Want expert help choosing the right chicken sous vide temp and time? Today, I’m going to lay it all out for you. Get temperatures and times for breast, thighs, legs, and from frozen right here.
After years of sous vide cooking, and tons of testing for The Home Chef’s Sous Vide Cookbook – I have plenty of advice for cooking perfectly cooked white or dark chicken meat. Let’s dive in!
At what temp and how long do you sous vide chicken?
One of my most famous beginner tips for sous vide cooking is this simple one: always check and double-check times and temps before setting your precision cooker.
Many of my sous vide chicken recipes call for a sous vide time of 60 minutes and a temp of around 140-150ºF. But – – and this is a huge but – – there are so, very many, specific recommendations for different parts of the chicken.
Chicken sous vide temp and time overview
Today you’ll learn everything you need to know when it comes to chicken sous vide time and temp recommendations. From precision cooking one piece of the bird (leg, wings, breast, thighs, drumsticks), to cooking the whole bird sous vide style, I’m going to lay it out for you.
The short of it is…
- Sous vide chicken breast (light meat) for at least 1 hour (up to 3 or 4 hours) between 140-167°F.
- Sous vide dark chicken meat (legs, drumsticks, thighs, wings) for 1-5 or 6 hours at around 148-150°F.
- Since sous vide whole chicken has both the light and dark meat, I have a special way of preparing it and a special time for sous vide cooking it. More on that below.
- Sous vide meal prep is so helpful with a toddler in the house! For smaller cuts of chicken (breast, wings or thighs) I’ll add 1 hour on to the chicken sous vide cook time from frozen.
So let’s dive in and learn about chicken sous vide temp and times to make your favorite sous vide recipes at home. This includes both Fahrenheit and celsius for my international friends.
Sous Vide Chicken Breast
Temperature for sous vide chicken breast
The chicken breast sous vide temp is 140-167°F.
Time for sous vide chicken breast
Once you choose a chicken breast sous vide temp, choose your time: between 1 – 4 hours. Don’t go over 4 hours, because the chicken breast will become mushy. Here are a few sous vide chicken texture options…
- SOFT AND JUICY sous vide chicken breast: 140°F/60°C
- TENDER CHICKEN THAT’S VERY JUICY sous vide chicken breast: 149°F/65°C
- WELL DONE sous vide chicken breast: 167°F/75°C
More on sous vide chicken breast time and temperatures
A few times a week, someone will reach out to me and ask, “what temperature do you sous vide chicken breast?”
My go-to sous vide chicken breast temperature is 140°F for 1 hour. This is both my preferred skin on AND boneless skinless chicken breast sous vide temperature.
Sous Vide Chicken Tenders
When cooking sous vide chicken tenders, choose the same time and temp as what you’d use for regular sous vide chicken breast. My preferred sous vide chicken tenderloin temp is 1 hour.
At one hour, I like to cook chicken tenders at 140°F.
Chicken tenders cooked sous vide are perfect to toss on a salad or turn into a caprese chicken sandwich.
Sous Vide Shredded Chicken
Want to sous vide chicken for pulled chicken sandwiches and tacos? Raise the heat, and if you have time, cook it 2-3 hours instead of just 1.
My favorite pulled chicken sous vide temperature is around 150°F. And for time in the pressure cooker, I aim for 3 hours.
Settled on the best temperature to sous vide chicken breast? Now it’s time to move on to dark meat.
Dark chicken sous vide temp and time tips
When it comes to dark chicken sous vide temp recommendations, you’ll see quite a few different cuts of meat that taste delicious sous vide style. Let’s sort out the basics so you can try them yourself.
Did you know that dark meat is a different type of muscle than white meat? It’s true. That’s why the time and temp for sous vide chicken breast is different than sous vide chicken wings, thighs, and one of my favorites – sous vide chicken drumsticks.
The difference between a chicken leg, thigh, drumstick
First, let’s make sure we are on the same page so the time and temps for dark meat chicken make sense.
A chicken leg is made up of a drumstick and a thigh. Similar to humans, the thigh of the chicken is the top, larger section of the bird. The drumstick is the smaller part – like the chicken calf.
Sous vide settings for legs, thighs, drumsticks, wings
Recommendations will vary by recipe. Most sous vide dark chicken meat recipes call for 149-167°F, but may go as low as 148. I find it’s a bit pinker when cooked that low.
Sous vide dark chicken cook times are between 1-5 hours.
