Sous Vide Sesame Chicken

Sous VideChineseChicken

If you love take-out Sesame Chicken, then you've got to try this sous vide version. The chicken stays tender and juicy, plus there's no need to deep-fry. A quick toss with a spicy sauce brings it all together.

Photography Credit: Nick Evans

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!

Healthy Sesame Chicken Recipe

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.

Sesame Chicken Recipe Sous VideNEW 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:

TRY THESE OTHER SOUS VIDE RECIPES!

Sous Vide Sesame Chicken Recipe

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  • Prep time: 16 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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.

Ingredients

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:

Special equipment:

Method

 1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

Healthy Sesame Chicken Recipe

4 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.

Sous Vide Sesame Chicken Recipe seal the bag Sous Vide Sesame Chicken Recipe cook the chicken

6 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.

7 Serve the chicken: Serve sesame chicken over rice garnished with sesame seeds and scallions.

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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6 Comments / Reviews

No ImageSous Vide Sesame Chicken

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Janice

    Any way to adapt this to cook it without sous vide?

    • Nick

      Hey Janice! The best bet would be just to sautee the chicken and then add the sauce once the chicken is completely cooked through. Should work although you miss the advantage of being able to prep everything in advance! Good luck!

  2. Leslie

    Delicious! Easily a go to for us from now on. Made a big batch for meal prep to go with steamed broccoli and little steamed rice.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Dawn

    I made this last night with a couple of minor changes. First, I am eating low FODMAP for severe IBS, so I left out the whole garlic and added 2 teaspoons of garlic oil instead. Second, I didn’t have whole ginger, so I used a tablespoon of high quality minced ginger from a jar. I split the batch into two bags, and froze one before cooking. Nice easy meal for another night! :)

    I have been cooking sous vide for around 8 years, and I actually prefer a different temperature for chicken breast (I use Douglas Baldwin’s guide to temperatures and timings), so I cooked at 60C (140F and perfectly safe – gasp!) for 2 hours in my SousVide Supreme cooker.

    I strained the meat juices to remove the minced ginger, and from a half batch, I got exactly 1/3 cup of juice which I used instead of stock. Thanks for clarifying that part in the recipe, Nick. My sesame oil already has chili in it, so I didn’t add any chili garlic sauce. I also used Thick Gel instead of cornstarch, as I wanted to freeze half of the sauce for the second batch.

    Everything went together beautifully and we served it with jasmine rice and a nice crunchy asian-style salad. Absolutely delicious and my husband can’t wait for the second batch. :)

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Dawn

    I am going to make this really soon – all the flavors I love. However, I have a question about Step 6. I now have a bag of cooked chicken, with juices, oil and ginger/garlic chunks. Obviously I add the chicken to the stovetop sauce, but what about the solids and the rest of the sous vide marinade/juices? I am not squeamish about whole chunks of ginger, I was just not sure of the recipe intent. ;-)

    I will be sure to write a follow-up when I have made this, it sounds fabulous.

    • Nick Evans

      Hey Dawn! So, there are some options here. For the chunks of ginger/garlic, I just toss or compost those. They are so cooked at that point that they are pretty flavorless, with the flavor going into the chicken and liquid. BUT, the liquid is very useable. It’s essentially chicken stock. You could use it in the sauce for the 1/3 chicken stock without any problem. I hope that helps! Good luck!

Sesame Chicken Recipe Sous VideSous Vide Sesame Chicken