Sous vide is a popular cooking method that involves sealing food in plastic bags and cooking it gently in a precise, temperature controlled water bath. This results in food that is cooked evenly throughout, incredibly tender and juicy. While sous vide is traditionally used on fresh foods, it can also be used to cook frozen chicken with excellent results.
Here is a complete step-by-step guide on how to sous vide frozen chicken:
1. Preparing the Sous Vide Bath
The first step is to prepare your sous vide water bath. Fill your sous vide cooker or a large pot with water and set the temperature to the desired doneness level (see below for recommended temperatures). It’s important to allow time for the water to come up to temperature before adding the chicken.
2. Seasoning and Bagging the Chicken
Season the frozen chicken as desired. Try simple salt and pepper, fresh herbs, spices, citrus, etc. Then seal the chicken in a sous vide cooking bag, removing as much air as possible. Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bag using the water immersion technique or a vacuum sealer if you have one.
3. Cooking the Chicken
Once your sous vide bath is up to temperature, immerse the bagged frozen chicken. Cook for the time specified below based on the thickness/cut of the chicken and your desired doneness level.
- Chicken breasts (1 inch thick): Cook for 2-4 hours at 140°F for medium.
- Chicken thighs: Cook for 4-8 hours at 150°F for medium.
- Chicken drums/wings: Cook for 2-4 hours at 155°F for well done.
- Whole chicken: Cook for 8-12 hours at 145°F for medium.
Cooking times will vary based on the size and shape of the chicken pieces as well as your preferences. Food poisoning can result from undercooked chicken so it’s important to use recommended cooking times.
4. Finishing Touches
Once the sous vide cooking time is complete, remove the chicken from the bags and pat dry. At this point you can sear the chicken in a hot skillet to crisp and brown the skin, or serve it as is. Your sous vide frozen chicken is now ready to enjoy!
Sous vide chicken cooked from frozen has an incredibly moist, tender and juicy texture that is hard to achieve with other cooking methods. Enjoy it hot off the skillet or chilled in salads, sandwiches and more.
What Are the Benefits of Cooking Frozen Chicken with Sous Vide?
Cooking frozen chicken with the sous vide technique offers several advantages:
1. Convenience and Time-Saving
With sous vide, you can go straight from the freezer to the water bath, skipping the usual thawing time. This makes cooking frozen chicken in sous vide a very convenient, hands-off process.
2. Consistent Results
Sous vide’s precise temperature control means your frozen chicken will turn out perfectly cooked edge-to-edge, every time. No dry or overcooked portions.
3. Enhanced Flavor and Juiciness
The gentle heat of sous vide leads to chicken that is incredibly tender and juicy. Seasonings and aromatics fully permeate the meat.
Are There Any Risks or Disadvantages to Cooking Frozen Chicken with Sous Vide?
The main risk when cooking any frozen meat sous vide is that the outside could begin to thaw and enter the “danger zone” while the inside is still frozen. This could lead to bacterial growth on the surface of the chicken.
To prevent food poisoning, it is very important to follow recommended cooking times and temperatures. Do not cook frozen chicken for shorter periods than specified in recipes for that thickness of chicken.
It’s also a good idea to thaw thinner cuts of frozen chicken like breasts before sous vide cooking. Going straight from freezer to bath can lead to a texture contrast between the edges and center.
As long as you use proper handling and cooking methods, sous vide frozen chicken is completely safe.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Frozen Chicken with Sous Vide?
Cooking times for sous vide frozen chicken depend primarily on the thickness and cut of the chicken, as well as your desired doneness level.
Here are some general guidelines:
- Chicken breasts (1 inch thick): 2 to 4 hours at 140°F
- Chicken thighs (bone in): 4 to 8 hours at 150°F
- Chicken drumsticks or wings: 2 to 4 hours at 155°F
- Whole chicken (3-5 lbs): 8 to 12 hours at 145°F
The sous vide cooking time required will be 1.5 to 2 times longer than cooking thawed chicken. But the hands-off process makes this extended time very manageable.
Be sure to consult accurate sous vide time and temperature guides. Undercooking poses a food poisoning risk while overcooking yields dry chicken.
What Other Foods Can Be Cooked from Frozen with Sous Vide?
A wide variety of foods can go straight from the freezer into the sous vide bath with excellent results, including:
- Beef roasts, steaks and stews
- Pork chops, tenderloins, ribs
- Fish fillets like salmon and cod
- Duck or goose breasts
- Turkey breasts or legs
- Vegetables like broccoli, green beans, carrots
With sous vide, you don’t have to plan ahead or spend time thawing. Just season as desired and cook frozen foods low and slow for tender and juicy meals any night of the week. Always use safe handling and cooking practices.