Chicken thigh sous vide temperature example
We love chicken thighs for easy meal prep on a busy week. Choosing skin-on thighs and crisping them in the broiler after cooking is one of my favorite ways to prepare them.
For my recipe for Sous Vide Chicken Thighs with Lemon Tahini Sauce from The Home Chef’s Sous Vide Cookbook, I recommend leaving them in for a full four hours at 149°F. The same is true for my Curry Spiced Chicken Thighs recipe, too.
Chicken wings sous vide time and temp guide
Football is a way of life in my house, and fortunately, this means making game day sous vide wings on repeat all season long. They are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. See my complete guide to sous vide wings time and temps.
Whole chicken sous vide time and temperature
I wanted to share a special note on cooking sous vide whole chicken. Since it has both light and dark meat, I have a special way of preparing it and a special time for sous vide cooking it. Sous viding it takes a little bit of compromise.
It will take several hours to cook a whole chicken in a water bath. Most of my recipes call for 6 hours, but depending on the size of the chicken you may need to vary that, or finish it in the broiler if the chicken isn’t completely cooked.
My tried and tested temperature for whole chicken with the sous vide method is 182.5°F.
What about half chicken sous vide?
The sous vide temp for half chicken with the bone is the same as a whole chicken. Make sure to completely flatten out the chicken before you vac seal the bag. This is definitely a recipe I like to make in a vacuum sealed bag over a plastic bag because when you put the bag in the water bath, you don’t want it to float. Yes, you can always do the water displacement method, but I find it’s difficult to get the air completely out of the bag.
Wondering if you should use a plastic zip bag or a vacuum sealer? Learn more about vacuum sealing vs ziplock bags.
Sous viding frozen chicken breasts / legs / thighs
As a new parent trying to eat well and adhere to strict toddler dinner and bedtime routines, making dinner with frozen chicken makes life easier.
It’s easy to sous vide chicken from frozen, and once you get the timing and temperature adjustments down, you’ll really enjoy this sous vide meal prep technique.
For most standard chicken breast, wings, and thighs (smaller cuts of chicken) you can just add an extra sixty minutes on to your sous vide cook time. But always check the recipe notes for specific instructions.
Frozen sous vide chicken time will vary to about 50% more of the cooking time when you’re cooking something large like a sous vide whole chicken.
Why is sous vide chicken cooked at a lower temperature?
Many of us have heard that the best way to ensure that chicken is safe to eat is to cook it to 165⁰F. So, when your sous vide chicken recipe indicates that you should cook chicken at 140⁰F, you might start wondering if the delicious, juicy chicken you prepare will be OK to eat.
While the 165⁰F rule (or some people may know it as 160⁰F rule) is indeed a good one to follow for traditional cooking methods, such as grilling or baking your chicken, this isn’t the end all be all of food safety.
Another way to make sure the chicken is safe for you to eat is to pasteurize it. Cooking the chicken breast sous vide pasteurizes it. In order to do it correctly, you need to keep the internal temperature at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time.
Here’s an example: Once chicken is heated through, it will be pasteurized after cooking it at 140⁰F for 30 minutes. If you meet that minimum time, then you can feel confident when you’re eating that it’s fully safe.
So, go forth and enjoy the juicier, more tender sous vide version of chicken, just make sure you’re following the instructions for your minimum cook time.
Everyone has their own preference for chicken texture. And depending on the recipe, the temperature may change. For example, sous vide spicy fried chicken recipe is prepared at a higher temperature than I usually choose.
One reason to start with a lower sous vide temperature for chicken is that many recipes call for finishing sous vide chicken in a cast-iron skillet, or on the grill. This extra step at the end adds heat to the chicken which may change the internal temperature and texture of the chicken.
What about cooking sous vide chicken from frozen? When cooking sous vide frozen chicken, add on an hour to the cook time. But keep the temperature at 140°F. This gives the chicken time to thaw in the sous vide bath but doesn’t overcook it to a complete mushy mess. More on frozen chicken sous vide temp and time info at the bottom of this page.
Put these chicken sous vide temp and times to use
So there you have it, everything from my favorite chicken breast sous vide temperature and time to tricks to sous vide frozen chicken times and what to do when you’re cooking both dark and white chicken meat together.
More chicken, coming your way!
I’m passionate about sous vide cooking for my little foodie family. And perhaps that’s why Sip Bite Go is one of the most popular sous vide blogs on the web. I’m always sharing new videos and recipes so you can follow along.
Find new ways to enjoy your favorite food with sous vide cooking with my new book – The Home Chef’s Sous Vide Cookbook.