Sous vide chicken thighs are an absolute game changer. Cooking sous vide allows you to make perfectly juicy and tender thighs, every single time. Time to say goodbye to the days of dry chicken, and hello to juicy thighs cooked exactly how you want it.
In this recipe, we will walk you through everything you need to know to make the best chicken thighs of your life. From selecting a perfect time and temperature, to whether you should use bone in or boneless chicken thighs, this recipe has it all.
Bone in or Boneless Chicken Thighs?
The first step is determining whether you should purchase bone in or boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. The quick answer, either cut will result in tender, juicy meat. Also, either can be used interchangeably for most sous vide recipes.
That being said, we prefer using bone-in chicken thighs. They tend to be juicer and more flavorful, and the meat around the bone is to die for.
An essential part of cooking sous vide is putting ingredients in an air-tight bag or container. The two most common techniques to package your ingredients are vacuum sealing and using the water displacement method.
A vacuum sealer removes all the air and seals the contents of a plastic bag through a vacuum. This process ensures the food is airtight and properly sealed, and prevents the bag from floating which can result in uneven cooking. If you are in the market for a vacuum sealer, I'd recommend the Anova sealer.
The displacement method is a technique where you first place your food and marinades in a sous vide bag, submerge the bag in a container of water, and allow the pressure to force all the air out of the bag.
Either method works for chicken thighs. Note that if you are adding a marinade in the bag, please make sure your vacuum sealer is capable of sealing liquids. If not, please use the displacement method.
Time and Temperature
The time and temperature guide below is the product of years of extensive testing, and will take the guesswork out of cooking sous vide. Simply select a temperature based on your desired doneness, then determine the length of the cook based on the thickness of the protein.
Sous Vide Chicken Thigh Temperature
|Firm and Juicy||160 – 167F / 71 – 75C||165F / 74C|
Sous Vide Chicken Thighs Cooking Time
|Chicken Thighs||1 to 4 hours||1 ½ hours|
Our personal favorite is cooking chicken thighs at 74C/165F for 1 ½ hours. Cooking the meat for this duration results in a tender, juicy bird that Thomas Keller would be proud of. Furthermore, cooking them at a temperature of 165F ensures that the chicken is fully cooked to the bone.
Although this combination of time and temperature is our favorite, we recommend you explore different combinations to find your personal favorite. Our cooking guide can always help you find your perfect time and temperature.
Can You Sous Vide Frozen Chicken Thighs?
The quick answer is, absolutely! Cooking frozen foods sous vide is an ultra convenient, safe way to prepare your protein. Just take the food directly from the fridge, repackage it (unless you know the bag is sous vide safe) and let the sous vide work its magic.
The only thing you'll need to adjust is the cook time. If you are cooking frozen chicken thighs sous vide we recommend adding an additional hour to the cook time, so two hours and 30 minutes total for thighs.
Recommended Searing Methods for Chicken Thighs
Searing is by far the most important step in cooking sous vide. If want your food to look like it is Michelin star quality, you are going to have to get a rich sear on it. Failing to do so will make your dinner guests wonder why they let you cook again.
If you want an amazing sear, you’ve got to:
1. Pat the meat completely dry with a paper towel
2. Season generously with salt or seasoning of your choice
3. Sear at extremely high temperatures.
At this point you want to determine the best searing method. For chicken thighs, we suggest pan searing, grilling or using a searing torch. The trick is getting the pan, grill or torch extremely hot, then searing for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. This results in a quick, high-quality sear without drying out the thighs.
Top Sous Vide Chicken Thigh Recipes
Chicken Piccata -A sous vide twist on a timeless classic - chicken piccata. In this recipe, we wanted to focus on making two things great – the sauce and the chicken. We kept the sauce simple with only fresh ingredients. However, the flavors of the sauce emulsify in the sous vide to create a heavenly, tangy sauce.
Pollo Asado - This recipe uses a delicious marinade of citrus juices and a blend of herbs and spices. We decided to kick it up a notch by using chicken thighs, which are incredibly tender cooked sous vide.
- Chicken Paprikash - In this dish the heavenly sauce is creamy and bursting with flavor. The chicken is juicy and tender. It is the perfect homey meal.
Sous Vide Machine – This one is obvious. To cook sous vide, you’re going to need a device to precisely regulate the temperature of the bath water. The two best sous vide machines in the game right now are the Anova Precision Cooker and the Breville Joule.
The main difference between the two is that with the Anova you can control the device both manually and with a mobile device, and with the Joule you can only control the device by using your mobile device. Either way, both sous vide machines are top class and you can’t go wrong with either choice.
12-quart Container – Although you can use a basic stockpot for your sous vide cooking needs, I highly recommend buying a large plastic container. They are inexpensive and spacious, so you won’t have to worry about cooking a big roast in a small pot. I recommend a 12 quart Rubbermaid container, as it is BPA free, sturdy, and large enough for just about anything you will be cooking.
Container Lid – If you are going to buy a plastic container, I highly suggest buying a compatible lid for it. When you sous vide for a long duration, the heat of the water causes evaporation. With a lid, it eliminates a majority of the evaporation so you can cook for 72 hours care-free.
Cast Iron Skillet – If you are looking to take your searing game to the next level, we recommend investing in a cast iron skillet. By using a cast iron in this recipe, you’ll achieve a deep sear on the protein. Cast irons are also extremely handy for searing just about any and all sous vide meat. Lodge offers the best quality and price, which is why it is our favorite cast iron brand.
Next Level Sous Vide –Looking to take your sous vide skills to the next level? The Next Level Sous Vide eCookbook will push your culinary boundaries with 65 delicious recipes that are equally approachable and tasty. With pro tips and a detailed explanation of the sous vide process, you will be on your way to maximize your sous vide skills.
Check out our full list of recommended gear here.
Sous Vide Chicken Thighs
- 4 bone-in, skin-on or boneless chicken thighs
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
Set sous vide machine to 74C/165F.
Season chicken thighs with salt to taste. Place chicken in sous vide bag with thyme, and remove the air through a vacuum sealer or the displacement method. Drop the bag in the bath for an hour and a half.
Remove bag from bath. Take chicken out of the bag, pat dry and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat up large skillet on high and add oil. Sear chicken thighs for 60 seconds on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan, and place on a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, serve and enjoy!