Looking for a perfectly cooked, flavorful chicken dinner? Sous vide chicken thighs offer a tender, juicy meal with a crispy skin, ensuring every bite is deliciously savory. This method outshines others, especially with dark meat’s rich flavor profile. Dive in to master this culinary technique!
While sous vide cooking can seem intimidating at first, it is actually a simple cooking method that even beginners can master. So don’t let the fancy French name scare you away! My family loves this juicy chicken thighs recipe and I’m sure yours will too.
“Perfectly cooked sous vide chicken thighs are not only flavorful and juicy but also a cost-effective and protein-rich choice for families. Cooking them at a precise 165°F ensures tenderness without compromising the delicious taste of the dark meat. Whether bone-in for crispy skin or boneless for convenience, learning this method offers a versatile meal options.”
❓How Does Sous Vide Work?
Sous vide offers precise control over cooking temperature and time, unlike traditional cooking methods. Sous vide involves submerging food in a water bath maintained at a constant temperature, ensuring food cooks to the desired level.
🍗Why Sous Vide Chicken Thighs?
Sous vide cooking offers precision control. You regulate the exact temperature at which the chicken cooks so you always get the exact results you are looking for.
Chicken thighs are protein-rich and ideal for a healthy, low-carb family dinner. They are also affordable, making them good for families on a budget.
🌡️What is the Best Sous Vide Temperature for Chicken Thighs?
I cook sous vide chicken thighs at 165 F. Chicken breasts, on the other hand, are cooked at a slightly lower temperature, not for safety, but for flavor.
Chicken thighs have more fat and connective tissue than chicken breasts. Because of this they need to be cooked to a slightly higher temperature to allow the connective tissue to break down. Chicken thighs cooked to less than 165 F will be tough and therefore not as tasty.
Different kinds of chicken meat taste best at different temperatures. And with the sous vide you can make sure cooking takes place at the perfect temperature.
Some people prefer even higher temperatures for chicken thighs, and they are delicious at a wider range of temperatures than chicken breasts. However I find 165 F gives me perfect juicy and tender chicken meat.
🦴Should I use Boneless or Bone In Thighs?
Either boneless or bone in chicken thighs work well in sous vide cooking. You should chose whichever you prefer.
- Boneless thighs will cook a little more quickly. You will save additional time by not having to debone them after cooking. If you are making sous vide chicken to use for meal prep this is a time savings advantage.
- Bone-in thighs are cheaper to buy. Additionally they are usually sold with the skin on. This allows you to sear them after cooking and get a nice, crispy chicken skin. If you want tender chicken with a crispy skin, bone-in thighs are your best choice..
🍳How to Make Sous Vide Chicken Thighs
- Prepare the Sous Vide: First step set up the sous vide immersion circulator in a water bath and set it to 165 degrees F. Make sure you have the sous vide in a large enough container to hold all the chicken thighs you plan to cook.
- Season the Chicken Thighs: Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and then season it. You can use almost any spices you like on the chicken or just stick to salt and pepper. In these photos I seasoned the thighs with salt, pepper and cumin. Then I placed a lime and coriander on top of the thighs for southwest flavored chicken. Check out more seasoning ideas here.
- Package the Chicken: Seal the chicken in vacuum bags or zippered bags. Keep the chicken in a single layer, using no more than 3-4 pieces of chicken per bag. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer you can use the water displacement method with a zippered bag. Check out my post on the water displacement method for detailed instructions.
- Cook the Chicken: Once the water bath reaches 165 F drop the bags of chicken into the water bath. Boneless chicken thighs need to cook for 1 – 4 hours. Bone in thighs should cook for 1 1/2 – 4 hours.
- Ice Water Bath: This step is only necessary if you are not eating the chicken right away. Put the bags into an ice bath before storing them in the refrigerator. The ice water cools them down so that you can refrigerate them without worrying about food safety and bacterial growth. Leave them in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes before refrigerating.
