Sous vide cooking has become an increasingly popular technique for cooking chicken to perfection. By cooking chicken sealed in a bag immersed in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath, you can achieve incredibly moist, tender, and juicy results. But an important factor to get right with sous vide chicken is determining the time needed to cook the chicken safely at the target temperature.
When cooking chicken sous vide, the recommended safe temperature is 145Â°F. This temperature ensures the chicken reaches pasteurization, eliminating any harmful bacteria while still remaining tender and juicy. However, the amount of time needed to cook sous vide chicken at 145Â°F depends on several factors.
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Factors That Affect Sous Vide Cooking Time for Chicken
There are three main factors that impact the sous vide cooking time required for safe, tender, and delicious chicken breasts and other cuts of chicken at 145Â°F.
1. Thickness of the Chicken
The thickness of the chicken greatly affects how long it takes to cook through sous vide. Thinner cuts of chicken, like chicken breasts, will cook faster than thicker cuts like chicken thighs. For example, boneless, skinless chicken breasts only need 1-2 hours to cook sous vide at 145Â°F since they are typically less than 1 inch thick. Chicken legs and thighs are thicker, so they require 2-4 hours for safe sous vide cooking at 145Â°F.
For very thick chicken cuts like a whole chicken or turkey breast, the sous vide time can be 6 hours or longer to ensure the center reaches 145Â°F. It’s important to note that while cooking times vary, the temperature stays consistent at 145Â°F for safe results.
2. Starting Temperature of the Chicken
Another factor impacting total sous vide cook time is the starting temperature of the raw chicken before it goes into the water bath. Chicken that goes into the water bath while still cold straight from the refrigerator will take longer to come up to the target temperature of 145Â°F compared to chicken that starts at room temperature.
For food safety, it’s best to put vacuum-sealed bags of chicken directly from the refrigerator into the preheated water bath. In this case, extend sous vide cook times on the longer end to account for the chicken starting off cold.
3. Desired Level of Doneness
Cooking chicken sous vide allows you to achieve varying levels of doneness depending on your preferences, which affects cooking time. Chicken cooked to 145Â°F will have a tender, juicy texture, while going to a higher temperature like 160Â°F will result in very firm, well-done chicken.
For chicken cooked at 145Â°F, the minimum safe cooking time is just until the center reaches 145Â°F. But cooking it longer, such as 2-4 hours, allows the chicken to become even more tender while still being safe to eat. It ultimately comes down to your desired texture and juiciness.
Sous Vide Chicken Cooking Tips
To achieve delicious, safe sous vide chicken cooked at 145Â°F, follow these tips:
1. Seasoning Your Chicken
One of the benefits of sous vide cooking is infusing chicken with flavorful seasonings. Apply any dry rubs, marinades, or liquid seasoning evenly over the chicken before vacuum sealing. The seasonings will permeate the chicken as it cooks for enhanced flavor.
2. Vacuum Sealing the Chicken
Proper vacuum sealing is a crucial step for sous vide success. Remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing to prevent floats that can lead to uneven cooking. Use freezer-grade vacuum sealer bags for best results.
3. Preheating the Sous Vide Water Bath
Before adding the sealed chicken, preheat your sous vide device to 145Â°F. Immersing chicken in already heated water reduces the time it takes to come up to the target temperature.
4. Cooking the Chicken
Gently lower the sealed chicken bags into the preheated water bath, ensuring the bags are fully submerged. Cook for the minimum time required based on thickness to reach 145Â°F. For pasteurization, hold for at least an hour once the center reaches temperature.
5. Finishing Techniques for Sous Vide Chicken
While sous vide chicken is safe to eat straight from the water bath, adding finishing techniques like searing or broiling helps enhance flavor and texture. Quickly searing the exterior adds crispiness and caramelization.
Conclusion: Enjoying Perfectly Cooked Sous Vide Chicken at 145Â°F
Cooking chicken sous vide allows you to achieve juicy, tender results every time when you use the right temperature and cooking times. Chicken cooked at 145Â°F and held for at least an hour is safe according to USDA standards, while still being succulent and delicious.
Factors like the chicken’s thickness, starting temperature, and desired doneness all impact how long it takes to cook sous vide at 145Â°F. Following proper seasoning, vacuum sealing, and finishing techniques results in foolproof sous vide chicken. Using sous vide cooking lets you enjoy consistent, foolproof chicken cooked to perfection.