Healthy Sous Vide Skinless Chicken Breast Recipe

4 Posted by - Food & Recipes, Health & Fitness

Skinless, boneless, chicken breast: it’s what’s for dinner.

True several times a week in this Cheung household. Sadly, whoever’s had the (mis)fortune of trying to swallow bite after bite of dry, stringy chicken breast knows this clean protein can be hard on the palate.

Not to fear: we’re here with another easy no-fail recipe which promises to deliver the most succulent and healthy chicken breast you’ll ever have.

Skinless chicken breast that’s juicy, tender and flavourful – that’s the goal. How, pray tell, do we execute such sorcery?

You guessed it: another sous vide cooking win!

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Why This Method Will Change Your Life

Skinless Chicken Breast = Healthy Protein Choice

Skinless, boneless chicken breast is nutrient dense and filling. Though I love my beef, I wouldn’t recommend eating red meat as often as I do chicken breast.

Amazing Taste and Texture

Eating healthy food doesn’t have to be nasty to your tastebuds. With zero added fat yet keeping all the flavour, skinless chicken breast is truly a showcase meal for sous vide supremacy.

Versatile

Sous vide skinless chicken breast is not only succulent and satisfying, it’s also versatile. Throw it in soups, sandwiches or salads. Add salsa or gravy or throw it in wraps or tacos. The options are endless and flavours only bound by your imagination.

Sous vide batch cooking 18 skinless boneless chicken breasts

Sous vide batch cooking 18 skinless boneless chicken breasts

Batch Cook and have ready-to-eat Meat for Weeks

True story: at any given time of year you’ll find bags of pre-cooked frozen chicken breast in our freezer chest. We’re all busy people. So whenever there’s an opportunity to pre-cook food without compromising quality[1], I’m all in. With sous vide cooking we can cook up as much chicken breast as our sous vide machine can handle. We fridge or freeze family-portion bags that will keep for weeks or years.

Bonus: When you’re ready to eat there’s no need to re-cook: you can pull it out of the fridge and eat it cold in salad or sandwiches, or re-heat to serving temp via a sous vide bath (or really really hot tap water), stir fry, microwave or soup on the stove.

Save Money

If your Asian, I’m glad I now have your attention. We never pay full price on skinless chicken breast. When it goes on sale, we buy en mass and batch cook it all to maximize our savings and minimize our meal-making stress.

Though it’s not my first choice to serve skinless chicken breast to guests[2], this healthy protein is a great staple perfect for everyday meals.

Lazy Cook Win

Whether I’m shooting a wedding or behind a computer retouching images, I like to find (or create) efficiencies. Our skinless chicken breast recipe skips the pre-cook seasoning to get you from grocery store to cooked chicken without fuss and fast.

Another lazy cook win: because there’s no skin, there’s no benefit to searing. Your meal is literally ready straight out of the bag. Just open, season and serve 🙂

The usual Sous Vide Advantages

Perfect, repeatable results that maximize tenderness yadayadayada. If you’ve seen our other articles on how to cook the best prime rib roast or our recommended sous vide tools you already know the scoop on the hottest wave to come to home cooking since the toaster.


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THE BEST SOUS VIDE SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST RECIPE

Prep Time:
  • 10min
Cook Time:
  • 2–4 hours (non-active)
Ingredients:
  • Skinless, boneless chicken breast: from one to the maximum capacity of your sous vide setup
  • 1/2 tsp Salt + 1/2 tsp Pepper per breast
Tools:

DIRECTIONS

Bag & Cook Sous Vide:
  • Set your sous vide water bath temperature to 135°F
  • Vacuum seal meal-sized portions of skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • Place bags in water bath and cook for calculated time to reduce all pathogens to core[3] (typically 2–4 hours[4]).
Post-Sous Vide Cooking Option 1 – Quick Chill and Freeze for Later:
  • After cooking, submerge bags in equal parts water and ice to chill for one (1) hour.
  • Place in fridge for up to 2 weeks or freezer for up to 2 years.
  • When ready to eat, you can eat cold from fridge or re-heat to serving temperature as desired. No need to re-cook.
Post-Sous Vide Cooking Option 2 – Season & Serve:
  • Remove chicken breasts from bag, being careful to save the jus released in the bag.
  • Season each skinless, boneless chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste (approximately 1/2 tsp each).
  • Optional: pour jus from bag onto sliced/diced/shredded chicken breast for added moisture.

