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Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe (Citrus Glazed)

This tender, juicy citrus glazed sous vide chicken breast recipe is bursting with flavor from a sweet, tangy glaze of maple syrup, orange, lemon and lime. Company worthy.

No worries about dry, stringy chicken breasts with the sous vide cooking method. And the glaze has a wonderful spicy tartness which cooks down to a golden sticky syrup, making the normally bland chicken zing.

Bottom line: simple, pretty and delicious flavor. If you don’t have sous vide equipment, check out the options below.

sliced Sous vide chicken maple glazed over cauliflower rice on plate

Why sous vide chicken?

If you’re not familiar with sous vide cooking, it’s essentially a technique that immerses food, sealed in a sous vide bag, into a heated water bath set to a specific temperature. The food cooks to perfection – the exact way you like it. There are a few tips and tricks to learn, but it’s easy to get the hang of.

As with all sous vide cooking, it’s pretty much stress free as there is no guesswork on ‘done-ness’. Love that.

If you follow the instructions in the recipe, the bottom line will be a perfectly cooked chicken breast – tender and juicy – every time. The chicken is cooked for 90 minutes (or up to 4 hours if you’re busy with other things) and then finished with the glaze just before serving.

If you’re looking for general tips about sous vide cooking regarding preparation, set up, temperature, timing and finishing, check out our best sous vide recipes and tips.

Time and temperature

My preferred time and temperature for chicken breast cooked sous vide is 144F/62.2C for 90 minutes.

Serious Eats tested a range of different temperatures and times for chicken breasts with the results. Cooking time should be no longer than 4 hours for all options.

  • 140°F (60°C): very soft and juicy chicken breast (may have a slight pink tinge I found – not a safety issue though as the chicken will be fully pasteurized)
  • 150°F (66°C): juicy, tender, and slightly stringy
  • 160°F (71°C): not quite as juicy but firm and stringy (more traditional)

What to serve with citrus chicken breast sous vide

I love serving this chicken to guests due to its simplicity and beautiful presentation. It’s fantastic over lemon herb cauliflower rice if you want to keep the calories and carbs down.

The chicken is also great with quinoa, white rice, curried rice or mashed potatoes to soak up any sauce that drips off the chicken. It’s also great with roasted bok choy and broccoli or easy creamed spinach.

To serve as an appetizer, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and serve with toothpicks at room temperature.

Tailor to your Taste

Here are a few variations and substitutes you can try with the glaze.

  • Citrus flavors: You can use all lemon juice or all lime juice instead of both. I wouldn’t change the orange juice and zest though.
  • Herbs: Change up the herbs in the glaze. I like to use cilantro. Chives, parsley and thyme work great as well.
  • Thickening the glaze: If you don’t have cornstarch on hand, you can cook down the sauce further until it thickens.  It will take a little longer and there won’t be as much sauce so keep that in mind. I like lots of sauce!
  • Heat: The recipe has some heat from chili flakes which you can increase or eliminate as you like.  You can also substitute with sriracha or other hot sauce.

Shortcut

  • Fresh is best, but in a pinch, use bottled lemon juice or lime juice or orange juice. You will still need the orange zest.

Make Ahead

  • The chicken can stay in the sous vide bath for up to 4 hours without overcooking. It will be cooked after 1 1/2 hours. You can also plunge the sealed bag with the chicken into ice water to cool it down, then keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. Finish the dish and sauce before serving.

Have leftovers?

Shortcut meal prep by cutting up leftover boneless chicken breast to use for classic chicken salad or easy pad Thai.

How to make sous vide chicken breast (citrus glazed)

chicken breasts, maple syrup, orange, lemon, lime, cornstarch, soy, garlic, thyme
2 chicken breasts vacuum sealed in bag
2 chicken breasts after sous vide cooking on paper towel
Maple-Citrus Glaze in pot boiling
sous Vide Chicken with citrus glaze garnished with sesame seeds and scallions over white rice
sliced Sous vide chicken maple glazed close up
sliced Sous vide chicken maple glazed over cauliflower rice on plate 2

No sous vide equipment?  No problem.

  • Although I love the sous vide method for it’s predictability on achieving tenderness and the exact temperature you set it for, but you can also cook your chicken breasts in a skillet, oven or on the grill.  Then just continue with the recipe as written.
  • Basics for all 3 methods: season chicken breasts and spray with oil, bring breasts to room temperature, pound with the heel of your hand or bottom of a pot to even out the chicken (no need to go thin), cook to 155F/68C temperature with an instant thermometer and rest the chicken after cooking for 10 minutes. It will rise to 160F/71C. Don’t overcook.
    • Oven method: Heat oven to 450F/232C. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.
    • Skillet method: Heat cast iron or other skillet to medium high. Heat 2 tsp oil. Place breasts in skillet for 4 minutes. Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes.
    • Grill method: Oil grates of grill. Heat grill to medium. Cook breasts for 4-6 minutes per side depending on thickness.

