Sous vide is the best way to cook a whole chicken. You won’t have to worry that it’s underdone or raw in the middle and you won’t risk drying it out. This is the juiciest, most flavorful chicken you can make! Even better, you can sous vide it ahead of time and finish in the oven to serve. Sous vide makes serving a roasted chicken even easier.
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Okay, yes, I sous vide a lot of things. But I’m also a firm believer that not every cooking method is suitable for cooking every food (even if I really love that cooking method). There are things I’ve thought about cooking sous vide or even tried and decided it wasn’t the best method. And that’s okay.
But cooking a whole chicken sous vide? That’s definitely the best method.
Why cook a whole chicken sous vide?
Roasting a chicken has a reputation for being easy. Yes, the prep work is relatively limited, and there’s nothing tastier than a roasted chicken, but it’s not easy.
I consider myself to be a relatively experienced home cook, but I’ve roasted a chicken several times only to cut into it and discover it’s still raw in the center. Then I return it to the oven and overcook it. After everyone is an hour past being hungry and I’m stressed out.
Enter the magic of sous vide: it will always be cooked perfectly. Yes, it takes longer, but you can also sous vide way in advance and then finish in the oven to serve. The magic of the method!
How to spatchcock a chicken
In order to sous vide a chicken, you’ll want to spatchcock it so it can lie as flat as possible in the bag. What is spatchcocking, you ask? It’s when you cut out the back bone of the chicken. It sounds scary, but it’s not. You’ll want some sharp kitchen shears to do this well. You can also use a sharp pairing knife, but shears are easiest.
Here’s a little video tutorial so you can see how it’s done!
Seasoning and time and temperature for sous vide whole chicken
You can really season the chicken however you’d like, but I’d highly recommend taking advantage of the cooking method and incorporating butter – it’ll essentially be a butter poached chicken. I don’t need to sell you on that right?
I mixed butter with kosher salt, garlic powder, and lots of Italian seasoning. After spatchcocking, I patted the chicken dry thoroughly with paper towels, then rubbed the butter mixture all over the chicken. This is easier if you’re chicken isn’t too cold, otherwise the butter will be difficult to spread.
Then vacuum seal the chicken (yes, you’ll need a fairly large bag). It’s okay if it gets squished up, just try to keep it as flat as possible.
After a lot of research on chicken cook temps and times, I went for 155 degrees F for 6 hours. If you’re chicken is super small, you could cut this to 5 hours. If it’s really large, you could go as long as 8 but it’s not necessary.
Finishing the sous vide whole chicken
When the chicken is done, you can either refrigerate it if you’re not ready to serve (I refrigerated it overnight) or move on to this step immediately. If you choose to refrigerate it, I recommend letting it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to bring up the temp before finishing.
To finish, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the liquid and gelatin (or save for a stock!) and place on the lined baking sheet.
Cook in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until skin is browned and crispy and chicken is heated through.
You could also finish this chicken on the grill! Since it’s already cooked and you’re just looking to crisp the skin, you’ll want to cook it over medium-high heat.
More Sous Vide Info
Don’t have an immersion circulator or vacuum sealer yet? I’ve got you! Check out my Amazon Shop for all of my favorite sous vide products. For immersion circulators and vacuum sealers, I recommend Vesta Precision.
I also wrote a sous vide cookbook! Check out Everyday Sous Vide: It’s All French to Me. It’s filled with simple sous vide recipes to get you started (and hooked).
I’ve also created a sous vide 101 guide I’d love to share with you! I’ll send it right to your inbox:
Sous Vide Whole Chicken Recipe
Sous Vide Whole Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Preheat water bath using immersion circulator to 155 degrees F.
- Spatchcock your chicken by removing the back bone with very sharp kitchen shears or a pairing knife. Remove the neck, loose skin, and any organs and discard or save for stock. Pat the chicken dry thoroughly with paper towels.
- In a small bowl, mix together the butter, kosher salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
- Rub the chicken all over with the butter mixture. Add to a vacuum seal bag and vacuum seal.
- Add the chicken to the water bath and cook for 6 hours.
- When it's done cooking, you can refrigerate to serve later or prepare it to serve immediately.
- To finish, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the chicken on the lined baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes in preheated oven until skin is crispy and golden and chicken is heated through.