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  1. Fresh vs reheated from Frozen (sous vide): Fresh is still best – when cooked fresh there’s less chicken jus in the bag meaning that moisture stays in the meat. But after batch cooking hundreds of chicken breast and quick chilling them in the freezer, the convenience of having pre-cooked protein in the freezer that can quickly be re-heated to serving temps easily compensates for the slight loss in tenderness and extracted juices. Besides: you can add that lost moisture by pouring the jus on after slicing/dicing/shredding and seasoning.  ↩
  2. For guests, I prefer to serve sous vide chicken breast with the skin on, seared with a handheld torch. The added fat and flavour are sure crowd pleasers.  ↩
  3. To easily calculate cook times, use Polyscience’s Sous Vide Toolbox iPhone app.  ↩
  4. Though sous vide cook times are flexible, don’t cook chicken breast for more than 6 hours … Or prepare to suffer the rubber-ducky consequences.  ↩

21 Comments

  • Gregory June 10, 2014 - 10:47 am Reply

    I had always heard 140F for cooking chicken, but I’ll definitely try 135F next time! I also noticed a bit of overshooting (and with a cooler it takes a long time to come back down) but it seems like the $6 JW Fusion 200 pump (recommended to me by DorkFood customer support) is an easy way to fix that. This does mean an extra plug and an extra tube, so you might prefer a cleaner setup with manual stirring 🙂 Thanks for the guide, I know Sous Vide makes it way too easy to make delicious beef, so I’m trying to mix more chicken and fish in there 🙂

    • Dave June 10, 2014 - 10:52 am Reply

      Hi Gregory! Re: temp. It’s definitely personal, but I definitely prefer my chicken breast at 135F. 140F is much firmer. Re: water pump http://amzn.to/1q0CBwM. Thanks for that tip Gregory! I’ll have to pick one up and test 🙂

      • Gregory June 10, 2014 - 12:49 pm Reply

        You’re welcome! I had some food-safe high-temp silicon tubing left over from a coffee roaster project, but the DorkFood guy said regular aquarium tubing should be OK too.

  • […] of the results have make it our go-to sous vide machine for cooking up everything from a chicken breast to perfect prime rib […]

  • […] no secret how much we love our Anova Precision Cooker.  From the most succulent chicken breast you’ll ever have to the perfect prime rib, there’s a lot going for it to help get your […]

  • Charles July 14, 2015 - 6:17 pm Reply

    Hi Dave, great website, videos, and information! It has been a big help, especially with regards to to sous vide, and is much appreciated. I do have one question though about the length of time you can keep the chicken in the fridge and freezer. How did you figure those time frames for both the fridge and freezer? I ask that question with regards to following your Directions above. I have found it very frustrating trying to find this small piece of information. As well as reheat times.

    • Dave July 14, 2015 - 11:33 pm Reply

      Hi Charles, Thanks for reading and for the kind words. Re: time from fridge & freezer calculations. Search for “Food Poisoning” in this article I wrote for useful time and temperature charts: http://notsoancientchinesecrets.com/dorkfood-dsv-review-and-the-best-sous-vide-tools-for-the-home-cook/ Hope this helps and happy eating 🙂

      • Charles July 15, 2015 - 9:21 pm Reply

        Thanks for the quick feedback Dave. I checked out the Food Poisoning section in your article and found that you are using the same charts I have been referencing. So at least I know I am on the same page as you for reheating, cooking and pasteurizing. That makes me feel better since being new to this. I was just trying to wrap my head around the timing for chicken (25mm thick), meaning 1.5 hrs for pasteurizing vs 1.25 hrs for reheating from fridge.
        The actual question I had for you, which I didn’t explain well, is where you got the following information: “Place in fridge for up to 2 weeks or freezer for up to 2 years.” Are you utilizing Mr Baldwin’s time table in the “Pathogens of Interest” section?

        • Dave July 17, 2015 - 2:21 pm Reply

          No problem Charles. Re: freezer/fridge times. Kinda sorta … I did a lot of reading and cross-referencing and if you properly vacuum sealed prior to cooking, pasteurize then quick-chilled properly after cooking, the fridge is safe for even longer than 2 weeks (Don’t quote me but I seem to remember Baldwin saying 3-4 weeks is fridge-safe in a video I watched .. But I wanted to be super-safe for this article to prevent poisoning you 🙂 ). In the freezer it’s really indefinitely safe – times longer than a year or 2 will be more of a quality issue for texture. Hope this helps!

          • Charles July 22, 2015 - 1:06 pm

            Got it Dave, and smart move being super safe. 🙂
            I’ve been reading and cross-referencing too much and have concluded, especially after discussing with you, to simply reference Baldwin’s site first. His refrigerated time frame is based on temp, so 3-4 weeks for fridge temp <38F.
            You've been very helpful, much appreciated!