Other sous vide chicken and turkey recipes to love

sliced chicken breast with citrus glaze on plate
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Sous Vide Chicken Breast Recipe (Citrus Glazed)

This tender, juicy citrus glazed sous vide chicken breast recipe is bursting with flavor from a sweet, tangy glaze of maple syrup, orange, lemon and lime. Company worthy.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Sous Vide
Servings: 3 (or 2 larger portions)
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • Sous Vide Equipment – immersion circulator or box like sous vide machine (see Note 4 for alternatives)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (2-3 pieces)
  • seasonings: salt, black pepper, few springs fresh thyme (or dried)
  • optional garnishes: 1-2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, 1 sliced green onion.

Citrus Glaze

  • 1 large orange (1/2 cup juice and 1-2 teaspoons zest) or 2 medium oranges
  • 1 lime (the juice)
  • 1/4 lemon (the juice)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (honey or brown sugar can be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon minced/grated garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  • PREPARE SOUS VIDE BATH: Fill water in the sous vide container as per manufacturers instructions (not too high). Set the temperature to 144F (for soft, moist breasts) and allow sous vide water bath to heat to that temperature. Note 1 for other temperatures.
  • PREPARE CHICKEN: Season generously both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and place a few sprigs of thyme on top (or sprinkle lightly with dried thyme). For vacuum seal method: Fold back top of sous-vide bags about an inch to create a flap (this ensures no food touches the top of the bag where it gets sealed). Insert one or two chicken fillets per bag (I do 2 in one bag) in a single layer, ensuring no overlap. Unfold the flap and vacuum seal the bag using a vacuum sealer. Note 2 for water displacement method.
  • COOK CHICKEN SOUS VIDE: When temperature of the water bath has reached 144F, submerge the plastic bags with the chicken into the water. Cover and cook for minimum 90 minutes and a maximum of 4 hours.
  • MAKE GLAZE: While chicken is cooking, whisk together all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to medium heat and continue to cook, about 8-10 minutes until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon).
  • FINISH THE DISH: Remove chicken from bag(s) and pat dry with paper towels. Coat with glaze, reserving 2-3 tablespoons for final drizzle. If you want to brown chicken to enhance presentation, place breasts on a foil-lined pan and broil one side a few inches from top of the oven for about 3 minutes. (Alternatively, do a quick sear in a sauté pan or cast iron pan on one side (without the glaze) with a little oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.)
    Slice on angle if desired on cutting board, transfer to plates, drizzle with remaining glaze, add sesame seeds and green onions if using and serve.

Notes

  1. Choose a different temperature for the doneness according to personal preference: 
    • 140°F (60°C): very soft and juicy chicken breast (may have a slight pink tinge I found – not a safety issue though as the chicken will be fully pasteurized)
    • 150°F (66°C): juicy, tender, and slightly stringy
    • 160°F (71°C): not quite as juicy but firm and stringy (more traditional)
  2. Water displacement method for sealing sous vide bag: Place chicken in ziploc bag. Lower bag into water (which will push air out) just until seal is above water line. Seal bag. 
  3. No sous vide equipment? Cook chicken on the grill, oven or in a pan instead, then add the glaze. 
    • Basics for all 3 methods: season chicken breasts and spray with oil, bring breasts to room temperature, pound with the heel of your hand or bottom of a pot to even out the chicken (no need to go thin), cook to 155F/68C temperature with an instant thermometer and rest the chicken after cooking for 10 minutes. It will rise to 160F/71C. Don’t overcook.
      • Oven method: Heat oven to 450F/232C. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.
      • Skillet method: Heat cast iron pan or other skillet to medium high. Heat 2 tsp oil. Place breasts in skillet for 4 minutes. Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes.
      • Grill method: Oil grates of grill. Heat grill to medium. Cook breasts for 4-6 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  4. For appetizers cut chicken into bite size pieces and serve with toothpicks.
  5. Make Ahead: The chicken can stay in the sous vide bath for up to 4 hours without overcooking. It will be cooked after 1 1/2 hours. You can also plunge the sealed bag with the chicken into an ice bath to cool it down, then keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. Finish the dish and sauce before serving.
 
Nutrition values are estimates for about 1/3 lb chicken. For a more generous portion (e.g. serving 2 people at 1/2 lb chicken each), values would be higher. 

Nutrition

Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 1044mg | Potassium: 803mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 285IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 1mg
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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe timing is perfect. I was just looking for something amazing to make for a small get together. Can’t wait to try it. Love citrus! Thank you

    1. You definitely can Cindy, but I would sous vide the thighs at 165f for 1 1/2 hours or up to a maximum of 4 hours if you like them tender and juicy.