Today’s post is all about convenience. Did you know you can sous vide frozen chicken breast without thawing it first? Since sous vide meal prep is a necessity in my house and a super convenient way to eat restaurant-style food at home, sous viding chicken from frozen is one of my favorite food prep tricks. Let me teach you how.
During extensive recipe testing for my sous vide cookbook, the little bambino was under a year old. I couldn’t run to grocery stores on a whim anymore, so I became a ninja at vacuum sealing then sous vide cooking frozen chicken breast.
Want to be a sous vide meal prep ninja, too?
These sous vide BBQ chicken legs are so tender and juicy every time – they’re never overcooked or lacking in the flavor department, even when cooked from frozen.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How to season chicken in the vacuum seal bag before freezing sous vide chicken
- The time and temp for sous vide frozen chicken breast
- Tips for freezing whole chicken for sous vide cooking
- How to finish and serve frozen sous vide chicken
- And more… because I have a lot to say about sous vide freezer meals!
Good news: cooking sous vide chicken from frozen works!
The best part about this sous vide meal prep situation is that cooking sous vide chicken breast from frozen tastes just as great as cooking fresh chicken sous-vide style. That’s so important, because why would you bother if you didn’t know the results would be spectacular?
Chicken is sometimes underrated when it comes to sous vide cooking. See my guide to the best sous vide chicken recipes.
Time and Temperature
The general rule of thumb is to sous vide chicken breast that is frozen at 140 degrees F for an additional 60 minutes.
This is why choosing a cook time and temperature for sous vide frozen chicken breast is simple. Add on 60 minutes to your sous vide cooking time. So if you normally cook sous vide chicken at 140 degrees for 1 hour, adjust the time to 2 hours and keep the temperature at 140 degrees.
This isn’t the truth for all cuts of chicken, though, so read on. Below I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of it all.
Choose the right chicken sous vide temp and time for perfectly cooked white or dark meat. Get temperatures and times for breast, thighs, legs, and from frozen.
Use this recipe as a base. Most obviously, you’ll need chicken breast or chicken tenders, then you can add any salts, garlic, lemon, or herb combinations that you’d like. You can also freeze marinated chicken sous vide with balsamic dressing or bbq sauce if you’d like.
How to cook sous vide chicken breast from frozen
Prepare to be mind-blown at how super simple this is.
Step 1. Season chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper. Add any other ingredients to the bag, like sliced lemons or herbs. Vacuum-seal seasoned chicken breast in a flat layer and freeze until it’s time to cook.
Step 2. Preheat sous vide machine to 140 ºF. When it comes to temperature, drop the vacuum-sealed frozen chicken breast in the sous vide bath. Cook frozen sous vide chicken at 140ºF for 2 hours.
Step 3. Cool cooked chicken (in a vacuum-sealed bag) in an ice bath for two minutes. If I’m in a rush, I skip the ice bath. Remove chicken from the bag and pat dry.
Let’s be honest – sous vide chicken looks strange – doesn’t it?
Step 4. Finish the chicken any way you’d like: on the grill, with an air fryer, in the broiler, or how I’m going to explain next: in a pan on the stove.
Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Remove lemons or any other ingredients that will burn if they are seared. Sear chicken breast for 1-5 minutes on each side, until browned to your liking. Transfer to a cutting board to cool for ~10 minutes then serve.
How long can frozen chicken breast stay in the freezer?
The beauty of vacuum sealing means that frozen chicken breast can last a couple of years in the freezer. You can also use a ziplock bag to freeze sous vide chicken and cook it later, but it won’t last as long.
See more on vacuum sealing vs. ziplock bags for sous vide cooking.
Want something tasty to make for weeknight meals? I’m currently obsessed with an Italian-inspired sous vide dinner dish… See how to make sous vide lemon chicken breasts.
Vacuum seal flavors with the chicken then freeze it
Let’s chat more about adding flavors to frozen sous vide chicken before vacuum sealing it.
But, that does mean that you need to do that prep beforehand and package it up in the right way so all you need to do when it comes time to cook is drop your chicken into your sous vide multi-pot or sous vide stick water bath..
If you want to cook your chicken with a few additional ingredients such as onions, garlic or shallots, as well as your favorite spices, it is as simple as seasoning your chicken and seal the bag.
