Seasoned boneless, skinless chicken breasts I can just throw in the water bath are my cheat code for always having healthy lunches and dinners ready to go around our house. They’re so easy, pack a ton of flavor, and don’t even require finishing (unless you want to!).
Why sous vide? It’s probably the easiest way to cook chicken breasts that exists and they will come out perfectly every single time.
Why Sous Vide Chicken Breasts
Yes, there are plenty of other ways to cook chicken breasts that are “easy”. So, why sous vide them? A few reasons!
- 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 Breasts
- An immersion circulator – I recommend the Joule
- A container (you can just use a stockpot, or my favorite sous vide containers are Everie containers)
- A vacuum sealer, like the vacuum sealer from Mueller, or simply a plastic zipper top bag. I have a blog post all about air removal methods to help you out!
- A cast iron skillet is my favorite way to sear.
Want to get a detailed list of all my favorite sous vide tools? Drop your email address and I’ll send it to you!
Marinades and Seasoning Options
The process for chicken breasts is so simple – another reason it’s one of my favorite proteins for sous vide cooking!
For flavor, you have a few choices:
- Add the chicken breasts 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 breasts in the marinade! In fact, the marinade makes a great sauce.
- 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:
- Simply season with salt and pepper. I always use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Remove the air and seal.
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.
Tips for Cooking Sous Vide Chicken Breasts Perfectly
After sealing your chicken breasts in a vacuum seal bag, you can cook immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze to cook later.
When you’re ready to cook, place in a preheated water bath set to your desired temp from the chart below for 1-4 hours (add an hour when cooking from frozen or for bone-in chicken breasts).
If you want to, you can sear them in a skillet with olive oil or butter when they’re done, but usually I don’t bother. I just diced them up, add them to a tupperware container, and refrigerate for use throughout the week!
Time and Temperature for Sous Vide Chicken Breasts
The below times and temps are for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that aren’t frozen. If you are using bone-in or frozen boneless chicken breasts, add an hour to the minimum cook time.
|Very soft texture, little moisture loss||140 degrees F|
60 degrees C
|2-4 Hours||3-4 Hours|
|Tender and close to “traditional” texture, still juicy||150 degrees F|
65 degrees C
|1-4 Hours||2-4 Hours|
|Traditional texture, slightly stringy, more moisture loss||160 degrees F|
71 degrees C
|1-4 Hours||2-4 Hours|
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!
Sous Vide Chicken Breasts: The Must-Know Basics
- Very soft texture, little moisture loss: 140 degrees F: 2-4 Hours (3-4 if frozen)
- Tender and close to “traditional” texture, still juicy: 150 degrees F: 1-4 Hours (2-4 if frozen)
- Traditional texture, slightly stringy, more moisture loss: 160 degrees F: 1-4 Hours (2-4 if frozen)
- Although it does look more appetizing, I almost never sear my chicken breast after sous viding. If you do want to sear, I recommend a pan sear. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add butter or oil. Sear until browned, about 1 minute on each side.