Your Guide To the Best Sous Vide Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey, Sides and Desserts

Welcome to my guide to the perfect sous vide Thanksgiving! It'll help remove stress from your holiday so you can focus on spending time with your family!

How to Use Sous Vide for a Turkey

Below are a lot of recipes, but if you want to dive into the how and why, you can read why to sous vide a turkey or you can dive right into the best way to sous vide a turkey. I also have guides for sous vide turkey dark meat and sous vide turkey breast.

And if you want to go really deep, I do have a comprehensive Sous Vide Thanksgiving Class that talks about everything you need to know to cook perfect turkey every time!

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

This year for Thanksgiving I wanted to focus on spending time with my family without having to worry about the turkey all day. I'll also be at my mother-in-law's place, which has a smaller kitchen so I didn't want to hog the oven all day.

I looked at a few options and eventually decided to let sous vide come to my rescue! I put this write-up together for other people interested in using sous vide for their turkey, either on a holiday or just a regular night.

Sous Vide Turkey Recipes

Here are some of my favorite sous vide turkey recipes that work great for Thanksgiving or other holidays.

For more amazing turkey recipes, be sure to check out my comprehensive Sous Vide Thanksgiving Class that is full of recipes, tips and tricks to make your Thanksgiving perfect!

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Non-Turkey Mains

Not everyone wants to eat a big turkey for Thanksgiving. Here are a few other options for big holidays that don't rely on a huge bird but are still upscale and make dinner feel like a special occassion.

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Appetizers

While the turkey is the main focus, you don't want to skimp on the appetizers, especially if you are sitting around watching football and need to snack!

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Sides

The sous vide turkey may be the star of Thanksgiving, but it can't carry the meal by itself. These sides will help carry some of the load so the turkey can shine!

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Desserts

There might not always be room for dessert after a big meal...but there's always ROOM, if you know what I mean! If you still need to satisfy your sweet tooth after your dinner, check out these amazing sous vide Thanksgiving desserts.

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes

And what Thanksgiving dinner is complete without some great cocktails to keep everyone's mood high! These sous vide cocktails will kick it up a notch and really impress your family!

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.

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.

Sous vide turkey breast circulator tall

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.

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, 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 to cut breasts, legs, and thighs. You can even slice it all up in the kitchen ahead of time!

Sous vide turkey serving up

Super Crisp Skin

When I was younger, my favorite part of the bird was the really crisp skin. I'd stand around eating it while the bird was being carved. Even with a traditional roasted turkey, it can be really hard to perfectly cook the skin while not over cooking 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. Remove the skin from the breasts, legs and thighs in as large of pieces as possible. Then when you are about an hour away from eating you can bake the skin.

Take a sheet pan with raised edges and lay down some parchment paper on it. Add the turkey skin in a single layer, then cover with another layer of parchment paper. Finally place another sheet pan on top and bake it at 400°F for about 40 minutes, until it turns nice and brown. It's a little more work but if you are a big fan of crisp skin it'll be worth it!

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 need it for. You no longer have 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!

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 roasting

Free Up Your Time

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

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

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.

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

And if you need more insights, I do have a comprehensive Sous Vide Thanksgiving Class that talks about everything you need to know to cook perfect turkey every time!

Have you made sous vide turkey before? Got any tips for other readers? Do you have any questions I didn't answer? Let me know in the comments!

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All tags for this article: Sous Vide Thanksgiving, Sous Vide Turkey , Sous Vide Turkey Breast, Sous Vide Turkey Leg, Sous Vide Turkey Thighs , Thanksgiving


Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger 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.
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