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Why Sous Vide a Turkey for Thanksgiving

There are several different goals people have when cooking a turkey. They can't all be accomplished equally using sous vide so it's important to know what you are most concerned about.

This video and content are from my Sous Vide Thanksgiving Dinner course, if you find it interesting and would like another 40 videos of amazing Thanksgiving and turkey content, then I highly recommend checking it out!

Making Perfectly Cooked Turkey

If your primary goal is to serve perfectly cooked turkey to your guests, then using sous vide to cook your turkey is hard to beat. Both the white and dark meat will turn out super tender and moist. You also have exact control over the doneness, so you can go as high or low with your temperature as you want.

Flexibility of Timing

A huge benefit to cooking turkey with sous vide is the flexibility it adds to your schedule. You no longer have to worry about all the sides getting done in the 30-minute window that the turkey will be done in. Because all the meat is pre-cooked, it can stay in the water bath for several hours until you're ready to remove it and serve.

So if the football game goes to overtime, people are in the middle of a great conversation, or someone is stuck in traffic it's now really easy to shift the meal by an hour or two with no loss in quality, and no additional stress. Sous vide thanksgiving dinner 54

Carving at the Table

If you love carrying out the platter with the full turkey on it and carving it in front of your friends and family, then sous vide might not be right for you. Because you break down the bird before cooking, it's much harder to reassemble it before carving. You can always make a nice display of the cooked breasts, legs, and thighs, and cut them up at the table, but only you can decide if it's close enough to the traditional carving for you.

NOT Carving at the Table

On the other hand, if you hate the pressure of trying to carve the turkey in front of everyone, then you now have a great excuse not to do it! Because you already broke down the bird you only have to deal with the much easier undertaking of carving the breasts, legs, and thighs. You can even slice it all up in the kitchen ahead of time!

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Super Crisp Skin

When I was younger, my favorite part of the bird was the really crisp skin, I'd often just stand around in the kitchen eating it while the bird was being carved. Even with a traditional roasted turkey, it can be hard to perfectly cook the skin while not overcooking the meat. With sous vide, you have two options.

The first is to be content with some crispy skin, but less than you would have on a roasted bird. It's also not quite as crisp as it is after sitting in the oven for hours. The second option is to really go for it and follow my suggestions in the "crispy skin" section and either pan fry or oven bake the skin.

Crispy turkey skin 58

Free Up Oven Space

Another benefit to doing the turkey sous vide is that it frees up your oven space for all the other things you require it for. You no longer need to jostle for space with the stuffing, casseroles, pies, and bread that all need to go into the oven.

This also means that your oven isn't running all day, heating up the kitchen!

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The Smell of Turkey

If you think the smell of roasting turkey wafting through the house is an integral part of Thanksgiving, then you might struggle with sous vide. You get a great burst of aroma when you sear it near the end, but you miss out on the hours of roasting smells.

Of course, if you want perfect food AND great smells, you can always spend an extra $5 on a package of turkey wings and roast them while the actual turkey breast and thighs cook in the sous vide bath. That way you can enjoy the smell but still have moist and tender meat.

Sous vide turkey stock roasted 6

Free Up Your Time

Another giant benefit is how much active time is saved by using sous vide, especially on the day everyone is getting together. You must do some work leading up to the big day, but on Thanksgiving you can spend time hanging out with family and catching up, instead of working in the kitchen the whole time.

Though depending on your family, this might be a negative!

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Free Up Your Mind

Similar to freeing up your time, if you are using sous vide you don't have to be constantly worrying about whether the turkey is done, if it's time to take off the foil, how the timing is going, or anything else. You know that the meat will be ready when you are, and you can focus on enjoying the people you are with, instead of worrying about the food.

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I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and make some truly amazing food!

What's your favorite reason to sous vide a turkey?
Let Me Know on Facebook or in the comments below!

This video and content are from my Sous Vide Thanksgiving Dinner course, if you find it interesting and would like another 40 videos of amazing Thanksgiving and turkey content, then I highly recommend checking it out!


Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm a passionate home cook who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the AmazingFoodMadeEasy.com website.