vacuum or heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add a drizzle of olive oil to each bag, and you can include a couple of sprigs of fresh herbs for added flavor.
- Seal the bags using a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method.
- Submerge the sealed bags in the preheated water bath, ensuring they are fully submerged. If needed, use a clip or weight to keep the bags from floating.
- Cook boneless chicken breasts in the water bath for 1 ½ hours or bone-in chicken breasts for 3 hours.
- Once the cooking time is complete, remove the bags from the water bath. Then, carefully remove the chicken breasts from the bags and pat them dry with paper towels.
- (Optional) Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Sear the chicken breasts on both sides until they develop a golden-brown crust, about 1-2 minutes per side. If your chicken breast has skin intact, sear the chicken skin side down first.
- Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate to rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving.
- Serve and enjoy!
If you’re wondering whether you can refreeze chicken, read this.
Sous Vide Chicken Breast FAQs
How long it takes to sous vide chicken breast will depend on the size of the cutlet and whether or not it is boneless. For example, at 145°F-155°F, a thin chicken breast can cook for 1-1.5 hours, an average-sized breast for 1.5-2 hours, and a thick or bone-in breast for 2.5-3 hours.
There is a range of temperatures that you can use to sous vide chicken breast. It will depend on the texture you’re after to determine which one you should use. For example, for boneless breasts, 1.5 hours at 155°F will give you tender and stringy chicken that’s best-served cold. On the other hand, 160°F will yield firm and juicy chicken that’s best served hot.
According to the USDA, eating sous vide chicken cooked at 145°F for at least 9 minutes is safe. Typically, chicken is only safe to consume once it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. However, sous vide cooking is the exception to the rule. The consistent and controlled temperature pasteurizes the chicken and reduces pathogen growth.