Can you sous vide a whole chicken? Is it easy to do? Yes and yes – if you know a few technical details, you can certainly pull off this sous vide main dish! It turns out so delicious and the presentation is something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. In this post, I’ll take you from beginner to pro when it comes to sous viding an entire chicken successfully. Let’s sous vide!
Check out the recipe video at the end of the post for a visual step by step guide to sous vide that bird and serve it up as a centerpiece worthy of any dinner table.
Before you know it, you will be able to prepare and vacuum seal a whole chicken to cook sous vide style.
New to sous vide techniques? Learn why is sous vide so popular.
What you need to sous vide a whole chicken
Ingredients. Food-wise, you don’t need much. This recipe has been proven for a ~3lb whole chicken.
- Most obviously, you need a sous vide machine – like the Anova, Joule, or Instant Pot Slim plus a large bucket to hold the sous vide water bath where the food cooks.
- Kitchen sheers will help spatchcock the chicken (details on that in the next section).
- Huge vac seal bags like these extra large vacuum seal bags to fit the entire chicken plus a vacuum sealer.
- Plus standard kitchen stuff like a sheet tray and rack to finish a whole sous vide chicken in the oven broiler.
Find something tasty to make in my guide to the best sous vide chicken recipes
How to sous vide a whole chicken
Step 1. Preheat sous vide machine to 148 degrees ºF.
Prep it – spatchcock the chicken so it cooks evenly
Step 2. While the sous vide bath preheats, prepare chicken for sous vide cooking.
(Spatchcocking photos 1-4)
Clean then place the chicken breast side down on a cutting board. Use sharp kitchen shears to cut from top to bottom along the backbone.
See details in this post for how to spatchcock chicken step by step.
(Spatchcocking photos 5-10)
Repeat on the other side to fully remove the backbone from the chicken. Push down the chicken to flatten it completely.
Learn more about how to prep – see this video on how to vacuum seal a whole chicken – including alternate options like filling the cavity with stuffing or chicken stock to keep a consistent air flow in the recipe video at the end of the page.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it strangely appealing the way food looks when vacuum sealed.
Season and vacuum seal the whole chicken
Step 3. Season chicken with garlic salt and pepper. Add chicken to a large sous vide bag, keeping it flat so it cooks evenly in the sous vide bath. Add the sprig of rosemary to the bag and vacuum seal it.
Did you know sous vide side dishes are a thing? See this recipe for sous vide vegetables using asparagus.
Time and temperature to sous vide a 3LB whole chicken
Sous vide a whole chicken that weighs about 3 pounds at 148 degrees F for 6 hours.
Step 4. When done, remove chicken from the hot water and shock the bag in an ice bath for 5-10 minutes.
Preheat the oven broiler to High.
Step 5. Remove chicken from the bag and pat dry. Transfer to a rack placed on top of a lipped baking sheet.
Do you ever host holidays? Because I have a great way to use sous vide cooking for holiday meals… sous vide whole roast chicken with oranges. You have to give it a try and let me know what you think.
Add butter to the top of the chicken and broil it on High for ~3-8 minutes – until the chicken is golden brown.
Another option to finish the chicken is cut the chicken into pieces (leg, breast, thigh, etc) and to finish them according to this sous vide Nashville fried chicken recipe.
For presentation reasons, you’ll see in the whole chicken sous vide recipe video (in the recipe card) that I put the chicken back in its original shape. You can also broil it flattened.
Step 6. Once browned, allow chicken to cool for 15-30 minutes. To keep it warm, cover the cooked chicken with foil while it rests, however poke a little hole in the top of the foil for the steam to escape.
Serve the whole sous vide chicken on a platter or cut into main pieces – leg, thigh, breast, etc.
Either way looks great.
Why spatchcock chicken before sous viding it?
If you’re thinking about sous viding an entire chicken as-is – you may want to rethink that.
Whole chicken sous vide style is a little different.
The important thing is to spatchcock it before putting it in the bag because the extra air in the center can mess with airflow temperature and do some funky things leaving the chicken unevenly cooked.
I’ve learned this from experience— the first time I tried to sous vide chicken I ended up with a cooked chicken that looked beautiful on the outside, but when we cut in we found areas of raw pink around the legs, hips, and bones.
It weirded me out. I did a little research and discovered that it was the empty cavity that was creating a problem and making my sous vide machine not work effectively.
Any concern for doing an entire chicken sous vide?
The major tricky part – why it’s easier to cook just chicken breast instead of a whole chicken – is that you’re more likely to have an issue and end up with raw chicken.
This issue can be completely avoided. It’s all in the right prep for sous vide chicken.
What happens is that the air inside the cavity of the bird doesn’t hold the same even temperature as the water bath, so the whole premise of sous vide– an even, constant cooking temperature– is lost. A whole chicken cooked in sous vide with air in the center cavity will not be food safe and could lead to all kinds of health problems.
Here’s a delicious sous vide dinner idea for any night of the week: sous vide lemon chicken. I like to serve it over salad or a pasta like angel hair or linguini.
