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sliced sous vide chicken breast
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4.63 from 8 votes

Sous Vide Chicken Breast

A basic guide and 2 different methods for perfectly cooked, juicy sous vide chicken breasts without a bag, using just a pan and your steam oven.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 2 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Sous Vide
Keyword: sous vide chicken, sous vide chicken breast
Servings: 2 chicken breasts

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breast fillets about 6oz/180g each

Instructions

Method 1 (slower, single temperature, hands off)

  • Preheat your oven to 149°F/65°C, steam setting (100% humidity).
  • Lay the chicken out in a single layer on a lightweight stainless steel pan, with about 1 inch around each breast so the oven heat can circulate easily (see notes if you want your chicken seasoned prior to cooking).
    2 chicken breast fillets
  • Put the pan into the oven and cook for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. If your chicken breasts are very thick (like the ones in the video which accompanies this guide!), I’d recommend leaving them for 3-4 hours as it does improve the texture over a 1 hour cook.
  • When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven. If you aren’t using it immediately, place it immediately into the fridge to chill. This is really important, people! This chicken hasn’t cooked to a high temperature, remember, so it needs to be chilled as quickly as possible if you plan to keep it and reheat or eat cold later.

Method 2 (faster, variable temperatures, meat probe required)

  • Preheat your oven to 164°F/73°C, steam setting (100% humidity).
  • Place the chicken, in a single layer, on a lightweight stainless steel pan. Insert an oven-safe probe thermometer into the thickest part of one chicken breast (use your oven’s connected probe if it has one), and cook the chicken until it reaches 142°F/61°C in the center. Depending on the thickness of your chicken this will take anywhere from about 20 to 30 minutes.
    2 chicken breast fillets
  • Reduce the temperature of your oven to 145°F/65°C and continue cooking for 20 minutes. This will ensure the meat is fully pasteurized.
  • When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven. If you aren’t using it immediately, place it immediately into the fridge to chill. This is really important, people! This chicken hasn’t cooked to a high temperature, remember, so it needs to be chilled as quickly as possible if you plan to keep it and reheat or eat cold later.

Video

Notes

  1. You can scale the quantities up or down as necessary here - the temperature and time remain the same. I’ve done as few as one chicken breast and as many as 10; just make sure you lay them out in a single layer with a little space between each breast.
  2. If you’re unfamiliar with sous vide cooking, you might think the temperature here is way too low to safely cook your chicken. It’s not: proper, safe cooking relies on both time AND temperature to kill any pathogens in your meat. Holding the chicken at a steady 149°F/65°C until the center has been at that temperature for at least 4-5 minutes is just as safe as cooking it at a higher heat until it hits 165°F/74°C, then immediately taking it out of the pan or oven. The big difference? The outside of the high heat chicken will have hit temperatures way above 165°F/74°C in order to get the center to the correct temperature quickly, and will be stringy, graduating to softer in the middle. The 149°F/65°C sous vide version will be cooked to exactly the same doneness (ie juicy, tender and fabulous) edge to edge.
  3. If you’d like to season your chicken prior to cooking, you can. If I have time, I generously salt both sides of the meat and set aside for 2 hours in the fridge. This is what I’d call a quick dry-brine, and it makes a huge difference to the flavour of the cooked chicken. It’s an especially good idea if you don’t plan to sauce it or warm it after cooking, and means you’ll have well seasoned chicken for a sandwich or a salad. You can also rub on dry spices and herbs if you’d like a particular flavor profile. Just remember that whatever you add won’t brown or reduce down because you’re cooking at a low temperature.
  4. Want a more traditional grilled chicken finish with browning on the outside? Once your chicken is cooked and chilled, oil it and reheat on a very hot grill just to brown and reheat. Remember it’s already cooked, so hot and fast is key to getting browning without ruining all that juiciness from your long, slow cooking!
  5. The texture of the cooked chicken is suitable to slice or shred for serving. You can use it cold, or reheat at the same temperature and setting as you cooked at for around 30 minutes, then add it, hot, to another dish.