How to Sous Vide Chicken Breast: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sous vide is a cooking method that involves vacuum sealing food in a plastic pouch, then submerging it in a water bath held at a precise temperature. This results in evenly cooked, tender and juicy meat. Chicken breast is an ideal protein to cook sous vide, as the technique helps prevent it from drying out and becoming tough, which can happen with traditional high-heat cooking methods. 

Sous vide chicken breast is easy to make at home with minimal equipment. All you need is a sous vide immersion circulator, a container large enough to fit the circulator, vacuum sealer bags, and seasoning. With just a few steps, you can enjoy restaurant-quality chicken breast from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Ingredients Needed for Sous Vide Chicken Breast

The main ingredient for sous vide chicken breast is, of course, raw chicken breasts. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts work best. Pick breasts that are similar in size and thickness to ensure even cooking. 

You’ll also need:

  • Seasonings of your choice – salt, pepper, herbs, spices, etc.
  • Oil – olive oil, avocado oil, etc. A small amount is used to help the seasoning stick to the chicken.
  • Butter (optional) – adding a pat of butter to each chicken breast helps keep them juicy and adds richness of flavor.

That’s it for the main ingredients! Adjust any seasonings to your taste preferences.

Equipment Needed for Sous Vide Chicken Breast

Here’s the basic equipment you’ll need:

  • Sous vide immersion circulator – This gadget heats and circulates water in the cooking container. Affordable options from brands like Anova or Instant Pot start around $100.
  • Container – A stock pot, Dutch oven, large saucepan, etc. It should be large enough to fit the circulator plus the vacuum sealed chicken bags, with some room to spare. 
  • Vacuum sealer (recommended) – Using a vacuum sealer like FoodSaver removes all the air from the bag for better heat conduction. You can also use zipper bags and the water immersion technique.
  • Vacuum sealer bags – These specialized bags are designed to withstand the high heat of sous vide cooking.
  • Digital thermometer (recommended) – For checking the temperature of the water bath.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Chicken Breast Sous Vide

Follow these simple steps for perfect sous vide chicken breast every time:

1. Preheat Your Sous Vide Machine

Preheating the water is an important first step, as it brings the entire cooking liquid to the target temperature before adding the food. 

Fill your container with enough water to fully cover the sealed chicken bags. Attach and turn on your sous vide immersion circulator, setting the temperature to 147°F (64°C). This is the ideal temperature for cooking chicken breast sous vide. 

Allow 30-60 minutes for the circulator to bring the water to 147°F. Use a thermometer to check that it’s reached the target temp before proceeding.

2. Season the Chicken Breasts

While the water is preheating, prepare your chicken. Pat the chicken breastsdry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt, pepper, herbs, spices, or any seasoning combination desired. 

Brush or rub a small amount of oil on each breast. This helps the seasoning stick. You can also add a pat of butter on top of each for extra moisture and richness.

3. Vacuum Seal the Chicken Breasts

Place each seasoned chicken breast into its own vacuum sealer bag. Remove as much air as possible before sealing closed. 

If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, use zipper bags and the displacement method. Lower the bagged chicken breast into the water, letting the pressure force out excess air. Zip the bag almost all the way closed, leaving a small opening. Slowly finish closing the bag as you lift it out of the water, forcing out any remaining air. 

Why Vacuum Sealing Is Important

Vacuum sealing removes oxygen from the bag. This prevents oxidation and bacterial growth during the long, low temp cook times of sous vide. It also allows for better heat transfer between the water and food.

4. Cook the Chicken Breasts in the Sous Vide Bath

Gently lower the sealed chicken bags into the preheated water bath. Use weights or clips to keep the bags fully submerged. 

Cook for 1-2 hours, until the center of each breast reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. The low and slow cooking results in chicken that is perfectly cooked edge-to-edge without overcooking.

Key Points for Sous Vide Chicken Breast Cooking:

  • Keep the water circulating at 147°F throughout the entire cook time. Use the sous vide machine to maintain the temperature.
  • Do not exceed 2 hours maximum cook time, as the texture of the chicken can become mushy.
  • Check the internal temp with a thermometer to ensure food safety. 145°F internal temp destroys harmful bacteria.

5. Finish the Chicken Breasts on a Grill or Skillet (Optional)

The chicken breasts are fully cooked after coming out of the sous vide bath. However, some people like to finish them with a quick sear to crisp up and brown the outside.

This is optional but does add a nice texture contrast. To sear:

  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels
  • Coat lightly with oil 
  • Grill or pan sear for 1-2 minutes per side

Take care not to overcook the chicken during searing. You just want to brown it without raising the internal temperature much higher.

6. Serve and Enjoy!

The sous vide chicken breasts are ready to be plated and devoured! They are succulent, tender and juicy, with chicken that is perfectly cooked edge-to-edge.

Slice or dice the chicken and serve it over salads, in sandwiches, in tacos or bowls, and more. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Chicken Breast Sous Vide

Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to prevent them for best results:

  • Not preheating the water bath – Always preheat so the water is at the target temp when food is added.
  • Overfilling the bags – Leave space for water circulation; don’t pack chicken in too tight. 
  • Not vacuum sealing properly – Remove as much air as possible and get a tight seal to prevent floating bags.
  • Skipping the sear step – Browning adds flavor and texture. Just don’t overcook during searing.
  • Cooking at the wrong temperature – 147°F is ideal; going over 150°F can cause chicken to be dry.
  • Cooking for too long – 1-2 hours max helps prevent mushy chicken texture.

What are the Best Side Dishes to Serve with Sous Vide Chicken Breast?

The possibilities are endless for side dishes that pair beautifully with sous vide chicken breast. Here are some tasty options:

  • Fresh green vegetables like asparagusgreen beans, or broccoli
  • Roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower
  • Leafy salads with vinaigrette dressing 
  • Grains like quinoa, couscous, or rice
  • Roasted vegetables like carrots, Brussels sprouts, or zucchini 
  • side salads like pasta salad, potato salad, or coleslaw

Sous vide chicken is so flavorful and juicy on its own that you can keep sides simple. Focus on fresh vegetables and grains to complete the meal.

Can You Store and Reheat Leftover Sous Vide Chicken Breast?

One of the bonuses of sous vide cooking is that it makes leftover chicken breast incredibly easy to store and reheat. 

Here are some tips for storing and reheating sous vide chicken breast:

  • Let chicken breasts cool, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days.
  • Freeze vacuum sealed chicken breast for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheat chilled chicken by dropping vacuum sealed bags back into 147°F water for 15-30 minutes until warmed through.
  • Can also reheat small portions in the microwave or oven, but the texture won’t be as good as sous vide reheating.
  • Don’t re-sear or grill reheated chicken, as it will overcook. Simply warm it through.

Enjoy restaurant-worthy chicken breast throughout the week with these easy storage and reheating tips.


Cooking sous vide chicken breast is easy and infallible when you follow the right temperatures, times, and techniques. With minimal effort, you can enjoy tender, juicy, perfectly cooked chicken breast anytime – just like dining at a fancy restaurant!

Use this complete guide to take the guesswork out of sous vide chicken. In just a few simple steps, you’ll be impressing family and friends with your cooking skills. Try serving sous vide chicken breast with fresh vegetable sides and grains for easy, delicious meals.