Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe

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Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Cooking chicken sous vide allows for unparalleled control over cooking temperature and, therefore, level of juiciness.
  • Following precise temperature and time charts gives you the ability to get exactly the result you want.
  • Instructions for finishing the chicken in the pan or on the grill offer maximum flexibility on browning and crisping the chicken before serving.

Sous-vide techniques will give you chicken with unparalleled levels of juiciness.

Recipe Facts

4.5

(4)

Active: 20 mins
Total: 90 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme or rosemary (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat a water bath to desired final temperature using a sous-vide cooker, according to the chart below. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place chicken in zipper-lock bags or vacuum bags and add thyme or rosemary sprigs, if using.

  2. If Using Zipper-Lock Bags: Remove air from zipper-lock bags by closing the bags, leaving the last inch of the top unsealed. Slowly lower into the preheated water bath, sealing the bag completely just before it fully submerges. Cook according to the chart below.

  3. If Using Vacuum Bags: Seal according to manufacturer's instructions. Add bagged chicken to preheated water bath and cook according to the chart below.

  4. To Finish in a Pan: Turn on your vents and open your windows. Remove chicken from water bath and bag. Discard herbs, if using. Carefully pat chicken dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a heavy cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, using your fingers or a set of tongs. Hold the chicken down flat in the pan with a flexible metal spatula or your fingers (be careful of splattering oil). Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 2 minutes. Remove bones with your fingertips. Slice chicken and serve.

  5. To Finish on the Grill: Light one half chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to medium-high heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Remove chicken from water bath and bag. Discard herbs, if using. Carefully pat chicken dry with paper towels. Gently lay the chicken on the hot side of the grill, skin side down. Cook until nicely marked, about 2 minutes. Rotate 90 degrees and cook until chicken is marked again and skin is crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Remove from grill and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 2 minutes. Remove bones with your fingertips. Slice chicken and serve.

Special equipment

Sous vide precision cooker

Notes

Sous-Vide Chicken Breast Temperature and Timing Chart

Texture  Temperature  Timing Range 
Tender and juicy for cold chicken salad  150°F (66°C)  1 to 4 hours 
Very soft and juicy, served hot  140°F (60°C)  1 1/2 to 4 hours 
Juicy, tender, and slightly stringy, served hot  150°F (66°C)  1 to 4 hours 
Traditional, juicy, firm, and slightly stringy, served hot  160°F (71°C)  1 to 4 hours 

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