Sous Vide Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

In the Sous Vide Recipes Forum
We've had excellent results with pork chops, rack of lamb and lamb chops, beef staks and roasts, salmon, halibut, chicken thighs-boned and boneless but have had absolutely the worst luck with whte meat breasts. I SV @140 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours,quick satue' to brown 1/min/side, serve and they are dry as a bone. I've done the ice bath, freezea couple of packages, and refrigerate a couple of others and end up with the same result. Last night's breasts came from the freezer, defrosted in the refrigerator, cranked the Weber up to 475-500, a splash of BBQ sauce and 1 minute on each side for some color. Could have been bark.
This is Foster Farm chicken from Costco, and we use the same brand for thighs, also from Costco and they are delicious.

Any suggestions ?


12 Replies So Far

That's strange, I do basically the same time and temp when I do chicken breasts and they usually turn out very moist and tender. I've never used the Foster Farm chicken before but even just normal grocery store chicken seems to work well for me. We'll have to see if anyone else has run into this problem before.
Hi Jason

Thanks for the quick response.

Foster Farms is a California grown chicken an, as far as I know, only sold with in the state. The thighs are perfect ,it's just the breasts. I don't think there's anything amiss with the SV since I use it 3 or more times a week.I'll give it another try next week and let you know the outcome. Here's hoping.

BTW I have both books and noticed Primolicious is based in Wolcott. We were born in Waterbury, lived in Farmington and as a UConn grad continue to root for the Huskies.
Thanks again
Definitely let me know how it turns out!

That's cool you grew up around here, it's a small world!
Hi Tim,

How very odd. I do quite a lot of sv cooking of chicken breasts. I cook at 145°F (63°C) and have never had them other than juicy and delicious. the length of time I cook them for is governed by Baldwin's charts. Typically for a 25mm thick breast, I cook for around 1h20mn. Not that the timing is that critical once the minimum time is exceeded. While I would normally serve them pretty well straight from the water bath, a couple of times I've fast chilled (ice water) and left them in the fridge at 3°C (37°F) for up to a fortnight, and then reheated in a 55°C (131°F) water bath for 3/4 hour or so. They were just as juicy.

Although it sounds a bit silly, why not try the technique with some less special chicken breasts and see what happens?
Hello Ianin,
Thanks so much for your information and between you and Jason I think I've solved the problem and, to paraphrase Pogo, "I think I've met the problem and he are I".
Along with juicy chicken, another commanality between your suggestions in neither of you mention browning after the simmer. I realize my browning method for beef,pork,and lakmb on a scorching BBQ is too hot for the breast and is causing the dryness. I've been trying to get that diamond grill pattern on the breast that is so desireable on a rib-eye or a double lamb/pork chop. DUH! (sound of banging head against wall)
The funniest thing is prior to buying the SV, I hooked up a beer can version, did boneless breasts, right from cooler to plate to Sue la Table next day to purchase one.

I'm certain, once again, operator error was the culprit and thanks so much for your help.

Haha, yeah, I've found getting the sear on chicken (or fish) has to be done really quickly or you can over cook the meat fast.

You can also quick chill the meat in a 1/2 ice 1/2 water bath after the sous vide and then sear it. I've found this allows you to leave it on the heat for longer and get a better crust without overcooking it (just make sure you get the center back up to 100-110F or it'll be cold!
Searless breast was delicious. Moist, tender, and perfectly cooked. Fish belly white appearance took some adjusting but, as mentioned, searing was the problem. Next time I'll be ready with a sauce rather than risk over searing or use bone in, skin on breasts and crisp the skin.

Thanks again to you and Ianin.

I'm glad it turned out great for you! Keep the updates coming so we all can learn from each other!
To prevent the rather pallid appearance, you can do what you were trying but with a ridged griddle pan, heated very, very very hot. Then you brush the meat with the thinnest film of oil (or sprinkle with "Mycro" cocoa butter) and give it about 15 seconds a side.

Alternatively, sprinkle with paprika which tastes great as well as giving a more attractive colour. A further cheat is to use a sauce to nap the meat, when it hides the colour!! That's my preferred method
Ian -
The paprika is a quick fix but the sauce is a much better solution.

Hi Tim.,

Sorry to have been a time in answering. 2 major computer crashes at my busiest time of the year...

Anyway, I like to season with s&p, lemon and paprika before vacuuming, and then cook according to the thickness/time chart, till safely pasteurised. Then all I have to do is to make my sauce and then reheat at 55 when I'm ready to serve. Really fine dish.

General message.

If I'm not very present, please excuse me. When I'm working nearly 15 hours a day on the B&B, I don't have the energy left. WILL be back chatting again a little later.

I'm glad you got it scienced out! My chix breasts always come out very moist (140 degrees F, Baldwin's pasteurization chart). Chicken breast is one thing I don't find necessary to sear before eating. It doesn't hurt but for some purposes you don't have to. Of course, if the skin is left on then you'd want to crisp the skin.

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