Sous viding has become one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken thighs. I prefer bone-in, skin-on because they have so much flavor but boneless are excellent, too, and great for throwing into dishes. This post covers times and temperatures for both bone-in and boneless chicken thighs.

I love chicken thighs that are just starting to pull away from the bone but still juicy. 165 degrees F for 6 hours is my favorite when I have the time!

Why Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Sous vide is one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken thighs because you can get fall off the bone texture while still keeping the chicken thighs juicy. It’s also a great way to ensure the chicken thighs are actually cooked through, something that can be tricky with traditional methods!

In fact, I now always sous vide my chicken thighs before deep frying them for the best fried chicken texture you’ve ever had. Make sure to check out my recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken Thighs in my cookbook, Sous Vide Meal Prep.

Fried chicken thighs on wire rack on baking sheet on pink surface
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Thighs from Sous Vide Meal Prep

If that wasn’t enough…

  • They will be cooked perfectly. Always juicy, always exactly how you like.
  • All you have to do is drop them into a water bath and set a timer, leaving you free to make side dishes or go about your day. No babysitting.
  • Practically no clean up. Just toss the vacuum seal bag when you’re done or put your reusable bag in the dishwasher!

What You Need to Make Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Want to get a detailed list of all my favorite sous vide tools? Drop your email address and I’ll send it to you!

Tips for Making the Best Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you pull this off successfuly:

  • Always season the chicken thighs before sous viding (see next section for ways to do so!).
  • Always keep the chicken fully submerged while cooking. To do this, I like to use sous vide magnets and/or place a ceramic plate or bowl on top of them in the water.
  • To make them easier to serve and eat, after cooking and searing bone-in thighs, I like to remove the bone with a pairing knife and slice the chicken thighs.

Marinades and Seasoning Options

Chicken thighs in gochujang coconut milk marinade in dish on pink surface with bowls of coconut milk and gochujang and a knob of ginger
Bone-in chicken thighs in Gochujang Coconut Milk Marinade from Sous Vide Meal Prep

To make sure your chicken thighs have plenty of flavor, you’ve got options!

  1. Add the chicken thighs to a marinade in a bag. I have tons of marinade recipes in my cookbook Sous Vide Meal Prep! Remove the air and seal. Yes, you can cook the chicken thighs in the marinade! In fact, the marinade makes a great sauce.
  2. Season with a seasoning blend or rub. I have several great rub recipes in my cookbook Sous Vide Meal Prep, or a pre-made one works, too. Remove the air and seal. Some of my favorite seasoning blends:
  3. Simply season with salt and pepper. I always use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Remove the air and seal.
Vacuum sealed chicken thighs on white surface
Chicken thighs seasoned with herb rub from Sous Vide Meal Prep

Not sure how to remove the air from your bag and seal it? Make sure to check out my blog post about Air Removal Methods.

Time and Temperature for Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs vacuum sealed and in a sous vide water bath on kitchen counter

There are a number of ways to approach your cook times for chicken thighs. I love chicken thighs that are just starting to pull away from the bone but still juicy. 165 degrees F for 6 hours is my favorite when I have the time!

When cooking bone-in chicken thighs, your minimum time should be 2 hours.

ResultTempTimeTime (Frozen)
Very juicy and firm150 degrees F
65 degrees C
1-4 Hours2-4 Hours
Juicy, mostly tender155 degrees F
68 degrees C
1-4 Hours2-4 Hours
Juicy and completely tender165 degrees F
74 degrees C
1-4 Hours2-4 Hours
Fall off the bone texture (bone-in only)165 degrees F
74 degrees C
6 hours6 hours

How to Finish Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Cooked chicken thighs on white platter with floral napkin underneath

When cooking boneless chicken thighs, you don’t have to finish them if you don’t want to. In fact, I rarely do! However, a quick sear in a very hot skillet with olive oil or butter can give them a prettier look. You could also finish on a very hot grill.

When cooking bone-in, skin on chicken thighs, I always finish them. Put a skillet over medium-high heat and add butter or olive oil. Sear skin side down first until deep golden brown. The skin will be delicate – don’t force it to pull away. When it’s browned, it’ll pull away easily. Sear on the other side until golden brown and serve.

Bonus tip to make bone-in thighs easier to serve and eat: remove the bone after cooking with a pairing knife and slice the thighs.

Why can I cook chicken at a lower temp than 165 degrees F when sous viding?

The information provided by experts like the USDA around food safety often sacrifices detail in favor of being easy to understand. Which I get! But 165 degrees F isn’t the full story.

Temperature guidelines are there to make sure you kill bacteria, the big one being salmonella when we’re cooking chicken. We want to pasteurize the chicken. Pasteurization is related to both time AND temperature.

The reason 165 degrees F is the gold standard is because chicken is instantly pasteurized at that temperature. The lowest temperature I offer for cooking chicken is 140 degrees F. If your chicken is 140 degrees F all the way through for at least 27.5 minutes, it will be pasteurized! And I recommend a minimum of 2 hours to allow for plenty of time for it to get to temperature and be there for far longer than 27.5 minutes.

At 145 degrees F you only need 9.2 minutes, at 150 degrees F you only need 2.8 minutes, and at 155 degrees F you only need 47.7 seconds! Pretty neat, huh?

To learn more about this, I recommend this article from Serious Eats.

Other Sous Vide Chicken Recipes

Ready to sous vide all the chicken? Make sure to check out these sous vide chicken recipes, too!

You can also view this recipe in a step-by-step web story

Cooked chicken thighs on white platter on floral napkin
4.80 from 5 reviews

Get the Recipe:

Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Bone-In or Boneless)

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs
Yield: 4 people
Sous viding has become one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken thighs. I prefer bone in, skin on because they have so much flavor. The times and temperatures below apply to both boneless and bone-in (except the last row).
I love chicken thighs that are just starting to pull away from the bone but still juicy. 165 degrees F for 6 hours is my favorite!

Ingredients
 

  • Bone-in or boneless chicken thighs
  • Seasoning of choice or salt and pepper

Equipment

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • Preheat a water bath using an immersion circulator to a temperature from the time and temperature options listed below.
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning blend.
  • Vacuum seal chicken thighs or use another air removal method.

Time and Temperature Options

  • Very juicy and firm: 150 degrees F: 1-4 Hours (2-4 if frozen or bone-in)
  • Juicy, mostly tender: 155 degrees F: 1-4 Hours (2-4 if frozen or bone-in)
  • Juicy and completely tender: 165 degrees F: 1-4 Hours (2-4 if frozen or bone-in)
  • Somewhat juicy, fall off the bone texture: 165 degrees F: 4-8 Hours

To Finish

  • Searing is optional with boneless chicken thighs. To sear, heat a skillet over high heat until smoking. Add butter or oil and sear skin side down until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Sear for 1 minute on the other side.

Notes

  • Always season the chicken thighs before sous viding.
  • Always keep the chicken fully submerged while cooking. To do this, I like to use sous vide magnets and/or place a ceramic plate or bowl on top of them in the water.
  • To make them easier to serve and eat, after cooking and searing bone-in thighs, I like to remove the bone with a pairing knife and slice the chicken thighs.
Cuisine: American
Course: Chicken, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Sous Vide
Author: Chelsea Cole
Did you make this recipe?Mention @aducksoven on Instagram or tag #aducksoven.