Marinating sous vide chicken before freezing it
If you want to cook your chicken with a marinade, then things can get a little more difficult, since it can be difficult to vacuum seal a liquid without a chamber vacuum sealer.
What you can do instead is pour the marinade over your chicken, then freeze it. Once the liquid marinade has frozen solid, then you can seal it as you normally would, making it much easier to get rid of any extra air in the bag. Use a Ziploc bag if that’s what you have on hand.
More ideas for meal prepping
One of the best things about cooking chicken sous vide from frozen is that it eliminates almost all of the prep time from when you’re about to cook the chicken; it’s every meal-prepper’s dream.
At the end of the week, I like to do a refrigerator cleanout to use up leftover fruits and vegetables in creative recipes. In salads, soups, and even meatballs. You see, my husband is convinced that he’s never eaten a meatball without a hidden vegetable in it – – and, he’s right. Lucky guy.
The end of the week refrigerator cleanout is perfect for meal prepping frozen chicken for sous vide cooking. For example, leftover lemons are cut in slices and popped in a bag with chicken tenders and herbs from my kitchen herb garden.
A couple of weeks later, we sous vide frozen chicken with lemon slices to make sous vide chicken piccata pasta or another sous vide lemon chicken dish with garlic and fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme.
Another great way to use up leftover vegetables, outside of sous vide recipes, is in a make-ahead Mexican salad, or a Caprese salad, or a tortellini pasta salad with some sous vide corn on the cob. These easy side dishes are so tasty, a couple of them were featured on air on the local Portland morning news.
Why sous vide meal prep with frozen chicken breast?
You probably haven’t landed here because you have endless amounts of time to cook dinner every night. Me either!
Before becoming a mom, spending endless amounts of time in the kitchen was no big deal. It was fun, it was creative, and it was an activity I could do while sipping on some delicious Oregon Pinot Noir. Win-win.
Back then, saving time – meal prep – was not my thing because I lived in downtown Portland and could walk to a handful of grocery stores and restaurants. That’s how I spent tons of time creating this list of the best Portland lunch restaurants.
But, alas, my 30s caught up with me, and we settled down. Chef Hubs and I are proud new parents to a 1.5-year-old food critic. If he doesn’t like it, he throws the food on the floor. In fact, even if he likes the food, it may also end up on the floor. But that’s beside the point…
Now that we live in the suburbs, cooking chicken sous vide from frozen is a regular thing around here. We buy and freeze in bulk from Costco and online butchers. Then we vacuum seal meat in bulk and cook frozen steak sous vide, and chicken breast sous vide from frozen 1-2 times a week.
Can you sous vide frozen chicken legs, thighs, wings?
Yes, sous viding frozen chicken legs, thighs, and even sous vide chicken wings works pretty much the same as chicken breast. Plan to add 60 minutes on to the sous vide cook time for these smaller cuts of chicken.
Make sure to vacuum seal chicken in a flat layer so it thaws and cooks evenly.
So… can you sous vide a frozen whole chicken?
My favorite method of sous viding a whole chicken from frozen is to spatchcock chicken before vacuum sealing it. When you sous vide frozen whole chicken that’s butterflied or spatchcocked, add on 2-3 hours to the cook time just to be safe. The general rule of thumb is to add about 50% cook time when cooking a whole chicken sous vide from frozen.
A whole chicken, in tact, takes much longer to thaw, and therefore, adding one hour of cook time may not safely cook the whole chicken sous vide style. So that’s why I always add 2 hours.
Finishing out the dish
The whole point of cooking frozen chicken sous vide style is convenience. Which is why I like to keep the whole meal around chicken cooked this way super simple. Here are some ways to enjoy sous vide frozen chicken for dinner.
- Sous vide chicken tacos served in mini corn tacos with red cabbage and carrot slaw
- Lemon garlic pasta with sous vide fried chicken piccata, red wine caramelized red onions, and roasted cherry tomatoes
- Sous vide BBQ chicken thighs (the chicken is frozen with bbq salt then finished in the broiler with bbq sauce)
- Chicken tenders sous vide style cooked then wrapped in overnight sous vide bacon and broiled until the bacon is crisp
- Nashville style sous vide chicken
- Use sous vide chicken in place of oven baked chicken breast in caprese chicken sandwiches
- In chicken rice bowls with ridiculous amounts of diced avocado and chipotle hot sauce
- Use as a topping for any of these gourmet nacho ideas
You can basically add on any tortillas, soft sandwich buns, or make a chicken salad with leftover frozen sous vide chicken.
