Cooking this sesame chicken sous vide offers several advantages over your typical Chinese takeout meal, which is fried and then tossed in a sauce. With sous vide, frying the chicken isn’t necessary, so you can enjoy a much healthier version! A quick sauce brings it all together, and you don’t even miss the fried exterior.
Even better for those short on time? You can prep the chicken well in advance (you can even freeze it!) and then just toss the chicken in the water and cook sous vide a few hours before dinner.
Once the chicken is cooked, it’ll be tender, juicy, and seasoned evenly -- the long cooking time helps infuse every piece of chicken with flavor. The sauce, flavored with honey, soy, and chili sauce, comes together quickly in a skillet. Just add the cooked chicken and toss the two together.
Dinner is done and everyone will wonder how you got the chicken so tender!
A Note About Chicken Cooked Sous Vide
If you were to Google safe chicken temperatures, you'll find that the FDA recommends cooking chicken to 165°F. Just know that food safety is both a function of both temperature and time.
You can safely cook chicken at lower temperatures as long as you cook long enough to kill bacteria, which is exactly what we're doing with sous vide cooking.
After much testing, I think 158°F. is the ideal cooking temperature for sous vide chicken, which leaves you with super juicy chicken that still has the texture you’d expect from cooked chicken.
New to Sous Vide? Start Here
I think sous vide is something that all home cooks 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
Try These Other Sous Vide Recipes!
Sous Vide Sesame Chicken
If you like, you can measure out 1/3 cup of the liquid from cooking the chicken and use it in place of the chicken stock when making the sauce for this recipe.
- For the chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- For the sesame sauce:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (optional)
- Sesame seeds, garnish
- To serve:
- Cooked white rice
- Scallions, green parts minced for garnish
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.
Prepare the chicken:
Combine the cubed chicken breast along with ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy, and rice wine vinegar to a gallon-sized zip-top freezer bag. Make sure the chicken is in a single layer.
Seal the bag:
Seal the bag with as little air as possible by using water-displacement method to help 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 through the top of the bag. Once the top of the bag reaches the water line 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. Seal it when it is submerged so most of the air is out of the bag.
Cook the chicken:
Once the water has come to temperature, submerge the sealed bag of chicken. Make sure the bag is completely submerged so the food cooks evenly.
Cook the chicken for 2 hours. When cooking time ends, remove the chicken from the water and turn off the circulator.
Make the sauce and combine with the chicken:
Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a medium skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; it and should start to thicken immediately.
Scoop out the chicken from the zip-top bag, discard the garlic and ginger, and add the chicken to the pan with the sauce. (The leftover cooking liquid can be saved and used in another recipe, if you like!)
Turn heat down to low, and toss to coat and combine. The sauce should get very thick and stick to the chicken.
Serve the chicken:
Serve sesame chicken over rice garnished with sesame seeds and scallions.