- Sear the Chicken Thighs: Searing the chicken thighs will give it a nice crispy skin. A few minutes before you are ready to eat heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Take the chicken out of the sous vide bags, remove any herbs and pat it dry. Then sear it in 1 Tablespoon of oil in the hot skillet, with the skin side down. Once the skin is brown, flip the thigh over and let the bottom side brown for a minute or so.
🍽️Serving Ideas for Sous Vide Chicken Thighs
You can serve these thighs immediately as a main dish. I like to serve them with salsa or with rice or quinoa. The crispy skin contrasts beautifully with the juicy, tender chicken inside.
You can also use the chicken juices in the sous vide bags to make a pan sauce to serve along side them. Check out my recipes for sous vide pork chops and sous vide turkey breast for examples of making a pan sauce with the sous vide juices.
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
- My preference is to sear in a cast iron skillet because it browns things well. But you can also use a standard frying pan or sear the thighs on a grill.
- Use tongs to hold the chicken thighs down at different angles so the entire skin becomes crispy and brown.
Many flavor variations are possible with this recipe. Changing up the seasoning is a great way to make the recipe more frequently without it getting boring!
- Spicy thighs – If you are using the chicken for tacos then sprinkle them with a little bit of chili powder.
- Italian thighs – Use Italian seasoning instead of cumin and add a lemon to the bag for a deliciously flavored lemon chicken.
- BBQ thighs – Use your favorite barbecue dry rub to season the chicken. Then sear them on the grill for that outdoor flavor.
💡Using Sous Vide Chicken Thighs for Meal Prep
Sous vide chicken thighs are extremely versatile – you can make a whole bunch at once, chill them and use them later in the week for easy meal prep. Here are some of my favorite ways to use sous vide chicken thighs:
- Shred them to use in tacos or quesadillas
- Make a tasty chicken salad
- Add the chicken to a weeknight soup
- Slice them and stir into some pasta with a jar of pesto for a quick and easy dinner
Can You Sous Vide Frozen Chicken Thighs?
Absolutely. Frozen chicken thighs will work very well in sous vide cooking. One of the biggest advantages of sous vide cooking is the only adjustment you need to make for cooking frozen meat is adding extra cooking time. See the recipe card for the time adjustments you should make.
I often buy bulk chicken thighs, vacuum seal them for sous vide, and freeze. For enhanced flavor, I season them and add ingredients like lime or garlic before freezing. They can go directly from freezer to sous vide.
How About Sous Vide Chicken Legs?
Sous vide chicken legs should follow a similar recipe, with the same cooking temperature and cooking time, as thighs. They won’t be as easy to brown after the sous vide cooking though, because of their shape
How Long Does it Take to Sous Vide Chicken Thighs?
Sous vide chicken thighs can be ready in as little as 1 hour. They can also stay in the water bath for up to 4 hours, so you can time your meals when it is most convenient for you.
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Sous Vide Chicken Thighs
- 4 bone in or boneless chicken thighs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 lime sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Set sous vide to 165 F.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and cumin. Add a slice of lime and some cilantro to the top of each thigh.4 bone in or boneless chicken thighs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 lime, 1/4 cup cilantro
- Vacuum seal the chicken thighs or place in zipper top bag and use the water displacement method to seal them. To use the water displacement method, seal the bag most of the way and slowly lower it in the water, letting the water pressure push out most of the air. Keep the chicken in a single layer.
- When the water reaches 165 F submerge the bags in the water.
- Cook 1 1/2 – 4 hours for bone-in thighs and 1 – 4 hours for boneless chicken thighs.
- If you aren't using the chicken right away, cool it in an ice water bath before refrigerating it.
- When you are ready to eat the chicken, heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 1 Tablespoon of oil.
- Remove the thighs from the bags, remove the herbs and pat dry. Sear it in olive oil for 1-2 minutes on each side, until nicely brown on top.1 Tablespoon olive oil
- For frozen boneless chicken thighs cook for 1 1/2 – 4 hours.
- For frozen bone in chicken thighs cook for 2 – 4 hours.
- You can easily switch up the seasoning to suit your tastes. Some other suggestions are Italian seasoning or your favorite BBQ spices.
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Nutrition facts are estimates.