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Sous Vide Chicken Breast

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

Sous vide chicken breast on a white plate with mushrooms and salad.

This sous vide chicken breast is by far one of the best tasting chicken recipes I’ve ever tried. The secret is to combine sous vide cooking with a tasty homemade Italian-style cooking sauce that takes only a few minutes to prepare. Once you do that, you will get perfect tenderness, juiciness and a flavor explosion in your mouth. The taste of this chicken is so good that with every bite you just want to eat more and more of it. On top, you can use pouch juices as a finishing sauce for the chicken and as a dressing for a side salad.

Unlike traditional chicken recipes, this recipe does not require the chicken to be brined or marinated prior to cooking to become flavored. Instead, chicken breasts are cooked in a pouch filled with a seasoning liquid. By the time cooking is done, the chicken meat will be perfectly flavored inside out.

Chicken breasts inside clear water container cooking sous vide.

Safe cooking temperature for chicken

Cooking temperature for sous vide chicken breast typically ranges between 140F and 165F. Any temperature below that range will result in noticeably raw-tasting chicken. Cooking above 165F will result in a significant loss of moisture and dry, chalky texture.

For a novice sous vide cook it may be difficult to accept the target internal temperature of below the USDA recommended 165F. Let me clarify. It’s true, chicken meat becomes 100% safe to eat if it reaches 165F for a second.  However, chicken meat is perfectly safe to eat at lower temperatures if the meat is held at those temperatures for a specified minimum time. For example, chicken is perfectly safe to eat once it reaches 150F and stays at that temperature for a minimum of 4.2 minutes.

Here is USDA’s time-temperature table for cooking ready-to-eat poultry products for your sous vide cooking reference.

TemperatureHolding Time
140°F (60°C)35 minutes
145°F (62.8°C)13 minutes
148°F (64.4°C)6.8 minutes
150°F (65.6°C)4.2 minutes
152°F (66.7°C)2.3 minutes
155°F (68.3°C)54.4 seconds
157°F (69.4°C)34 seconds
160°F (71.1°C)16.9 seconds
162°F (72.3°C)10.5 seconds
163°F (72.8°C)1 second
165°F (73.9°C)1 second

Recommended cooking temperature

It’s a challenging task to recommend a specific temperature as it comes down to personal preference. That said, 150F seems to be the most recommended temperature. I’ve experimented with different temperatures and settled on 148F. To me, it provides the best balance of texture, mouth feel and juiciness. I highly recommend that you start with this temperature and then experiment to find where your personal preference lies.

Sous Vide chicken cooking temperature shown on sous vide machine.

Meat selection

While cooking chicken sous vide may be one of the easiest and fool-proof cooking methods, it’s not as forgiving when it comes to the quality of meat.  Free-range or organic chicken is best. In this recipe, I use boneless skin-on chicken breasts. You want the skin to be thin and bluish-white in color, not yellow. Yellow color is an indication of a thick layer of fat present. Not surprisingly, yellow skin is also usually thick. Grilled, this chicken will taste fine, but not when cooked sous vide as the fat won’t render at the low sous vide cooking temperatures.

Preparing for cooking

For optimal cooking, chicken breasts should be vacuum sealed. Vacuum sealing eliminates air pockets which cause inefficient and uneven cooking. Other than vacuum sealing, you can use the water displacement method which works really well to eliminate air pockets.

Chicken breasts with seasonings vacuum sealed in a bag, ready for sous vide cooking.

Cooking chicken breasts sous vide

Sous vide is the easiest chicken breast cooking method that I know of. Simply place the vacuum sealed bag with seasoned chicken breasts in the pre-heated water bath fitted with a sous vide immersion circulator and hold it there for 90 minutes. There is no need to worry about chicken getting over-cooked. It will come out perfectly cooked every time.

When cooking is done, you can brown the tops of chicken breasts on a skillet over medium-high heat to give them some appetizing color. This step is totally optional but highly recommended.

