You can’t argue with tender, moist, flavorful and stress-free. That sums up sous vide turkey thighs glazed with maple syrup, Balsamic, Dijon and orange zest. I know there are a lot of turkey dark meat doubters out there, but you just might change your mind when you taste these turkey thighs.
The soft tender meat emboldened by the glaze and sauce is simply delicious. I admit even I was surprised and I’m a dark meat lover.
Roasted turkey thighs can be chewy, tough and stringy. The sous vide method creates a whole different universe for thighs. And the best part is they only take about 20 minutes of hands on time.
I have tried this recipe with bone-in turkey thighs. I recommend removing the bone before you start for more even cooking, super easy slicing and a much better presentation. Here’s a video on how to debone and turkey thigh. Or, ask your butcher to do it.
For those who are new to this cooking method:
Sous vide is a technique in which food, sealed in a bag, is immersed in a water bath and cooked at a very precise, consistent temperature. This cooks the food to perfection – the exact temperature (e.g. medium rare) that you choose. No worries about overcooking. Meats are amazingly tender. And the whole process is pretty much stress free.
I have an ‘oven’ type sous vide machine from Cedarlane Culinary that works great. The sous vide immersion stick, of course, is perfect for this sous vide turkey thigh recipe too.
Sous vide tips
We’ve been experimenting with sous vide for several years. Our post on Best Sous Vide Recipes includes:
- great sous vide recipes,
- tips on do’s and dont’s of sous vide cooking, and
- links to several experts’ time and temperature charts which are the holy grail of sous vide.
Make ahead turkey thighs
- You can vacuum seal (or zipper lock) and refrigerate the thighs for a few days before cooking.
- The sous vide process can be done ahead of time (or just leave the sealed bags in the water an extra 30-60 minutes). Glaze and broil the cooked thighs just before serving.
Other turkey recipes you might like
- sous vide turkey breast (this is my go-to for turkey now, no matter how many guests I have)
- bone-in turkey breast with pear chutney (a great option for a smaller group)
- grilled turkey breast (yum)
How to make sous vide turkey
Sous Vide Turkey Thighs
- sous vide equipment - oven type or immersion stick
- 2 boneless turkey thighs, with or without skin, Note 1 (1.5-2 pounds total)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning or thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- OPTIONAL BRINE: salt, peppercorns, sugar Note 1
- 2 tbsp Maple syrup
- 1 tbsp good Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp orange zest, divided
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/8 tsp each, salt and pepper
Turn Glaze into Sauce
- 1/2 cup turkey juices/broth
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- GARNISH: sea salt, chopped parsley, extra orange zest
- BRINE TURKEY THIGHS (OPTIONAL): Note 2
- PREPARE SOUS VIDE BATH: Fill water in the sous vide tub as per manufacturers instructions (not too high). Set the temperature to 150F and allow water to heat to that temperature.
- PREPARE TURKEY FOR SOUS VIDE: Mix oil and poultry seasoning in a small cup. Rub mixture all over turkey thighs and tuck edges under to make an even roll. Place small sprig of rosemary under each thigh or sprinkle some dried rosemary on thighs. Don't put in too much rosemary or the flavors will be overpowering.
- SOUS VIDE TURKEY: Place thighs side by side in freezer zipper-lock bag. Slowly lower bag into water. The pressure of the water will press air out of bag. When bag is just above water line and air is mostly out, seal (zip up) bag. Cover and cook for minimum 2 1/2 hours and a maximum of 4 1/2 hours. (If thighs are fairly large, I cook them for 3 1/2 to 4 hours). Remove from water bath. Take thighs out of bag and remove skin if there is any. Reserve juices for sauce. Pat turkey dry with a paper towel.
- MAKE GLAZE/SAUCE: In a small cup, whisk together all Glaze ingredients including 1/2 teaspoon orange zest. Half of glaze will be used to glaze thighs - the rest to make the sauce. To make sauce, add remaining glaze, cornstarch, turkey juices/broth, 1/2 teaspoon orange zest and salt and pepper to taste to a small sauce pan. Heat on medium high for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings (syrup, salt, orange, etc).
- FINISH AND SERVE: Place thighs on foil lined pan, brush with glaze all over and broil for 2-3 minutes (the top only) 6 inches from heat at top. Remove and brush with glaze again. Add garnish of orange zest and parsley if desired. Slice and serve with sauce drizzled on top or on the side.
- How to debone a turkey thigh. Here's a video.
- To brine turkey thighs (optional): I buy kosher turkey, already brined, but you can easily brine thighs yourself to add flavour: Fill ziploc bag with 3 cups room temperature water, 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon, 6-8 peppercorns. Massage to dissolve salt and sugar. Place thighs in bag, seal and let sit in fridge for about 1-2 hours. Don't brine too long as boneless thighs are not very thick.
- To Make Ahead: The turkey thighs can be vacuum sealed and kept in the refrigerator for a few days before cooking. The sous vide process can be done ahead of time (or just leave the sealed bags in the water an extra 30-60 minutes). Glaze and broil the cooked thighs just before serving.