How do you know if sous vide chicken is cooked through?
Slightly pink sous vide chicken can be considered okay if it falls within the pasteurization requirements for cooking chicken. It should be tender and easy to pull apart with a fork.
Raw sous vide chicken – bright pink in color – is not okay.
What if sous vide chicken is raw after cooking?
This happened to me in the past when I didn’t completely flatten out the spatchcocked chicken for the sous vide cook.
The deal is – if the chicken isn’t completely flattened out when it cooks, it may not cook thoroughly at the time indicated for this recipe. You can get crafty and just finish it in the oven with my tips below.
Raw chicken? The quickest fix…
Some people may think the quick solution I’m going to suggest completely goes against sous vide cooking. Because in theory, you only have to cook the chicken to 148 degrees F when it cooks sous vide. THAT IS… UNLESS the chicken is raw when it comes out of the sous vide bath.
If you found yourself with raw chicken, you can fix it by sticking a digital thermometer in the thickest part of the bird (that’s the thigh) and cook it in the oven at 400 degrees until it reaches 165 degrees F.
It will still have the benefit of being super juicy from the sous vide bath, but now it will be cooked to a safe temperature.
Ghassssssp….. cook to 165 degrees??? Wha??
NOTE: I’M ONLY SAYING THIS IF YOUR CHICKEN COMES OUT OF THE SOUS VIDE BATH RAW. This may happen if the chicken wasn’t flat or if it was bigger than 3lbs.
If your chicken was fully cooked sous vide style, then you don’t need to do this step.
Thanks in advance for the colorful comments I’m sure to receive (hehe, though seriously) for even suggesting to cook the chicken to 165 degrees F. People may disagree and say to pop it back in the sous vide bath, but if it is raw for any reason, you probably just want to finish it and serve it. The shortcut is to finish it in the oven. Figure out what went wrong and then do it right next time.
More tips for making and finishing a whole sous vide chicken
- Spatchcock chicken before sous vide cooking so it cooks evenly. Don’t just stick a whole chicken into a vacuum bag and drop it into your sous vide cooker. That will lead to incomplete cooking and all the health risks that go with raw poultry.
- What if the sous vide chicken doesn’t cook completely? If worse comes to worse and the chicken doesn’t completely cook then just stick it in the oven! Some people will totally disagree but when you’re feeding a hungry family, it’s okay to pop the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees until it is no longer pink inside.
- Other options for finishing a sous vide whole chicken. This recipe guides you towards finishing the chicken in the oven broiler on high. You can also finish it in a cast iron skillet or on the grill. For those last two options, I’d add a little olive oil first, instead of using butter as recommended for the oven broiler method.
- New to cooking restaurant style chicken at home? See my chicken temperature guide for all the information you’ve ever wanted on this home cooking staple. Learn how to make perfect chicken every time, and start feeling confident in the kitchen.
Share your sous vide cooking
Find me on Instagram @sipbitego. I love seeing photos of delicious food.
Find new ways to enjoy your favorite food with sous vide cooking. Get inspired with my new book – The Home Chef’s Sous Vide Cookbook. In it, you’ll find an entire chapter packed with poultry sous vide recipes.
You haven’t fully taken advantage of cooking this way until you start sous viding chicken breast from frozen. As a busy new parent, it’s a life saver to have these vacuum sealed and ready to go in the freezer for busy weeknights.
Sous Vide Whole Chicken Recipe (Sip Bite Go)
- sous vide machine
- sous vide container
- large sous vide bags
- vacuum sealer
- kitchen sheers
- baking sheet
- baking rack
- oven broiler
- 3 lb chicken whole
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 tbsp butter
- Preheat sous vide machine to 148 degrees ºF.
- While the sous vide bath preheats, prep the chicken. Clean the chicken, then place it breast side down on a cutting board. Use sharp kitchen shears to cut from top to bottom along the backbone. Repeat on the other side to fully remove the backbone from the chicken. I add the backbone to a bag in the freezer labeled “chicken stock” - though you can just discard it. Push down to flatten chicken completely.
- Season chicken with garlic salt and pepper. Add chicken to a large sous vide bag, keeping it flat so it cooks evenly in the sous vide bath. Add the sprig of rosemary to the bag and vacuum seal it. Sous vide chicken at 148 degrees ºF for 6 hours.
- When done, remove chicken from the hot water and shock the bag in an ice bath for 5-10 minutes. Discard the rosemary. Preheat the oven broiler to High.
- Remove chicken from the bag and pat dry. Transfer to a rack placed on top of a lipped baking sheet. Add butter to the top of the chicken and broil it on High for ~3-8 minutes - until the chicken is golden brown.
- Once done, allow chicken to cool for 15-30 minutes. The longer the better, in my opinion. To keep it warm, cover it with foil while it rests, however leave a little hole in the top of the foil for the steam to escape. Serve the whole sous vide chicken on a platter or cut into main pieces - leg, thigh, breast, etc. Either way looks great.