Serving

I like serving sous vide chicken breast with garden greens and sous vide mushrooms on the side. Sous vide mushrooms can be cooked together with chicken breasts or separately. You don’t even need a dressing for the garden greens – you can just use the delicious liquid from the pouch in which the chicken cooked. It tastes just like Italian dressing. I also pour the remaining pouch juices over chicken and mushrooms to add more flavor to them.

Sous vide chicken breasts are also fantastic for making chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, tacos, chicken alfredo, mulligatawny soup and many other dishes that use pre-cooked chicken.

Top down view of sous vide chicken on a white plate with garden greens.

Variations

Variations of this recipe, outside of experimenting with cooking temperature, include using different seasonings. You can go as simple as using salt, pepper and fresh herbs with a little bit of olive oil, or as complex as using robust seasoning sauces with complex flavors. One of my favorite ones is the honey-lime sauce which I detailed out in the notes to the recipe below.

Sliced chicken breast, cooked sous vide, on a white plate with leafy greens on the side.

Tips and tricks

  • If your bag won’t stay submerged, weigh it down with a small plate.
  • You can use skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. Pan-searing in this case won’t be required.
  • You can also use frozen chicken breasts when cooking sous vide. Simply add an extra 45 minutes to an hour of cooking time on top.
  • If desired, you can prepare the bags with the chicken and the sauce up to 24 hours ahead, seal them and refrigerate until ready to cook. Going longer than 24 hours is not recommended as the acidity in the marinade will soften the meat too much.
  • Leftover cooked chicken breast should be quickly chilled and can be refrigerated for several days. It needs to be reheated to 165F internal temperature before consuming.
  • When experimenting with adding new ingredients, be careful with fresh garlic as it turns green when heated in a water bath.
Sous vide chicken breast on a white plate with mushrooms and salad.

Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe

Sous vide chicken breast cooked in homemade Italian-style cooking sauce for ultimate texture and flavor.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chicken breast, sous vide chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 393kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (you can also use skinless chicken breasts)
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed; or tangerine juice)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 6 cremini mushrooms (large; sliced)

Instructions

  • Heat water in your sous vide machine to 148F.
  • Combine all of the seasoning ingredients (everything except the chicken and mushrooms) in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.
  • Place the chicken and the sliced mushrooms in a vacuum seal-able bag, or a Ziploc bag, add the dressing and shake or massage the bag to ensure even coverage. Seal the bag in a vacuum sealer or remove the air using water displacement method and seal the bag. Make sure that the chicken and the mushrooms are distributed in one layer.
  • Place the bag in the pre-heated water bath making sure that every part of the chicken is under water. Cook at 148F for 90 minutes.
  • Remove the bag from the water bath. Open it and, using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Gently pat dry the tops with paper towels. 
  • Heat enough cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet to cover the bottom over medium-high heat. Place chicken breasts skin side down in hot oil and cook for about 30-45 seconds, or until golden brown, then transfer back to the platter.
  • Serve immediately with a side of garden greens and sous vide mushrooms, drizzled with pouch juices left from cooking.

Notes

As a variation, use this (slightly modified) delicious Asian-inspired sauce to flavor your sous vide chicken breasts:
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 655mg | Potassium: 400mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 4.3mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1.3mg

Two chicken breasts in a vacuum sealed bag with sauce cooking inside a clear container filled with water and with a sous vide circulator.

 

 

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4 comments

J.P. November 4, 2019 - 10:24 pm

I am a little late to the party, I just got my sous vide cooker, and the first thing I cooked was chicken breasts using your recipe. They were fabulous! Super tender and moist, and the flavors were just right. For sure will be making more soon. I see this kind of chicken being used in salads, tacos, soups and more. Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe!

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 5, 2019 - 1:01 pm

Happy to hear that, J.P. This recipe is on of the family favorite chicken breast recipes. We make it quite often.

Reply
Julie October 29, 2019 - 6:48 am

The Asian inspired version is our favourite
Sous vide recipe for chicken. Thank you

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 29, 2019 - 9:25 pm

You are very welcome! Thanks for taking time to post your feedback. Much appreciated.

Reply