Sous-Vide Chicken

Cooking chicken sous-vide

Traditional methods of cooking, such as baking, grilling and frying, dries out meat. To make sure the middle is cooked, the edges can be overcooked, often creating a dry, chewy rind. Yes, we’ve got used to this, but it’s not how chicken is supposed to taste!

The sous-vide method of cooking is when the chicken breast, or other cut of meat, is sealed in an airtight pouch and cooked in a water bath. The dish is cooked for longer at a lower temperature, and the results are amazing!

Cooking using a water bath means that you can precisely control the way heat flows through the chicken, for consistent and predictable results every time.

How to cook chicken sous-vide

Step-by step instructions for your to cook your chicken breasts to perfection.

Prepare the water bath

Determine the cooking times and temperatures. For a 180g sous-vide chicken breast, we recommend cooking at 65°C for 45 minutes, but you should adjust timings according to weight and thickness.
Let the water heat up in your sous-vide cooker. The Clifton bath for example will beep when it’s ready to cook!

Prepare the meat

Prepare the chicken breast and vacuum seal in a sous-vide bag.

Pro tip: Buy your ingredients as fresh as possible - sous-vide cooking enhances the flavour, but they have to have the potential to taste great to begin with!

To cook

Place the bag in the sous-vide cooker. Depending on size, you can cook up to 10 chicken breasts in the Clifton water bath at the same time. If using the Clifton bath, cover with the immersion grid to prevent the food rising to the top (lighter items tend to float). Set the timer for 45 minutes (or longer, depending on quantity) and leave your chicken breast to cook.

Remove & finish

After 45 minutes you can take the pouch out of the sous-vide cooker, but you can also leave food for longer – you can’t overcook it!
Finish by searing to crisp up the skin or give the breast an attractive golden or griddled finish. Alternatively, you can chill and store for another time.
Serve and enjoy!

Times and temperatures for chicken sous-vide

The sous-vide method of cooking is great for experimenting with cooking times and temperatures to get a range of textures and firmness. Many people worry about food safety, but cooking chicken sous-vide is perfectly safe, provided the centre of the chicken reaches the right temperature to pasteurise.

Sous-vide poultry & game cooking times

Chicken Breast  180g  45 min  65°C   Sous vide chicken with stir fry vegetables
 Duck Breast  200g  30 min  62°C
 Venison Loin  175g  1 hr  62°C
 Quail  1 whole quail  1 hr  65°C
 Eggs  45 min - 1 hr 30 min  65°C

Sous-vide chicken ideas

Chicken breasts are an ideal dish for sous-vide beginners – simple to cook and virtually impossible to mess up. But sous-vide is the ideal way to cook other parts of the bird to perfection.

You can cook any type of chicken in a sous-vide water bath, from the breast and white meat, to the thighs, legs and drumsticks. You can even cook a mouth-watering, traditional Sunday roast in your sous-vide cooker!

These times, temperatures and tips also work for other poultry, including duck, turkey, goose and game birds.

Safe sous-vide chicken times

Our preferred time and temperature window is between 60-65°C (depending on the texture you want to achieve) for a 180g chicken breast, with a safe time zone of 45 minutes. The beauty of sous-vide is that you can experiment with times and temperatures to achieve the desired result, but it’s important to ensure that the middle part of the chicken breast has reached a safe core temperature.

When cooking more than one portion, remember to put each breast (thigh, drumstick, etc.) in a separate bag and, depending on size, no more than 8-10 portions in the bath at one time. Our times are based on 180g chicken breasts, so remember to adjust timings according to the weight and thickness of the pouch.

Make sure you follow food safety guidelines and familiarise yourself with our times and temperatures guide.

Reheating chicken with sous-vide

Pro tip: Keep chicken in their pouches in the fridge, and reheat in the sous-vide cooker when ready.

One of the main perks of sous-vide cooking is that you can cook up a batch of meals to put in the fridge for later on, or to save for another day. This is ideal when preparing for a dinner party or another occasion when you need to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible!

Chilling food for storage

After completing the cooking process, it’s important to get the core temperature of the chicken breast down to below 3°C within 90 minutes to ensure it is still safe to reheat and eat. We recommend using an ice water bath to chill the food quickly, before drying off and storing in the fridge.

Cooking food sous-vide keeps it fresher for longer. You can keep chicken or other foods cooked sous-vide in the fridge, still in their pouches, for up to 4 days after cooking.

Reheating food using a sous-vide cooker

To ‘regenerate’ or reheat food cooked using the sous-vide technique, it’s as simple as placing the food back in the water bath to heat up to the correct temperature. Typically, you should drop the temperature of the sous-vide machine 5 degrees lower than the temperature you originally cooked it at, for approximately half the cook time. If you regenerate it at a higher temperature – or reheat using any other means – the food will continue to cook rather than just reheat.

For a chicken breast cooked at 65°C, place back in the water bath at 60°C for 25 minutes to reheat. Sear in a hot pan afterwards for a beautifully golden and crispy finish.

Seasoning chicken sous-vide

Pro tip: For a simple, tasty dish, try coating the chicken breast with homemade pesto before cooking.

Once you’ve mastered the simple task of sous-vide chicken breast, it’s up to you to experiment! Sous-vide chicken cooks beautifully within its own juices, but you can also add oils, herbs and spices to the pouch before cooking for extra flavour. You can also marinate the chicken within the vacuum packed pouch to let the flavours infuse, and add directly to the water bath.

Some flavours work better than others, and some seasoning is best to sprinkle just before serving. As a general rule, use less seasoning than you would do when cooking traditionally, as flavours get locked in when vacuum sealing, resulting in a more intense flavour.