Sous vide cooking produces exceptionally moist, tender and flavorful chicken breast, but many people find that searing the chicken after sous vide can enhance both the texture and taste. Searing creates a crispy, browned exterior crust on the chicken while keeping the interior juicy and delicate. There are several good reasons to take the extra step to sear chicken breast after sous vide cooking.
Semantics: Searing chicken breast after sous vide is a finishing technique that adds flavor, texture, and visual appeal to the cooked chicken. It creates contrast between the moist, tender interior and the crispy, browned exterior.
Micro-semantics: The high heat of searing causes complex browning reactions that produce richer, more developed flavors in the chicken skin and outer surface. It also drives off any excess moisture, allowing the exterior to become crispy.
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How to Prepare Chicken Breast for Sous Vide Cooking
To ensure the chicken breast cooks evenly and achieves the right texture during sous vide, it helps to prepare the meat properly before sealing and cooking.
1. Seasoning the Chicken Breast
Semantics: Seasoning adds flavor and enhances the taste of the final dish. Salt and pepper are commonly used.
Micro-semantics: Generously season both sides of the chicken breast with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Massaging the seasoning into the meat helps it penetrate deeply. Other herbs, spices, or flavorings like lemon, garlic, or chili powder can also be used.
2. Vacuum Sealing the Chicken Breast
Semantics: Vacuum sealing removes air from the bag, allowing for efficient heat transfer during sous vide cooking.
Micro-semantics: Place the seasoned chicken breast in a vacuum sealed pouch, attempting to remove as much air as possible. Vacuum seal according to the directions for your sealer unit. The chicken can be cooked immediately or refrigerated for later use.
3. Setting the Sous Vide Temperature and Time
Semantics: Sous vide chicken breast is cooked below the boiling point of water at a very precise, controlled temperature.
Micro-semantics: Set the water bath temperature to 140-150°F to cook the chicken breast. The time needed will depend on thickness – 1 to 4 hours is common. Aim for a final internal temperature of 140-145°F.
How to Sear Chicken Breast After Sous Vide Cooking
Once the sous vide chicken breast has finished cooking, searing adds the finishing touch. Follow these steps for a perfect sear.
1. Preparing the Chicken Breast for Searing
Semantics: Drying the exterior of the chicken helps achieve the right browning and texture during searing.
Micro-semantics: Remove the cooked chicken breast from the sous vide pouch and pat it very dry with paper towels. Make sure the meat is as dry as possible before searing.
2. Choosing the Right Pan for Searing
Semantics: Searing requires high heat, so pick a pan that can withstand high temperatures.
Micro-semantics: Use a cast iron skillet, stainless steel pan or carbon steel pan to sear the chicken. Avoid non-stick pans which can’t handle the heat. Make sure the pan is completely dry before adding oil.
3. Preheating the Pan and Adding Oil
Semantics: The pan must be ripping hot to achieve an effective sear. Use an oil with a high smoke point.
Micro-semantics: Heat the pan over high heat until it is very hot, at least 450°F. Add just enough high heat oil like avocado, grapeseed or ghee to coat the pan bottom. Swirl to distribute evenly.
4. Searing the Chicken Breast
Semantics: Sear for just 1-2 minutes per side to create a flavorful, browned exterior.
Micro-semantics: Carefully place the chicken breast in the preheated pan. Sear for 1-2 minutes until deep golden brown. Flip and repeat on the second side. Avoid moving or poking the chicken as it sears.
5. Checking for Doneness and Resting the Chicken Breast
Semantics: Use a thermometer to confirm the chicken is fully cooked. Letting it rest improves moisture.
Micro-semantics: Check the internal temperature with a thermometer to ensure it reaches 165°F. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. This allows juices to redistribute evenly.
Tips for Achieving the Perfect Sear on Sous Vide Chicken Breast
Follow these tips and tricks for getting the best possible sear on your sous vide cooked chicken breasts.
1. Pat the Chicken Dry Before Searing
Semantics: Drying helps the chicken brown instead of steam.
Micro-semantics: Be sure to thoroughly pat dry chicken with paper towels after removing from sous vide bag. All moisture must be removed for proper searing.
2. Use High Smoke Point Oils
Semantics: Oils with high smoke points don’t burn or impart off flavors during high heat searing.
Micro-semantics: Grapeseed, avocado, ghee and rice bran oils have very high smoke points. Always heat the oil before adding chicken.
3. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan
Semantics: Too much chicken in the pan cools it down too much.
Micro-semantics: Cook chicken in a single layer with space between pieces. Work in batches to avoid crowding if needed.
4. Adjust the Heat as Needed
Semantics: Maintaining the pan temperature is key for consistent searing.
Micro-semantics: If pan is too hot or cool, adjust burner heat accordingly. Use an infrared thermometer to check pan temp.
5. Use a Meat Thermometer to Check for Doneness
Semantics: It ensures the interior of the chicken reaches a safe temperature.
Micro-semantics: Insert an instant read thermometer into thickest part of chicken. Temperature should reach 165°F.
Conclusion: Enjoying Your Perfectly Cooked Sous Vide Chicken Breast
Taking the time to properly sear chicken breast after sous vide cooking results in incredible texture, moisture and flavor. The chicken ends up succulently tender on the inside with a crispy, flavorful exterior crust. Use high heat, dry the chicken thoroughly and don’t overcrowd the pan. With a few simple techniques, you can enjoy the amazing combination of sous vide and seared chicken breast.