Like this recipe? Try my recipe for super crispy sous vide boneless chicken thighs. They are seasoned with pepper, paprika, and cumin; and they are delicious served with a side of couscous or steamed rice, salad, and my creamy jalapeno ranch sauce.
Flavor with new ingredients
If you’re looking for a quick way to add flavor to sous vide chicken dishes, start with a spice, hot sauce, or rub that will last a long time in your pantry. Here are some new ingredients to add to your pantry for cooking tasty chicken dinners
- Penzey’s garlic salt
- Cholula Chipotle hot sauce
- Old Bay seasoning (shout out to B’more)
- Salt Lick BBQ dry rub
Final Cooking Tips
- Add 1 hour cooking time to basic (thin) cuts of sous vide chicken including chicken breast, tenders, wings, thighs, legs.
- Remember: don’t sous vide a whole chicken from frozen intact and add on 1-hour thinking that will cook it – – instead, spatchcock it to break down the chicken and add on 2 hours to be safe.
- Add flavor to the vacuum seal bag before freezing sous vide chicken – try lemons, flavored salt, herbs, and garlic.
- Don’t forget to finish your sous vide chicken to lock in ultimate flavor. Grill, air fry, broil or cast iron skillet fry sous vide chicken to finish it.
- Remove lemon wedges or anything else that will burn, before finishing sous vide chicken in a cast-iron skillet.
Are you a foodie, too?
There’s so much you can do beyond this guide to freeze then sous vide chicken. Obviously I’m super passionate about sous vide cooking and meal prep, which is perhaps why Sip Bite Go has become one of the most popular sous vide blogs on the interwebs.
Stay in touch to get new videos and recipes on Instagram @sipbitego.
For in-depth tutorials on sous viding frozen foods and more, subscribe to the Sip Bite Go channel.
Oh, I couldn’t help but share one last pic…
Most of the sous vide recipes I share like this one for sous vide BBQ chicken legs is 90% hands off – the food goes in a bag and cooks in hot water with a sous vide machine – and then it comes out and there’s a final step.
For these BBQ chicken legs sous vide style, I finish them in the broiler to crisp up the skin and make a nice crust with that BBQ sauce. This final step just takes a few minutes and is quite delicious.
Alright, time to wrap up this post! If you want more, see my new sous vide cookbook – The Home Chef’s Sous Vide Cookbook.
How to Sous Vide Frozen Chicken Breast Recipe | Sip Bite Go
- 4 pieces chicken breast sliced in half
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- lemon sliced, optional
- herbs optional
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- Season chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper. Add any other ingredients to the bag, like sliced lemons or herbs. Vacuum-seal seasoned chicken breast in a flat layer and freeze until it’s time to cook.
- Preheat sous vide machine to 140 ºF. When it comes to temperature, drop the vacuum sealed frozen chicken breast in the sous vide bath. Cook frozen sous vide chicken at 140ºF for 2 hours.
- Cool cooked chicken (in a vacuum sealed bag) in an ice bath for two minutes. Remove chicken from the bag and pat dry.
- Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Remove lemons or any other ingredients that will burn if they are seared. Sear chicken breast for 1-5 minutes on each side, until browned to your liking. Add a little butter if chicken begins to burn. Transfer to a cutting board to cool for ~10 minutes then serve.
- Add 1 hour cook time to basic (thin) cuts of sous vide chicken including chicken breast, tenders, wings, thighs, legs.
- Remember: don’t sous vide a whole chicken from frozen intact and add on 1-hour thinking that will cook it - - instead, spatchcock it to break down the chicken and add on 2 hours to be safe.
- Add flavor to the vacuum seal bag before freezing sous vide chicken - try lemons, flavored salt, herbs, and garlic.
- Don’t forget to finish your sous vide chicken to lock in ultimate flavor. Grill, air fry, broil, or cast-iron skillet fry sous vide chicken to finish it.