This is a really basic, starter recipe for new sous vide cooks. The chicken alone is worth trying because it’s great in salads, soups, or even something like enchiladas. It’s perfectly cooked, juicy, tender, and easy.
I took the extra step of cooking some broccoli along with the chicken to round out the meal. It cooks in a separate bag but at the same temperature.
New to Sous Vide? Start Here
I think sous vide is something that all home cooks can -- and should! -- learn to do because it takes a lot of the stress and guesswork out of cooking. You can prep your food in advance in the bags and then cook it when you have time.
If you're new to sous vide, take a quick read through these intro posts:
- Everything You’ve Been Wondering About Sous Vide Cooking at Home
- How to Use Your New Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
- How to Seal Foods Without Using a Vacuum Sealer
- Sous Vide and Food Safety: What to Know
Nailing the Temperature for Sous Vide Chicken
If you cook chicken often, you are probably familiar with the FDA recommendation to always cook chicken to 165°F for safety, but food safety is actually a function of both temperature and time. This means it’s safe to cook chicken at a lower temperature as long as you hold that temperature for a long period of time.
Using a sous vide method, you could cook chicken at 150°F assuming you held the temperature for many hours. Personally, I find 158°F to be a good middle ground. It gives the chicken the texture that I like, but is still super juicy.
Plus, if you’re cooking broccoli at the same time, this temperature gives you blanched, but still fairly crispy broccoli, which is my favorite. It’s especially useful for packing lunches because it’s delicious cold (in a salad, say), but both the broccoli and the chicken won't overcook even if you zap them in the microwave.
How to Seal Chicken for Sous Vide
If you end up making a lot of sous vide meals, it might be worth it to invest in a vacuum sealer, which sucks all the air out of the sous vide bags so they stay submerged in the water.
But, if you’re just starting out, there is a shortcut to vacuum-sealing: the water displacement method.
Make sure your food is in one even layer in your bag and then slowly submerge the bag into a pot of water. You can do this before heating the water for sous vide cooking or while it's warming up -- just be careful if the water is already steaming!
The pressure of the water against the bag will force air out of the bag. Seal it when the bag is almost completely submerged (try to avoid getting water in the bag).
This method might not be perfect, but it works well! If you're cooking foods with a lot of nooks and crannies where air bubbles get trapped, like broccoli, add some weight to hold it down and keep it from floating. You can either place a heavy bowl over the pot or seal a few heavy soup spoons into the bag with the broccoli.
Make Ahead Sous Vide Chicken and Broccoli
If you’ve ever considered diving into the sous vide world, this is a great starter recipe and the results are fantastic for a simple dinner. This Chicken and Broccoli also makes a fantastic weekday lunch -- the chicken stays juicy even a few days after it’s cooked, and the broccoli is crispy and bright green.
The joy of sous vide cooking is knowing that you can cook recipes like this one well in advance and they will not be overcooked (dry) and you’ll have consistently delicious leftovers!
You might think that this chicken will be boring with just salt and pepper, and you could jazz it up with other herbs if you were so inclined, but the chicken comes out so juicy that I find it doesn’t need much else. Just having beautifully cooked chicken and snappy broccoli is enough for me!
More Sous Vide Recipes to Try!
Sous Vide Chicken and Broccoli
If you are cooking the chicken from frozen, add 30 minutes onto the cooking time. You can cook the broccoli for an extra 30 minutes as well without any harm.
4 medium chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, sliced thin
1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch kosher, sea, or table salt
Heat the water:
Fill a pot with water and place your immersion circulator inside. Set the temperature to 158°F and let the water come up to temperature.
Prep the chicken:
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place them in a gallon-sized zip-top freezer bag with the lemon arranged over top.
Make sure the chicken is in a single layer. If you need to use two bags, that’s better than having overlapping chicken pieces.
Seal the bag:
Seal the bag with as little air as possible by using the water-displacement method to press out all the air: Just slowly lower the bag with the chicken into the water, letting the pressure of the water press the air out of the bag. Once the top of the bag reaches the waterline and all the air has been pressed out, seal the bag. (Read more here.)
You can do this in the pot of water as it heats. (Just be careful if the water is already steaming!)
Set the chicken aside on a kitchen towel until the water has finished heating. At this point, you can also freeze the bag if you want to store the prepared chicken for later.
Prepare the broccoli:
Place the florets in a gallon-sized zip-top freezer bag, and season with red pepper flakes and sesame oil. To weigh the broccoli down, add a few heavy soup spoons to the bag (or plan to place a heavy bowl over the top of the water bath to keep the broccoli submerged).
Use the same water displacement technique to seal the broccoli bag.
Cook the broccoli and chicken:
Once the water has come to temperature, add the chicken and broccoli to the water and cook for 2 hours. Make sure your cooking bags are completely submerged in the water; place a heavy bowl over the pot if the spoons aren't keeping the broccoli submerged.
I also like to rotate all the bags halfway through cooking to make sure they are cooking evenly, as sometimes they can get jostled around in the water.
When cooking time ends, remove from the water and turn off the circulator.
Serve the chicken:
Remove the chicken and broccoli and portion in lunch-sized portions or serve for dinner.
Have questions about sous vide cooking? Leave a comment below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||5%|
|Total Carbohydrate 23g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 7g||27%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 145mg||726%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|