          • Dave July 22, 2015 - 2:38 pm

            So welcome Charles. Yes: Baldwin’s science background makes him a reliable source for time & temp reference. I always cringe when I see vague sous-vide time/temps given without regard for size/shape or pasteurization. Glad to be of help and happy cooking!

  • Steve September 13, 2015 - 8:39 pm Reply

    Your article and video on chicken breast is my new favorite to share with friends asking about Sous Vide. It sums up both the basics of Sous Vide and the shift in thinking when you realize you can cook unseasoned chicken or other food in bulk to freeze yet still have perfect moist food to be seasoned later when it is heated back to temperature,

    Have you cooked any pork ribs with your Sous Vide? If so I hope you will do a similar pork rib article. Sous Vide makes cooking ribs so easy.

    • Dave September 13, 2015 - 9:43 pm Reply

      Thanks Steve! Looks like we share a love of well-cooked food and kitchen Geekery 😀 Re: Ribs. YES! I’ve been experimenting all summer and have FINALLY found great, repeatable results for smoked ribs, beef, and pork shoulder. It’s almost shamefully easy, but takes a few more steps, but gives results that are stunning when you consider you can batch-cook 50 pounds of meat at a time and can pull it out from the freezer, reheat and sear/serve in minimal time. Hoping to find time before snowfall to share the process on video and post. Thanks for sharing this article and for adding your expertise here Steve. Cheers and happy cooking 🙂

  • Robb October 3, 2015 - 5:53 am Reply

    Dave,
    Did you have to make any modifications to that aquarium heater, or is it able to go up to 130+ by simply plugging it into the DSV right out of the box?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Dave October 3, 2015 - 2:18 pm Reply

      No mods, but time to temp will depend on (a) starting water temp and (b) volume of water and vessel. I always start with hot tap water but if I’m in a big rush will add kettles of boiled water to bring up to temp faster. Cheers and thanks for being here 🙂

  • Joe October 6, 2015 - 8:37 pm Reply

    Dave,
    First, thank you for your videos, they are very helpful!
    I have very little skill in the kitchen and am having trouble finding uses for the cooked chicken. You listed several uses, such as soups, but when I look for soup recipes, they call for raw chicken. Does this matter? Do I just add the chicken at the end so it doesn’t overcook?
    Basically, more specific uses for the chicken, or rules of thumb would be very helpful for me!!
    Also, I would love more videos on how to save time by batch cooking with sous vide.

    • Dave October 6, 2015 - 10:57 pm Reply

      So glad you found us and thanks for the kind words 🙂

      Yes: add sous vide (cooked) chicken at the end. This makes sure the meat is super-tender and cooked to perfection.

      Re: specific uses of chicken.
      1. Add shredded chicken to warmed can of mushroom soup and you have a great tasting (and easy) chicken sandwich/burger.
      2. Dice chicken to 3/4″ cubes, toss in 2Tablespoons of warmed butter with franks red hot to taste. Yuuuuuuuummmm
      3. Make a board jus by tossing thyme + any other favourite herbs on your cutting board, then laying your chicken on top. Slice and rub each piece into the board jus and drizzle the jus from the bag for extra juiciness. Plate and add maldon sea salt to taste.
      4. Any type of chicken leftover: warm a pan, add 2 eggs + S&P (salt & pepper) and cook any style (sunny side up, scramble etc). Before eggs are cooked, add 2 fist-fulls of spinach and add more s&p to taste. About 1 minute before eggs are cooked and spinach is fully wilted, add chicken leftovers to warm. Plate, squirt sriracha chili sauce and eat.

      Chicken is versatile and can be added to any dish as simple as toppings for instant noodles or as the main protein of the evening. Hope this helps get you on track 🙂

  • arin October 10, 2015 - 2:55 pm Reply

    What’s the best way to reheat some sous vide chicken I cooked and froze?

    • Dave October 10, 2015 - 4:04 pm Reply

      Doing that right now 🙂 I either (a) leave in fridge overnight for cold chicken breast or (b) drop in sous vide bath for 2hrs @135F to reheat and serve.

  • Gus May 28, 2016 - 8:56 am Reply

    Hi great video and I have a quick question for you..!!
    your heather element is 500 watts and seems enough for your cooler what do you recommend for a cooler of half size like 5 gallon , make sense use 500 watts heater?
    thanks Gus

    • Dave July 5, 2016 - 3:55 pm Reply

      Hi Gus, 500 watts would definitely still be great in a smaller cooler. My only concern would be the actual dimensions and how it could fit. So be sure to check the internal measurements and make sure it fits. Also, I would recommend this inexpensive air pump to maintain temps: http://amzn.to/29fte6w

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