Why It Works
- Tying two breast halves into a cylinder makes for perfectly even cooking and gorgeous presentation.
- Sous vide cooking offers a very high level of precise control over the results.
- Cooking the skin separately in the oven delivers the roasty flavors and extra crispness that we love about great roast turkey.
- Using the breastbone to fortify the stock produces rich, flavorful gravy.
Sous vide is a fantastic method for cooking holiday roasts. It delivers reliably moist and tender results, frees up your oven for other tasks, requires almost no supervision during cooking, and makes it very easy to hold the roast hot and ready to serve until your guests are ready.
That said, sous vide turkey comes with a few problems. We've solved these issues to give you a recipe that produces turkey cooked exactly how you like it, with deep, roasty flavors and extra-crispy skin to boot.
Sous Vide Turkey Temperatures and Times
|Final Result||Bath Temp||Core Temp||Cook Time After Reaching Core Temp||Approx. Total Cook Time|
|Very pink, soft, extra moist||132°F (56°C)||130°F (55°C)||2 hours||4 hours|
|Pale pink, soft, moist||138°F (59°C)||136°F (58°C)||1 hour||3 hours|
|White, tender, moist||145°F (63°C)||143°F (62°C)||16 minutes||2 1/2 hours|
|White; traditional roast texture||152°F (67°C)||150°F (66°C)||4 minutes||2 hours|
- For the Turkey:
- 1 large whole skin-on, bone-in turkey breast (about 5 pounds; 2.2kg)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Gravy:
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 quarts (1.4L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons (45g) butter
- 1/4 cup (40g) flour
Carefully remove turkey skin in a single piece and set aside. Using a sharp boning knife, remove breast meat from breastbone. Set breastbone aside. Season turkey generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Place 1 breast half, cut side facing up, on a work surface. Place second breast half facedown, so the fat end aligns with the skinny end of the first breast half. Gently form into an even cylinder.
Tie turkey breast at 1-inch intervals using butcher's twine. Transfer to a zipper-lock bag. Turkey can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before proceeding.
Heat a sous vide water bath to 145°F (63°C), or to desired temperature according to chart above. With bag open, slowly lower bagged turkey into water, letting water pressure squeeze air out of bag until just the seal remains above the waterline. Seal bag completely. Let turkey cook for 2 1/2 hours (or according to chart above). Meanwhile, make the crispy skin and gravy.
For the Crispy Skin: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Spread skin evenly over a piece of parchment paper set in a rimmed baking sheet. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place a second sheet of parchment on top and carefully squeeze out any air bubbles using the side of your hand. Place a second rimmed baking sheet on top and transfer to oven.
Roast until skin is deep brown and crisp (it will crisp further on cooling), 30 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool and set aside at room temperature. Turkey skin can be roasted in advance, cooled completely, then stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days. To re-crisp, place in a hot oven for a few minutes just before serving.
For the Gravy: Using a cleaver, chop breastbone into 1-inch chunks. In a medium saucepan over high heat, heat oil until smoking. Add breastbone, onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes total. Add stock, bay leaves, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. You should have a little over 1 quart (900ml) of fortified stock; if not, add water or more chicken stock to equal 1 quart. Discard solids and set stock aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisking constantly, add fortified broth in a thin, steady stream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups (720ml). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
When turkey is cooked, remove from water bath and unseal bag. Carefully remove butcher's twine. Cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices for serving. Fan slices out on a warmed serving platter or cutting board. Break skin into serving-sized pieces and add to platter, along with a pitcher of gravy. Serve immediately.