Sous Vide Chicken Breast

published Nov 19, 2022
Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe

For very juicy and flavorful piece of chicken breast every single tim, turn to the sous vide machine.

Serves2 to 4

Prep5 minutes

Cook1 hour 30 minutes to 4 hours

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
chicken breast prepared in a sous-vide, plated and sliced, and served with salad greens. A glass of seltzer with lemon in the upper right
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Sous vide cooking and immersion circulators used to be relegated to restaurants, where the kitchens had the proper equipment. But the rise in home kitchen-specific sous vide machines means that this technique is now possible to do at home.

How does it work? A protein such as meat or fish is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag, then submerged in water that’s heated to a steady temperature by an attached sous vide device. Want a steak that’s pink all the way through with no gray band at the edges? Sous vide it! Tired of overcooked, dry chicken breast? Or worry that your chicken is undercooked? Sous vide it! 

Sous vide cooks up bone-in chicken breast perfectly juicy and moist every time. Plus it takes the guesswork out of knowing when it’s done. Here’s how to do it.

How Do You Select the Right Temperature for Sous Vide Chicken Breast?

Because the chicken is cooked in a bag and you don’t have to actively monitor it, it’s all about selecting the right temperature for the sous vide machine to cook at. I like cooking chicken breast in a water temperature of 145ºF, which yields moist meat that is very tender. For a firmer texture, or if you plan to eat the chicken cold, you can bump it up to 150ºF instead.

How Long Do You Cook Chicken Breast in a Sous Vide?

Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts cooked at 145ºF will need to cook for an hour and a half to four hours to be cooked through (the whole time range is safe). If you’re willing to add a few minutes to the cook time, sear the chicken in a skillet after you sous vide for browned, crispy skin. For the most even searing, weight down the chicken with a heavy pan.

How to Prepare Sous Vide Chicken Breast

  • Prepare the water bath. Use the sous vide wand or machine to heat the water to 145º or 150ºF.
  • Season the chicken. Season bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts with salt and pepper if you’d like.
  • Seal the chicken. Vacuum-seal the chicken with any desired aromatics, such as garlic or herbs, in a bag. Alternatively, place in a zip-top bag and slowly submerge it in the water bath, letting the water push all the air out before you seal the bag at the top and let go.
  • Cook for a few hours. Sous vide the chicken for 1 1/2 to 4 hours.
  • Sear the chicken (optional). The chicken is ready to eat at this point, but you can remove it from the bag, pat it very dry, and sear it in a hot pan if you want crisp, browned skin.

Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe

For very juicy and flavorful piece of chicken breast every single tim, turn to the sous vide machine.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes to 4 hours

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 2

    bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter, ghee, or olive oil, if searing

Optional flavorings:

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh thyme or 1 sprig fresh rosemary

  • 2 clovesc

    garlic

Instructions

  1. Heat a water bath with an immersion circulator or sous vide wand to 145ºF (or 150ºF if you like firmer chicken or plan to eat it cold).

  2. Meanwhile, pat 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Season all over with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper if decided. Place in a sous vide bag or gallon-sized zip-top bag. Peel and smash 2 garlic cloves if using. Add the garlic and optional herbs to the bag if using.

  3. If using a sous vide bag, seal according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place the sous vide bag in the water bath.

  4. If using a zip-top bag, press as much air out as possible, then zip the top until you have only about 1 inch left. Hold the bag by the zipper and slowly lower it into the water so the water pushes out more air until it is almost completely submerged, stopping right before you get to the zipper. Zip the last inch before releasing the bag into the water bath.

  5. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged in the water bath. Cook for 1 1/2 to 4 hours. If cooking for 4 hours, cover the vessel as best as you can with a baking sheet or check on the water level halfway through cooking and add more if needed to ensure the bag is submerged.

  6. Remove the bag from the water bath. The chicken is ready to eat, or you can sear the chicken for crispy skin.

  7. To sear the chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, ghee, or olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the bag and pat very dry with paper towels; discard the herbs and garlic.

  8. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom with oil or butter. Add the chicken skin-side down. Place a second frying pan or large, heavy pot on top of the chicken to weight it down and to get as much skin in contact with the pan as possible. Sear until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

  9. Transfer skin-side up to a clean cutting board. Remove the meat from the bones and slice.

Recipe Notes

Boneless, skinless chicken: You can sous vide boneless, skinless chicken with this same method. If searing, sear both sides until browned.

Make ahead: The chicken can be cooked and cooled in the bag, then refrigerated for up to 3 days. To reheat, place back in a bag in a water bath set to 145ºF or 150ºF until warmed through, 15 to 30 minutes. Pat dry and sear if desired.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.